Several years ago I purchased ‘The Desire Map Planner’ from Danielle LaPorte. This planner has played a huge role in helping me strategize and go about achieving my goals and desires by first determining how exactly I want to feel. It states, right on the front cover in bold, all caps, gold print, “WHAT I WILL DO TO FEEL THE WAY I WANT TO FEEL’.Once a week the planner asks you to reflect on gratitude as a way of putting everything into perspective; identifying what makes you thankful and essentially how it it makes you feel. So, once a week I reflect and write down what I am grateful for, and every week I write something about the love I have for my village…the loved ones I am so blessed to have in my life. My village is top notch. For real. They can be relied on for laughter, companionship, discussion, help, wisdom, advice, loyalty and love.
Of late, since welcoming my boy into this side of the universe, I’m realizing that my village is and can be more than just the people I know, and choose to surround myself with. My village encompasses so much more. In the days, weeks, and months following my son’s birth, I’ve really taken note of my gratitude through the following:
At the Doctor
I liked my old doctor. He was really old school and had a big old medical book that he’d refer to during your visit. He’d begin some of his medical explanations to me like “Well, in some Blacks…”<insert fond smile here>, as I aged, he inevitably did as well and the time came to get a new doctor.
My new doctor is young, and slightly awkward. In the beginning I stopped even wanting to go for check ups because of his awkward ‘bedside’ manner. After my miscarriage though (when he broke the news to me, he had tears in his eyes and while I was still processing what I was hearing, felt I needed to be strong for him…ha), and now with the birth of my baby my impression of him has changed. Yes, he’s still somewhat awkward, but it would be unfair of me to say he hasn’t improved. I guess my gears have switched and motherly instincts are now at play. I find him kind and caring. He’s trying his best to do his job properly and I appreciate that.
At baby’s first visit; (after completing our 6 weeks with the midwives), he ended our visit by saying, if I’m ever worried, or concerned…just call and they’ll fit me in regardless of not having an appointment. My goodness that warmed my heart so. He understood that as a new mom I was sure to be overcome with paranoia and worries at some point, and ensured the doors would be open to make sure everything was alright. Needless to say, I no longer go to the doctor begrudgingly. I’m thankful.
At the Dentist
I fall into that category of people who don’t like going to the dentist. Not because I hate someone fiddling around in my mouth, but because my dental workers are incredibly friendly. I sound awful, I know. But they are so friendly that they don’t stop talking to you while they’re working in your mouth. Like, do they seriously expect me to respond? It’s so awkward. They always want to know what’s up with me, my family, work and quite frankly, I don’t care to share. I just want them to hurry up and get it over with.
My last visit however, changed my feelings. They were all surprised that I was there during the day and not after work, so I explained that I was on maternity leave. After disclosing about being on a mat leave, my super friendly hygienist made sure to let me know that she noticed I was looking a ‘little fuller’ <insert tired half smile here>. I was promptly reprimanded for not bringing my 6 week old baby for them (the office staff) to meet <insert tired half laugh here>. The following day, I had to return to fix a filling and another staff member who I’d never met before came in to let me know she admired my youthful appearance and that she didn’t believe the others when they told her I was a teacher and had just had a baby. She went on about who could I really be teaching when I was a baby myself. I’d normally be a little like “ok, ok, can we move on and just fix my teeth already.” But it was all truly pleasant and in good spirits. I left their office that day with a feeling of peace with my community (and d; my village and a reminder to bring the baby next time <insert real smile here>.
At the bank
My brother let me know one morning that he had to go to the bank. I quickly enthused, can I come! Being home with a new baby, I don’t get out much anymore. So when my brother said, “sure”, I for the first time in my life, jumped for joy at the opportunity to go the bank. Not knowing how long it takes to open a bank account, and make a minor change to one of my accounts, I figured it would be a quick trip, and didn’t bring baby’s diaper bag along. Rookie mistake. The bank trip ended up taking over an hour. We had to go into one of the financial consultant’s office and wait and wait and wait. Well, baby boy was hot, tired, hungry and he made sure to let everyone in the bank know. One of the other consultants came over and asked if he could try and calm baby down. I complied. As he walked my little one around the bank his efforts were appreciated but done in vain.
In that moment I wanted to cancel, well push pause rather, on everything that was going on and just go home. I would simply go back to the bank another day. I was so worried about patrons and bank staff being annoyed about my baby boys wailing. Instead, the consultant who was rocking and walking my baby around (I wish I’d gotten his name), told me I could use one of their empty offices to feed my baby while I waited for everything to get in order re: our accounts. He advised me to walk with a bottle of water for baby next time (I won’t, but his concern and care was endearing) and was told to take as long as I needed. I was surprised and incredibly thankful. It’s sad that I felt so worried and concerned about others being annoyed or inconvenienced about something as natural as a crying baby. I was and am ever grateful for Scotiabank’s staff member for being understanding that my baby needed to eat and finding me a space to meet his needs. I left the bank that day, feeling so grateful for the kind and patient souls I met that day.
