One + One = Four

I awoke from an interesting dream on Thursday, September 12.

“Hey Simon, I just dreamt that we went to our ultrasound and it was twins!”

And then we started joking about what that would be like. “A double stroller, two of everything, a baby on each boob! Twins would be a crazy life!”

But it was just a dream.

That morning just happened to be the morning of our first ultrasound at 19 weeks. We walked into the dark room and told the technician that yes, we wanted a picture, and no, we didn’t want to know the gender.

I reclined on the bed and wiggled my pants past my hips as the tech started rubbing cold gel on my belly.

She turned on the machine and moved the wand back and forth, spreading the gel.

“Your baby is sleeping right here,” she said, showing us the image of our baby snuggled comfortably on my pelvis on my right side.

She moved the wand toward my belly button, “And your baby is very active over here,” she continued.

For a split second I was confused. Did the baby suddenly wake up and jump from one side of my belly to the other?

And then it dawned on me…

Simon shot out of his chair as we cried “WHAT?!” in unison. Surely they heard us in reception.

The technician continued speaking but I was barely listening. I draped my right hand over my forehead and tried to absorb this new information.

I know what’s going on. I’m still in my dream. I’m in my dream from this morning. This isn’t real. This is a dream.

The tech spoke again, “Your twins are fraternal. There are two sacs, and two sets of placenta.”

She went on and on, as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing on the screen. And I wasn’t waking up. As hard as I was squeezing Simon’s hand and he was squeezing mine, there was no rousing from this slumber.

This is real.

And then I thought back to the last 4 months…

The intense morning sickness that finally tapered off at 16 weeks, managed only by Diclectin.

The way my uterus underwent a growth spurt that even had my midwife saying, “You’re definitely measuring more than 17 weeks…”

And all the kicks and punches I felt and movements I could see all over my belly at just 18 weeks.

Despite the shock of learning that we were having twins, we cannot contain our joy! We’ll never forget the moment when the technician casually commented on the activity of Twin B. It was so special to learn that there are two in there.

Ultrasound Surprise

And even though we know we are in for quite the challenge, we are simply in awe that God would entrust us with two babies. That’s not something we could plan or even control (there are no twins in the family!), and that fact alone gives us the assurance that he will continue to be faithful.

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Things Not To Do

Don’t walk home from work through Chinatown when you are ravenously hungry and have intense cravings for Asian cuisine and dreamt about street food in Thailand the night before when you are on a very tight budget.

And 13 weeks pregnant.

My Sweet Escape

Two Sundays ago I sat sweltering in our living room unable to escape the 44 degree Celsius weather outside.  The husband and I considered driving to a lake nearby before we remembered that our car broke down the day before two hours prior to attending a wedding. And considering we live in a boring suburb with minimal bus service we weren’t about to rely on public transportation to get us anywhere.

So I sulked.

“I want to get out of this city soooo bad!!!”

That evening I prayed one of my whimsical prayers that someone would just invite us to a cottage freeing us from the city heat.

The next day I got a text from my friend Sarah in Toronto.

“I know you’re probably both working, but my parents rented a cottage halfway between both of us and I’m up here for the week. If you have the time, feel free to come.”

“YEEEESSS!” I responded. “We will BE there!”

I work two jobs; one Mon-Wed and the other Thurs-Fri. I knew I couldn’t get out of job #1 because I had rearranged my schedule the week prior when husband’s parents came to visit. However I decided not to worry about getting time off work and considered this instead an answer to prayer. Of course it would work out! On Tuesday morning’s conference call for job #2 I began the conversation by saying I wouldn’t be in that week. As a casual employee, there’s a little more leniency when it comes to time off. Not a problem, they said. YEAH!

And so Wednesday evening Simon picked me up from work and we drove to a beautiful cottage on Oak Lake.

I told Simon on the drive down, “I just can’t wait to be buoyant!”

He put his hand on my knee and asked me lovingly, “When’s that going to happen?”

I responded with a laugh, “As soon as I get in the water!”

He looked at my quizzically.

“Buoyant.” I repeated. “Like, I just can’t wait to float.”

“Ohhhh,” he said.

“Did you think buoyant meant joyful?” I asked.

“Yeeeeah,” he replied sheepishly.

