Author Archives: Brigitte Pellerin

What I miss the most these days

It’s January and I’m grumpy because I’m always tired and low on energy plus these days I’m fighting off the cold or flu or whatever bug it is that’s plaguing my house (Youngest hasn’t been herself in a month), mostly by ignoring it, gngngn.

I was going through my old posts this morning and this one, from July 2015, made me wince with envy. The only positive thing about it is that I know spring is coming back and I’ll get to do the morning swim thing again in just a few months…

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A picture I took two years ago that gives you an idea of what my swim felt like this morning.

Or why I need a waterproof camera. My swim this morning was nothing short of magical. It’s quite cold these days, about 11C (slightly under 60F) this morning and the water is much warmer than the air, which creates this thick mist that slowly dispels as the rising sun warms up the air. There’s barely any breeze at all. The whole thing feels like Middle Earth except the lake isn’t spooky.

There’s nobody but me and some fishing guy in the distance (plus wildlife making its usual cacophony), and it’s like I’m gliding smoothly into liquid smoke as I swim westward towards the island across the channel. I go like this for about 300 feet, then turn to face the beautiful golden pink of the rising sun and swim back to my dock while a flock of birds skim across the quiet waters.

I’m just sorry I couldn’t film it for you.

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Oh, blah

And I mean, blaaaahhhh. Mama’s finding this winter tough. It’s either too cold or too dark or not sunny enough and what with one thing and another it’s been very difficult to find time to stick my nose out the door for a boost of vitamin D. And for the last month I’ve been extremely tired and low on energy.

Not depressed or anything, this is a purely physical thing. I’m just terribly tired, all the time. It’s not weird either, this happens to me every single year, at about this time of year. The little indian in me needs Mr. Sun on her skin, and the proper light of day all around. Sure, you can take vitamin D supplements until you go blue in the face (I take at least 2,000 IU a day), and iron supplements and a really good diet that includes enough sleep, nothing works as well as that magic potion, aka “spring weather” does.

I’ll get through it the way I do every year, by trying to ignore it until it goes away. But gngngngn that’s hard.

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Night time update: Well! I stuffed myself full of vitamin D (pill form and Mr Sun form – I took the kids skating) and lo, I feel *almost* my old self again.

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Hmmm, a science experiment that didn’t go very far

Looking back at my posts from six months ago, I see this:


Been wondering lately how I could reduce the amount of time I spend with my nose glued to the computer screen. I spend a lot of my time that way. It’s all important work, don’t get the wrong idea. I try very hard not to waste time (don’t have much to spare anyhow), and there is a lot of things I need to get done. All good things that I enjoy doing. But maybe too many of them.

“Reduce computer time” and have more attention to devote to other matters (like cleaning my house and drawing with the kids) is a fine goal. But how to go from goal to reality?

The answer came to me Friday night. I would measure my computer time to see where and when I spend the most. That’s the first step. Gathering knowledge.

So I stuck a big giant clock app on my desktop and I start it whenever I work and stop it when I get up. So far I got 00:54:57 on Friday (partial day; I started tracking myself after dinner), 2:12:18 Saturday and so far Sunday I’ve got 2:36:12.

I believe, based on how much time I had to putter in my backyard, that 2:36:12 is a massive improvement compared to last Sunday. It may be that I want to avoid seeing my counter go up too much and therefore focus better while at my desk so I can get things done more efficiently.

I like what this is doing to my work-life balance so far and will keep it going some more.

I didn’t keep up with the experiment past the two-week mark. I found I kept forgetting to log my time, which kind of ruined the thing. I have, however, managed to spend less time at the computer – especially now that both documentaries are edited and done. It got nuts there for about two months. Still. Working less and living more – especially when you homeschool three curious kids – is not so much a resolution as an important life goal. And I’m getting there, slowly. Like say yesterday, where we spent three hours roaming downtown delivering care packages to homeless folks, followed by a half-hour goose chase looking for a book someone had claimed to leave at a grocery store (my kids have decided to start bookcrossing, which looks like fun). The older me would have resented the time away from the computer a lot. The newer me didn’t – and we all had a much more pleasant time as a result.

So there. While the scientific experiment sort of flopped, I intend to continue with the goal.

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Learning to give back

My freezing troopers

One thing social media is good for is providing sources of inspiration (yes, absolutely, it’s there in-between the click-bait nonsense – you just have to look for it).

Case in point, my friend Anna BĂ©langer recently posted pictures of her and her kids getting ready to deliver care packages to homeless folks for Christmas. And I though, hey, what a great idea and why am I not doing that, too?

