Priority Me

Almost 8 years ago, I learned the hard way that I needed to make a significant change to my priorities. When I discovered I had thyroid cancer, I was in shock and never thought I would ever have the ‘C’ word.

For years, I didn’t feel well and didn’t know why. Tired, stiff, feeling numbness in joints, fatigue, and overall unwell…waking up every morning made me frustrated and anxious of not knowing what the hell was wrong with me. My Doctor at the time was of no help. She overbooked patients and “scheduled” patients like me would wait 3 hours to be seen. I witnessed the poor receptionist be yelled at every time I had to sit in the waiting room of patients who waited hours for their appointments. I finally had the epiphany to leave that unhealthy place. Priority #1 – Stress less: remove yourself from situations that make you feel worse or find a way to better cope.

It was 3 mos later that my new doctor found my 2cm calcified nodule and multiple nodules in my thyroid that required removal and radiation therapy.  From there I was on a crash course to learning and fighting for my priorities.

During my journey to recovery, I had time and space to reflect on the lifestyle I had been living for many years. I used to entertain with my hubby and socialize weekly, hosting many meals at our home. We would rush to attend 2-3 committed gatherings every Saturday and helped anyone who asked. I remember on occasion back then that my mom and some good friends telling me that I was doing too much and to cut back on certain priorities but did I listen??? Nope.

I didn’t realize that the things that brought me joy eventually silently hurt me mentally, physically and spiritually. Being too involved, helping too much, focusing too much outwardly neglected inwardly.

Sometimes it takes a significant life event that forces you to prioritize things differently. Having had thyroid cancer woke me up.

“I am more aware of knowing what causes me undo stress and choosing what is important each minute of the day.” Learning to turn my focus inwards, listening to my body and then realizing my capacity to be able to share outwards has been a constant.

I have learned that priorities are time based choices that we make in life. Choices that we make affect ourselves and people around us now or in the future. Although it’s difficult to consciously remove all the pressures and stresses in life, I have used the following tips to help me manage so I can make better choices.

To help manage your priorities try these tips:

  • Think about what is urgent and important at the time
  • Ask yourself “can this wait or do I need to address the issue right now?”
  • Set expectations with yourself and others by communicating what can work for you. Most people are understanding and willing to accomodate if you share a reasonable explanation
  • Don’t overwhelm or rush yourself. Work at your pace and put extra time in if necessary
  • Ask for help or delegate wisely to people who can support you
  • Stay on top of your timelines and be realistic about how much time you need to complete the task. This will vary across each individual.
  • Negotiate a new timeline if need be

Simple Tasty French Toast

Here’s a simple recipe if you’re looking to whip up something quick & easy that smells amazing in the house for your family to wake up to.

RECIPE

2 large eggs

1 tbsp of water

bread (any type but I prefer sourdough or one with a good crust)

2 tsp of butter mixed with olive oil (just enough to cover the pan)

Toppings:

cinnamon & sugar / icing sugar

maple syrup / honey / jam / Nutella

HERE’S HOW:

Using a fork or small whisk, beat the eggs with water in a small shallow bowl until combined.

Heat your pan to medium/high heat & add your butter & olive oil . Swoosh it around in the pan until evenly covered (for flavor & less fat content if done with all butter).

While pan is heating up, cut your bread into 1 inch slices.  Dip in egg wash both sides & place one side on pan until caramelized. Flip & caramelize the other side.

Top it off with something sweet. I like to sprinkle cinnamon & sugar over the bread slices right in the pan & shut the stove off to let the remaining heat finish it off.

You can finish it your way with any topping once plated. Something syrupy keeps it moist, sticky & heartwarming.  Enjoy!

Note:  Egg wash covers about 5-6 slices of bread.

O.ver.haul

About us

The home addition project that began Fall 2015 took a lot longer than we expected. We thought my parents would have moved in by Sept this year but we had only just begun. Delays with the city required persistence & a couple of calls to our city counsellor’s office who was a huge help in moving our project forward.

In June; it was bittersweet with Jaclyn (12) graduating from grade 6, now in middle school & Aaron (5) also having to move to our neighborhood school. His big sis couldn’t walk with him to po po & kung kung’s house anymore after school; the routine of driving to & from my parents house twice a day for 12 yrs has ended (funny, sometimes I kind of miss it).

 

Despite our insane schedule this year, we managed to squeeze a few last minute road trips to Pittsburg, Frankenmuth, Michigan & Ottawa to forget about our daily chores & demands for a more relaxed pace, water & arcade fun & just to appreciate the 4 of us having quality time together.

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Bavarian Inn grounds, Frankenmuth Michigan

 

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Byward Market, downtown Ottawa

Paul & I are still working at the same companies. Paul transitioned from his comfortable role in Finance to IT Risk Management while my contract at the College has been renewed for another year. A lot of learning for both of us & a nice change too. Unfortunately, both of us are getting wider due to cravings for Popeye’s chicken (more me) & store bought tiramisu (more Paul) but we hope this will be only temporary.