Not surprising, considering how down in the dumps I’ve been lately, and how on the same Sunday I prayed for a cottage I told Simon how much I missed my hometown friends.

We arrived at nearly 10pm and I was dying for the time in the lake. I love the lake. And I missed an entire summer last year of lake swimming. Not once did I jump of a dock or lounge around in a floaty. Thankfully Sarah and I are almost always on the same wavelength.

“Want to go swimming?!” she asked.

“Yes!!” I said. And the return to buoyancy commenced.

The next day we slept in, spent hours in the lake, went for a boat ride, ate delicious food, sat in stillness, read books, and played Settlers of Catan – twice. It was glorious.

On our drive home on Friday we talked about how necessary it is to unplug – no phone, no computer, no internet, no distractions, and ultimately, nothing to do. It’s an amazing feeling, and one I’ve gone way too long without. I don’t know if I’m just getting old and grey, but sometimes city life is just too much for me. I need a quiet, restful place. I need the lake. I need my friends – the ones who have known me for years. I look forward to settling down in a community, and gasp – we never thought we’d say this! – one outside of the city.

And that, my friends, was my sweet escape. I didn’t even take a picture – I was too busy enjoying the moments.

My Lunch Box

The following exercise is inspired by Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. In the chapter “School Lunches” Lamott tells writers if you don’t know where to start, write about school lunches. The purpose of the exercise is to take a short assignment and yield a shitty first draft of detailed memory…then see where it takes you.

Here is my shitty first draft of My Lunch Box.

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When I was a kid my mom used to make me peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches when I stayed for lunch at school – once a week tops. They were my favourite kind of sandwich because it was like eating a Reese Peanut Butter Cup melted and slathered on bread.

The thing is though, the other kids didn’t seem to have the same excited response as I did to my most amazing meal. They would look at my sandwich in shock, then look back at their own with wilted lettuce and cheese, and ask, “You’re eating that for lunch?!”

At first I didn’t understand what was so wrong with my meal. Hello! It tastes good! My mom wants me to eat my food at lunch, duh!? But after a while I started to wonder if maybe they were jealous of my chocolate bar on a bun. And then I got a little embarrassed.

I’d open up my lunch bag, peer at the contents between two slices of whole wheat (never white!) bread, and exclaim, “Peanut butter and Nutella again!” And then I’d sigh, as though I’d had it up to here with eating roasted hazelnuts and skim milk with smooth and creamy peanut butter. But secretly, inwardly, I’d be filled with glee that my mom packed me my favourite lunch yet again.

Thanks, Mom.

The Impossible – Watch It

Some people know about my love affair with Thailand. I was first introduced to this beautiful country while in London, England in December 2004 when I read an article about sex tourism in Thailand. And just while Thailand was on the forefront of my mind, the tsunami hit South East Asia on December 26. Ever since then I’ve been committed to praying for Thailand.

Now on to movies. To be honest, I don’t really care for movies. I feel that more than anything they are a waste of my time. I come away from 2 hours feeling as though my life was robbed rather than enriched. Rarely does a movie stay with me after the credits have rolled. And more recently I’m noticing how sensitive I am to certain material – how often I find myself thinking, “I know that I can’t shelter my children from this world, but I sure as heck hope they’ll have the discernment to know when something is garbage for their mind and turn it off.” That’s another post.

Now on to The Impossible. Rarely do I endorse movies, because rarely do I enjoy them. But you should watch The Impossible.

The Impossible is a true story of a mom and dad and their 3 boys who were vacationing in Khao Lak, Thailand over Christmas, and who got caught in the destruction of the tsunami. I was crying the moment I saw the first wave, and I’m pretty sure I had a continuous stream of tears falling from my right eye. And I’m on the verge of tears now just thinking about it.

I don’t like movies. Most movies don’t affect me. I think most movies are garbage.

But I think that you should watch The Impossible. Rent it this weekend on iTunes and have your life enriched.

Words Are My Delight

Blogging is an interesting thing. I often feel like I should only draft up a blog and hit “post” when I believe I have something worthwhile to say.

But sometimes I don’t want to write anything revolutionary. Sometimes I just want to write. Because I’m a writer. And I need a place to do that, even if it’s not that exciting. And if you have something that you love to do, and most of the time you do it well, it doesn’t really make sense to keep it to yourself.