So today we prepared a bunch of care packages, stuffed our backpacks with them, dressed up warmly, and headed out. At first the kids were too shy to approach anyone so I had to do the talking, but by the end Eldest was keen to do everything herself. They were involved in the entire process; from picking items to give away to preparing the packages to carrying them in pretty miserable weather. And in the end they commented on how good it made them feel to have done something for people who don’t have a lot of attractive options right at the moment.

Homelessness is a complicated issue. You don’t always know or understand how or why someone winds up sitting on the very cold sidewalk with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It’s easy to judge, but it doesn’t help anyone (including the person doing the judging). And one of the worst things you can do to someone in that situation is treat them like they are less than human. Having a sweet 10-year-old girl hand you a sandwich she made herself and a few other chocolate-covered goodies will not solve anything either. But it has the power to warm a heart, and sometimes that’s all you can do.

So yes, thanks Anna, for the inspiration. We shall do it again.

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Lonely Christmas, and the negative power of expectations

I don’t like Christmas. That’s not a new thing; I’ve felt this way since the early 1980s. 

I am not a Christian, so to me there is no religious significance to the date. And I never understood why Christians celebrate the birth of their lord and saviour by spending crazy amounts of money on presents to each other. [Oh yes, don’t worry, plenty of Christians have tried to explain their position, ad nauseam. The more they explain it the less sense it makes to me. Whatever. It’s a free country, do your thing.]

Then I spent several years working in retail and hospitality, and whatever seasonal goodwill I might have salvaged from my dysfunctional childhood disappeared in a hurry, never to return.

Somehow, I married into a family that likes its Christmas the traditional way, with all the trimmings: crazy number of presents, too much food you wouldn’t normally eat (mince tarts? the hell?), carols, those infernal crackers, silly hats and way too many unduly boiled green beans. It makes me want to scream and tear my hair out. I have bitched and moaned for more than 15 years and very reluctantly went along with the thing most years. And hated it.

I mean, *hated* it. I so obviously don’t like it I make other people miserable. Which isn’t really all that fair. So now what we do is husband takes the kids to his family and they do the Christmas thing while I stay home alone enjoying a few days without anyone going MomMomMomMomMomMomMom… See, since I homeschool and don’t have a family or anyone else to leave the kids with, I always have them with me. It’s a good thing I enjoy their company; I don’t think I had more than 10 (non-consecutive) days without them in the last 10 years. To say I’m savouring the sound of my silent house would be a spectacular understatement.

Still, it’s a bit of a crazy thing, when you think of it. To be at the point where the only acceptable option is to spend the holiday apart, just because Christmas is an all-in or all-out affair. There are days, I tell you, when I wish the pro-Christmas camp realized how those of us who can’t stand the traditional thing feel about the binary hell of it. How unpleasant it is to have to choose between the full-on turkey-and-presents ordeal (with awful carols and worse crackers) or nothing at all. How sometimes I wish I could just make up my own weirdo tradition instead (do puzzles all day, yes? no stupidly big tree, only a few small inexpensive presents, no turkey and an absolute ban on crackers). But no. Apparently that’s not possible. So I opt out and make the best of it. It will soon be over anyway.

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Grumble grumble grumble (aka Oh but this will hurt)

I try not to bitch too much. It really doesn’t help. But man, I just want to sit down and cry. Or maybe go back to bed. I’m tired, and I can’t seem to catch a break these days. I blame the solar system; I’m not getting nearly enough daylight. I need daylight. The real kind, I mean, not those fake lamps people have to fight SAD. I make a point of standing outside with my face in the sun for a few minutes every day, but it’s just not enough. I want it not to be so dark when I go jogging in the morning, that’s what.

Anyway, I’m tired. I don’t have energy. So of course I keep pushing myself. Because honestly I don’t know what else to do. (I *did* try taking it easy, and did not like it. Softness isn’t something I’m interested in, much.) And what happens when you keep pushing yourself even when you don’t have enough energy for it? Yes! You get all kinds of hurts all over your body. Joints, especially. They complain a fair bit.

Oh well. I still got up early to go jogging with the pup in the freezing whatever that was drizzling, then shoveled two feet of hard packed icy slush at the end of my driveway, then prepped brekkie for other people, did laundry for five people, some computer work, made my own sprouted protein shake and tea, and in a few minutes I’ll head out to the dojo again for a morning of what I expect will be hard training, given that it’s the last Sunday morning training before Christmas.

It’s going to hurt, but you know what? I know at the end I’ll be proud of myself for having pushed through it all. I can grumble all I want, in the end it’s very much worth it. Hurts and all.

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