I’m Moving!

Hello friends, old and new.

I’ve decided to move my blog to a new location. You can read Part II of “I had Twins and it was crazy!” over here at My Multiple Reality.

This is a place where I plan to write not only about being a mom of multiples, but also the multiple roles that I have in this life – wife, mother, friend, writer – and a slew of others I’ve forgotten along the way!

Hope to see you there!

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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.

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.

****

“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?

What’s Your Story?

“My ambition was gone. My story was over.”

Simon and I were sitting on the couch, browsing www.michaelhyatt.com and watching an interview with Don Miller on his latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

After achieving his dream of living in Portland, Oregon and becoming a best-selling author with Blue Like Jazz, his ambition was gone. He woke up one day to realize that he didn’t know what he wanted anymore.

“That’s me,” I told Simon. “I don’t have a story anymore.”

*****

Jesus, My Father, the CIA…and Me,” Simon read aloud as he scanned the books on my bookshelf. “What’s that one?”

“That’s the one the publishing company sent me,” I told him.

“Oh yeah,” he replied. “I never understood how you took that so lightly.”

Rewind to July 2011. I had just returned from Thailand and there and was an email in my inbox. It was from Thomas Nelson Publishers

…and no, they didn’t want to turn Living With My Parents into a book (darn!) but they did come across my blog, and they liked it. They asked if I would be interested in writing a book review for a new author, Ian Morgan Cron. I said yes. They sent me two copies (one for me and one for a giveaway), and 1.5 years later, I still haven’t done anything.

Simon pressed me about this skipped opportunity; a connection that I failed to pursue.

“Have you ever gone after anything aggressively?” he asked.

“Of course I have!” I answered, somewhat offended. My life post-university until Thailand is filled with stories of me chasing one dream after the next.

So what happened?

Like Don said, “My ambition was gone. My story was over.”

What’s a Story?

A story is about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict in order to get it. Because the want is so huge the conflict makes sense; it’s worth enduring.

When I created this blog 2.5 years ago I was wading through resistance, trying to of figure out what’s next? I had seen some pretty remarkable stories come to fruition in my life, and then there I was, at 26 years old, living with my parents. I needed to want something again. It was time to create a new ambition.

And I did. I went to Thailand for 6 months. And this wasn’t just any ambition; I fulfilled a 6 year dream of living in Bangkok and working to end child sex trafficking. And then in July 2011 I came home, and I was depressed.

If I wasn’t going to go back to Thailand then I was going to get married. That was my next ambition. And lo and behold, here I am less than 2 years later – a newly married woman.

As I recount the details of the past decade I begin to notice a trend: the things that I long for, the ambitions that I chase, and the conflicts I have overcome have all amounted to beautifully written stories. One after the next. I have a long list of fulfilled dreams.

I don’t want to live my life just letting it happen; letting others write a story for me because I don’t write one for myself. And that’s essentially what takes place when we don’t know what we want.

Suffice it to say, my ambition has returned. It’s time to get out my pen and paper and write a new story.

How about you?

What Are You Thankful For?

Thinking of some things I’m thankful for this Friday afternoon:

Heat

There may be a deep freeze outside, but it’s always toasty warm in our apartment. The landlord keeps the heat cranked, and thankfully, we don’t pay for it. A nice change from the place I lived last year, where getting the hydro bill always made me shed a tear or two.

Our Apartment

I love our apartment. It may not be in the nicest part of town, and it certainly doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is just what we wanted: spacious, big windows to let in the bright sun, hardwood floors, two bedrooms, and amazingly affordable rent. We love this place.

My Best Friend

Really, I had no idea that a guy could be my best friend, and that he would be my husband. Of course I always dreamt of it, it just didn’t seem like I was that “kind of girl.” What surprises me about marriage? How much I love spending time with my husband. I can’t get enough.

My Job

My writing opportunities are growing, slowly but surely. With more work coming in my goal is to be able to quit my day job in 2013 and be a full time writing consultant, working from home. I’ve dreamt about this since I enrolled in Rhetoric & Professional Writing at UWaterloo in 2002. Some dreams are slow in coming, but they are certainly on the horizon.

My Android

I was never really a phone person, but I got a Galaxy Nexus on my birthday (switching to the same plan as Simon saves us money) and it’s literally changed my life. It is organization in a phone. I have an app called “Timesheet” that tracks all the hours worked on my writing projects; I use “My OC Transpo” to know exactly when the buses I take are coming; email comes directly to my phone; I use a 5 megapixel camera to take beautiful photos (and Instagram them!), which then upload instantly to my MacBook Air using Dropbox; if I don’t want to write a text, I can just speak it; and of course, Angry Birds. Now I not only know what Angry Birds is, but I am addict. And to think, I almost said no to the Android because I thought my thumbs were too big for a touch screen.

Chocolate

We have a new standard in our home: to always have a steady supply of chocolate on hand. Mmm….

Goals

I started to really sit down and think about my/our short and long term goals and I’m excited to finally want something again.

