a slow revolution

summer 2007

honeymoon 2007

Winter 2008 - Pregnant with Poppy

Early 2009 - Ready to pop

Spring 2012

I had planned for this summer to be about the great harvest and canning adventure of 2012, but our garden was a bust and, to be honest, I feel very far away from our homesteading dream.  Many of our seeds didn’t even pretend to come up, and we never did manage to get the second garden going.  The weeds are thick.  The lawn needs to be cut, the wood needs to be moved, I started painting the shed door a couple months ago and still it sits, unfinished and taunting me.  We wanted to build an outdoor oven and eat our meals outside every night, but it never happened.  We have been parking our car by the busy road for weeks (or is it months now?) because the post supporting the gate finally gave way to rot.  Toys are strewn everywhere and the only time the kids want to play with them is when I have decided it is safe to put them back in some semblance of order.  I feel ashamed and overwhelmed, but every time I try to do outdoor work Silas darts off into the woods or to seek rusty nails behind the shed.  Every time I try to weed the garden the kids begin picking all the green tomatoes and trampling the few things that are producing food.

I am in a different, rather selfish, head space of late. I think it started around my birthday in late June.  Hitting milestones and anniversaries have always been a time of reflection for me.  We celebrated 9 years together, my 32nd birthday, Silas will turn 2 in a week, Mike will turn 35 this fall.  There is something profound about marking another year down;  thinking about what I would have said if some had told me what I would be doing 10 or 2 years down the road.

It makes me think about how I should have or could have done things differently (no matter how futile).  I rushed into post secondary school even though I had no idea what I wanted to be.  I jumped from school to school, program to program and yet stayed in a stagnant 5 year relationship for about 4.5 years too long because it was my first love and I thought that was as good as it got.  I was always in a rush to be an adult and make a home.  I tied myself down with neurotic pets and student loans and was paralyzed by the weight of it.  I forgot to travel and do silly things.  I was ruled by fear; fear of failure; fear of disappointing people; fear of money (or lack of it); fear of  making the wrong decision.

If I had my time back, I would have traveled and I would have learned a trade like carpentry instead of trying to cram myself into boxes I knew I couldn’t fit into.  I would like to say I would also dump my ex, but would I have met Mike if that happened?  Our lives really are fragile organisms aren’t they?  With the simple flick of the wrist, it could all change forever.  It would seem that nothing is insignificant.

I suppose, above all other regrets, my biggest one is that I have spent a large portion of my life hating myself (and inadvertently forgetting to trust the whispering wisdom we all have in our bellies).   My curly hair, my less than shapely legs, my wide hips, my lack of ankles,  my pale skin, my cellulite.

When I was 18, I had a 23 inch waist and weighed 115 pounds.   I thought I was fat and my boobs were too small.   Over the next five years I went up to 135 pounds and I mourned the  days when I was 115 pounds.  Then I got happier and with contentment came another 15 pounds and I pined for the 135 pound days.  Then I ballooned to 200 pounds with my first pregnancy and barely had time to recover when I ballooned again with a second pregnancy.  I have spent the last few years around 160 pounds until I dropped 10 pounds when I stopped nursing about a year ago.  So here I am, 34 days into early morning workouts and making myself a priority for one hour per day.  Pregnancy and years of neglect have taken their toll.  My body is different now.  Stronger from the laborious work of making two humans, but weaker and wider too.  I feel in control for the first time in a long time.  The scale hasn’t moved yet (except for maybe the first week) so we’ve banished it to the basement.  Proper thing.  I don’t care about the numbers so much anymore.

