Are You Inspired?

We cleaned out our front hall closet today and wondered what we were going to do with it. Because why use a closet as a closet when you only have two in the entire house? At first, I thought of a book nook for the girls as they are all the rage and frankly, I think it is a great idea. However, as Dan pointed out, we have plans for more reading spots than we have closets.

Then I thought of a play kitchen. Perfect. The girls have been setting up random kitchens lately and having so much fun. So after thinking about it for a few minutes, I did what any self-respecting, creative woman would do; I googled it because surely there have been others out there who have done it beautifully. I’d have used Pinterest because that seems to be where all the best ideas lurk but my computer is broken and it doesn’t work well on my phone. Anyways. I hadn’t looked long when the absurdity hit me. Who am I kidding? No matter how many lovely ideas I find, I am likely going to stick some crates, baskets, and a little side table on the tacky 70’s linoleum, hang a couple of pictures on the un-cool old wall paper, and let the girls raid my kitchen for supplies. And they will love it.  If I could come up with the idea then surely I can figure out how to create it on my own.

So where am I going with this? Well, I have been chewing on a word for a couple of weeks now. Inspire. It seems to get used a lot in the online social media world. There is Pinterest to inspire creativity (in so many ways); there are blogs to inspire better parenting, eating, living, learning, and so on. If you really love the word there are some brilliant DIY wall décor ideas. And sometimes I spend so much time seeking inspiration that I forget what I was looking for in the first place. I discount my own ability to act (or choose not to act) based on my own thoughts, beliefs, and creativity.

Inspire, by its definition, means to influence, move or guide. It means to spur on, to bring out, or to infuse life (Thank you, Merriam-Webster dictionary). Inspiration brings action. It doesn’t/shouldn’t bring guilt, discouragement or inaction.

Through all the forms of social media* I have found so many great ideas for my home, family, and life from others. I have been encouraged and challenged as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman. In many ways, I would say that I have come to realize more of who I was created to be. I’ve been inspired.

On the other side of the coin, I have collected  “inspiration” and become dissatisfied. I have read about parenting and second-guessed what I know to be best. I have read about balance and felt less for the time that I spend with my children. I’ve turned from the computer to my life feeling that I need to be “more” and frustrated with my lack of ability to be that. I’ve taken some one else’s words, ideas, beliefs, and beauty on as my necessity. And that is stifling. It’s uninspiring. But the thing is I don’t think most have intended to share their stuff that way; it’s me taking it in with my own insecurities and hang-ups.

And so I want to say this plainly. Don’t allow my words in this place to do that to you. If you read my thoughts and feel pressured, looked down upon, guilty or hurt, turn away from them. Throw them out. Perhaps my struggles and insecurities are not what yours are but perhaps the things that I write about bring out yours. I am tempted insert all kinds of disclaimers here of how I don’t think I am all that or that I have any thing more than another and I suppose this is a disclaimer in itself. But the truth is that I know I am not alone in feeling that I need to measure up…to what I’m not sure any of us know exactly.

I had someone recently make a kind comment on my charming life and at first I chuckled and then I sighed. Is that really what is seen? Yes, my life is lovely. I am incredibly blessed. I have been given much and I have much to offer. And my life has just as much, or more, of the disorderly, the messy, the hard, the mundane as I can handle. Yes, there are some things that transfer to screen well and look very charming. But that is not all of what life is.

I think that perhaps I am writing this mostly for the mamas who are also in my particular place in life. We are raising our children and there is so much that we can be and do. We think that we can and should be everything. And life laid out on a screen is so much neater than life in motion. Including mine. As I already said, I have received so much from the lives of others and I very much want to offer what I have to others both on and off screen. I want to inspire. I want to be inspired. But, I don’t want to spend my days thinking that I should do or be something that I am not. I don’t want you to either. I don’t want either of us to spend time and space on lies when our lives can be and are filled with so much good. I want you to be inspired. Truly. If anything I share can do that for you, take them and use them. I will be blessed by that. But please, please don’t be brought down by mine or anyone else life on the screen. There is so much more than that.

Oddly enough, I saw this blog post,, circulating as I was writing this one. I had feelings of, “she said what I was trying to say, and she said it better” and “ why even bother finishing this” welling up. But then I realized that was exactly the point she was making. I don’t need to be someone that I am not. She was specifically talking about being a mom but the thing is that each of us would do well to focus on living well as ourselves. Not compared to someone else. 

* I am talking about social media but I think that this can often also apply in face to face friendships as well…I know that it does for me.