I like to remember Jon Acuff when I write my blog. He is presently the best-selling author of Quitter, but when he started writing his first blog, Prodigal Jon, his readership was limited. But that was actually a great thing, because his blog gave him space. It gave him a place to write in one style, and then in another. To change his theme, his tagline, and his platform without having to worry about his audience or a perceived identity crisis. He had a place where he could express his love of writing and even do it poorly sometimes, practicing now what he hoped to produce later.

I’m currently reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I love this woman because she understands the beauty of books exactly the way I do, that out of “…small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world…” She says that most writers come to her workshops and all they care about is being published. “How can I find an agent?” they ask. But they fail to remember that it’s not the publication that changes us (I know because I’ve been published), it’s the act of writing. It’s the feeling you get when words flow from your mind to your fingertips to create something beautiful. And then in days or months or even years to come, you look back at your work and ask with astonishment and delight (and sometimes humiliation), “Did I write that?” Lamott emphasizes that writers need to love writing not for the external benefits (which aren’t that lucrative, even for a best-selling author) but the internal ones.

And for that reason I will keep writing in this blog, even when I have nothing worthwhile to say. Sometimes I might write something inspirational, but other times I’m going to write about what I’m cooking for dinner, or my favourite cleaning products, or the craft I just made that I’m really proud of. And I’ll do it because when I string words together like beads I feel good inside, because I know I’m doing what I was created to do.

Do it now, do it now, do it now!

I walked toward the escalator trailing behind a handful of giggly university-aged girls who were ready to change the world with a sun salutation and yoga pants.

An Asian man in his mid-to-late twenties fell into step beside me. “I’m the only guy,” he whispered. “This is so awkward.”

I looked at him sympathetically as the managers began to roll out yoga mats in a secluded area on the third floor of the mall. I surveyed the group of 10, all interviewing for one position as a full time seasonal educator at lululemon. Suddenly I felt self-conscious as I tugged at my crocheted royal blue sweater, pulling it further down over my dress pants and staring at my 3-inch heels.

“Clearly I didn’t get the memo,” I told my new friend. “I’m the only one not wearing lulu!”

The truth is, I had never owned a piece of clothing from the store. And until that day, I had never even set foot in a lululemon. And even though I spent all 3 months of my seasonal employment feeling like a less-than-graceful Zumba dancer who accidentally stumbled into an advanced yoga class (re: out of place), it appears as though my time with those chakra-loving hippies had a bigger impact on me than I realized.

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“What’s your favourite lulu manifesto?” the Bubbly One asked.

“You do know what a manifesto is, right?” remarked the Forward One.

If by manifesto, the managers were referring to those sayings scribbled on the walls and the bags in the store, then lucky for me, I had just read a few while I was waiting for the group interview to begin. Must be karma!

I wracked my brain to think of one that stood out. And then it came to me. Three simple words, repeated over and over:

“Do it now, do it now, do it now!”

“This is how I want to live my life,” I said confidently, and then gave an explanation peppered with words like “goal setting,” “personal development,” and “balance.” (By that point in the interview I had started picking up on lulu culture). Truthfully, I don’t really remember what I said, but I’m pretty sure I garnered some head nods, deep breathing, and a “namaste” (joking about the last one). Not bad for a gal who didn’t know what an Astro pant was.

Though I can’t say that those are the words I live by, I can say that this manifesto is something I think about on a near daily basis as I seek to understand the importance of self-discipline.

As a creative person, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of, “I’ll create when I’m inspired.” But sometimes I feel inspired when I’m at work, or at church, or riding the bus, or drifting off to sleep. And then, when it comes time to sit down and do the work, I just don’t feel like it.

Between my day job and working at home, my hours are precious. And I don’t want to be wasting time with fleeting pleasures when I could be investing in something that I’m passionate about. I recently read an article called, “Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Time.”

Anyone can have a passion, but not everyone can be disciplined enough to use their time well. Not everyone can decide, “I’m going to do this now.”

Not after I check my emails.

Not after I go on Facebook.

Not after I make my third cup of coffee.

Not after I browse the desserts on Pinterest.

Not after I get the house in order.

Now.

Cuz as the lulu manifesto says…

The world moves at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will only leave you two steps behind. Do it now, do it now, do it now!

What do you need to do now?