The truth is, I am tired of hating myself, but I don’t know how to stop.  I read this post last night and realized I have known the same things about myself for some time now.  I always find something to hate about myself whether I weigh 115 pounds or 200 pounds.  It isn’t my weight that is the problem, but my inner dialogue.  I have to ask myself what I want my future self to look back at the pictures of this woman on this day and feel.  Sometimes I have to dig deep for the motivation to push through a workout.  Sometimes it is fired by self loathing while other times it is self love.  This time around I am trying to make it more about being healthy than perfect.  I don’t want to waste anymore  time hating myself and putting things off  like I did in my twenties.  I don’t want to pass these loathing, paralyzing  habits and beliefs onto my own children.  So, if that means I have to be a little selfish for a little while, it is ok and for the greater good. When I get frustrated that my pants don’t feel any looser and I feel like quitting (because what is the point?), I remind myself it won’t fix anything.  This is bigger than vanity; I think I finally get that now.

So here we are, thinking far too much out what we wish we had done with our twenties; wishing we could stop being responsible for a few weeks.  Thinking about how fun it would be to buy that VW van in Wilberforce and drive away from the bills; dreaming about living in a tiny apartment in Paris where we would eat croissants for every meal of the day, spend our days roaming the streets and museums, and learning beautiful french alongside our homeschooled kids.  The reality is that I am feeling tired and used up and resentful.  I am constantly exasperated and lose my temper more frequently.  This all mingles with mother guilt that always settles in soon after each and every harsh word.  I know they are precious creatures, and that they grow too quickly, and that I will think of these early days with an aching heart.  Sometimes though, I just need a moment to catch my breath and remember I am still a human; just a moment where they aren’t bouncing off the walls and climbing counters and setting everything off kilter so I can see the whole picture.

I still believe wholeheartedly in this life we’re building and the values behind it, but I am busy with the important work of self change.  One day soon the two will meet amidst the trees and it will be a beautiful thing.

And I will be better for it.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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31 Comments

  1. Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm by Erica | Permalink

    Erin, you look amazing! You look so tiny in that first pic, good for you for doing this for yourself!! Huge inspiration xox

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thanks darling.
      That top picture was from 2007…the place I would like to most realistically get back to 😉
      e.

  2. Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm by Kelly | Permalink

    Erin,
    First off, you must know that since I began reading your blog 6 months ago, I just can’t get enough of your beautiful writing. As a mother of 3 children ages 4 and under, I can really relate to your struggle to live a balanced life. It seems there is never enough time to devote to one’s self and when you get one small morsel, you feel guilty, “The house is dirty, the kids are fighting, I haven’t had enough time to talk to my husband and everyone needs to be fed. How can I justify a bike ride or a walk alone?” Believe me, I get it! Secondly, you are so beautiful. When I see your picture, I think to myself, as women often do, “If only I could look like that! She has great hair, great skin, great style and no need for makeup.” We are always hardest on ourselves.
    Keep living your dream and try to live in the moment, even when the moment is not what you’d expected it to be. If only I could follow my own advice. ha ha
    Kelly

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm by erin | Permalink

      Very kind words. Thank you so much.
      We’re all learning :)
      warmly,
      e

  3. Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm by Erica | Permalink

    I just finished reading this and I can completely relate! We all have our inner ‘demons’ and insecurities, and after having them for so long its so hard to get rid of them.Its so great that your putting yourself first for once, reading this is so inspriational Erin, thanks for sharing <3 xox

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm by erin | Permalink

      I hope this helps others too…when I see young girls picking themselves apart I want to tell them to stop and that it only gets harder before it gets better.
      It is terrible what we tell ourselves and do to ourselves and for who or what?
      I was watching Eat, Pray, Love recently and I liked the part where she asked her friend if she had ever been asked to leave the room when she took her clothes off for a man…of course not, he’s in a room with a naked woman, as far as he is concerned he is the luckiest man in the world.
      Anyway, I hope this helps shift some thinking.
      xo