At the movies
So, there I was feeling sorry for myself (not really…I’d just accepted that I would have to be patient) for not being able to see Black Panther on the big screen, when one of my dance sisters let me know about Cineplex Odeon’s ‘Stars and Strollers’. Once a week, at participating theatres, 2 films are shown in dim lighting, and reduced sound. A changing table and bottle warmers are provided and caregivers and their little ones can enjoy a movie without worrying about disturbing other patrons with crying and gurgling babies. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity. That same week, my little guy, mom, grandma and I went to check out Black Panther before it got ruined by spoilers.
Besides the movie being completely amazing, what a sight it was to see and hear a theatre full of babies. So cute! At almost the same time, in waves across the theatre, little babies would start to stir, Mommy’s would begin to feed and bounce or rock. No one minded, no one got upset and not a soul got perturbed by the regular trips to the changing table. I’m so excited that I have a regular date to the movies now. I truly appreciate the opportunity to be able to enjoy a movie (with my little guy) on the big screen every so often without feeling like it’s a burden to anyone. Thank you Cineplex!
Out for a walk
It was a cold and snowy day, actually, I think the snow had stopped. And for whatever the reason (probably Oreos) I decided this was the day, the time that I needed to take baby out for a stroll. I was also excited to try out the stroller gifted by my dance sisters (key members of my village). The roads were mostly clear, the sidewalks were not. I was NOT going to push the stroller with my new baby in it, in the road, so a sidewalk struggle it was. For the most part I was able to maneuver successfully. It was exhausting however, and my poor body really wasn’t up for the hard work of trying to forge through snowy sidewalks. I don’t remember much about the walk except for two passersby. The first was a young woman, who helped me as I tried to make it through a catwalk and then a young man as I tried to get the stroller over a curb after crossing the street. They helped me during my adventurous journey through the snow without asking if I needed help. They saw me struggling and just picked up the front of the stroller and helped me along until we got to a clearing. In those moments I was reminded that there are kind, thoughtful, attentive people living amongst me in my community, in this world. I forget that sometimes and it was a beautiful, gentle reminder.
Fruit & Vegetables
Once a week I get a basket of organic, often locally sourced fruit and vegetables from a food delivery service; Mama Earth. I’ve been with them for several years now and each week, they put a smile on my face. A smile for the beautiful fruit and veggies they provide my family, of course, but particularly because they leave the cutest notes. Simple notes, explaining or apologizing about a fruit or vegetable that wasn’t available, that they had extra of, or that didn’t meet their standards really make me feel like they truly care. I appreciate their efforts exponentially and am truly thankful for the commendable service they provide.
Maternity leave bureaucracy
My school board took long in filing my maternity leave paperwork and as such overpaid me. I was upset that I would now have to pay this money back, when I had none to pay it with. I was upset that my EI (Employment Insurance) was taking long to come to fruition. I was unsure whether or not I would be receiving monthly child benefits from the government. I had no money, an overpayment to pay back along with monthly bills to take care of. I was bothered, but at the same time trying to be optimistic and patient. I had the things that mattered, a roof over my head, food to eat, a loving family and of course, my baby…everything else could and would have to wait. I was starting to feel worried again and had just given myself another pep talk about being patient when I got a phone call. It was an unfamiliar number and I wasn’t in the mood to talk. “Hello…” I said “Hi…don’t worry, your EI has been processed and you will have money in your account in a few days…don’t worry. I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to worry.” Ugh, How sweet! I was ecstatic. I’m sure the person was just doing their job, but it felt so sincere, like they actually cared. I was instantly, truly, no longer worried.
I reflect and am reminded that everything isn’t always wonderful. Bad things happen. Annoying things happen. People mess up and in turn, mess things up for you…for me.
I reflect and am reminded that nothing is perfect. Things don’t always go as planned or as desired. But none of that really matters. In the grand scheme of things, we often, still have so much to be thankful for. I have so much to be thankful for.
I reflect and am reminded that it’s true, everyone doesn’t have the mighty village that I do…but, we should all try not to take for granted what we do have. Smile, breathe, reflect and don’t blow things out of proportion. It could be worse and you could be worse off.
I reflect and am reminded that I’ve got my village, and it’s much larger than I initially believed. My very large, very warm and cozy security blanket. I am grateful.