Tag Archives: yoga

Coming to Accept Replacement Parts

On the 21st of January, I turned 41, healthy and happy. Only issue was a nagging pain in my right quads that I was getting treated with PT (physio to the Aussies), so that I could start training for another half marathon. Many people who have spent time with me this past year have asked me why I’m limping. Lovely human being that I am, those well-meaning people are often told they are nuts—I’m NOT limping; I just took a funny step. 😉
Well I was limping, and ignored for several months that I was in pain. A friend encouraged me to get it looked at last May so I could start training for a half marathon then. I went to two sessions and then got a stomach flu, the flu and pneumonia, all within two weeks. That meant no half marathon last year and cutting back on running for a while. It also ended my PT—didn’t see the point.
On Halloween, while dressed as Wonder Woman no less, another friend commented on my limp and said I was just being a typical Mom, ignoring my own pain while looking after everyone else. I decided she was right; the strengthening exercises I’d looked up online weren’t working, so I made another appointment. He worked on me intensively right up until our two-week vacation before Christmas and it didn’t get any better. In fact, the trip was rough in terms of pain and limping.
When I got back, the PT told me to stop running completely for a few weeks and to get an MRI. I stopped running, but checked into getting an MRI, told him I didn’t think it was worth the money and asked why it was necessary. He convinced me and on January 22nd, I got one. Although, I was in so little pain at the time, I almost cancelled and felt embarrassed wasting the technicians’ time while I was there, time they could have spent on patients who actually had problems that needed attending to.
The next day, my doctor and good friend tilted my world on its axis when he read me the report. Apparently, my hip is trashed—severe osteoarthritis which has led to all kinds of fraying, tearing, inflammation, swelling, cysts, etc. He recommended I consult with a surgeon, who confirmed the following week what my doctor had prepared me for—I need a hip replacement. Seriously?! I’m forty-f…ing-one! I’m healthy! I eat well and exercise daily. I still can’t believe it.
But the problem is, no one wants to give a 41-year-old a hip replacement. I’ll be 58 and needing another one. The surgeon, thankfully, wants to wait as long as possible. He says if I modify my activity and am careful, he’s hopeful I can make it to age 45 before surgery, especially since my pain is so minor right now. It really is. I thought I was getting better, that my physical therapy was finally working and I was ready to get back to running. Oh, how I’d been missing it! I was feeling down and out when I was hardly running at all and still in so much pain. Since I’d stopped completely for a few weeks and was feeling so much better, I thought I’d turned the corner and was ready to go again.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this surgeon is excellent and I am so grateful he doesn’t want me to have surgery today. But I think I spent the entire appointment with my jaw hanging open. No more running. Not ever. Skiing is not recommended, but I can a little if I’m very careful. Hiking? Be careful if it’s steep and involves much scrambling. Pilates? Ok, but take it easy. Biking? Sure, but be careful; it’ll still wear away your cartilage. Yoga? Yes! The silver lining! Do as much yoga as you can tolerate! Apparently, he and others are surprised I can tolerate it, but if I can, go for it!
I honestly have never thought of myself as very athletic or overly active, until he went through this list with me of ways I need to modify my activity to preserve my hip for as long as possible. I’m not an extreme athlete or fitness freak by any means; I just like to be active, out, enjoying life.
He found that I have hip dysplasia, which I would have had all my life, and that is what has caused the arthritis. He, thankfully did comment that I am overall very healthy and he can’t tell me to lose weight or to work on my flexibility to preserve my hip—the only thing he can tell me to do is to modify my activity.
He said the reason my pain is so controlled right now is because arthritis waxes and wanes. I’ll have periods of the extreme pain I had on our trip and I’ll have periods like this, where I think all this is a lot of fuss over nothing. It’s when the periods of extreme pain don’t go away that I cannot put off surgery any longer.
I wish I could say that I’ve taken this news in stride, focused on the people I know or hear of who are facing life threatening diseases, realised that this news is nowhere near as bad as what they are facing, counted the many things my life that I am extremely grateful for, dealt with it and moved on, activity level happily modified.
I wish I could say that. But if I did, it wouldn’t be true. I’ve been sad, mad and frustrated these past couple weeks, I’m sure a complete annoyance to anyone with a life-threatening disease. I’ve cried. A lot.
Just before I met with the surgeon, I told my best friend what was going on and said, “I really hope he doesn’t take running and yoga from me.” It sounds funny maybe, but they’re MY things; some days, they can be all that keeps me sane. Darn if he didn’t take my running. But he didn’t take yoga!
I took my kids to the zoo the other day and with all the walking, my hip started to feel sore, and I got tired and snappy. I had to sit down and rest for a while. I don’t want to be the crabby, lazy mom that skips exploring with her kids to sit and rest. I want to run around and look at the fun stuff with them!
The bright side to that one is that now the kids and I know what is wrong with me; we know WHY I’m crabby and tired and need to rest; we know WHY I’m limping, which has been happening for months on our long days out. I just had to say to them, “Boys, I’m sorry, but my hip is bothering me and I need to sit and rest for a few minutes.” They understood.
The morning after the surgical consult, I woke up (well, let’s be honest; I didn’t sleep well.) and practiced yoga, as I do regularly. And as I finished, I cried. I felt good, just a bit of pain in my hip, but relatively good. How can I appear so healthy on the outside and have no idea what is going on under my skin? Why did my hip betray my otherwise healthy body?
On Wednesday last week, I went for a farewell run. Don’t worry—it wasn’t a “real” run. I walked at a fast pace to the park, jogged around the park and walked home. I had to. I needed closure. I cried. During. After. I will REALLY miss running! I’m sad and angry that I went from getting a sore muscle treated so I could train for a long-distance race to putting away my running shoes forever. That was not the plan.
I walked up behind my favourite old lady that I see regularly out walking while I’m on my morning runs. I always look at her and think that I hope I’m like her when I’m that age. Except I guess I’m like her now. I’m 41, but my hip seems to be 80. I walked by other older people out walking and waved and said hello. Older people out walking are usually friendly. They’re a good group to be associated with. That’s a silver lining.
I walked by other runners and felt jealous. And annoyed at them. They’re all so serious and sullen, staring at the ground. I liked to smile while I was out running—”Look at this gorgeous day! Smell those flowers! Yes, I just made it up that big hill! Wow, my time is good today!” Here’s my advice to runners—look up! If you’re fortunate enough to be out, and able to run, enjoy that privilege! You never know which one will be your last.
I know. I’m pathetic. I’ve been having a right royal pity party over one bum body part. It’s lame. I’ll get there. I’m working on it. It is what it is. It’s teaching me already—helping me remember not to get attached to my physical body. It’s not who I am. It’s a vessel, not my essence. It’s temporary—one part of it just happened to get run down before I was ready for it to. I enjoyed walking at a fast pace that day. I’ve gone for a couple bike rides and really enjoy that! I’m even going to consider taking swimming lessons again—not sure I can ever get into that, but you never know. I’m still having fun and celebrating each day, enjoying my life, as I try to do normally. One day at a time.