  4. Posted August 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm by Brittany | Permalink

    i loved this post for its honesty. i know exactly how you feel. i was sick for most of my teens, then strapped myself with a husband and baby in my twenties (my choice…but i wonder if i knew what the hell i was getting into). so i never really had any wild oats to sew, or any adventures to tell people later, which makes me feel like an incredibly boring person.
    my son is six and is in a hard stage. one minute he loves me, the next he hates me. it’s like being around a teenager all the time. i don’t really know how to get us both through this phase intact, but i am trying.
    i think you’re lovely, by the way. i understand the self-loathing issue, as every woman does i assume. i often have to remind myself that often while i’m busy thinking i look chubby or too tired, etc., most people around me think i look absolutely fine. hot, even. 😉 but i think it’s how you FEEL in general. i mean, i’m always bushed, so i just feel like crap always, you know? so i don’t think that helps with any type of self-image. it’s tough.
    much love to you though–you are probably doing a whole lot better than you can perceive. <3

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm by erin | Permalink

      And thank you for your honesty. I really do think that when the kids are grown I will come unhinged in the best sort of way…backed by some wisdom and clarity which is always lacking in young shenanigans 😉
      I remember hating the way I looked when all of these pictures were taken and now I see them differently.
      Hope you both come out unscathed on the parenting front :)
      Thank you for taking the time to write.
      xo

  5. Posted August 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm by lily boot | Permalink

    Yep. I so admire you for dragging this inner voice out and slamming it down in writing. Hopefully, that will seep away some of it’s strength and give you an opportunity to take a deeper breath. I can relate to so much of what you say – after pottering around (in a terribly ineffectual way) with the arts for almost two decades, now I am halfway through my nursing degree and looking forward to working in a practical and caring way and contributing to my family’s wellbeing. Maybe we’ll even get to buy a home! And my wardrobe is full of beautiful skirts that don’t fit. :sigh: But I do think – just like you said about meeting Mike – that we are the people we are now because of the choices (good or silly) that we made and yes, maybe in an alter universe we would be better people, but that ain’t happening any time soom, so I try to look at my funny, quirky bits that were NOT what I was dreaming of when I was 21 and think about the good things they have helped me create. I hope this doesn’t sound too treacly :-) It’s actually my mashing of Marcus Aurelius and Pema Chodron – they make such a good couple – and every day I remind myself to “wipe out the imagination, stop the pulling of the strings, confine thyself to the present!” (M.A.) and the more I say it, the better I’m getting at it and it really does help. It’s a shame we’e on opposite sides of the planet – I’m really good at seed propagation and then USELESS at getting them much further past that stage :-) And my kitchen chairs are half painted – look at this way, we’re giving ourselves heaps of reasons why to live a long, busy life :-)

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing the kind words and the wise quotes. Now if we could all just do what we know to be right and good eh?
      Thank you taking the time to write to me.
      Best of luck with completing your nursing! I am sure it is intense. I took dental assisting and hygiene so I get the health field schooling…
      Warmly,
      e

  6. Posted August 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm by Stephanie K. | Permalink

    I’ve never met you, but every time I see a picture of you I gasp at your radiance. It goes deeper than your hair (which is GORGEOUS), your skin, or your eyes (also gorgeous)…it’s a light that shines out of you that must be even more lovely in real life, and it is reflected in your beautiful writing and musings about your life. So often, you express things I cannot and I hope you know that you are not alone in this really beautiful and (curse word)ing hard journey we’re on as mothers. We also have the pressure of you know who (remember our love hate relationship?)…seamlessly homeschooling, raising veritable vegetable paradises, meat, bees…one wonders what one is doing WRONG to not even manage to grow a bloody sunflower (all our seeds failed this year too).
    Our doctor once told me it’s near impossible to raise children AND a garden…so every summer I give myself permission to let the experts do it and get a share of a CSA farm basket. I enjoy the veggies and spend more time at the beach with my kids, where they’re happy and not messing up the house! :)
    I know the self-hate of which you speak. It quietens down as you age…at least that’s been my experience. I remind myself daily to be as gentle with myself as I am with my children (which is SO hard!)…and to be gentle with my children, too.
    Beautiful post.
    You are beautiful.