“So this year has been a big change for me…I graduated from elementary school, did my first tap solo and even got a retainer for my mouth! Here’s a little summary of how it went. Anyways, as usual in April I start dance competitions and that’s when I performed my first solo. It was slightly nerve racking but it was definitely fun! It gave me a chance to perform on my own, in my favorite style too. Next is graduation. So my public school years were really fun. I got to meet friends, that’s where I spend 8yrs of my life. In June 2016, I graduated. It was a sad moment but it did teach me that I eventually have to move on & every good thing sometimes comes to an end. The graduation ceremony was honestly really boring. Sitting in a chair & letting parents stare at you…anyways, at least I got the art award that I worked really hard for. Oh and before I start talking about the next thing…before my graduation, I got my very first phone. Anyways MOVING ON TO: the last thing – twin blocks. Twin blocks are 2 pieces of retainer that go inside your mouth to fix your overbite. That’s what I have been wearing for about a month now. There you go! A little summary of my year. Well, at least the interesting parts.”    Jaclyn

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At 5yrs old, Aaron is more vocal, less whiney which is a good thing. He follows in his sister’s footsteps with his interest in art, independence but has also adopted her messiness. I have to thank Lightening McQueen & his car friends for helping Aaron learn how to spell (their names), geography (know which Disney car comes from which country), make creative play, stories, how to draw & make playdoh sculptures. Other things he is very fond of is tape, anything chocolate, friends that also like Lightening McQueen & of course ‘pillow’. He can’t even say he loves his mommy more than ‘pillow’.

It’s been 3mos now that he has been in his new school & liking it more each day. Now it’s encouraging him to be positive & enjoy after school Mandarin Emersion & Kung Fu more.

 

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Family selfie in Pittsburg at animal show

Our year has been an overhaul but we look forward to when our home addition project is finished come March 2017. I look forward to sharing our post-Reno story with you next year.

Sheila

 

 

 

 

Nits & Grace

Christmas Newsletter 2016

My hair is wet, I just got out of the shower & I noticed these white glistening dots on my head. “Crap! I hope that isn’t lice!” I leaned into the mirror & started combing through my hair & then I realized…it’s just white hair.

I received a text from Jaclyn a few weeks ago around 6:30pm. I was getting more things from our house to move to my aunt’s house where we are currently staying. The text read:

“Mommy, I found a bug on my pillow”

“I think I have lice”

Not in a gazillion years would I have thought my 12yr old would contract lice. I felt bad for her as she sat hunched over a stool for over 4hrs that night as I combed through small sections of her hair, pulling at each strand that had a sticky nit (lice egg) while Paul spoon fed her dinner. I couldn’t sleep or let her sleep until every single nit was out!  I felt bad for me.

It was exhausting to say the least & everyday afterwards, the whole family were paranoid, checking eachothers heads for nits & lice. It was humorous at times but NOT.

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Nits are the size of a grain of sand & sticky like dried droplets of glue. When they hatch & become mature louse, they love to suck the blood off the scalp causing itching & inflammation. Sounds like a bad case of stress which sometimes come unnoticed until it causes damage.

We have been challenged this year with many nits, mostly coming from our home addition project but despite our stress capacity limits at times, we have been receiving God’s grace freely which has helped us manage through.

I have been reminded time & time again this year of God’s abundant grace especially through our neighbors. To note a few examples – our sweet 89 yr old neighbor who baked homemade biscotti & insisted we eat it while we were packing our car for the move; even when her laneway was becoming messy with “reno crap” (new word) – our other next door neighbor for letting Paul make soup last minute after our gas was shut off unexpectedly & for their patience when our excavator cut their internet cable with no service for 2 days – for getting through committee of adjustments smoothly – for my aunt Grace who has allowed us to live in her house rent free – and for the cooperative weather we HAD in Nov for allowing the contractors complete the foundation work a little easier.

Despite the nits we have experienced this year that tested our patience, our relationships, our energy, our capacity, God’s grace has proven sufficient in handling any pesty nits.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

May the grace of Christ our Savior & the love of God our Father & the fellowship of the spirit be with you & yours this Christmas. 

~ Sheila, Paul, Jaclyn & Aaron

Tie your shoe

My mom and I had just finished grocery shopping and was taking the escalator down to the underground parking when there seemed to be some commotion at the bottom of the escalator. My shopping cart was full and we were nearing the end of the escalator. I tried slowing the cart down by pulling back but I couldn’t as the cart had magnetic wheels so we could only move forward.

The couple ahead of us was able to move out of the way with the other two people in front of them. The couple turned to us and said “she got her shoe lace stuck in the escalator.” The little girl, who looked no more than 5yrs old had both her shoe laces untied and one of them got caught in the escalator. Fortunately, we were all able to get off the escalator without any harm.

This reminded me of a time in 2014 where a 47 year old women lost her life when her scarf, coat and hair got caught in an escalator at the metro in Montreal which strangled her to death. Her scarf was 157cm, she was 160cm tall according to news reports; unfortunately, there were no eye witnesses at the time to confirm fully what happened.

On the way to my car, I was thinking that this incident could have been worse and could have happened to anyone including myself. It made me think about loose and long pieces of clothing like laces, scarfs, pants, skirts, coat belts etc. that could pose a safety hazard while walking, driving or riding on an escalator. I also thought about my 5 year old boy who hasn’t yet learned to tie his shoelaces yet.

So today I was reminded to be aware of our untied shoe laces & wearable items that could pose a risk to our safety. Tragic accidents can be avoided if we are all just a little more aware.