The Melting Point of Wax

When I joined the Leadership Wood Buffalo program in 2007, we started our epic journey in community leadership with a three-day retreat at Christina Lake Lodge. Those three days still hold a special place in my heart as they allowed me to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of it all and to really get to know myself a little more.

One of the assignments we were given was to find an object or "something" that represented leadership to us. At the time, I really had no idea what to choose so thinking from more of a "personal leadership" perspective, I chose to share one of my favourite songs. A song by a band called Thrice, The Melting Point of Wax, signifies (to me) the risks we take in our lives to achieve something we really, really want. Sometimes those risks will be worthwhile and we will achieve great things. Sometimes, however, the risk will have been too great and we may fail - but, at the end of the day, I believe we'll never truly know what we are destined for if we don't take that first leap of faith. The piece of the song that speaks to me the most is:

"There's no promise of safety with these secondhand wings
But I'm willing to find out what impossible means.
I'll climb through the heavens on feathers and dreams
'Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me."

Feel free to view the rest of the lyrics here. Or, better yet, download the song on iTunes and support great artists!

The reason I'm writing about risk and taking leaps of faith is because I feel lately like I'm at a turning point in my life...have you ever felt like that? This year is a special one in that it marks the 30th birthdays of me and some of my very close girlfriends. I'm not gonna lie, leaving behind my twenties makes me feel a sense of urgency and responsibility to get my proverbial shit together. It's really got me thinking about the last three decades I've been earth-side and what I've accomplished to date. It's also made me think about what my future goals are and now I completely understand why people have mid-life crises. In all of this thinking, I also realized that as of yesterday, I had exactly 30 Fridays before I turned the big 3-0 so I've decided that I'm going to do a fun little adaptation of the "30 Things Before 30" lists that you always see floating around on Pinterest.

Mine will simply be called "30 to 30" and rather than setting a specific list of things to do (because I'm horrible at keeping lists), I've decided that each week leading up until my birthday, I'm simply going to do one thing that I've always wanted to do but have not done because I've been too scared, lazy, tired, busy, shy, reserved, uncertain, etc... You name the excuse and I have probably used it at some point in time...

So my first leap?! Well, last night I finally took a deep breath, held my chin up high and sent in my application for full-fledged yoga teacher training in the fall! After having a little heart-to-heart with myself while trying to put together a letter of intent for the program, I realized I am sooooo ready for this and can't wait to share my journey with you!

Peace & Health,


The Floodwaters are Rising

It's been quite some time since I've written a post lately and I could tell I was due for a good, ol' fashioned mind-emptying by how I've been feeling lately.

I guess I've always been a sufferer of angst and stress to some degree but for the last couple of years, I know for certain that I've been more vulnerable to it with my unstable mommy hormones AND the two busy babes that I wrangle all day.

My trouble as of late is figuring out the balancing act of being a mom, a wife, a self-employed birth worker, a volunteer and well, me.

I went to a really great presentation today by Heather Plante, Pediatric Sleep Consultant and owner of Soothing Angels based out of Edmonton. She came to Fort McMcMurray to speak to the weary and exhausted moms and dads (mostly moms) of our baby-booming community through the 1st Annual Parent Conference. I'm thankful the Fort McMurray Early Years Coalition put together this conference because there were a few things that she said that resonated so strongly with me. Yes, while we were all there to figure out our children's sleep issues, our ultimate goal was to try and figure out how to get more sleep for ourselves and, consequently, be better parents (and people, in my opinion).

If you are a parent, I'm sure you are fully aware of that zombie stage of parenting that sometimes lasts a couple of months or, for some unfortunate souls, years. Maybe you remember it from many years ago. Maybe, like me, you're in the thick of it as we speak and you're one more middle-of-the-night feeding away from wanting to run and never look back (there's a reason I'm training for that 10K)!

Anyway, that's why I went to see Heather.

She shared some great advice and a lot of very interesting information about sleep habits but most of all, she heeded a very important reminder to us moms and dads (mostly moms). When you're in the thick of parenting and you're trying to figure it all out, you can't forget who 'ME' is. Her words exactly: "You HAVE to remember who Mommy was before Mommy was a Mommy." Period.