Retreat into Myself

Peaceful Chenrezig
My cabin in the woods

A couple weeks ago, I spent six days, five nights away from my family to attend Being Yoga’s Chakra Vinyasa retreat, part of my Level 2 teacher training.
5 Nights. I had not yet spent one night away from my 2-year-old; I had just completely weaned him the month before. I spent 3 nights on my initial teacher training retreat when I was 34 weeks pregnant, just over 2 years ago. That was the last time I’d spent a night away from the rest of my crew.
When I got “permission” to go, I panicked a bit—it was such a surprise! I’d hoped to attend this retreat next year and go on a 2-night one in December this year instead, but my husband threw me for a loop by saying this one fit his schedule better. I came close several times to pulling out. I was about to pay my deposit and my Dad went into the hospital. I waited, thinking I’d spend the money I’d set aside on a plane ticket instead. Thankfully, he got better. I paid the deposit, still unsure.
As the date approached, I wanted to bail—it’s not right to leave the kids for this long. They don’t know what to do without me. My baby’s too little. What if the people on the retreat don’t like me? What if I don’t like them? 6 days is a long time! What if I have no one to eat lunch with? I honestly felt like a kid leaving for college!
My family drove me up and when we arrived at the gorgeous Chenrezig Institute, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, we were all amazed at the beauty and peace of the place. We had a picnic lunch and said our good-byes. That was it. This was really happening.
I found some sweet familiar faces in the group, which helped put my mind at ease. I had paid extra for a private room ($20/night—are you kidding me?! Small price to pay for the chance to have my own space!) and when I got up to my simple cabin in the woods (without a bathroom!) that evening and found a large spider on the wall, I panicked again. I am not joking when I say that I felt like Wonder Woman when I successfully got that thing outside! But the damage was done—too scared to sleep.
After a restless night, I attended the morning meditation and then our awkward breakfast, feeling weird about standing in line, figuring out where things were, missing bananas. I felt lost, out of place. 4 more nights of this? I didn’t know if I could do it.
Then we gathered for our morning class, focused on the solar plexus chakra. It was divine! That was it for me. I was there. Completely. Immersed. All feelings of panic and awkwardness gone, I enjoyed the rest of my time in ways I cannot put into words.
I realized that I hadn’t spent a night alone in almost 10 years—the last time I can remember was when I was pregnant with my oldest son in early 2008, and as any mother knows, you’re not actually alone when you’re 7 months pregnant!
I want to try to put into words here what I truly enjoyed about this experience:
-The yoga. Oh, my, the yoga! Such good yoga! As an instructor, it is hard to find the time or classes I really enjoy and it was amazing to gain so much from each class.
-The meditation. I struggle with mindfulness meditation, but these meditations were more active—visualisations, breathing techniques—these tools really worked for me and I gained more from meditation than ever before.
-The people. I met incredible people! Some I knew before, most were new, and all were awesome. For the first time in years, I felt like a woman. I felt like Kathleen. I was talking to people as me, not as the kids’ mom, not as a school mom, just me. I was seen for me. Of course, I adored the other mothers and we talked about our kids a lot during the week, but we were just us. And when I think about this, the timing was really meant to be—I already mentioned that I had just weaned my youngest in August, so this was the first time in nearly three years of pregnancy and breastfeeding that my body was ALL MINE. For six luscious days, my body was mine. I was Just. Me. I truly reconnected with who I am—the many layers that entails. I laughed until I cried. I danced. I wrote. I even drew and sang, which is NOT like me! 😉 I was inspired, filled with new ideas. I don’t know why, but even after 6 years here, I feel like the odd man out, the obvious American, in most social groups. But not here. I felt like I fit.
-The setting. I am not a city girl. I often realize how confined I feel living in Brisbane, missing my mountains, my wide-open spaces. Six days in the gorgeous, peaceful woods was good for my soul in countless ways. The woods, the mountains, outside—these are the places where I feel most at home, most myself.
-The meals. I hardly need to mention that being able to eat meals that I did not have to prepare myself or clean up after was a luxury. But even better, the adult conversation, the “real” conversation, the unhurried pace—being able to finish and sit and digest until I Felt Like getting up again—-aahhh, bliss!
-The free time. Waking up each morning and only seeing to myself, sitting on my little cabin deck during every break and closing my eyes if I wanted to, or writing, or thinking, uninterrupted, unhurried—wow.
It’s no wonder thinking back over it all that I have only very slowly been coming back from “outer space” in these recent days. It’s taken awhile! I left the house without shoes on Tuesday—9 days after being back! Thank goodness I’m a yoga teacher, but walking around my son’s daycare barefoot was a bit gross! 😉
When I wonder why I had to get down in writing my feelings of gratitude after getting this time to truly retreat into myself, I need only to look at what my Mom just emailed me after our FaceTime chat today, 12 days after returning: “My Precious, I did so love our visit tonight …. you seem to have such a beautiful inner peace, calmness, happiness, relaxed way about you of late. I don’t know, but, I truly think your “Yoga Retreat ” was good for you. Regardless, I am happy you did that. “
Thanks for noticing, Mom–even from 8,000 miles away. I am happy I did it, too—and, oh, so grateful!

Lost & Lonely Musings

Why do I feel lonely and lost these days? Why can’t I seem to figure out what my professional contribution to society can be? Why do I not seem to have friends here that I really connect with, who get me and who I get? Why am I so homesick?

I have three beautiful, happy boys who bring me joy—they truly do. But as any parent knows, they also whine a lot, they seem dissatisfied with much of what I work so hard to do for them; the two older ones argue with almost everything I say and with each other, seemingly constantly sometimes. I find myself stopping to listen and smile when I hear them playing well together—it seems more rare these days and I can’t seem to defuse their frustrations with each other effectively, no matter what parenting articles I read.

Unlike so many mothers whom I have always greatly admired and felt somewhat jealous of, I need more in my life than full time mothering. I lose myself when I only attend to everyone else’s needs. I need appreciation for a job well done. I need recognition, measurable progress in what I’ve accomplished each day. I wish I didn’t, but I can’t really get around the fact that I do.

I think that’s why my work/career/professional struggles are getting me down so much lately. For 14 years before this move to Australia, I worked in retirement communities. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. I was respected in my field and I made good money.

Since I’ve come here, I just can’t figure out how to get back into that field. Now, I realize I haven’t tried as hard as I should. Life gets in the way. I’ve sent online enquiries to senior living companies asking about their jobs in marketing and sales, with no response. I’ve sent a few online applications for activities/recreation/volunteer positions, with no response. I’ve called one nearby community and asked to volunteer—no return call. I’ve asked the few people I’ve met who work in the field about the positions, and they don’t seem to know anything about them—maybe they don’t exist here?

I keep telling myself the best way to find out is to just drive around and walk into communities and ask. But, I’ve always had a kid in tow, or was about to have a kid in tow, so I just never got around to it.

Friends at home say I’m awesome for moving to a new country and learning a new profession and starting my own business. But it doesn’t feel very awesome. I learned the new profession partially out of necessity. I never wanted to run my own business. I don’t enjoy it and it’s not going well. In fact, right now, it seems to be failing miserably. I’m paying to do it. Try as I might, I can’t get people interested in it.

I do love yoga—it’s been a passion of mine for years, and the more I learn about it, the more passionate about it I feel. But people in this area, just don’t seem to get it. Yoga is not as popular around here—I don’t even know many people who do it, or who are physically active as a priority at all. I think that’s partly why I feel disconnected from the friends I’ve made.  I’ve rarely been to a yoga class here with more than a handful of people in it, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I can’t get many people interested in my classes, much less my classes for their children.

I just have a hard time fitting in with people who don’t prioritize healthy eating for their families, who don’t prioritize fitness on a regular basis and who don’t get the purpose of yoga. I hope that doesn’t make me sound snobby. I don’t intend it to. I’ve made friends for the past 4+ years with people who are different to me in those core areas, but have other things in common—being a mother, living in a foreign country, but I just don’t feel connected, so I’m guessing that’s the reason why…??? I could be totally off base. I do admit I have met a few people who are health and fitness oriented and am still not clicking with them either.

It often seems to me that people don’t like me over here. I never seemed to have that problem before moving. It is very likely all in my head, but I just seem to rub people the wrong way when I don’t intend to…??

I know I could connect well with my husband, but he’s frustrated in his job, too and we don’t see each other until late in the evening when we’re pretty much too tired to talk about much. He is wonderful and we do try. We both know we need time together. But it’s difficult, because that costs money. And when I’m not making any money, I feel bad spending $80 to go out for two hours together and get a drink each and an appetizer to share—bleah!

I keep meditating and reading about creating my own joy, realizing that my life is just as it should be in this moment and to find peace in the present. I’m honestly trying! For whatever reason, it’s meant to be right now that I’m paying to try and teach yoga, that I’m contributing nothing meaningful to my community in terms of professional employment and that I’m working my tail off for no positive outcome. That’s hard to embrace! But I will keep trying…..For now these musings of a crazy person just help me to get it off my chest.

My Three Sons

Where do I even start?! I haven’t updated this in over 3 months. I have a good reason—I have a beautiful, 6-week old baby boy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself….first to quickly recap the time leading up to our little Samuel’s birth:

My brain is mush now and it’s hard to remember. My days are filled once again with spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights and the smell of a newborn asleep on my chest. It’s hard to remember what they were like before. It’s as if he’s always been here. I feel strongly that we’ve been waiting for him—as hard as this time is, he melds right into our little circle of love, just like he always had a space waiting for him. He has.

Here we are--all 5!
Here we are–all 5! A bit tired… 😉

Anyway, I digress, again. Get used to it! June was quite uneventful, other than preparing for Sam’s arrival and wrapping up my kids’ yoga classes. That was very bittersweet. It’s always hard to leave behind the known, the routine, and prepare for the unknown, the loss of control. I know at the time it’s happening that I want to return to teaching, but it’s also in the back of my head that I really don’t know what the future holds and I can’t say anything for sure.

Last day of work! June 25, 33 weeks
Last day of work! June 25, 33 weeks

We had our last little getaway as a family of four–a weekend in June on beautiful Stradbroke Island with friends. We saw lots of unique wildlife and enjoyed the busy two days immensely. Then we had our treasured friends from Boulder in town visiting their family, and got to spend quality time with them as well.

Stradbroke Island weekend
Stradbroke Island weekend
Enjoying special friends from Boulder
Enjoying special friends from Boulder

I had my first three nights and four days ever away from my little crew of men in early July for my yoga teacher training retreat. It was wonderful, although very demanding physically and mentally. It was great to be able to have that time to be away, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely during their “vegetable-free days”. 😉

Camping with Dad while Mom's at a yoga retreat 7/2
Camping with Dad while Mom’s at a yoga retreat 7/2

The retreat was over the 4th of July weekend, so for the first time in my life, I had to forgo celebrating the holiday, which was also bittersweet. It was a great reason to miss it, but also a little sad. Several people wished me a happy one, though, which is so kind.

We enjoyed a relatively slow paced two weeks of school holidays that included our first Disney on Ice. Also, thanks to the help of dear friends, Steve and I enjoyed our last date for a while—a low key breakfast out in Brisbane one morning. It’s funny—we were both enjoying each other, but could also feel the apprehension in the air as we were well aware of the uncertainty and changes to come, getting ready to meet the new member of our family.