That said, the day is speeding by. It’s time to get back to work!

What are you thankful for?

What I Learned from 7 Weeks of Hibernation

It is January, and that means that “hibernation” is over. Simon and I are slowly emerging from our “cave” and reintegrating ourselves into social circles. But it’s different than it was pre-wedding.

This hibernation period was a suggestion made by our friends Kat and Jesse. Kat and I were roommates last year when I moved back to Ottawa. She and Jesse married December 30, 2011. One of the best pieces of advice they were given was to have no expectations of spending time with other people (save for family) right after their wedding. Take a month or so to just hang out, settle into marriage, establish routines, and enjoy one another’s company.

Simon and I talk nearly everyday about how much we loved our 7 weeks of hibernation. And our honeymoon established the foundation for this season.

Initially we dreamt of spending a week in a hot destination such as Cuba or Mexico, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized we needed rest. And how restful is it to wake up at 3am to drive to the airport and catch a flight after several emotionally charged weeks building up to a wedding? Not very. Besides, we didn’t need to start our marriage with an exciting and exotic honeymoon destination. Honeymoons are exciting and exotic on their own!

So we rented a cabin on the lake just 2 hours west of us. We were the only ones on the property besides the owners (who left midway through the week to go to Toronto and offered for us to stay longer for free. PLUS, they gave us unlimited use of the authentic Finnish sauna.) No cell phones, no computers. No people. We cooked meals, we built fires, we roasted marshmallows, we drank wine, we ate chocolate, we went for walks, we sat by the lake, we watched movies, we journalled, we talked, we prayed, and we slept – a lot! It was bliss.

Gorgeous November weather

Gorgeous November Weather

(You’re probably wondering how the heck we’re in bathing suits in November, in Canada. Well, it was a balmy 11 degrees celsius that day! AND…we just came out of a steamy sauna).

Hibernation has been amazing, because like our honeymoon, it has given us the chance to unplug.

When we removed expectations from the picture, it was easy to see how often we do things simply because we feel like we have to. Maybe we hang out with someone because we feel like we owe it to them. Or we serve somewhere just because we think we “should”. Or we say “Yes” to seemingly good opportunities when it would be far wiser to say “No”. For the last month and a half we have been justified in saying “No” to friends and activities because we just got married. They get it. But will they get it now?

Because that period is over, and “No” is winning. To clarify, we aren’t saying that we don’t want other relationships or responsibilities in our lives. We do. But we are discovering what our priorities are and not feeling bad if a person or an activity doesn’t fit into it. It’s not about “I should do this”; it’s not about cramming our schedules to prove our worth with busy, important lives; and it’s not about the fear of missing out on fun. It’s about freedom. Simon calls it “Freedom to Thrive.” And he writes an awesome blog about what that means to him right now here.

Our honeymoon was a retreat. It was a chance to hit “reset” and focus in on how we want to live our lives. It was an opportunity to dream together and write those dreams down on a list, believing in faith that they will come to pass. With this kind of clarity it’s a lot easier to begin building – to make decisions about how we invest our time based on wisdom.  (More on how that looks for each of us later).

I love what Jon Acuff writes in this post: “‘No’ is complete sentence.” We don’t have to say “No” to something and then give a long list of reasons as to why we said no. We have the freedom to just say no, because “No” is a complete sentence.

Thank you, Kat and Jesse, for passing our your best piece of advice. With it we’re learning weight of the words “Yes” and “No” and the freedom they bring when executed from a place of trust.

What I Long For

While I lived in Thailand some days I would head to a slum community in the Prawat District outside of Bangkok. I would greet P’Noi at the Ruth Center and she would give me some work to do, like making stencils or cutting pieces of fabric for the Dream Project.

In the afternoon we would walk through the slums, play with the children, and speak with the elderly, many of whom are sick and depressed.

When the day was done I would walk the long, dusty road back to town to catch the bus, to avoid cramming onto a songthaew weighed down with school children.

By the time I got to the bus stop I was drenched in sweat and my calves were caked with dirt, but I never felt so beautiful. By then we had hit rush hour, so it would usually take 1.5 hours to get back into the city. But I didn’t mind. It was time well spent.

There is something about sharing in the sufferings of the poor in spirit that allows you to become one with the Kingdom of God. I can’t say that I have ever experienced the Kingdom to the extent that I did when I was in Thailand. I longed for Jesus more than anything else.

When I came back to Canada I hated the way that we did life here. I hated the materialism. I hated the way our culture told us to want “stuff” and we just listened. And then I hated the way I started wanting stuff too. But then it became normal. And now I have trouble remembering what the Kingdom feels like. And I have trouble longing for Jesus.

The reality is that I don’t have to go back to Thailand to experience it again. I can experience it right here in my own neighbourhood. But first I have to get back to the place where I die to myself, and I die to my own desires, and I die to all those things that I want to own and experience to make my kingdom come, and I learnthat’s when I’ll come alive, and that’s when I’ll get to experience God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Having tasted and seen, I know that there’s nothing better. That’s what I long for.