THAT was my main take away.

As I mentioned earlier, I knew I was due for a new post. Writing and sending my messages into cyberspace (as random as they may be) are kind of my main outlet really and one I know I don't utilize often enough (guilty!). Writing and blogging is my way to get shit off my chest without having to deal with the uncomfortable face-to-face talk involved in spilling my problems to people. And while I think I make a pretty crappy "blogger" in terms of consistency, direction or thematics, it's really about all I've got some days so for now, if you're still reading that is, I promise cohesiveness one day...ha!

So here I am:

Sitting at the Snye...quiet and alone...having a coffee in complete peace. Passed up a movie date with my hubby and even a Beach Boys concert (crazy, right?) just to sit here and be. To think about and remember who 'me' is and figure out a plan to bring her back from the land of the zombies.

I've felt the stress levels rising inside me lately and knew they were going to spill over soon if I didn't do something.

Settled on the shores of the Clearwater River are huge chunks of ice that oddly resemble the weight of the world on the shoulders of a long, drawn out winter that never seemed to quit. The waters are high and stagnant-looking yet strangely calming. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with levels rising, awaiting that big release.

Jen ~ xo

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Why I'm Busting a Move

I've been giving some thought about the countless number of charities that are out there and why they matter and why I joined the Bust a Move event in Edmonton on March 23rd in the first place.

I mean, obviously, I want to dance and groove and workout with Richard, who wouldn't? But more importantly, here's the real reason why:

I want to share with you a recent letter I sent to many family members and friends and Facebook friends. I don't expect everyone (or even half) of the people to respond. I do, however, simply intend to at least put out there WHY we're doing what we're doing. Here's my take on it...I'm sure the other girls and their moms and aunts and sisters and daughters would all agree...

" Hi Family & Friends!

As you probably know from my non-stop posts on Facebook, my friends and I are taking part in a very important fundraiser for the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Edmonton's Cross Cancer Institute.

I'd bet all the money we've raised so far that everyone, in some way or another, has known someone that has been affected by cancer. I also know there's lots of people always asking for money and donations and whatnot. That said, we're getting close to our deadline and we've only reached about half of our goal. Because of that, I just wanted to share with you how important this is to us and to ask for any support you can offer.

(We are also in the process of putting together one final big raffle incentive for people as well so if you have anything to give OR know of any companies willing to donate any gifts in kind OR even have any cans and bottles you're willing to part with, please let me know.)

I'll be the first to admit that I always thought it seemed like breast cancer was the top disease being researched and was constantly in the "limelight" in terms of fundraising events and it [truthfully] used to annoy me. I felt that less attention was being put towards illnesses that affected those closest to me and I was slighted...I'm not gonna lie. I've come to trust though that the REASON it's in the forefront is because we are SO close to finding a cure that people don't want to give up.

So, if there's anyway I can help to prevent myself or my Joleigh or any of my friends and their little girls from having to worry about this blasted disease in the future, I will do just that and I will apologize now for harassing you all.

Thank you for your continued support, if you would like to give to us, please contact me or do so online at "

So there it is. This is why we move. This is why we harass you and beg for money and collect dirty cans and bottles and scour for gifts and give of ourselves and our time and our love...because the future of our moms and aunts and sisters and daughters depend on it.

Peace & Health,

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Fluorescent Pencils, A Twenty Dollar Bill and My Faith in Humanity Restored

I often say its the "little things" in life that end up having the most profound effect on me. Thinking back on my life up until now, major memories that play out in my mind usually weren't that "major".

I mean, yeah, of course the day I married my honest-to-goodness best friend stands out. And of course the days my children came into this world will forever be earth-shattering, life-altering, mind-blowing days of my existence and by far, the very best moments of my life.


Many moments...very ordinary, seemingly trivial moments...also make my top ten list of moments that make my heart skip a beat.

