“Julie, you are your own worst enemy!”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that in my life…..OK I wouldn’t be rich but I would certainly have a healthier bank account balance.
This morning I was reading a post over at Being Sober where the author spoke about feeling like she was slacking. If you read the post you’ll see she was ´╗┐going to begin work a bit later than she normally would, and that her bosses would have no problem with it.
I immediately understood what she meant, I truly am my worst enemy. This self-depreciating trait is certainly one of my worst behavior patterns and one of the most difficult to change.
As you may be aware, I’m one who loves analogies and examples so here we go!!
When hubby and I purchased our home we knew it was a fixer-upper.
I shared a bit about our renovations here with Thinking of Home Renovation? 
We were aware that the house would need updating, to be polite I’ll just say that their love of pink carpeting, borders and balloon valances differed from my preferences……exhibit A:
In order to give you the full picture of the renos I must post the next photo, please be gentle! Thank goodness my early pregnancy fashion challenges didn’t last long! Seriously why didn’t someone let me know I was wearing Grandma jeans??
We had of course budgeted for this but life got in the way via an unexpected pregnancy (yeah!!!), a leaky roof (boo), a broken furnace (are you freaking serious?), a water softener on the fritz(figures) ….the list goes on.
The day finally came…YEARS later when we could afford to begin our decorative renos and off we went!
Walls were removed, painted, new windows installed, an island built and flooring laid!!
It was seriously hard work, there was lots of research to do, frugal purchases to be made and ultimately it was one of the most rewarding projects Hubby and I have taken on.
This was the living room result….a bit empty but a huge improvement!
This was the view into the dining room….I’ll be asking you to return to this photo in a minute to make my point…
But first, here is a photo taken this Easter which shows the view from the living room into the kitchen now that there are no walls.
I’m sure you’ll agree the changes are drastic, we love them and are proud of our efforts.
So where does my self-deprecation come in?
Scroll above again to that photo of the renovated dining room, move your gaze to the upper right of the photo and you will notice that the crown molding doesn’t continue onto the wall on the right. We didn’t finish it …..total flaw! There are also a few spots where the gaps in the flooring aren’t exactly even, that also drives me nuts at times.
So even thought we managed to update our home to suit our tastes, made cleaning so much easier and replaced leaky windows I wasn’t satisfied.
Can you imagine how frustrating it must be being married to me?
So what should my newly established sassy self do?
I’ve written often about my perspective change and this is one of the most dramatic ones.
 It’s not really noticeable, unless you’re in my immediate vicinity often.
It occurs in my head.
Nowadays I can see my faults and I can make changes when possible and live with others.
So as for the bloody crown molding, it will have to wait for another day when we’re in the mood and until that day I keep my chin tilted down!
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I can,
 and the Wisdom to know the difference.
Funny how it ALWAYS applies.

I feel totally out of touch because I haven’t been posting regularly lately. I am still HERE and my journey has been in a learning phase these past few weeks.

Being in this setting where routine is simple has allowed me to rest and recharge. I have been afforded the opportunity to reflect upon the past year and see the dramatic changes.

Today I find myself thinking about how my change of perspective occurred. I didn’t simply wake up one day and make an intellectual decision to turn my life around. Well ok it’s not like I had lost everything yet, but when you go from persuing material things and status oriented titles, to being focused upon helping others and persuing servitude it’s a massive 180!

So yes there was a decision which was made but it was the actions which actually achieved the change. There was no major mystery, I was and am still inclined to be materialistic and driven by self will. I have a weakness for name brands. When I picture myself in a new vehicle it’s a luxury style vehicle with lots of bling!

The difference now is that it’s not my primary focus, frankly I rarely find my thoughts on those paths.

What has hit me is that which we spend time longing for are shapable through practice. I heard a speaker use the analogy of a boy being dressed in hockey equipment. When he is young he cannot do it alone, an adult helps and over time he learns to dress himself. Any adult male who was raises playing hockey knows the names of the pieces and how they are worn. After years of practice the boy can put on all the equipment while chatting with friends, without thought. Through practice it has become second nature.

This is how my perspective has changed, with practice. When I fall back into my old habitual ways, I quickly acknowledge it and replace the thoughts with ones which support the life I am seeking to lead.

This isn’t a simple practice, I am not at the stage of it feeling entirely natural but the efforts are already bearing fruit.

I believe that my longings are shapable through concrete rhythms and practices aimed at what I belies is the “good life.”

In the past when I felt empty and worthless, it was impossible for me to find fulfillment from the achievement of my desires. My desires were superficial and so were the results. Jesus was my answer, he came not as the answer to an intellectual question but as the lover of my soul.