Last date for awhile, breakfast out 7/10, 35 weeks
Last date for awhile, breakfast out 7/10, 35 weeks

My sweet friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me on the 11th of July. I have missed family incredibly throughout my pregnancy, so it was great to feel such an outpouring of love from my “family” here.  It was my first truly girly baby shower, complete with a color scheme, games, fancy food and decorations, and I loved it! I am so humbled by the work they went to and the turnout.

My cute baby shower
My cute baby shower

It’s ironic—when I was pregnant with Drew I thought baby showers were completely lame. We bought our house a few months before he was born, so instead we had a combined baby shower/housewarming for all friends, men and women. It was fun! Then Zach was born so soon afterwards that our friends instead organized a meal delivery system, diapers and groceries for us, which was just what we needed. Now I cherish time I can sneak in with girlfriends and relished every minute of that shower. J

Love my girlfriends! These are my beautiful hosts.
Love my girlfriends! These are my beautiful hosts.

On July 23rd, my sweet Drew was officially diagnosed with asthma. It is nice in one sense to finally know for sure and learn how to deal with it, but also always sad to find out your child is less than perfect. I have to wonder if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it, if there have been times I didn’t help him enough when he was struggling to breathe. I am really bad with “What Ifs” and mother’s guilt. I’m working on it…..Hopefully, he will grow out of it, and even if he doesn’t, there are a lot worse things in life and we are very fortunate. It doesn’t slow him down–the two of them ran their 1st 2k race the Sunday before Sam arrived.

1st 2k race 7/26
1st 2k race 7/26

As for my pregnancy, it got a bit bumpy in July. On Sunday the 5th at my retreat, I started to worry about the baby’s movement. I remember being paranoid about that in my previous pregnancies so I ignored it, knowing that odds were that everything was fine and I was being psycho. I was still a bit worried at my next appointment that Wednesday, the 8th, which the whole family attended. They put me on some fetal monitoring and then reassured me that everything was fine.

I started to worry about movement again on Friday, the 24th, (37 weeks) and thought I was noticing quite a few painless contractions and feeling very nauseous. I figured labor was starting, but then nothing happened. I was about to call the doctor on Sunday if things hadn’t changed, but then I felt better. Monday and Tuesday were up and down. I was worried about all of the above, but then I’d feel better.

Ready for our new addition! Such special decorations
Ready for our new addition! Such special decorations

Wednesday morning, the 29th, started out good. I had an appointment and was worried about driving the hour each way alone with how tired I’d been feeling, so offered Zach a special “Mommy and Zach” day before baby came, which thankfully, he agreed to (he almost refused me!). We walked Drew to school and back and then I started feeling sick again. We drove down, had a nice morning tea and then went to the doctor. I told them how I’d been feeling and my doctor saw me have a contraction on the exam table (turned out I’d been having more than I thought I was—some of them, like the one he saw, I just thought were the baby sticking out on one side) and noticed baby’s heartrate was low.

He put me on fetal monitoring, which ended up lasting for about 2 hours, instead of the initial 30 minutes. They told me I was having regular contractions and baby’s heartrate was getting low often enough that we needed to do the C-section now. I was in labor.

Then everything started happening! My doctor’s office is connected to a hospital that I hadn’t planned on going to, because it was so far from home. Steve was near home, at work, and Zach was with me—what to do?! I have to say that in my teens and twenties, I would never have believed someone who said they could find comfort and companionship in a 5-year-old, but I absolutely did. My little Zach was an absolute gem during all this and it was wonderful having him with me. During the monitoring, he found a soccer game on TV (he’s a sports nut) and cuddled up next to me in the hospital bed to watch. When it all got chaotic, he was patient, well-behaved, unquestioning, trusting, helpful and concerned. It was beautiful and I will remember it forever.

Steve got moving and this is when the incredible outpouring of love, support and help from our friends began. It would go on for the next several weeks. I arranged friends to bring Drew home with them from school. My doctor is a friend of ours and his family offered to take Zach and so did one other friend in that area. However, thankfully, we reached our dear friend’s mother, who lives an hour away and who was set to come watch the boys on August 4th, the date my C-section was scheduled. She dropped everything and left right away to come get Zach, and then headed off through rush hour traffic to our house, where Drew met them and she stayed the night. She made them lunches for school the next day and took excellent care of them. The same friends that kept Drew that afternoon, picked up the boys for school the next day as well, and then this dear woman cleaned our house and did our laundry before heading back home. Just incredible!

After Zach left, it wasn’t long until I was prepped for surgery. I have to acknowledge that preparing for the C-section was terrifying. I will never go through that again. With the one I had with Drew, I had been in labor for so long that it was all a blur. This time, I was alert. Everything is so sterile and medical. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to bring life into the world; it feels like something bad and scary is happening—you’re about to be cut open. I hated it. Thankfully, yoga and meditation helped me—the idea of impermanence. I focused on breathing through the scariness, remembering that it was just a brief time and at the end of it I would have my baby.

Here I am, world! July 29, 5:35 p.m.
Here I am, world! July 29, 5:35 p.m.

The surgery itself, body being cut open and stitched up again aside, was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I’ve had. They lowered the sheet so I could see my precious boy just as he came out, and then I was able to watch everything else that happened, including Steve cutting the cord. I didn’t get sick from any of the medications this time and my arms were not strapped down. Therefore, they were able to bring Sam to me and I held him on my chest while I was stitched up. He even started eating! That’s the only time I’ve been able to hold my baby to me so soon after his birth and I will cherish the experience.

Happy Daddy! :)
Happy Daddy! 🙂
1st time I get to hold my new baby right away--SO thankful!
1st time I get to hold my new baby right away–SO thankful!

The scary part is that our precious Samuel Sullivan Charles was small, too small for so late in the pregnancy. It turns out my placenta was not in good shape—much of it was dead or inflamed, and they were surprised the little man was getting any nutrients at all. He was also covered in meconium. It is just perfect that I had such excellent care and I had my appointment that day and he came out when he did. He is our little miracle and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us.

Because of his size and because he was slightly early, he had a bit of trouble with his blood sugar initially and some jaundice, but nothing major. He was able to stay with me the entire time I was in the hospital and the stay was pretty uneventful. Sam was born at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29th and we brought him home on Monday, August 3rd.

Praying for a safe 1st journey in the car, headed home.
Praying for a safe 1st journey in the car, headed home.

We Face-Timed Patti and the boys as soon as we could that evening after Sam’s birth. They were thrilled about their new brother and couldn’t wait for their visit the next evening to meet him. We called the next morning before school as well and she told us that all morning they had been talking about Sam, wondering what he was doing as they got ready, how he felt, etc. Gorgeous.

Several people have asked me to compare the birth and hospital experience here to the ones in the U.S. I received excellent care in both countries and overall it was much the same in each. There were a few minor things that I preferred over there, and a few little things that were better here. We are very fortunate to be able to live and give birth in such safe, wonderful places, so we have nothing to complain about.

I had been worried that by having the baby in this farther away hospital, I would be lonely during the stay with it being too far for friends to visit. I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find out this was not the case. For one, my stay included a weekend, so Steve and the boys were able to be with me more, which was great. We made sure the boys were our first visitors on Thursday evening and Steve and I enjoyed the time before then to get to know our new son. A couple friends did make the hour drive to see us, and then a couple others that we knew in that area were now able to come as well. Steve’s family lives in that area and was able to be more involved this way also.

In the hospital and since we came home, as I said before, we have just been overwhelmed by the kindness and help from friends. We have had numerous home-cooked meals and baked goods brought to us as well as gifts. People have been helping me with the school runs, so I have not actually had to do them too often this term. I have had visitors, friends giving advice, listening to me cry, helping me to get out and run my first errands with Sam and even trying to do my chores. They’ve also watched our big boys for us to give us extra time to rest.

As I said, my friends are now my family and I am so grateful for them. I had been so nervous to have a baby without my parents around and I have really felt their absence. So many little things that we never even realized they were doing at the time to make things easier for us, are now apparent in their absence. Therefore, the fact that we have been so surrounded by love, support, kindness and generosity has been an even bigger blessing.

My Mom isn’t even approved to fly this distance since her hip surgery until sometime this month. I keep hoping they’ll just show up on our doorstep, but I know that won’t happen. Just 12 ½ weeks until we leave for the U.S. and in the meantime we are all so thankful for technology. Face Time and texts get us through.

A positive for me, is that this experience has made me feel like a big girl, a grown up. As with the move overall, having a baby in another country has made me realize that Steve and I are a good team and we can do anything. Our little family (well, not so little anymore!) has become a tight knit unit and we are there for each other and help each other through whatever life brings.

Again....me and my boys--3!!!
Again….me and my boys–3!!!

Along this line, I have been so impressed by what big boys my big boys have become. They are so helpful and amazingly understanding about how I need to spend my time right now. And the love! The love they have for this little baby is unbelievable. I have to say that’s been one of my favorite parts so far about having another baby, watching the unconditional love and devotion they show to this little person. They make it clear that he is truly a part of our family that just hadn’t arrived yet. He belongs with us and we love him to bits.

