Hygge and Perspectacles or Winter is Coming


I love living in a place with seasons. The fresh buds in spring, the long evenings of summer, the perfect crispness of fall and even the sparkling snow in winter. My issue isn’t with that we have four seasons, my issue is how long winter lasts. For me, a perfect winter would last for the entirety of December. That’s it. Alas, unfortunately  here in Southern Ontario winter feels like it lasts from November till April. Some pretty and white, but most cold, slushy, grime covered snowbanks and endless scraping off the car.

Even though we’re at peak fall right now, I’ve been thinking about winter coming lately and luckily I learned a new concept that is going to help me embrace the season a bit better.

I was first introduced to the Danish notion of hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’) while reading a  a book called The Danish Way of Parenting . The Danes have long been voted the “happiest people in the world” (by who? I don’t know…) and the authors wanted to examine Danish parenting to see how they raise such children into such happy adults. Hygge best translates into english as ‘coziness.’ The basic idea of hygge is relaxation, togetherness and community. According to the authors one of the key ideas of hygge is to put the mood and wellbeing of the group ahead of that of the individual- focusing on creating a cozy, nice space to be together. Examples of hygge could be wearing wooly socks, drinking tea and having a nice chat with a friend or snuggling under a blanket watching a movie. Brunches and candlelight. Soup and desserts. For us, drinking wine and watching the Raptors game with friends sounds really hyggelit. Sweatpants and hot chocolate.

This togetherness and coziness makes the long dark days and nights of winter seem a little bit more appealing. Candle light does seem to make everything seem a bit enjoyable so I have been trying to remember to light some candles in the evenings. Practicing hygge seems like a lovely challenge this winter. I don’t really need to change much but add a few candles here and there and in the words of a wise woman, put on my perspectacles. I hope to take this lesson from the Danes this winter and shift my thinking about the cold and darkness. I was pretty much sold at sweatpants.




Linea Alba

Anatomy Of Stomach Muscles Don't Walk Around Engaging Your Stomach Muscles


After Hazel was born and my body began to readjust to not being pregnant, I realized that I had a common postpartum “condition” of diastasis recti, which means that my abdominal wall had separated, vertically, leaving my muscles a good 2 inches apart. It’s common for women to experience this as the body does what it needs to in order to accommodate growing a human. There are some good core and breathing exercises that were recommended to me by my physiotherapist and the strict instruction NOT to do any sit-ups (not sad about that one!)

Somehow, as life often does, the experience of having separated abs after having a baby became an important metaphor for me in the weeks and months that followed- and it also gave me new appreciation for the power of breath, but more on that another time.

After Hazel was born, I found myself feeling more tender and raw. Not raw in a bad way, but it felt as though my joy, my emotions and my worries were closer to the surface, more exposed. I couldn’t listen to the news without feeling…well, feelings! Truthfully, because the news is often so devastating, I mostly felt sadness. Tragedies involving children gutted me in a way that they previously hadn’t before. Stories of young moms dying from cancer led me to worry what would happen if Hazel were to grow up without a mother.

As a midwife and the wife of a therapist, I know the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and what I was experiencing wasn’t that. If anything I had some feelings about the darker realities of life as a human, rather than just thoughts. I am person who has historically been more comfortable in the realm of thoughts than feelings. I tend to lean on the more pragmatic side, with less variance in my emotions. For better or worse, I am usually steadily content. This experience of suddenly feeling everything more was so surprising. My husband and many of my dear friends are ‘feelers’ so it was interesting experiencing a different way of being in and understanding the world. It also made me feel more vulnerable and for lack of better words, closer to the surface of myself.

This is where my separated abs come back into the story. At night, as I’m laying in my bed thinking about my day, praying, resting–I feel my pulse beating in the soft spot where my abdominals used to shield me. This new softness, this exposure to feelings- joyful and sad- is new to me. I notice this new tenderness and I think about how my body has been stretched and changed to grow new life and I know that my heart or soul or whatever you want to call it has been changed too. It’s the one thing that I couldn’t have predicted about being a parent or maybe birthing a baby. I’m not sure which, but I know that the process has changed me in ways that I can’t articulate but somehow deeply understand as I lay there at night feeling my heartbeat pulse gently in the soft spot of my body.