Bizarre isn’t it? I had sought for so long something which seemed utterly elusive and I found it had always been available to me.

It is only by redirecting the direction of my longing that I have found my own value and purpose. Quite simply it is my love which defines me, my loves are habits. By changing my social practices, activities and thoughts my love has been channeled to a different end. Towards an end which continues to afford me serenity.

Paul tells us about this in Colossians 3:12-17

Each day I will continue to clothe myself in the character traits/virtues/good habits I can until I achieve the natural internal disposition to do the right thing!

Who knew that my blog was so important to me?
The unthinkable happened last week…….my blog was inaccessible!!!
I had been moving it from Blogger to Word Press and to begin the process I moved the domain name to a different host. Thinking I had it all in order, we came up to cottage country where the Internet is the elusive prize for some rest and relaxation.
When I had some free time I went online and wrote my last post, hit publish and it happened!
I sat there facing a screen which was definitely NOT my blog.
I’ll save you all my non-techy explanation and sum it up by saying that I had moved the domain name but not the historical content.
Why did I ever think that I could do this by myself?
Because that’s just how I roll.
I’m that girl who convinces herself that she is perfectly able to climb Mount Everest with no safety gear, I’ll simply chart my path and have at ‘er!
In the past I was able to accomplish my goals, by deeply researching all of the information I would plan my projects from start to finish and execute them well.
Alas, I am not that girl anymore. You would think after living with this brain injury for a year and a half I would get that…..that my expectations of myself would be different.
And yet sometimes they’re not. I often find myself focusing upon what I can’t do rather than what I can, this leads to HUGE episodes of anxiety and stress.
I’m not saying it happens daily, in fact I’ve done lots of meditation on focusing upon what I can do. For example, last year when our family travelled here, I was only able to remain upright for an hour at the most. Then I would excuse myself from family time and go lie down. This year I am grateful that I can participate to a much larger degree.
It seems to happen most often when I am facing something which I haven’t since the accident. I was quite computer savvy before, not sayin’ I was a true techy girl but I certainly would have been able to follow the instructions in this case. So on that day when I couldn’t follow what appeared to be simple instructions, all of the changes in my life seemed to crash in upon me.
What did I do?
How did I handle it?
I didn’t hide.
I didn’t give in and lose myself in a panic attack.
There was no trip to the liquor store.
I wasn’t nasty to my husband or children.
Frankly at first I just let it go, I prayed about it and decided there was nothing I could do until I returned home. My focus remained where my hands were and my thoughts didn’t return to my site. 
It wasn’t like I was stiff-upper-lipping it, it just didn’t bother me anymore. Hubby arrived here and we’ve been having a blast as a family…although I wish my 7 year old would get her little butt out of the entitlement stage she is enjoying.
Yesterday I checked my emails and saw an email from the lady I’ve hired to redesign my blog. Jessica from The Frilly Coconut Design Shoppe was checking in to see if I was ready to begin the process. Of course instantly I blahh blahh blahhed the situation to her like some crazy person.
Jessica had me settled again in a few minutes, she took over the situation and within a few hours she had my blog back up and running!!!!

I wonder if Jessica was ready for my profuse thank yous…..from now on I will always picture her in a Wonder Woman costume!
Once again I gave my worries to God and the answer came without my interference!
And in the time when the blog was down, I was contacted by a high school friend I haven’t seen in years who is seeking sobriety. He had read my blog and felt he could contact me….he thanked me for being transparent and showing him an example of a “fun” sober life.
If I had been preoccupied with fixing my blog, I may have missed that.
I am up north in Muskoka, Ontario enjoying some time away. The girls and I are in cottage country, Hubby will join us next week. This is an opportunity to slow things down, and man it is an amazing blessing for me.
Before my car accident we didn’t take holidays in the summer.
Generally speaking we took a day here or there and we tended to extend long weekends.
With 4 day weekends we could visit lots of friends and do the home renos we loved.
If I had taken a full week, I probably would have gone nuts. Much of who I was at the time, was defined by my career. I took too much pride in my title and my performance. The only time I took a week off was to go to Jamaica with hubby for a week and even with the all-inclusive bar I was struggling. I would head to the lobby every morning, raising a fuss because high tides had knocked out the internet.
And yet here I sit, alone in Muskoka enjoying this peace and quiet.
I have no titles, I have no career to busy me and there is nobody to lose myself in.
Why am I so happy?
What changed for me?
Everything frankly.
By finding my sobriety, learning to value myself as I am and following my 12 Step Program my relationship with God had a chance to flourish. My perspective changed, instead of seeing work I should do on myself, I ask what has God got for me to do today?
It wasn’t until I hit the point of desperation that I was willing to admit defeat.
That my busy life wasn’t working.
And after that, my life slowed down, I became humble.
When it was quiet, I began to become closer to God.
In those quiet times I read God’s word, listened to speakers online, listened for His word in my life and prayed.
I have learned that I don’t have to wear a fancy church hat for God to value me.
I don’t have to drive a certain car.
I don’t have to hide my past.
God accepts me as I am RIGHT NOW.
God already knows all the things in my past I am ashamed of.
How amazing is that?
Today as I sit quietly reflecting, I’m awed by the fact that I have been given a gift I don’t deserve. I didn’t earn this.
And yet I am determined to receive it well, I am willing.
This past weekend we had an unexpected visitor.
If you have read my blog at all, you should know that we have a Boxer who is a truly valued member of our family.  Her name is Miss Cocoa Bean and she’s fantastic. Last spring we mated her with a brindle boxer, Boston and she delivered 6 puppies in April 2010.
The birthing process was humbling, she was a natural and I am in awe still as I look at the photos. 