Good morning from the Charles boys! 8/13
Good morning from the Charles boys! 8/13

So there we have it. It’s been three months—6 weeks of preparation and anticipation, and 6 weeks of complete whirlwind and adjustment. Sometimes I can’t believe that a vegetarian yoga teacher is a mother of three boys—in 10 years they’ll likely be getting into fights and wanting to eat steak all the time and I’ll be telling them to meditate and offering them green smoothies! 😉 We just don’t know what life will bring us—heck, it’s also hard to believe that I’m even 38-years-old, a mother at all, living in Australia, teaching yoga—all of it—who would have known?! But what a beautiful life it is.

Moving and Grooving

It’s hard to believe that it’s June; it’s winter and that in about two months we’ll have 3 kids. Reality check coming! During the April school holidays, I became quite apprehensive about the month of May. I kept thinking: teaching 6 kids yoga classes each week, 5 full days of adult  yoga teacher training, a freelance writing assignment, doctor’s appointments, kids school events, etc., all while growing larger by the day…….Yikes! But it actually all went surprisingly smoothly.

It made me see that I waste too much time working myself up about the future without any real need. Once I sit down, make my to-do list and get cracking, it usually all gets taken care of. I hope I can remember that lesson and stay calmer and be more present.

April wrapped up smoothly and I hit my 1st anniversary as a kids yoga teacher on May 1st. It was fun to think about all that’s happened in one year. It was right around the time of the earthquakes in Nepal, which really upset me. In one sense, I hope they upset everyone. But in another, I feel I sometimes get too upset at these events. It just boggles my mind about how differently people can live within the one world–that we are so global in some ways and yet there are still such extreme differences in quality of life. For instance, with the terrible flooding that Boulder experienced a couple years ago, people’s lives were pretty well back to normal within a few weeks. Whereas many of the Nepalese affected could be homeless and without access to their former ways of earning income or to schools, for literally YEARS. It’s just not right.

Anyway, to move one, I have been very involved in my boys’ classrooms so far this year, knowing that I won’t have much time to be soon. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad idea—I don’t want it to be too much of a shock to them when I’m busier. It’s bothered me that Drew has only had one field trip in more than two years of school, but they must have received funding or changed the curriculum or something, because this year I have been able to accompany Zach’s class on a walking trip to the local library a few months ago, Drew’s class to see the movie Cinderella last week, and I will get to go with Zach’s class to see the theater production of the Gruffalo next week.

What’s ironic is that I vividly remember taking a group of senior citizens to a basketball game years ago and seeing school kids on a trip. I talked with my coworker friend about how I would NEVER want to help take kids on a school field trip—-too chaotic! How life changes, eh? It’s still too chaotic, but now I see that chaos as the norm. 😉

Selfie by request of my precious choir boy
Selfie by request of my precious choir boy

I’ve also been helping in Zach’s class on Tuesday mornings and Drew’s on Friday afternoons. I helped at a P&C (think PTA) fundraiser selling trinkets to the kids for Mother’s Day gifts and I’ve been attending school events: Last Friday Steve and I both got to go watch Drew perform with the school choir at a local daycare. For Mother’s Day, Zach’s class invited the mothers in for a morning of “pampering.” It was such a precious experience! I remember going through it with Drew and loved it just as much with Zach. The teachers taught the kids ahead of time how to give us foot massages, paint our nails, do our hair, etc. Hilarious! Then they served cupcakes and juice and gave us gifts they’d made. Zach was proud as a peacock and it was lovely to have that time with him.

Aaahh--foot massage ;)
Aaahh–foot massage 😉
Best hairstylist
Best hairstylist
Mother's Day cuteness
Mother’s Day cuteness

Today I went to their Sports Day (Field Day). Although it’s not really a full day, like what I remember, but rather just a morning, it was lots of fun to watch them participate in little sports games and running races. They are both competitive and put their hearts into whatever they do and it is great to watch and cheer them on. 🙂

Egg & spoon racer at Sports Day
Egg & spoon racer at Sports Day

My yoga classes have been going really well. The kids are enjoying my pregnancy! We have been talking about gratitude this term and in one class, I had everyone tell the group about something good that happened that day. I started by saying I’d had a good doctor’s appointment and am glad I’ve had a healthy pregnancy thus far. A 6-year-old girl yelled out “You’re pregnant?!” It was hilarious! Every parent cracked up. The kids ask me about the baby regularly and randomly poke my belly. What’s funny is that kids do as I do, not as I say. So with poses I can no longer do, such as where you lie on your belly, I try to get down on my knees and forearms and explain the rest (they’re familiar poses to them already), but they get down exactly like me! They are just gems.

However, teaching kids has helped me realize my kids are normal. I deal with clothing left behind consistently, need to tell them to put away their toys/food for class, stop them fighting over who gets a sticker first at the end of class, etc. It’s good to know my kids aren’t the only ones that do all that!

Yoga teacher training has been busy, amazing and inspiring as well. It’s been lovely to meet like-minded people who share many of the same values and beliefs and fitness and eating habits that I do. Everyone in the group is so nice and the teachers are wonderful. Each training day absolutely wears me out, to the core, but I love it.

And the baby has been doing well! All of my appointments so far have been smooth. I’ve been feeling great. I just am bone tired by the end of each day and struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I so cherish the fact that I can nap almost every day with both boys in school!

I’ve stopped eating meat completely this past month or so and have considerably cut back on animal products overall. I don’t feel too differently, as I never ate much meat to begin with, but I have noticed an improvement in digestion. I know this is gross, but it’s hard to keep things moving smoothly during pregnancy. However, without meat, they move along just fine!

I’ve also been focusing more and more each day on keeping things more real, not only regarding what we eat, but our house as a whole. Of course, I’ve made my own cleaning products and laundry detergent for years, and have always tried to eat healthy, but with so much more time at home, I just keep changing more and more. I’ve stopped buying processed flour and sugar, switching to coconut sugar and a combination of flours instead. I make our peanut butter and ketchup and just tried Nutella last week.

What’s been really fun is making our own home products—hand soap, lotion, lip balm, deodorant…..I never realized this stuff could be made outside a lab, but most of it is surprisingly easy and feels lovely on the skin. Although I worry that it will all come to a grinding halt soon….

Well, with everything going so well and smoothly, I hate to admit that the only thing bringing me down is homesickness. What else is new, eh? I didn’t get to take my trip for my cousin’s wedding in May. I know it was for the best, but it hit me pretty hard. I really miss having my family nearby during my pregnancy and I was SO looking forward to them seeing my big belly. Many factors played into the decision, but the biggest was that my adorable niece and nephew weren’t able to go, which of course meant my brother and sister-in-law weren’t really able to go, unless for a night or two and it just didn’t make sense to fly all that way and not see them. It made more sense to save that money to do something nice for us as a family here, instead of just spend it on me at the sacrifice of them.

Even when I booked the tickets, it never seemed real. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel ready to be on the other side of the world from my boys just for pleasure, without even my husband….?? But I hate that the last time I saw my nephew he was only 4 months old, and my niece 3 ½, and they’ll be 2 ½ and 5 ½ when I see them again. That sucks. My Mom has also been struggling and I hate not being there for her. Her hip replacement went well, but now her shoulder needs an operation and she’s refusing. The selfish part of me wants her to get the surgery as soon as possible so she’s healthy enough to get on a plane and come see her grandchildren next year. But the reasonable part of me knows that she’s been selfless and giving her entire life and it’s her body; she needs to feel free to decide what’s acceptable to undergo.

The bigger I get the more it hits me how much life will change soon and that it will change so much for us, for the first time, without me having my family by my side to go through it with. My parents were SO involved with my little baby boys. It feels weird to be doing it without them. It’s funny—part of the reason I wanted more children was because we are out here on our own and I wanted there to be more of us, more support for my kids as they grow. But now that I’m having more, I want to go back and be closer to extended family. Sigh.

I’m being strongly encouraged to have a C-section as well, which I’m not thrilled about. The idea of my body being sliced into is not a pleasant one, and trying to recover with no family support and 3 kids to take care of does not excite me either. Of course, I don’t want a kid in the NICU again either…..there’s never an easy answer. I just feel so healthy right now and I intend to stay that way, and have a healthy baby, too! So I guess that’s a wrap for now—-time will tell; I just need to keep being and loving and moving and grooving. J

Enjoying the Ride

I keep feeling that it must be time to let this blog go by the wayside. I just can’t find time to write it. But for whatever reason, I’m just not ready to completely let it go. Maybe it’s sporadic, but it’s still something I want to do when I can. Anyway, another two months have gone by; a full school term has been completed; I’m now 24-weeks pregnant and life is just grooving along I guess.

Both my boys had birthdays—Zach turned 5 and Drew 7. Zach had croup on his birthday and we had to put his party off for a week. He Really wanted to go to school on his birthday and was so proud to be turning 5. His sweet teacher let him hang in there until his cupcakes were eaten and then she called to let me know he just couldn’t make it through the day. All of his precious friends waited a week and joined us the following weekend for his party—so kind! He was thrilled with it all.

Zach's 5th birthday Feb. 2015
Zach’s 5th birthday Feb. 2015
Happy new 5-year-old
Happy new 5-year-old

Drew got to bring two friends to a local pool for his birthday celebration and had a ball as well—he thought he was especially cool with his birthday falling on Easter Sunday. Quite the party week!

Birthday pool celebration
Birthday pool celebration
Happy Birthday Boy at the pool--can't believe he's 7!
Happy Birthday Boy at the pool–can’t believe he’s 7!