Whole Dei~A Season Apart: A guest post


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Dea and I became friends in college and with our little group of college friends have maintained our friendship for the last decade (wow, I didn’t realize it had been that long!). Through weddings, marriage, babies, loss, changes, moves, and many other things, I have been blessed by her friendship. She is an encouragement and treasure in my life and I am honored to share her with you today.

When he drove away for that first rotation, I had no idea what the coming months would look like. I knew the facts: I had stated my support for his chosen vocation, jobs were scarce in our area of the province (and scarcer still for a rookie medic with limited experience), and after months of unemployment, food bank visits, and cold applications, this position up north was an answer and a blessing.

But I still didn’t know. Beyond my spoken commitment and my heart’s intentions, I didn’t understand all the challenges and accomplishments awaiting us through this one decision.

My husband and I were entering a new life expression: a season of marriage, apart. In choosing to pursue emergency services J’ needed to begin at the first rung which, for him, meant leaving our small town home and heading several hours north to serve as an oil-field medic. For him, it meant living amongst oil riggers, long days sitting in the ambulance, and nights away from his wife and sons. For me, it meant tending to our home and two sons (now 3 ½ years, and 16 months) alone, while pregnant, for weeks on end. It wasn’t a traditional picture of marital bliss in any sense.

The first night or two alone held a mix of “Um…now what?” and, surprisingly, a bit of ‘girls-night flare’. I watched chic flicks and made myself treats. I left the dishes and had a bath. I was doing alright! But then, the next night came…and the next week…and the next month. Now, several rotations later, this is what I’ve learned and would like to share. Perhaps you are within a season of long hours apart or perhaps you have one coming. Perhaps you’re spending long hours together (the flip side of this kind of life and industry). Or, perhaps, there is some unknown in the future that is going to challenge your current zone of comfort within your marriage expression. However you live your life together and apart, I hope my experiences can prove to be a help and encouragement.

The Tough:

Living within a committed long-term relationship but being physically separated is difficult. When you add children and limited communication skills to the mix, the strain is felt a bit more with each passing week. I soon realized that we aren’t great communicators on the phone and that long-distance communication in general can be especially challenging in the midst of busy days and needy children. Beyond communication, there are physical tasks that are more difficult to tend to as a pregnant mama than for the ‘man of the house’. Finally, the sense of partnership and presence is much more tangible when there is a more regular physical exchange; a touch of the hand, an offer to help, confirming a comment through the eyes instead of interpreting through the screen.

The Unexpected Good:

When J’ is home, he’s involved with most aspects of the home and family. He loves spending time with his sons and is quick to help when I’m struggling with the other responsibilities around the home. After almost four years of living and working together at home full-time (a different story), I was not well-adjusted to taking on the full responsibility of house and family on my own. At all. By the time J’s second rotation arrived I realized I needed to wake up, grow up, and gain some skills. I recognized that I simply was not keeping up and that the constant sense of disorganization and one-step-behind was working against the sense of peace and order I desired within my life and home.

Week by week, I began to take steps towards learning order and embracing responsibility. I hauled loads to the thrift store (cuz if I can’t take care of it I probably shouldn’t have it….), began meal planning, and opened my mind to consider that perhaps I was stronger than I had believed. It wasn’t easy and I was surprised (and humbled) by the slow-pace of my learning, but bit by bit I began to notice something unexpected. I noticed that, if I stopped talking about how tired I was and how crazy they were, I could tend to my boys. If I took care of things sooner than later, I could get the dishes done. And if I paced myself and considered what was a Good use of time and what was just taking it, I could occasionally have a moment to sit and read and write.  So much came down to my own choices and my own responses and reactions to things that were honestly difficult, but also honestly opportune.

The heart of the matter

When J arrives home from time away, there’s a sense of holiday and celebration.  We eat treats and play and catch up as a family for the first two days before rediscovering our footing as housemates. I also find that I run on continued adrenaline the first day and then typically crash about Day Three (ie. Naps and tears!). By about Day Four we’ve returned to a sense of normal, just in time for him to head back north.

We have now lived through seven months of sometimes-together, mostly-apart. I can see the points of struggle and failure, and I can also recognize some areas of growth and strength. I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the  father and husband and life-offering J’ is to us. I’ve discovered a strength within myself as a woman that I didn’t know I possessed. I’m learning to recognize what is worth fighting for and over, and what needs to be released.

But overall, I’ve learned something surprising: At the heart of it, the core values of life are (or perhaps should be) the same whether a couple is together or apart; whatever the expression of home or employment.

–        If it was a conflict at home, it’s only going to be exacerbated when apart. Seek reconciliation and peace in all things…and don’t hang up on each other!

–        See the other as your helper and your gift, not the answer to your demand or the fulfillment to an obligation.