 Me holding up the first born, all white boxer.

 Cocoa cleaning off the babies as they came out.
Over the last year we have had photos sent from all the puppy’s families except for one. We just assumed that all was well and little Luna was doing fine. We are also fortunate that two of the puppies live in the same town and we get to do “playdates” every now and again.
These puppies had out household in an uproar while they lived with us. Yes it was a lot of work for everyone, especially because I couldn’t bend to pick them up. Was it worth it? YES!!!
They started out so small, little squeaky sounds filled the room as all four of our family sat staring at them. They were so beautiful….and easy. They could be carried around in a basket and contained in a children’s pool. 
But they grew….fast!
We began trying to take them for walks….what a challenge that was. There was no way of getting all 6 puppies to follow Cocoa, they were constantly distracted or stopping for a nap on the way.
And so we got creative.
Tadaaaaa! Puppies in a wagon, a fine idea until one curious, brave pup decided to jump out. She was fine but from there on we couldn’t contain the puppies in the wagon.
Our neighbors thought we were nuts and got quite a kick outta this.
Oh and if you want to be the hit of the neighborhood, just have a litter of pups and bathe them out on the front lawn.
 Of course Boston would come by and visit, that was always a hilarious sight. Cocoa didn’t like sharing his attention and wouldn’t leave him alone until she was tired from playing. As soon as she would lie down the pups would attack her for drinks.
Until the day we introduced water…now that was funny. They consistently tipped over the bowls, stepped in it and put their noses under, sniffing and sneezing away.
This is Molly, Lucy and Luna having a drink once they had mastered the art.
The day came after 8 weeks, when the pups began leaving for their forever homes. This is Sydney with Luna the day she left. We had printed off photos of her since her birth, wrapped her in her blanket and we thought we would be relieved to have one less pup to chase after.
It was quite sad for us, especially for Sydney but we knew they were all placed in fantastic homes and that was a relief.
As I said earlier, 2 of the pups live in our town. Here is Cocoa with her daughters, London and Molly earlier this spring. These dogs ran for over an hour straight before they finally fell to the ground heaving.
This weekend when there was an unexpected knock on the door, we thought someone was looking to have a dip in the pool. Hubby couldn’t believe it when he saw Luna walking up the driveway. Her owners were travelling past our town and thought it would be nice to pop in for a visit.
I swear, I must have looked like a total fool, I was so excited!
Cocoa and Luna played and ran for an hour and a half and this is the only photo I could snap of them together. It was wonderful to see this little pup doing so well. She had some issues while with us, a skin condition which I treated by bathing her daily in special shampoo. She was my little favorite. Today she has no issues with her skin and is well loved, as her owners admit she’s quite spoiled.
We were fortunate that one of the pups who lives in town could stop by, London, Luna and Coco certainly enjoyed their visit.
Funny how they look like twins.
Later in the summer we are trying to get a full litter reunion going, but in the meantime I feel like a lucky grandmother who receives the BEST photos!
That’s it, that was what made my weekend. A simple visit which brought back so many memories and made us feel that we did good…..Are we having another litter?
Not today.
This weekend was fantastic, our daughters went to my mother-in-law’s place for a night so Hubby and I had time alone. It has been a long time since the girls were away for the night, of course I blogged about it here with Easy Does It.
So Saturday night we decided to go to a movie, we braved the crowds and went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. We chose the 2D version because the line for the 3D was obnoxiously long. I’m not the most paitent movie goer, believe it or not.
The movie was fantastic, I’m a Harry Potter geek who devoured the books as soon as they were released. I didn’t get into costume for the movie, but don’t think that I didn’t consider donning a black cape. The movie was explosive, satisfying and we walked away commenting on the fantastic effects. I won’t go further with my review because I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
Following the movie we had planned to go to dinner but unfortunately my brain was exhausted. One of the issues I have is exhaustion when my brain is overworked. The film was fast-paced and there was lots of information for my brain to process and by the end of it I was done. When this happens I need a quiet room to close my eyes and rest…and recharge.