As of May 1st, I will have been teaching yoga to children for an entire year—can you believe it?! From spending all my time in retirement communities to running my own business related to children’s fitness just seems like a complete 180. To think that I started with one class per week and 12 students, and now teach six times per week to over four times that many kids is pretty incredible.

I really enjoy it, although sometimes the business part brings me down. I honestly had never thought I’d be running my own business—it wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. When I got certified, I just thought people would hire me to teach and that would be that. The business part is very hard for me…….But, I’ll keep at it for now and see how it continues.

I also began the adult teacher training certification program last month. I’m enjoying it immensely, but the weekend trainings wear me out! Whew! It’s ironic, too—all that yoga philosophy I keep learning reiterating that yoga is non-competitive, meets everyone where they are; everyone can do yoga, etc. and I just can’t fully let that side of me go. I get in that room with all those uber-fit young people training to be teachers, and I think my growing baby belly body can keep right up with them! Haha 😉

I also started a pre-natal yoga class a few weeks ago. It runs for six weeks, every Thursday evening, just me as a student, taking a yoga class. I almost didn’t sign up because by 7:00 every evening I just want my jammies and the couch, but I decided to go for it as it’s just six weeks and I thought it would be good for me. Every week it’s an effort to get there, but once I do, I’m So glad! It’s just so nice to be around other adults, to not be teaching and to be in a class that’s geared towards my changing body. I practically heave a sigh of relief each week when I walk in that studio.

To cap off yoga, here’s a funny story—last week I taught a class to adults! By accident! Once a month the studio where I teach offers community classes. They’re just $5/person and intend to bring yoga to a broader audience and make it affordable and a fun community event. All the teachers there take turns teaching the class, because it’s basically volunteer-work. April was my turn and we promoted it in every possible way as a class for kids and families. I planned this fun Under the Sea journey-themed class and showed up to teach, along with my helper, Drew. Well, 3 adults showed up—no kids! They had been to community classes in the past and just hadn’t seen any advertising related to this one being different.

At first, I experienced pure panic. Would I teach them my playful kids’ class? Would I tell them to go home? Or, would I just fake it? Yikes! Finally, I told them all the truth—“I teach kids. I don’t teach adults. I’m not qualified to teach adults. I’ve planned a kids’ class for tonight. I am in training to teach adults, and if you don’t mind being guinea pigs, I’m happy to give it a try and we can see what happens. Otherwise, you can go home, or I can teach you a song and games kids’ class.”

They wanted me to just teach! So, I did! Surprisingly, I think it sort of went ok. Luckily none of them had any extensive yoga experience and also were relatively healthy and in good shape. The best part about it was they actually listened to me! They didn’t interrupt me constantly, whine about the poses we were doing or start running in circles around the room. It was fantastic to have people actually listening to me and respecting me as a teacher! When you tell adults to lie down at the end of class, they do it! And they’ll stay for as long as you tell them to! Incredible! J

All in all the past couple months have been quite smooth. Thankfully, the boys finished their Little Athletics track and field program at the end of March. That ended the torturously boring Friday nights for Steve and I. It’s a great concept, but very poorly organized as it’s completely dependent on parent volunteers. I also felt the parents were very cliquey and it was hard to feel a part of things. And, we’re so tired by Friday evening that the last thing we ever wanted to do was go stand around and measure long jumps or time sprints! I think Drew feels the same, but Zach loved it! We’re just crossing our fingers that he doesn’t want to sign up again in September…..

Drew finished swimming lessons for now and starts tennis next week. I love how he likes to try everything. He is also enjoying the school choir. Zach has settled in to Prep like it’s no big deal at all—definitely harder on me than him. I still miss having my little sidekick around some days.

Steve’s job continues to go well for him and he completed his 2nd triathlon last week. We are all so proud of him! We’ve enjoyed going to cheer him on.

Yay, Daddy!
Yay, Daddy!

The baby is healthy and squirming and the pregnancy has been smooth since I stopped feeling so nauseous. Our school holidays were lovely and productive and fun. We got in a couple beach days, a couple fun family adventures, and got a lot done around the house.

School holiday fun--never been a beached preggo before! ;)
School holiday fun–never been a beached preggo before! 😉
More school holiday family fun
More school holiday family fun

As far as family back home, a lot has been going on and I’ve really missed everyone. My Mom had a hip replacement last month, the first major health “thing” I’ve missed. I hated not being there for her, especially when my Dad had to fly to Alabama when my aunt died. I’m so glad it all worked out for them—friends checked in on her and he got to support his brother. It’s just hard feeling so uninvolved and separate from it all. Can’t really just jump on a plane to help when it’s needed….

Our highlight of the past couple months was leaving the boys with trusted, dear friends for two whole nights and going down to Byron Bay for a day at the BluesFest a few weeks ago! We hadn’t left them for two nights since just before we moved here when we left them with my parents one last time. Two nights is a lot to ask of people who aren’t related to us! We are so grateful to them and they were wonderful with our boys. They had a blast and so did we. I felt a bit guilty—it was the longest time I’ve been away from them in almost four years and I didn’t miss them!

Festival time--yay!
Festival time–yay!

It came at a time where the two of us just really needed to reconnect and it was fun going to a music festival together and having some time to relax. We got to see Zac Brown Band as the headliner—so fun! The little cabin we stayed in was gorgeous and peaceful, too.

Ready for ZBB :)
Ready for ZBB 🙂
Peaceful morning---aaahhh :)
Peaceful morning—aaahhh 🙂

And the following week we got out AGAIN and went to the Michael Franti concert! He is just so fun; we will continue to see him whenever we can. After Brisbane, he toured more in Australia and I saw that he went to Perth for the first time and compared the venue there to Red Rocks! That used to be our backyard and he mentioned it like it’s a place everyone should know—very cool. J

One last highlight (and then I better start dinner!) is that I met a girl from Colorado—just walking down the street! How random! Since moving here I’ve randomly “met” three people from Colorado, but two are in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Noone here! But last month we got a sweet package from my brother’s family and it included a tote bag with the state flag on it. I’ve started carrying it when I walk the boys to school and I was on my way home with a friend and she saw it and stopped me! Isn’t that funny? We met today for coffee and it was so neat to talk face to face with someone who grew up in the same area as me and really “gets” it.

The world works in mysterious ways and we are just trying to enjoy the ride right now and be thankful.

Grooving Along…

We have had a pretty groovy, happy, blessed month around here, just enjoying the little things in life and time together. We all seem generally healthy and happy, for which I am so grateful. I have officially taught seven children’s yoga classes as a professional and have been learning SO much! This new business has added significantly to my “busy-ness” and I have spent quite a bit of time over our current 3-day holiday weekend (more coming later on what this particular holiday is) working on promotional materials, feedback forms, signups for classes beginning next term, etc. I could potentially be teaching four classes per week starting next month. Currently, I am teaching two per week. I still feel weird saying “I’m a yoga teacher.” But I am! How incredible this all is!
The weekend after Mother’s Day, I had the fantastic opportunity to take my first girls’ overnight trip since having kids. Three other wonderful women I have met through my kids’ schools and I went down to an awesome little beach town called Byron Bay. We spent the better part of two days relaxing, shopping, chatting, walking and eating. It was great! I feel so blessed to have met such wonderful people here and to feel part of a community.

Ladies' weekend!
Ladies’ weekend!

The following weekend our family enjoyed having absolutely no plans and just getting to hang around. We ended May by meeting up with some fun friends for a rainforest walk in a lovely area where you are allowed to feed lorikeets, parrots and rosellas and they land on you. The boys think that’s just fantastic.
The beautiful Morans Falls that we hiked to on 5/31.
The beautiful Morans Falls that we hiked to on 5/31.

Bird fun!
Bird fun!

A bit more....
A bit more….

