Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

I am Chief Cook and Bottle Washer in my family. It has taken me a while to really embrace the fact that I love this role in my family and to appreciate myself for how darn good I am at it. It has also taken me a while to embrace the fact that only one person can be in charge of the big picture. Yes, a partnership is best with both parties playing to their strengths but, ultimately, one person has their finger on the pulse of the family and on the running of the household.

images (18)As much as I love my CC & BW role, sometimes I find it a bit wearying…and this particular moment is one of those times. I spent the whole afternoon running all over Hamilton getting Zachary ready for his outdoor hockey tournament in Peterborough, Ontario this weekend; getting hockey skates sharpened, looking in five different stores for new winter gloves and sourcing the necessary but elusive hand warmers to keep hands and feet warm during the outdoor games.

I was finished my errands at school pick-up time and have spent the past three hours making after school snacks, unloading lunch bags, ferrying my shinny players between local rinks to find one that is not being flooded by maintenance and picking Michael up from a friend’s house.

And in less than an hour I will collect my shinny players and head to the hockey arena for Zachary’s game.

images (19)All I want to do is sit down for the evening with a quiet cup of tea. I just want to be left alone. I want to hang a sign on my chest that says; ‘back in an hour’.

But that is not an option.

Here’s the bottom line…I love that I have a wildly active family. I love that my kids want to be out in the fresh air playing shinny. I love that Zachary is playing hockey and is so wildly fulfilled by it. I love knowing that Simon and Zach’s hands are going to be toasty warm this weekend. And, I love knowing that Zach’s skate blades are in perfect condition for his tournament.

And so, the ‘back in an hour’ sign will have to wait a couple of hours…and until then I will suck it up and get on with what needs to be done. And I will try very hard to remind myself that this is the role I love, the role I want, and the role that keeps my family running like a well-oiled machine.

How’s that for some interesting perspective on a grumpy Thursday afternoon?images (20)


Wonder Woman

I am a child of the 70s. I grew up with Mary Tyler Moore, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch and The Bionic Woman. I loved them all, but my absolute favourite was Wonder Woman. I had a serious girl-crush on Wonder Woman. The costume, the boots, the golden lasso, the invisible plane, the headband that could knock out bad guys…and that spin that turned the demure Diana Prince into her powerful alter ego.Wonder Woman

You would think that, at 45 years of age, I am over the whole Wonder Woman thing. However, she has had a surprising renaissance in my life.

I was surfing TED Talks last year when I stumbled across Amy Cuddy. Cuddy is a Harvard social psychologist who has done extensive research into the physiological response of stress in our bodies. Her astonishing finding is that we have the ability to manage the stress response and all it takes is a two-minute ‘power pose’.

Amy Cuddy has Radically changed the way I prepare to deliver workshops. She has taught me how to manage the cortisol that so unfailingly asserts itself when I am under stress. And she has helped me benefit hundreds of clients by sharing her simple science.

And what does this have to do with Wonder Woman? Well, you’ll just have to watch the TED Talk to find out.

Let’s just say that, thanks to Amy Cuddy, I get to channel Wonder Woman every single day…minus the invisible plane, of course!

A Gentle Voice

Two weeks ago I arrived home after a fairly discouraging and slightly alarming appointment with my Naturopath. After a decade of relentless and unavoidable family stress (the details of which are captured in my blog, Open Secret) it seemed that my body was just refusing to push any more. Adrenal exhaustion is one of the ways that my body is saying ‘no more.’ The result of the Koenisburg Adrenal Test two weeks ago was basically…‘go home to bed.’ I have three sons, a business to run and a household to maintain…going home to bed is just not an option!toon704

My husband, however, had a different opinion on the whole thing. He looked at my test results and said; ‘alright Kate, look at your calendar, look at mine and book a week off. Go to a spa, a hotel, a resort, up north…anything. Just take a week off.’

And so, with very little resistance, I did.

At 2:30 this afternoon, after shopping for all the provisions I would need, I packed the car and took off for my parents’ weekend retreat just outside of Collingwood, Ontario. It is just after 7:00pm and I am settled comfortably by the fire with a glass of red wine and my laptop. There is nobody else here and I will be the sole occupant of this lovely spot for six whole days!

Six days…by myself! One day by myself is a treat…I get six of them!

When I left home for the three hour drive, I had the radio blaring with Christmas music, advertisements, traffic reports and weather forecasts. I was singing along to the familiar and wonderfully nostalgic seasonal music when I realized that my heart was racing and that my shoulders were up around my ears. Even though I was enjoying the music, it was quite simply too much stimulation and too much stress.

After releasing myself from the frantic entertainment, my little car felt empty and lonely somehow. I found myself wanting to fill the space with noise. It’s ironic that when I am living my daily life I ache for solitude and quiet, and yet, when the opportunity presents itself, I feel decidedly uncomfortable with the void of silence. As I drove north and it got beautifully wintery-looking, I kept reaching for the radio and it took everything I had to resist the temptation.

What I realized as I travelled in complete silence was that I have an opportunity this week to tune in to a different voice; a gentle voice, a female voice, a quiet voice. A voice that, perhaps, I don’t know that well. My everyday voice is loud and often militant. It is about to-dos, moving from one place to the next, time crunches, and things to be accomplished.

Stretching so delicately ahead of me is a soft week to get to know my own gentle voice.zen_stones

I have never been alone for this long. I have never had a week with no plans. And the fact that the weather is cold and damp means that, other than a daily walk, I won’t feel the need to explore, shop, exercise or fill my time moving from place to place. There is something about this place that just invites me to settle in.

My plan is to curl up by the fire, write, read, watch movies, eat wholesome food and unwind. And, who knows, maybe I will really come to know and like the gentle voice that spends so much of her time being drowned out by her full, happy and wonderfully male-dominated life.