    • Posted August 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm by erin | Permalink

      You really are too kind and I know for certain we are kindred spirits. I want to meet you, but I often think that light you think I have would be a super disappointment…
      Yes, yes. The love hate. Honestly. I am pretty much done with the sugary shit. It isn’t who I am.
      Thank you dear friend. So glad to have found you in the internet ether 😉
      xo

      • Posted August 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm by Stephanie K. | Permalink

        Shush!! Just say thank you. I wouldn’t be disappointed. Some day I’m going to call you from somewhere nearby, tell you to put the kettle on, and show up on your doorstep 10 minutes later with my kids in tow. We’ll be like old friends, admire each other’s curly hair, laugh at our stretch marks/cellulite/freckles/pale skin, trade books and knitting patterns and gardening tips and recipes. And our light will shine so bright that our kids will all end up on our laps because they’ll want so much to be near it.

  7. Posted August 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm by Nicole | Permalink

    Dearest Erin,
    I could have written this post myself (well maybe not as eloquently), right down to the less then shapely legs, mine have been called cankles (ankles the same width as one’s calf). I went to University right after High School, then College, then met a free spirit with 3 volkswagon buses who wanted us to live like gypsy’s and travel Canada. However, the fear of my student loan debt, along with many other fears, caused me to quickly find a job and forgo travelling. Now 10 years later I am a stay at home mom (which I cherish), but oh how I regret not travelling with my husband when we were in our 20’s. I didn’t travel and am still burdened with my student loan debt.I guess hind sight really is 20/20.
    So glad to read your voice again, I have greatly missed your posts. Happy to learn that you have won the battle with mornings; it give me hope for myself who has always struggled with early mornings but at the same time so desperately wants to rise with the birds.

    Please don’t be a stanger with your posts, they mean so much.

    Nicole

  8. Posted August 25, 2012 at 7:02 am by Danielle | Permalink

    The way you write in that first paragraph, about how things can feel like such a mess all around you (for me it’s all the pictures waiting to be hung on the way, the closets stuffed with half unpacked boxes, and the inability for our new home to feel like home), and the frustration that comes from feeling like you can’t do much about it. Some days I am so frustrated by my inability to figure out how to get things done with two small children around me. What I’m learning lately is that when my patience gets thin, or when I raise my voice with my kids, it usually means I’m feeling upset or angry or disappointed in myself for some reason that day–about my weight, my struggle to keep focused, my procrastination–not with my children.

    You write very beautifully about what it means to rediscover your own body (and maybe some patience in the meantime), even if it means feeling a bit selfish in the long run. It’s inspiring and exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for that.

  9. Posted August 25, 2012 at 9:16 am by Stacy | Permalink

    Erin, what a poignant and beautifully written revolution. Your blog…your honesty…a blessing! And just so you know, your beauty radiates. Even when you may not be feeling it…the rest of us are seeing it.

    and a note about veggie gardens. This is my first year with a successful garden and it’s not entirely my own. I’m being paid to grow veggies for someone else and I have 40 hours a week to devote to making all that happen. My own little garden…which receives only the energy I have left at the tail end of the day…the weeds have not only taken over…they are waving banners of success!

  10. Posted August 25, 2012 at 10:19 am by dre | Permalink

    This post really resonated with me. What you wrote about body image, weight gain, and pregnancy could have been written about me—right down to the numbers. It took 2 pregnancies and a new, “motherly” body for me to understand how many years I’d wasted hating the skin I was in and to learn to like my body. Now at 38, I’m finally learning this lesson, finally dedicating time every day to making my body stronger. It’s working, slowly but surely. Better late than never. 😉 And I love reading about other women taking this same journey. It is important.

    A friend once told me, “Bring the ass, and the mind will follow,” meaning that if you make your body active, if you make it work hard, your mind will calm down, your thoughts will smooth out, and you’ll start thinking straight about things again. These wise words have become my mantra. I hope that the time you dedicate to yourself now will help you grow stronger and find happy, peaceful headspace in the daily chaos. You are doing a wonderful thing.