I had another full day yoga training last Sunday and we are now wrapping up a 3-day holiday weekend that has been mostly free of plans. Last night we met some friends for a “combined dinner.” We have started just getting together somewhere and just making what we would have made that night anyway. The kids play; we eat and chat; it’s not too much work for anyone and it’s fantastic. To make it even better, one of our friends is French so I am not the only one who doesn’t get most of the jokes and takes a few minutes to figure out what people are saying. 
I have been training diligently for my upcoming half-marathon. It’s on July 20th. I got up to 9 miles yesterday, the farthest I’ve ever run, and I felt pretty good and darn proud! I am really enjoying the time outside, on my own. Yesterday I met a friend for lunch and shopping and rode a boat all by myself! Haha! The ride lasted all of 4 minutes—it was a ferry that brought me from my side of the Brisbane River to hers, but I tell you, those accomplishments are big for this landlubber!
In other news, I have been made redundant at my job. That is the awful Aussie way of saying I have been laid off. I think Aussie terms for many things are just terrible—being told you’re redundant is not nice on the ego at all. Telling a 4-year-old that he’s going in for “his needles” instead of a checkup is downright scary! Anyway, the terminology is the worst thing about it, so once my ego can get past the sad idea of being asked to leave a job because my contribution is “redundant,” we can be happy that this is really a best-case scenario for us.
I have not liked that job at all, but feel so grateful to have had it. It’s helped my family get settled here and be able to do fun things and save money—neither of which we would have been able to do without it. It’s been my first time working in a new country and it’s taught me so much about the Australian workplace, work life and culture in general. For instance, I asked a coworker recently why we are celebrating the Queen’s birthday this weekend, when her birthday was actually back in April. She looked unsure and then told me, “I’m pretty sure it’s because April didn’t suit us. We already have enough going on in April with Easter holidays and ANZAC day, so June just works out better for us.” Only in Australia! That’s just awesome!
The other good part about being made redundant is that not only am I asked to leave my part time job, but I will be paid to leave it as well. They are keeping me on until late August if I want to stay that long and allowing me to look for other jobs during work time to some degree. After I leave they will pay me for six more weeks plus any vacation time I still have. Much different than good ole U.S.A., eh? There, I would have been told, “We don’t need you anymore. You can leave now. Thank you for everything.” And that’d be it!
Steve and I discuss sometimes that the support available in this country to live a family-friendly lifestyle and the lack of gun violence are the main reasons we will likely always live here. The difference is sad and striking. I SO wish the U.S. could offer this high of a quality of life and standard to all citizens!
Although I am a bit panicky about what this job loss will mean for us financially, I honestly think we will come out ahead in time. Our government assistance will increase as our income decreases; I can make up part of the difference through my yoga classes—depending on how well they do, it could be a substantial part. I can put more effort into writing, which I hope should translate into some decent income as well. I may even look into one of those direct/home sales businesses, as a side to yoga and a side to writing. I also may visit some retirement communities and inquire about some super-part-time work.
I teach yoga to kids!!
I teach yoga to kids!!

I don’t think I will look hard for another job outside of these ideas until next year, however. With Zach only in school two days per week and teaching yoga during part of that time, a job would be quite difficult to find I think. Next year he is in school full time (No!!! My baby!), so I will have more flexibility.
Otherwise, everyone around here has been busy and happy. Steve has been getting out quite a bit and is enjoying footy (rugby) season. His job has been a bit stressful, but he thinks he’s through the worst of it and has been handling it all well. He will be looking for a new job later this year and already applied for a couple. He didn’t have any luck, which while not ideal, is not a huge issue because he has a good job and for that we are thankful.
Zach has really been blossoming in kindy and also just loves his Friday morning soccer program. He also is happy just hanging out running errands, visiting friends, going to playgroup, etc. Whatever we are doing, he’s generally happy—unless it’s dinner time and in that case he is an absolute nightmare! Oh well…….We help in Drew’s classroom every other Friday and both boys just love it. Zach acts like one of the big boys and thinks he has arrived and Drew is proud as punch showing off little brother. I love it, too. I get to read one on one with the children and they are just precious. Zach, through the unending patience of Steve, has also been learning how to ride his bike without training wheels! He is doing well, although he has a long way to go. He is our clumsy kid and he is in his own world, which is not great for safety awareness! He desperately wants to keep up with the big boys, so Steve keeps working with him…
Drew has been so busy in school and it is all just amazing. In first grade, at six years old, he had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class! Beforehand, he had to write out the poem and add cues to let the teacher know when he would raise/lower his voice, speed up/slow down, etc. Crazy! His reading just blows my mind—he now helps read to Zach at bedtime.
Last week he had Sports Day (the equivalent to Field Day) and was very proud to get a 3rd place ribbon in his 100-meter running race (he ran against four other kids—haha!). He also sang in a school-wide concert, which was super cute. He has been doing gymnastics weekly and he thoroughly enjoys that.
Run, baby, run!
Run, baby, run!

And, of course, they are my sweet, supportive yogis—all three of my boys are my biggest fans and I depend on them more than they know! Life is good.


Happy Mother’s Day! Today is a day that makes me feel grateful for the wonderful, loving, strong, kind, selfless mother I grew up with, who still continues to give endlessly of herself to her children and all people who know her. As an adult now, I think of all the times she must have struggled with us as children and yet she seemed to handle it all effortlessly. I never felt lacking in love or any other way growing up, which truly amazes me now as I try to do right by my own children.

6th birthday silliness with my loves

It also makes me think about all the other beautiful mothers I am so blessed to know and call sister-in-law, cousins, and friends. They are all such exceptional human beings. I am so grateful to have such incredible role models in my life, who embody the type of mother and woman I daily strive to be.

And I also think about women who never get to publicly hold the beautiful title of mother, and not by choice. I think maybe they are stronger and more graceful than all the rest of us…..

For my beautiful little family of four, it has been an incredibly happy, gorgeous span of several weeks. We are all healthy and happy, with each other and with the world around us, and it feels so good. I have been learning so much about myself and who I want to be and it has been humbling and inspiring at the same time. I think it’s so interesting how different things find their way into our lives and can seem completely unrelated, but yet all feel like they are supposed to be happening, for their different reasons. I hope I can explain some of that here.

I started April by pulling together the different foreign pieces required to start my own business teaching yoga to children. It still feels weird to say I am a children’s yoga instructor and that I have my own business, but both are as true as they can be—wow!

I needed to get fliers out to the kids at my son’s school before they went on a 2 ½ week break on April 4th. Very speedily, I finalized a business name, designed, printed and distributed fliers (thanks to the help of my wonderful husband and friends), opened up a business email account and Facebook page, and began designing enrollment forms, welcome letters, record-keeping systems and invoices (again thanks to incredible help!), all of which I had not thought about previously or have any knowledge about how to do.

The day after the fliers went out, on the 5th, my beautiful little boy turned 6 and we hosted a party for him complete with the special rainbow cake he’d requested. While it seemed a bit ironic that I was preparing for both the business and the birthday in the same week, it actually helped keep me grounded and reminded me of what will always be my most important role, that of mother. He had a beautiful day and felt so loved. We all did. It was great.


The next week, to my surprise and delight, my initial class reached capacity! Steve and the boys were off of work and school and we managed to fit in some fun excursions on our own and with friends, including a 3-hour yoga workshop for Drew and I. It is even more precious now that he is in school full time and busier with friends and other activities to get to spend time just the two of us and we had a lovely six hours together. Steve and I also got an evening out to enjoy my second professional rugby game with our children in the hands of my dear friend’s little sister, which was so special.

Night of footy with my main squeeze 🙂


All the boys had the 3rd week of April off as well and we took the boys ice skating one day. They loved trying it in December in Colorado so much that they’d asked to go again and we found a nearby rink. The differences were quite interesting—it was at least twice the price, in a much fancier private rink and it was jam packed. We couldn’t believe the crowds! It was also quite odd to be dressed in shorts and sandals and then needing warm clothes for a couple hours inside, so no one was dressed appropriately (not just us, I mean no one at the rink—everyone looked out of place and it was hilarious!). And then we went for a picnic afterwards. I know plenty of people in the U.S. skate in the summer and do the same things, but I never really had much of a desire to when it wasn’t cold out, so all of these things seemed odd. 🙂

Brisbane ice skating
Lego movie fun

We also took in the Lego movie and spent Good Friday, a public holiday, at a gorgeous beach, enjoying a picture-perfect day in all regards. Holidays still seem to make me feel a bit down and homesick and Easter was no different. It is really hard being the only ones around that never get visitors, and sometimes friendships still seem to take so much effort, which can feel exhausting. But that is where one of the other oddities about this past month comes in—a while back I had randomly stumbled across a free 21-day online meditation “class” led by Deepak Chopra and Oprah. I signed up for it because I really want to learn more about meditation and incorporate it more, but find it difficult to prioritize and always feel like I’m doing it “wrong.” It happened to start on the 14th and I almost didn’t follow through with all that was going on, but something made me just start it up…….It ended up being great! It was tough to get the 25 minutes free and quiet in the evenings to do it (I am not willing to compromise my morning workout time for anything! Enough said on that one.), and I missed a couple days here and there, but got through all 21 days and feel like I really benefited from it.

Picture perfect in every way

I remembered to focus on our little unit of four, and when I do, I realize how great we really have it. I also remembered that when it seems tough socially, the best thing to do, hard as it can seem, is to just keep at it. It’s not going to get any better if I don’t! So I did and have had some lovely interactions with people who I am really starting to consider to be close friends and now actually have my first girls’ overnight trip planned for next weekend—can’t wait!

But most importantly, I remembered that I am the one who is in control of how I feel and what I portray to the world. Meditation and my increased focus on yoga have been combining to truly make me more peaceful, positive and genuinely happy. I am doing better at recognizing when I feel anger, frustration, loneliness, etc. and can sit with those feelings, but then let them move through me, coming back to my true self. I know it can sound cheesy and hippy, but whatever works, right? This is what works for me and I am glad that 21-day experience came into my life when it did.

The following week, Drew had a cross country meet at school, which was precious. He is quite competitive and tries so hard and that alone makes me proud. He came in 4th and was disappointed! Only briefly, though. He is a positive kid. We can learn so much from our children…..they really embody the tolerance, patience and acceptance of self and others that we all need.

Ready. Set. Go!

He also started a weekly gymnastics class, which he fully enjoys. I realized it’s everything he does on all our furniture, in stores, in airports, etc. only now he’s letting it all out in an appropriate environment! It’s a great outlet for his energy.