I don’t know what it all means yet- and maybe I never will. I’ve changed and been stretched and now I feel things more deeply, perhaps more fully. I worry a little bit more about the state of the world, about hungry children, about racism and poverty and injustice. I worry about my family, their wellbeing and health. I walk around feeling like I have it all a little bit less together, a little bit less cerebral and that is taking some getting used to. There’s no nice bow or concluding thought to tie this all together yet because I don’t know the outcome or how my exterior life will be different- I hope that it will look like growing in empathy, in compassion and in love. I think that’s what it feels like, anyway.

Image source


He’s clearly meant to be a teacher. Mostly deaf, partially retired and bubbling with energy, he makes cold, sterile the room feel cozier. He makes jokes and talks as he goes so the resident can learn. The surgeon steps back when the time comes to perform a rare procedure and lets the almost-senior resident step in. The resident is soft spoken and has kind eyes. He appears nervous as they dance around the operating table, his ambidextrous self not sure what hand-ed he is today. He places the deep sutures with a bit of trepidation and seems to have a slight tremor to his hands. The teacher instructs with patience and clear direction. He corrects and uses poems about peter pointer and tommy tall boy to instruct which knots to throw. When the resident gets the needle just right and places the suture carefully the teacher becomes animated and proclaims, “that’s IT! You’ve got it! Perfect! Good job, very good job.” The surgery ends without fanfare, but I know that his words carried weight and have already made the resident a better surgeon.


An overweight man attempts a modification in a common yoga pose. The instructor, pleased to see that he is respecting his pace and body comes over to offer him another option. She struggles to use her words to move him into a pose. When her words and his body meet in the centre,  she proclaims, “Yes! That’s it! Perfect.” He walks out of that room a bit taller than when he came in, more because of her words than from any stretching or lengthening.


We drove down the Jersey shore in a borrowed car long before the Jersey Shore was akin to Snooki and reality tv. Dusk and muggy, the breeze from the ocean provided some relief from the heat of the setting sun and filled the air with that salty, ironically earthy smell. We laid a blanket in the grass, in a town we’d never been in, in a country that wasn’t our and waited for the music to begin. An impromptu adventure during a family visit, the concert didn’t disappoint. Twinkly lights filled the stage and the melancholy sound of Long December and Round Here filled the air. Everyone clapped with understanding along to “Hanging Around” because, at 2o doesn’t any amount of time feel too long? We listened to Why Georgia and Neon and I sang along because I knew all the words. I still know all the words.

Memory .

2012 in photos

We have a nephew! Alexander was born on April 18th, 2012. Matt was the first family member to hold him.
We have a nephew! Alexander was born on April 18th, 2012. Matt was the first family member to hold him.


Luke and Krista got married! I was too busy crying happy tears to take photos of the bride and groom, so this photo will have to do
Luke and Krista got married! I was too busy crying happy tears to take photos of the bride and groom, so this photo will have to do
We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary
We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary
We went camping in Tobermory for Labour Day weekend. SO beautiful. Will definitely be going back
We went camping in Tobermory for Labour Day weekend. SO beautiful. Will definitely be going back
I finished the first half of my third (eighth) year of uni. This cabbage is a baby's head...obs.
I finished the first half of my third (eighth) year of uni. This cabbage is a baby’s head…obvs
Annual Thanksgiving Hike
Annual Thanksgiving Hike
Ran a marathon
Ran a marathon

And so many other photo-less moments”

-I caught my first baby

– I flew to Quebec city to visit my friend Arielle

-I had a terrible summer job- which I quit and then I had a WONDERFUL (terrible paying) summer job

– I went on a canoe trip in Algonquin park with my friends

– Ate countless dinners in our co-op parking lot

– Had a neighbourhood potluck

– Went to Hillside Music Festival in Guelph with midwifery friends

– Became an elder at our church

– Read so.many.good.books (should write a post on that, really!)