    My kids are older than yours now, and one thing that I regret looking back is how much time I spent being weighed down by my “to do” list—the garden, the home renovation projects, etc. I know now that the projects are easily forgotten, but the emotions aren’t. I want to look back and remember being happy in the face of chaos. What is a shed door after all? Nothing compared to laughter.

    I love your blog, love your beautiful writing and photos. It always inspires me and makes me dig down. Thank you for that.

  11. Posted August 25, 2012 at 11:06 am by Tanya Hulbert | Permalink

    Thank you for your openness. You shared your heart and most women can relate to those same struggles. Not only do we beat ourselves up, but we can also tear apart each other at times too, even if it’s not said out loud. As women we need to encourage one another and build each other up. We need to support one another. If we all did this, there would be stronger women and consequently, stronger families and future generations. I love following your blog. You are a beautiful person, inside and out. Truly.

  12. Posted August 25, 2012 at 11:46 am by tasha hess | Permalink

    I for certain feel much the same as what you have wrote here. If I could write, these could be my words.Except I have never been 115 ever in my adult or teen life.
    I often feel daily how there are so many things that I could have done differantly in life and feel hope that I still can. I had my daughter quite young and never really went to school(past highschool) I have kind of lost MY PATH. Aside from kids and family Path I am living.
    And the days when I get up and barely get the house clean before I lose my sparse energy and I wonder how all these women in all these blogs can do all the stuff Stephanie K. mentions. I have been successful with a garden this year but we don’t have a lot of land etc to deal with.
    When I cant get my kids away from the TV or Video Games during the day my guilt grows.
    I just want to say I hear you, Erin.

  13. Posted August 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm by jane | Permalink

    We women are way too hard on ourselves. Always wanting to do so much better, more more and more. Also, these things must be done perfectly! I think we need to cut ourselves slack. Just getting through each day with whatever is left of our sanity is a great thing. I think most of us fight anxiety, anxiety that we are not all we should be, that we are missing something wonderful. I would hope now, to try to find something wonderful about each day and let the rest go hang.

  14. Posted August 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm by amy | Permalink

    i just read “why quantum physicists(sp?) don’t get fat” on my kindle for free and loved it! it is ALL about your inner self/feelings/thoughts. did you know that your emotions are measureable? i sure didn’t. stay positive and tell yourself the best story about any given situation; sorta like what we do with our kiddos all the time.

    i’m sorry about your garden; i heard it was a tough growing season for many. glad you are you and telling us about it here. you make me smile and believe there are kindred spirits after all.

  15. Posted August 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm by Kelly | Permalink

    I think you are beautiful inside and out. :)

    It is definitely hard to garden with little kids. This is the first year I could really grow anything since I became a mom. I always have an overwhelming need to plant things in the spring, but this is the first year that I have actually harvested since Judith was born (she’s 6). Keep trying, it will happen. You have such a beautiful home. You have made more steps towards achieving your dreams than most people have, and that is admirable. Everything is just harder with little kids underfoot (especially when you are constantly investing in them physically, mentally and emotionally), it does get easier as they get older, I promise! Judith is such a big help with the garden. Even though Ruthie and Gideon are little and can cause destruction, they don’t as much because they follow Judith’s example, and can be surprisingly helpful for their age. Don’t worry, you made progress this year in just creating the garden. Every year it will get better. You have made a lot of big steps towards your dream, sometimes it takes a while for the little details to catch up. I think you are awesome and I greatly admire you. <3

  16. Posted August 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm by christine m. | Permalink

    thank you for being so honest. you mirror so many of my own thoughts and feelings. yet you are miles ahead of me, as i am about 15 years older than you and am just coming around to an awareness of the insights you shared…

  17. Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:29 am by Bonnie | Permalink

    Lovely words. You always seem able to express what I am thinking.
    I have only been able to get really going on my garden in the last couple of years because my youngest is now 5. Babies, toddlers, even young preschoolers – they are a lot of work! And I remember a woman I admired who lost some weight and was getting fit and healthy. She glowed! I asked how she did it and she told me it all came together when her youngest started school and she actually had some time to devote to herself, Since my youngest was a baby then, I was disappointed to not get a “quick fix” bit of advice! But now I find myself there…all my children will be in school all day in another 8 days. I’m starting to feel excitement about what I may actually be able to do in those hours – self-care being at the TOP of the list. Damn it, I want to GLOW too!!
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I understand those days of not feeling like a rock star earth mama! Sometimes it’s all about survival, isn’t it?

