Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanksgiving – What does it mean to you?

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?  From turkey dinners, to family gatherings and pumpkin pies.  It’s the one time of year we celebrate the end of a harvest season and give thanks to those and gratitude for the blessings in our life.

An interesting thing happened this year during our Thanksgiving dinner and I’d like to share my story with you.

It was Thanksgiving Day at the Skinner home, and as we all sat down together at the table (my family of 5, plus Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents).  The kids of course, always seem to be the last ones to find their way to the table.  Our 8 year old son (Eddie) sat down at the table and immediately asked all of us to share what we were most thankful for.  He insisted that EVERYONE had to share something.  I looked around at their faces and could see some people where wondering ‘what am I going to say?’

From being thankful for new family members, time spent with one another, our health, and the food we were eating.  Everyone shared their thoughts and some people started to get a little emotional and teary eyed.  It’s amazing how a simple question from an 8 year old had unintentionally made us all sit back and really think!

A week or so later, I am still thinking about what we shared that day and how I am thankful for each and every one of my family members. We all could have laughed him off, not wanting to put ourselves ‘out there’ – but we didn’t.  I am so thankful that we had the courage to talk that day.  I loved the look on my son’s face – the pride he had, and that he sat a little bit taller in his chair that night. 

Yes, for some Thanksgiving is about turkey dinners, pumpkin pies and a day off of work.  For me, Thanksgiving is about the day my 8 year old boy spoke up at the table and got us all thinking…and for that I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Breathe, Relax and Smile!

Remember those days when you didn’t have to worry about keeping that balance?  You know, the right balance between doing the things you need to do versus the things you’d like to do?  Those were the good ole days, right?  Well, for some maybe, but for me I have had one of those ‘a-ha’ moments…Everything will fall into place, as long as I allow myself to feel happy.

Before having kids, my husband and I often thought we lived a very busy life. Looking back, I can see that we were seriously mistaken. I’ll admit, we were both very busy at work and it seemed we were constantly renovating our home.  But that doesn’t compare to the kind of busy we are living today.  We were just your typical young working couple who often struggled to find that right balance...between working too hard, and enjoying life.

Eight years ago, we welcomed our first child into the world.  What a wonderful experience it has been, full of excitement and joy but a little overwhelming at times!  Before having children, we seemed to have so much time on our hands.  But quickly our free time was consumed with sterilizing bottles, making baby food, going to kindergym classes and playdates!  As a mother, I spent every waking hour (and possibly sleeping hour) focusing my attention on my family –Which only lead me to question…what about ME?

Since that time, we are now a family of 6 (3 kids plus a dog).  We have simplified our lives by selling that ever demanding fix-er-up-er.   And just when we think we have a break, our lives seem so much busier in other ways!  We find ourselves down at the arena at least a couple of times per week, the gymnastics classes and guitar lessons always seem never ending!  And for a long time I thought my happiness depended solely on my children’s happiness… “if the kids are happy then I am happy”. 

But one day my husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘We need a break!’  We booked a mini-holiday...nothing fancy, just a couple of nights away at a B&B. It gave us time to do some things for ourselves.  We slept in, went for a run, sat in a cafĂ©, and read a book without being interrupted!  It was glorious! It doesn’t seem like much now - but what a difference it made for us!

We now have made a pact with each other – we go away every six months – together!  We are always scouring the newspapers and internet for the latest and greatest deals on little getaways!  It is now something we like to do together, which seems so strange when you have a young family.  Sometimes we just head into the city and explore new restaurants or to catch up with old friends, other times we hit the beach.  But the most important thing is that we do something for ourselves!

When I don’t have the luxury of taking time off…but feel like I need a quick break – I will not think twice about going for a run, taking a trip to the mall, or just laying by the pool for a few minutes.  It doesn’t take much out of my day, but it sure gives my body and mind that much needed ‘change of scenery’ that each and every person craves.