-Crocheted my first blanket

– Cuddled babies in the NICU

– Played ultimate frisbee

– Ran hundreds of miles

– Did yoga

– Wrote down almost 1000 things that I am grateful for

– Painted the kitchen

– Watched WAY TOO much tv on the internet

– Learned a lot about myself

– Came up short on lots of my goals for 2012

– Had good health and good people in my life

– Went off facebook for an indefinite period of time

You can also see more of my photos on my instagram account  Instagram is such a handy tool for capturing every day life.

Onwards to 2013!

…blue with white trim

So, the kitchen paint of 2012 is completed. Man on man, is painting a lot of work….and we have a SMALL kitchen. I started by clearing everything out on Friday afternoon and cleaning everything off. Let me tell you, the whole cleaning part was LONG overdue. (I think I need to wash the walls more often).

I spent 90 minutes in home depot agonizing over what colour to paint. Matt and I had already been once to check out colours and had a rough idea of what we were looking for. But alas, I spent 90 minutes humming and hawing over paint chips. Those of you who know me well know that I am notoriously indecisive over minutiae. It’s a sad, sad fate.

I came home 50% convinced I’d like what I had chosen and Matt and I put one coat on the wall. Thankfully, neither of us hated it. My mom came over on Saturday and we worked for a few more hours. And then a few MORE hours on Sunday afternoon. And then a few more hours late Sunday night when Matt and I dragged our kitchen contents out of the living room and restored them to their rightful place.

Here’s what I learned: Do things that you might have been avoiding doing because today is all you have (although maybe don’t get all YOLO on that and live hedonistically..) Doing tedious things can be bearable and even fun with people that you love. Procrastination sucks ( We could have had a cozy kitchen THREE YEARS ago). Breathe, breathe, Breathe.

Painting talk is over.

On to more important matters.

Read this post (if you’d like). It spoke volumes to me and reminded me not to confuse critical thinking with a critical spirit (something that I struggle with). I love, love Sarah Bessey’s blog and the author is writing about about Christianity and feminism and I really can’t wait to read it.

Painting the Kitchen and Living in the Moment

Since finishing my clinical placements for semester my days suddenly have a lot of give in them. Free time to use how and where I please. The pressing issues of my days have become “which day this week should I clean the bathroom?” and “when should I go to the gym?”

I’ve spent a lot of time at home in our very tiny (600ft) apartment. Writing emails, working on school work, watching internet tv (damn you, netflix!)

In the mornings, our kitchen has the most beautiful light. In the past I’ve taken taken photos of nothingness because I am so enamored with the light.  When I moved in more than 4 years ago, Matt and some friends helped me to paint the bathroom, bedroom and the living area. The kitchen was a yellowy-old colour but it wasn’t toooooo bad, so we left it as-is.

Now 4 years later, and countless hours spent cooking and working at the small table we have (you can see it in all it’s greatness in the banner photo) I’ve realized that it’s time to paint the kitchen. It’s time to take off the AWFUL cupboard doors that don’t close and to sand and paint them too. It’s time.

Now, the funny thing is as much as we love living here (the location, the people, the rent, the memories!) there is a very real chance that we might have to move in the spring. This is because of the lottery system for my senior year placement which if things don’t go my way, could land me in Timbuktu  Oshawa, Sarnia or who-the-heck-knows-where.

The loosey-goosey side of me feels like I might be tempting the lottery gods- to be so bold and paint my kitchen when I could very well be leaving in 4 short months (I’m already spending March in Tanzania). The practical side of me also worries that it could be HUGE waste of time and money if we have to leave. All the work for a few measly months of enjoyment.

But the part of me that I want to grow the most, that part of me is whispering, “do it”. Not because it might anger the gods or be waste but because it is a practice of living in the right here, right now.  Yoga teaches me to focus on my breath. To simply breathe in and out. My church community teaches me that if we open our eyes we can see the Goodness of God in the land of the living…right here, right now. This is all we have, folks. Any facade of control that we have is just that…a facade. So, in honouring today and in trying to better be present in the right now, we’re painting this weekend. My saintly Mom is going to help and it’s going to be a lot of work, but man I think I am going to appreciate it…and wish I had done it sooner.