We had an early night and on Sunday morning we woke at a stupid-early hour for people whose children are away. Why is it that when the kids wake us we’re grumpy and wishing for an extra hour’s rest, yet when they’re gone we naturally wake before the sun rises?
Off we went, I dropped Hubby at church and went to a 12-Step meeting. The venue for this meeting had been rented out for a buck and doe the night before. As I pulled in, I noticed there were the cars left behind by the party’s attendees.
One of my fellow meeting members commented that there were a lot of coffins left that day. That amused me. The cars weren’t exactly parked within the parking spot lines and there was one car with trays of food left on top of it, fermenting in the sun. Someone had left a huge pile of chilli dumped in the middle of the parking lot; between that and the pickels baking in the sun on top of the car it was pretty disgusting.
I stood having a cigarette, listening to a few of my fellow 12-Steppers talking about how disrespectful it was for the people to have dumped a pot of chilli in the parking lot; how gross the food on top of the car was; how embarrassed the people would be when they came to pick up their cars. All in heated, JudgyMcJudgerson tones.
At that moment it struck me, that slogan I have never related to and had annoyed me made sense. “Remember When.”
I was taken back to the many times I’d made the walk of shame to pick up my car; the walks out of houses I didn’t remember entering; not having a clue what happened the night before; my face puffy and my skin pasty in the bright daylight.
I laughed.
Because it had taken me a year and a half to understand the value of that slogan which I had thought was obvious and unnecessary.
My friends looked at my inappropriate laugh and so I explained by saying, “I know that the chilli is gross but it’s a wonderful thing for me to see this morning. I know I left much worse wreckage; if crooked parking and rotting food is the worst damage the party goers left, I applaud them.”
The tone seemed to change. We all agreed; someone swept the chilli off of the parking lot and the conversation changed from the judgemental feeling to gratitude.
A car pulled in and a man got out of the passenger side; he looked akward as he approached us on the way to his car. He mumbled “Good Morning” from behind his sunglasses and a few people greeted him by name. Someone said “looks like you had a great time last night” in a friendly voice and the man responded, “I think it’s time to stop having so many great nights, you know how that goes….”
He walked to his car with his head down, grabbed the trays of food off the top and exited the situation quickly.
This man’s shame was palpable. 
Someone told me that he had been in the program a few times in the past; that brought it all home for me.
The fragility of my sober life kicked me in the gut.
I’ve prayed for that man many times since, and for myself and my friends in my 12-Step Program.
At the close of the weekend I was grateful a mountain of little things, but spending time with Hubby and being reminded that I’m on the right path were at the top of the list.
Today I picked up some photos I had done recently, they are FANTASTIC!!!
And Sassy me
Now I just have to finish writing my book to use them! 
The photographer I used is Femke Photography. Femke is a fantastic woman, I had seen her work many times and knew that I loved her style. Frankly I’m my own worst critic, there are very few photos of myself I actually like…that is until I saw these babies.
Femke is a small business owner with a full time job as are many of my friends.
Today I heard of a contest which I just had to share with you all, it’s open to Canadian residents excluding Quebec. (sorry Quebec.)
I am kind of wishing I had a company to submit, all it takes is a creative ad and lots of votes on Facebook to win!!
The contest is being put on by CentrSource.
 If you are a small business owner, jump all over this one!!
There are over $40,000 in prizes to be won.
 Any business, inside the home or not are applicable. Photography studio, Etsy shop, hair salon, daycare, cafe, etc… it doesn’t have to be a “registered” business either or one that has been running for years.
 If you are just about to launch a company, this would be a great way to get exposure, free advertising and a chance to win enough money to launch it.
 Small business owners enter their business and a product offer for friends and family to vote on. All entries get a free listing on CentrSource – the contest ends July 31st, 2011.
Grand prize: Out of the 50 most popular ads (selected by people clicking”vote”) the most creative ad will win: One Grand Prize of $15,000 cash + 6 months of free advertising on CentrSource.
Secondary prize: One ad will be randomly selected out of 50 entries for one Secondary Prize of $5,000 cash + 3 months of free advertising on CentrSource.
Chances to Win Every Single Week: A winner will be randomly drawn from ALL ad entries each week to win one of 8 weekly prizes of $1,000 cash + 1 month of free advertising on CentrSource.
Weekly Draw for an iPad 2: Everyone who votes gets the chance to win an iPad2.