One memory that sits in the back of my mind, and has since I was a small girl, is a day when the neighbourhood kids and I were all loading up at my neighbour's house to head to Gregoire Lake for a late afternoon of swimming, hot dogs and running from fish flies.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I've always been a bit of an introvert and even then, at the age of around 9 or 10, I never felt fully comfortable in crowds of more than 3-4 people.

I remember my Dad was working night shifts. He was just waking up for the day and came out in the afternoon sun to wish us farewell on our trip to the beach (and to give me a little present). The night before, the company he worked for were giving away these colorful, fluorescent pencils with their logo imprinted on the side. I know, big deal compared to all the iPads and jackets and big name "recognition" gifts the guys at site complain about now, right? Well, my Dad wanted to make sure he gave me a couple of those pencils before we headed out as he knew I would love them and he was excited that he snagged a couple of extras just for me.

Yes, I am a little bit of a nerd at heart. I'll admit that new stationery excites me. I can also admit that I care far too much about what others think of me. For many years, that day with my Dad bothered me...not because I got awesome new pencils (because THAT rocked) but because I specifically remember none of the other kids being as excited about "stupid pencils" as I was. As I've grown older, however, I've learned to appreciate how absolutely amazing that moment was and to be thankful that I have such an amazing Dad who really just "knew" me...ya know?

Fast forward twenty years and the place I call home has, quite honestly, been wearing on me. A couple of years ago, my Mom and Dad moved out of town. Years before that, most of my Aunts and Uncles and my Grandma did, too. Feeling like anyone was around who really "knew me" anymore was a slim chance. My spirit in this community and that "warm and fuzzy" feeling I used to get when I would drive down Beaconhill on return from an out of town trip, with the lights of the city sparkling and that sense of calm and peace...

...were pretty much gone.

Until I received an email from a random gentleman named Mickey. He was replying to a Kijiji ad I posted looking for donations of cans and bottles for a fundraiser a couple of girlfriends and I are participating in.

He emailed to tell me that he had a couple of bags of recycling and, while it wasn't much, I was more than welcome to take them and use the money towards our goal. I took him up on his offer and so, address in hand, I set forth with directions to the bag of empties that would be on his front porch since he was at work.

I feel I should validate all of this by explaining to you the complete cynicism that ran through my head while I was driving to his house. The google maps on my phone basically pointed to a general area around a popular gas station in Timberlea. My immediate thoughts as I was in the turning lane were, "What if he just gave me the address to a dumpster behind the gas station?" "What if this isn't a house address at all and I'm just a fool?"

I actually thought this...

Until I arrived at his real-life house and could see a couple of recycling bags on the step. I walked up and noticed a piece of white paper folded inside a zip-loc and tied to the handle of one.

When I returned to my car, that warm fuzzy feeling I had been missing for quite some time, was back in an instant and immediately my heart was warmed.

I don't know you, Mickey, but I know you're a decent man who single-handedly restored my wavering faith in humanity this past few months. So thank you.

If you're interested in helping our team, Besties4Boobies, please email me! We are participating in "Bust a Move for Breast Health" in Edmonton, AB where we will shake and groove with the one and only, Richard Simmons, in hopes of raising much needed funds for the Cross Cancer Institute and the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Peace & Health ~ Jen

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Before You Were a Mom

I used to have a job that saw me wear one too many hats (on only one salary, too, of course) but that seemed perfectly fine to me at the time. Maybe it was some egotistical need to feel...well...needed that kept me powering through double-booked appointments, never-ending voicemails and early morning alarm clocks all in the name of keeping "the man" happy.

Fast forward to motherhood and here I am in nearly the same circumstances...except incredibly not.

My "agenda" doesn't currently know the meaning of appointment times. I run on the clock of a toddler and an infant and a shift-working husband. My voicemails are iPhone reminders that I've set for myself to eat and drink water to keep up my milk supply. My alarm clock is a nursing baby who thankfully doesn't even come close to being as annoying as those blinking red numbers I used to despise so much....even at 3AM.

In the past, I forged through all of these things without a second thought or a blink of an eye. I was active in my community and busy as hell but I was having a lot of fun connecting with people and feeling like I had a purpose.
I know I still have purpose. In fact, I have the most important job in the entire world right now and I AM needed more than I could ever imagine. So why, then, does it still feel like something's missing?