–        Get creative! If you have children, invite them to participate (drawing pictures, Skype sessions). As sexually connected partners, well…talk about it.

–        If there are issues of fear, resentment, or distrust that stir when apart, address them so that they do not simply simmer until the next season.

–        There’s a difference between expressing that you miss someone or expressing a legitimate need that is beyond your ability, compared to expressing statements leading to guilt and pressure on the other partner that they honestly cannot fulfill within their other commitments.

–        Be connected to some kind of support group!

–        Growing as an individual brings depth and color to a partnership. While J’ is away, we watch some of the same films, compare books, and pursue new areas (ex. he started studying Latin, I joined a book club).

–        If we long for our partner when apart, or can speak well of them when separate, then live it out when together. Embrace that gift of togetherness and do not be frustrated when reminded of those other little aspects of personality that irritate. Speak well of them to their face and celebrate their uniqueness.

–        Celebrate the little joys and pleasures you or your partner experience when apart, and give each other the freedom to actually be alright somedays. (ie. That conversation, a certain party, a special treat enjoyed, a new friend).

–        There are certain attitudes that will destroy a partnership. It doesn’t matter if you have spent every day together or years apart. Repent of and stand against: jealousy, selfishness, fear, lust, lies, impatience, and pride. The Good is not to be found in these things. They will only lead to heartache.

–        Remember that you are together. Whatever the seasons of our lives present us; separation, tragedy, celebration; in vowing our lives to each other we’ve committed to seeing it through to the end.

J’ and I aren’t sure what the next months or years hold for us. We know we desire to be a whole family under one roof. We also recognize that much of life is uncertain. We are responsible to live Well in the now, to build pure and sturdy foundations for the future, and to be open to promise and possibility.

Have you experienced seasons apart from your partner? How about the flip-side; seasons entirely together?
What are the values or practices you have found that encourage growth, connection, and health within your own marriage-expression?
What have you discovered about yourself as an individual in the changing seasons of life and home?

Dea’ is a mama to boys, a former college educator, a writer, and a ‘simple-green-living’ home-maker. Currently residing in small-town Alberta while her husband practices as a medic in the north, Dea’ can be found chasing her boys and backyard chickens while experimenting with whole foods and (attempting to) break into new areas of writing and other creative things. You are welcome to follow her family and story at wholedei.


Reggie the Squirrel & the gift of stories


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Reggie the Squirrel Puppet


Reggie the Squirrel came into being over two years ago when one day Dan told Aneliese a very simple story about him while out walking. Apparently she fell in love because later that night she asked me to tell her a story about him. She liked him so much that we decided to make her a puppet two Christmases ago; although she was very pleased with Reggie, we find that she still prefers the stories without the prop.

Reggie traveled to Nova Scotia with us and experienced many new things while we drove. It worked beautifully to talk about him before naps while driving rather than reading books.

Since arriving here, his family and he have taken up residence in a beautiful, huge old oak tree. They have enjoyed exploring the area, seeing the ocean, and how they love acorns. Reggie has even used acorn caps for the hats of his snow squirrels.

About the same time that Kathleen arrived, Reggie and his sister Rhonda were waiting for their new little squirrel sibling to be born. How excited they were when baby Cindy was born. They have learned so much about having a new baby. They loved her so much that they were just thrilled when Mama Squirrel told them that they were going to have two more babies, Cally and Chea (it all goes so much faster in the fictacious squirrel world of course). I am a little concerned that Mama Squirrel will have a hard time keeping up if she has too many more babies this close together; it also becomes a challenge for the story tellers to keep the names straight, hmmm. Mama Squirrel birthed at home with the whole family as she is very earthy like that. Reggie was worried about how much it hurt, but Mama assured him that it was worth it.

In all of his adventures, Reggie learns about lots of things that his little friends Aneliese & Cecily are also dealing with, things like changes, moving, babies  and other such things. He also deals with learning how to treat others kindly, how to treat those who are unkind, making good choices, caring for others, and even what to do when things don’t go his way.

Mostly though, Reggie is just a growing, happy little squirrel who has lots of fun with life. One of his very favorite things to do is collect acorns with his family every Saturday. Did you know that they carry the acorns home in their mouth and the his Daddy can put as many as six in there? And that time that he climbed on the yellow bus and went to school, oh, that was fun. He loves that there are some little girls who love to hear his tales and he really appreciates the two storytellers who are willing to share his stories even if there are often “um” and pauses as they are sure where to take it next.

Who knows, maybe Reggie is the next Winnie the Pooh ;).

Does your family have any special characters or friends who walk through life with you?