That night Steve and I got ANOTHER night out (2 in one month!) to attend one of the most joyful music events on this earth—I am not exaggerating. And, I got to meet one of my true music idols and even get a photo with him! We went to the Michael Franti and Spearhead concert with good friends and spent the evening dancing, being uplifted into a cloud of positivity, and really focusing on what is important in life and the commonalities we all share. It was gorgeous. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully come down from that high. His songwriting and way of relating to people are such incredible gifts—so life affirming. The band even came out and interacted and danced with all of us after the show—it was a night to remember for sure!

Meeting Michael Franti!!
Yeah, we’re bffs–didn’t you know?! 😉
Hangin’ with Spearhead–’cause that’s how this middle-aged mommy rolls! Haha 😉

Friday of that week, we left on our first solo camping trip as a family since we’ve moved Down Under (whew—feeling like a busy few weeks yet! I can hardly get it all in writing, but it’s all worth mentioning.). It was a fantastic three days, absorbing loving moments, enjoying time to slow down, disconnecting from technology, reveling in nature and just being together. I will cherish it. We seemed to all need it and grow and benefit from it. The boys completely impressed us both by managing a 6k hike up quite a steep incline and including sections on exposed rocks without complaint. In fact the opposite—with joy and enthusiasm. Drew actually become obsessed with the area, studying maps, planning future hikes, asking which trails were the most difficult and when could he do them. I loved it! It was great to see him share my addiction and brought back memories of spending summers in my early 20s hiking and tracking my mileage and elevation gain and going back to hike almost the exact same trail to be able to branch off to see a new lake I hadn’t visited yet. It was so special to see our children enjoying time outdoors, which the 2 of us have enjoyed together for so long. It also brought back an activity we/I used to do in Colorado so often.

My babies and I on the trail 🙂
Girraween National Park

During that trip, the 3rd oddity that strangely contributed to this overall feeling of strength and wellbeing occurred. I delved into a book someone recommended to me called Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. It was about ultra-runners, the history of running our society, and the evolution of humans related to running. It was fantastic! I finished it yesterday and almost hated to, because now I miss it. Although I will never be an ultra-runner, I could relate to it in so many ways. Funnily enough, it posed the concept that runners are kinder, happier people and made me realize that partly why I am so addicted now to this relatively new early morning habit of mine is because it’s basically a meditation for me, and a way to feel more centered, energized and positive all day.

Is this making any sense? Yoga, running, meditation—they’re all intertwined and when they are all part of my life, I’m a better mother, wife, person in general. The book, the meditation course and the yoga business (even the concert) all came into my life during the same month—it seems to be a glaring sign that everything is happening as it should. How perfect is it that I get to pass on healthy habits to children in not only a physical sense, but also in the sense of mental clarity and spiritual awareness as it relates to compassion toward ourselves and others and our overall connectedness, while at the same time continuing to nurture all of that in myself?! I’m even getting paid to do it! It all seems so unreal, yet so natural. It’s a true spin out!

The book also made me take the leap I’ve been toying with taking—I went ahead and signed up for a half marathon–eep! It’s July 20th and along the water. If I’m going to live in Australia and enjoy jogging, I want to do a fun race near the water and really soak in the benefit of where I live. I ran 11k yesterday and while tiring, it felt exhilarating, as it always seems to. 

And, back to the beginning excitement, I did officially start my FULL children’s yoga class! May 1st was our kickoff and I taught on the 8th as well. I love it! The room is full of beautiful souls. Yoga is perfect for children—they are at the right age to come into it without any preconceptions; they are open to trying something new and not worried yet about whether they can or can’t and what other people think. They fully experience the joy that yoga offers without any hindrances—it is awesome to be a part of.

I also taught a trial class at Zach’s preschool and they meet next week to decide whether or not to offer it to families as an extracurricular option. And I had my next level of training last weekend—all day both days. I have been quite immersed in yoga and meditation these past couple weeks.  No wonder it’s seeping into every aspect of my life and being. Aaahhh! 🙂

Humility, Admiration & Progress

The past four weeks have been days of humility, healing, and personal growth for me. It’s been truly eye-opening. Firstly, I know that I am blessed with the most incredible support system of family and friends, near and far, old and new. I have been so touched with the messages of love and kindness I have received, from those closest to me in distance and/or in heart, and by those who I was surprised thought enough of me to reach out.
I have been humbled by their honest expressions of kindness and by the stories of loss and grief that they have told. People go through so much in this world; we have no idea. It has helped me to remember that whenever people act in ways that frustrate me, I need to step back and remember they have a story; they have something going on that I know nothing about and it is in no way my place to judge. This is something I strive to remember, but too easily forget. We never know what people are dealing with on the day that we interact with them and what is spurring their actions and words. I need to remember to bring acceptance and tolerance to any situation.
I heard stories of stillbirths, of amazingly strong women laboring to deliver a recognizable human who would never breathe and who would later be buried. I heard stories of inspiring women waiting to find out news that would be crushing, of finding the strength to try again and move forward. I heard about women who cry decades later remembering their experiences, but are able still to lavish love on their surviving dear ones. The strength and love women are capable of is truly inspiring!
However, I must relate one particularly touching message that was from a man. It sticks out because it was the only message I received from a male unrelated to me. It sticks out also because we last were friends in a face to face way 20 years ago and even then, weren’t close. But it was more meaningful because he told of his own struggle with emotion when his wife miscarried a few years ago. It gave me great pause:
So many of us women, myself included, have said these losses are harder for us. We are the ones who deal with the physical loss, with our changing bodies. This story made me realize that in reality it is unfair of us to think that. It is judging, the way I mentioned above. I tried to think about it from a man’s perspective. Number one, it is less accepted by society for them to cry and be broken up by a miscarriage; they likely feel more pressure to hold their emotions in. Also, they don’t have the support system that we have in each other, other women’s stories of their pain. Again, it is likely harder for them to reach out to other men and seek support in this situation, partly because it is “their wives” who are experiencing it, not them. And sadly, that’s not true! But what hit me most of all, is that men not only have to deal with the loss of the child and of their plans for fatherhood, they also have to watch their wives in physical and emotional pain and feel quite helpless to “make it better”, which is what men need to do. It made me think about it all in a whole new way and I commend and admire the man who reached out to me to share so openly and vulnerably.
As for me, I am doing quite well. I do get sad around pregnant women and new babies and we seem to have been around a lot of both lately. We have put the idea in the back of our minds for now while we wait for my body to get back to a couple months of normalcy. We think we want to try again when we do revisit the topic, but are not firm right now and neither of us wants to pursue this idea much older than we currently are. We’ll see…..
Once I stopped wallowing, I decided to throw myself into my personal goals and dreams and all the things that would have been put on a back burner if there was a baby on the way. I got back into exercising and am playing with the idea of a long race sometime this fall/winter (It still sounds so funny to say that at the end of March! Will it ever feel normal???). I cooked and baked a lot, because feeding my family nutritious food and satisfying our sweet tooths in healthier, more natural ways fuels me. I updated my resume to get serious about moving beyond this part time job that brings me no fulfillment. I reached out to possible mentors and people succeeding in fields I am interested in to get guidance.
And things started to happen! My main freelance writing client wrote me a glowing recommendation on Elance, the site I work with him through. The editor of the magazine that published my first creative article last year gave me fantastic advice and told me she would welcome future article ideas from me anytime. 
But the most exciting news deals with yoga. My insurance and Blue Card (two requirements over here to teach children) came through this month, enabling me to set up meetings at both of my boys’ schools about the possibility of teaching. The meeting at Zach’s school is next week, but Drew’s principal told me yesterday that she supports me launching my own class one afternoon each week after school. WOWowowowweeeeee!!! I can’t believe it! She wants 200 fliers to send home with families and I can start when school resumes after a two-week break late next month. Out of nowhere, I need to finalize a business name, create enrollment forms for the children, devise a pricing structure, design fliers, start a Facebook page and internet marketing……Holy moly, is this real?! Somebody pinch me!
Anyway, I will keep you posted on what develops, but the first day I teach a class that I am paid for, it will be proof that dreams really do come true and it is possible to get paid to follow your passion—completely awesome!
And what’s funny about all that is that I returned home from the meeting, floating on a cloud, to Zach beginning to throw up for the next three hours with a nasty stomach bug. I consider it a gentle reminder not to lose sight of my main and true purpose in life—thank you, Universe, for keeping me grounded!  Poor little man is much better today and while I have felt bad for him, I have been impressed by how sweet and polite he’s been through it all and grateful for the extra snuggles.

Sweet family days out
Sweet family days out

As for the rest of us, Steve and Drew, and all of us, are looking forward to two plus weeks off school as of next Friday. We’ve had a pretty normal, routine month overall. Steve enjoyed a weekend away with his rugby team. We’ve kept up with the usual children’s birthday party circuit. We’ve enjoyed some fun social evenings and some sweet family days together. The week of the miscarriage, Drew seemed off a bit, so he stayed home from school that Friday and I just truly reveled in an opportunity to love on my babies and enjoy slow time together. It was poignant and beautiful.
Zach has started a soccer program and is precious to watch. He loves every minute of it and I can’t stop staring at his face full of concentration, determination and thrill. Steve is taking the boys to their last two swimming lessons until we pick it up again in October, which is giving me an incredible gift (it truly is the little things!) to have a break from that weekly routine.
Most exciting of all is that Drew is beginning to read. He really is! Something just recently clicked for him. It’s weird, realizing our days of spelling things are nearly over, but so awe-inspiring to watch this world open up for my child. Seeing him point out words to me as we drive around and putting sentences together in books is incredible. It drives home that reading does truly open up a whole new world for us. It is an incredible gift to be able to be a part of this process with my child and I am so grateful for it. It really is a beautiful life, when we slow down enough to appreciate it.
I just finished reading “I Am Malala,” the book about the teenage girl who campaigns for education and was shot by the Taliban. It was eye opening—realizing that our world feels so global and connected to me most of the time, yet there are still people out there without access to what we take for granted as basic rights and necessities. It is shocking and sad. It makes me ever more grateful for the life I have and it makes me want to keep working at practicing that acceptance I mentioned earlier and at enjoying the gifts I have been given.