  18. Posted August 27, 2012 at 10:45 am by Kriszta | Permalink

    I can completely relate when you say “You were ruled by fear”. I am also approaching a milestone birthday and I am also evaluating my life. And for all the things I would love to have a chance to do differently when I look at who I am today, I think – I love who I have become and while there are regrets of the past, the future still holds so much. So much growing and enjoying what lays ahead. It’s the future that matters, not the past. Please do not be discouraged … just look ahead …

  19. Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm by Jeannine | SaylorMad | Permalink

    It’s so cruel that we hate ourselves so much for so long. Even the most enlightened woman has feelings of doubt or longing at some point.

    Where children and the garden & house are concerned it DOES get easier. Distraction is the key, though. A sandbox or dirt pile with toys in the general area of the garden has kept my girls (4 & 2) from hurting the vegetables. Chalk and a fence or a bucket of water and paper boats can help with distraction and diversion. Also, I try to do a little each day rather than long periods of time so they’re less likely to become bored with their toys.

    There’s time to explore the world. It may come later than you imagined, but there is plenty of time to dream and plan.

    Thank you for your honesty here. It’s the main reason I return to read your words.

  20. Posted August 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm by Jenna | Permalink

    Erin, I just discovered your blog through Artful Blogging and am so glad I came to visit. Your real, raw and genuine honesty is so refreshing! Thank you for your courage in sharing your struggles. I can relate so much to where you are with the weight-loss journey after having two of my own children (ages 5 and 19 months). It’s so hard to stick with (or start and restart) with exercise and eating healthy, especially these noisy, messy, busy days with little ones. I hope for you (and me) that we won’t hide our current self behind our little ones for pictures. I so do it too! Yeah it’s not where we want to be and yeah, it’s a work in progress but there is so much beauty along the way to where we want to be and often I miss it because I’m looking back to what I used to weigh. So glad to find you. I look forward to following your blog. Thank you, Erin.

  21. Posted September 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm by teresa | Permalink

    mmmmmmhhhmmmmmm. i hear you mama. i think that the shift from maiden to mother is a really difficult one! i struggle with it all the time. our bodies change to bring life forth into the world. our breasts engorge and our bellies shift and soften. but hell, we made beautiful vibrant little beings! it is so hard for me to remember that sometimes.
    i would like to add, that i did travel and put off schooling and careers and even monogamous relationships. i spent most of my late teens through mid twenties living free and flew by the seat of my pants… but i still have days now when i feel like i missed something. or that i needed to experience more freedom.

    what helps me is trying so hard to be present. here. now. sure, i could be traveling europe in a gypsy vardo, but i am not. so why spend too much time there in my head? i try to find the exotic in my day, the twinkle in my daughter’s eye just before she jumps off the couch, the smell of spices heating up in a skillet of oil, music, the rough feel of my husband’s workin’ hands. all these things can bring me back to those days of being young and free… if i LET them. if i really am THERE to experience them. you know?

    and, mama oh mama, you are drop dead gorgeous. that should not be a worry in your head. i too am blessed with wild curls and wide hips and i say, hell yes! we are the firey mamas who are just a little bit dangerous… 😉

  22. Posted September 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm by Ana | Permalink

    It’s good and necessary to be selfish sometimes. We spend much too much time being hard on ourselves. <3.

  23. Posted September 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm by Annette | Permalink

    God, I love you. Always have, always will.

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