Is it because I'm not getting a paycheck? Is it because MY new-mommy responsibilities are just the same as everybody else's new-mommy responsibilities and no one really gives a crap? Or, is it because whenever I seem to reach out and connect with "like-minded mommies" in an effort to stay involved in my community, it just turns into a bitchfest about random mommy things, comparing and critiquing every other mommy in the battle of the mommy wars, and I end up leaving feeling all the more apathetic and unmotivated to connect to anyone other than those nearest and dearest to me?

Perhaps...and yes, most likely.

So how do I change that? Maybe I gotta take the focus off the "mommy" a little? Maybe I have to draw a line in the sand that says: Mommy...Over Here! JEN...Over There!

Maybe...but how?

How can one truly divide themselves? Do they have to? And would they really, truly want to?

In order to achieve that balance, what's gotta give?

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Thanks to The Joyful Mother for this one. The universe presented it to me at the most perfect time! :)

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All you need is love...

If I could just get out of my head for a minute, I'm sure I could accomplish a whole heck of a lot. Call it "Mommy Burnout" or maybe it's just the time of year but it seems lately that as soon as I actually have a free minute to myself, all I end up doing is thinking and stressing about the million-and-one things I have to do and how I can create a better system for them all instead of just getting up off my butt and doing them.

So after yet another late night for the kiddos, Joleigh woke at 5:30 in the morning...overtired, hungry and just plain cranky. After reasoning enough with her to go back to sleep for a bit (and then nursing little bro back to sleep after he woke from all the commotion), there I was: head uncomfortably on my pillow, mind racing and not a wink of sleep in sight.

"Screw this!" I finally said to myself and got up out of bed to retreat to our living-room-turned-yoga/quiet room (still haven't come up with a proper name for it).

I zeroed in on my yoga mat in the complete darkness of the morning and just sat. "Ok, brain, let's get our shit sorted out right now so I can move on with life! Deal?"

Sitting wasn't really doing it for me so I rested flat on my back and stretched my arms and legs as long as I could. I could feel months worth of sore, tight, nursing shoulders screaming at me as I did this. I would've screamed back if I wasn't worried about waking the babies. I could feel every connection in my hips and pelvis terribly attempting to re-align themselves...probably something that still hasn't actually happened since they passed a 9-pound turkey through them just four short months ago.

"I am in rough shape," I thought to myself.

Okay, so in an attempt to minimize all the extra and unnecessary *things* in my life, I seemed to have done nothing more than take on too many UN-meaningful *projects* in some futile quest to become everything I thought would make me happy.

And by happy, I mean rich.

And by rich, I mean able to contribute some small amount to the bills my husband so happily works so hard to pay.

This all came to me whilst laying on that yoga mat this morning...and while I still haven't actually shut off my brain yet, I at least have real direction...and resolve.

It's already been a year since I left my corporate job to stay home with my daughter and do what really made me happy. What I, for the first time in my life, truly thought was my "calling". To be a doula; to give women support and encouragement to be the fierce mama bears they naturally are; and to be a good mom.

Somehow I lost that along the way...and adding a second child in with my constant search of certificates and designations and, quite frankly, money....I think I lost a bit of my sanity, too.

I know that money does not equal success. But ya gotta eat to live. I'm just thankful that I do have such a supportive husband who loves his job and has been so patient with me while I find my way.

I used to always say, "All you need is love." And I do still believe a certain point. Realistically, yes, we do need more than just love. We do need food and shelter and other basic necessities in order to live but as I sat in the darkness of my no-name room in the wee hours of this morning, this little "sign" that was shining on my wall from my Scentsy burner reminded me that no matter what you do, LOVING what you do and who you are is the most important thing.

So now it's time for me to go back to my Suncor and Leadership Wood Buffalo days, break out my 7 Habits book and "Put First Things First".

Project: Sort My "Big Rocks" is now in effect and I very much look forward to letting go of so many things that are contributing to the madness that is Mommy Burnout.

Until next time...

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