Should I Buy a Lottery Ticket?

I love jacaranda season!  Our purple carpet on the walk to school...
I love jacaranda season! Our purple carpet on the walk to school…

Breathe. Remember to breathe. “If you don’t breathe, you die.” That’s what my yoga training teacher tells us and thank goodness for yoga, because otherwise, I don’t know if I would have had time to breathe last month. But breathe I certainly do, and in actuality, I am breathing in so much joy and so many blessings right now that it seems like too much for just one person. I have enough right now; my cup truly runneth over and I am happy to share it around—I hope I can!
It’s been an action-packed month and I feel a sense of peace even now by “forcing” myself to sit down and get my thoughts on the screen. It seems like all this started happening out of nowhere, but I do realize that it actually is happening because of a lot of persistence and hard work that I’ve put forth and chances that I’ve taken. It’s just incredible that it’s all happening at once!
Although I had asked at my playgroup and Drew’s school if I could practice teaching yoga, it felt like I was just too busy and unprepared to firm up the plans. I hadn’t even finished my assignments yet from the Level 1 training to get my 1st certification—how could I teach without having done the planning for the hypothetical situations in the homework?
Well, this new spontaneous (huh?) me, just decided one day that if I didn’t set a date, I never would and I wanted this to happen. I truly believe that something/someone/some force is truly leading me this way. So I set the date of the 24th at playgroup and the 31st and 1st at the school. Done! Only now, in addition to my two hours of work from home, which are in addition to my 2 days of work outside the home and are for some reason difficult to find the time to do (that seems crazy to me, but I promise it’s true), I still had the yoga homework to do AND now had three classes to prepare to teach in an area I’ve never taught before! Smart move, Mommy! PLUS, it was the month for Halloween (which Drew and I must have been on some version of holiday speed trying to prepare for) AND just 4 weeks prior to the 40th birthday party I’m hosting for my husband. I really do put all this on myself; I’m a complete wacko.
(I just have to say that my writing tonight keeps getting interrupted by Drew’s itchy butt needing my attention. If tonight is going to be my first experience with kids’ worms that seem to be so common here…..let’s just not go there. Yuck!)
Anyway, all three teaching experiences turned out beautifully. It is incredible how children respond to yoga. Watching them lie calmly in meditation after having crazy fun with them trying to imitate different animals fills me with joy. It really does. Maybe I deserve that hippie nickname I so often get! I had a ball and I hope they did, too. I spent all of this past weekend in the Level 2 training, which was another inspiring experience. I have now set up practice teaching sessions at Zach’s daycare and with Steve’s teenagers (Yikes! I haven’t even learned that age yet, but I think I can do it—he wants less than 30 minutes anyway and I think it could really help them.) I have another set of homework to complete, too.
At the same time, my yoga teacher said she’d like me to help with writing for her business, an opportunity I do not want to pass up. Aside from the fact that it’s a way to get more experience and exposure in writing AND yoga, it’s subject matter that I am passionate about for a woman that’s a true gem. She is an incredible person and anything I can do to help in her passion, which is becoming my passion, is a great opportunity.
Also, the guy I’ve been helping with website and course materials for his cyber security business now wants me to continue working for him indefinitely, instead of finishing this week, which was the original plan. This is immensely flattering as well.
Then, as if my cake didn’t have enough icing, an article I submitted back in June to a local parenting magazine, about my identity crisis related to moving here, just got published this week! Ironically, at a time when my identity feels the strongest it’s felt in close to 6 years—isn’t life just amazing?! What’s also ironic is that it didn’t get published here. It’s in Sydney and Melbourne editions of the magazine, but not Brisbane or other, smaller cities.
Finally, to just completely spin me out, I won the sweep today at work for the Melbourne Cup race and got the $45 prize. Haha! I don’t even know if I wrote that out correctly. I have no idea what’s even going on! The big Melbourne Cup horse race is the first Tuesday of November and I described last year in my blog how incredible the experience was at work—being provided with a huge lunch and free alcohol in the middle of the work day, sitting around for two hours and watching a 3-minute horse race. It’s awesome! Every country should stop a work day once a year for something so nonsensical (maybe not horse racing because I really don’t like seeing animals mistreated, but for something….doing so can honestly only spread happiness.)
Thankfully, to bring me back down to earth a bit, a children’s story I submitted to Highlights magazine in the U.S. did get rejected today. So I do know that I’m still human. I think Drew might be most upset about that one, but I told him we will work on the story he wants me to write about fairies during our big trip next month.
Did you hear what I said?! Yes, our BIG trip is next month! Woohoo! So glad to be able to say those two little words—next month. Seriously, 18 months is too long to go without seeing my parents. I don’t like it. And we’re all just so excited to see several family members (meet our new nephew/cousin!), friends, mountains and snow. We are all looking forward to the adventure.
It’s very clear to me as I write this out that these numerous blessings and sources of joy are all about ME, good things happening for ME. That seems a bit selfish. I sometimes wish I could be one of those mothers who experience complete satisfaction and bliss from the transition to motherhood alone. I’m not one of them. I don’t know why, but I’m not. But I don’t feel guilt about all this good happening for ME, because it all makes me a better mother, because it makes me a better person. I’ve learned that, although my kids and my husband are sources of immense joy for me and I cherish so many special, everyday moments with them, that I am just plain nicer to be around when I have something that is all “Kathleen’s” to focus on. Right now I get that boost from exercise, writing and learning to teach yoga.
And speaking of yoga—the learning to teach part has also led me deeper into a practice I have enjoyed for 13 years. In the last year or so I’ve started exploring and learning more about meditation and Buddhism and all of this learning is really helping me right now. I’m learning to be a more positive communicator, a calmer person, more relaxed, kinder, more empathetic. So pursuing my own interests doesn’t just benefit me even if it does sound selfish at first. It benefits everyone around me.
Zach was in the middle of a tantrum the other day and I calmly but firmly said, “Zach! Remember your breath!” I’m not kidding—he stopped. He calmed down and communicated his issue. It may have been coincidence or it may have been that my focus on learning about breathing and staying calm is helping more than just me.

My costumed cuties with some of their homemade crafts
My costumed cuties with some of their homemade crafts

On a lighter note: Halloween! I do get frustrated at the backlash I experience directed towards this holiday, as well as the overall religious and multicultural intolerance I run into in this area. It is all quite new for me. But I am going to focus on the positive right now and emphasize how many more people around us happily joined in our celebrations and silliness this year—many for their first time! That made it an even more fun experience. Drew spent most of the month making decorations to hang around the house. The kid moves so fast—I would find an idea online for a craft and he’d be hitting me with requests for all sorts of outlandish supplies so he could create what’s in his head at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday, while I’m still drinking my tea, so I’d show him what I found online and say, “Maybe we can make this later today.” He’d come back in 20 minutes with the finished product and wondered what other ideas I had. I’m not kidding. It’s gorgeous. And it’s exhausting.
My beautiful parents sent each boy 3 costumes this year. They arrived in September and were the cause of much excitement and fun in the house with all visitors as well. We went to a Halloween party on the 19th and I found an idea online to be the Queen of Hearts—very simple using an old dress and buying a kids’ tiara and some felt pieces to cut into hearts and pin on. Well, to Drew, this was incredible—“making” your own costume. He had to do it. The three lovingly mailed costumes got shoved aside and he got into high gear creating. Of course you have to support that! That’s what Halloween is all about. My favorite part about the holiday is seeing what creations people come up with. We finished my costume about 10 minutes before we had to leave, so that night, he hurriedly put on ALL of his swimming gear to be a “diver” and the next weekend we helped him (mainly Steve. He’s so good at that stuff!) use a trash bag to become a swamp creature for the big Halloween carnival, which is so much fun. Then on Halloween day, he decided to wear the “wolfman” costume he’d received. We also had a very happy Buzz Lightyear at two events and a friendly dinosaur on Halloween day.
We trick-or-treated with friends in the evening, which was great fun. And in the afternoon our local little main street organized a safe Halloween trick-or-treat event for the kids for the first time ever. Apparently, one of the business owners is American and wanted a proper Halloween experience for his kids. It was a lot like the Munchkin Masquerade in Boulder and it was a blast! Such a community-building event! I think it’s safe to say that Halloween has officially arrived and been welcomed with open arms in Australia! Complete with a sausage sizzle in the street—it just wouldn’t be Aussie without one!

Halloween with some new recruits--so fun!
Halloween with some new recruits–so fun!