2016 & 2017: The Hard Years

Last year was hard. No sense putting a made-up pretty face on it, or calling a spade a diamond: physically, emotionally, and situationally, 2016 was a hard year.
I gained some of the weight I lost in 2015 back – not eating properly, not being motivated, and seeking emotional solace in food all played their own roles. I spent 6 solid months separated from my husband, which meant 6 months being a single mother. I shared a bedroom with a non-sleeping toddler for nearly 5 cumulative months of the year. I made the difficult decision to go back to work after 5 long years of recovery. I took on new volunteer positions without shedding the old ones. I began a part-time direct sales business. And honestly, travelling over the Christmas season is no way to finish an already trying year.
And this year has started in the same way. MiniSir will be deployed this year – yet another long separation for us. I have secured a job and day care for Grunt, and now we are just waiting on my official start date. We bought a new car, anticipating a future that the Army has now changed on us (again). And all those volunteer positions? I can’t seem to shake them.
So while I prepare to be a newly working single mum, dealing with what little spare time I have being eaten up by committees, I have to wonder some days if strength comes from simply doing.
I walk now because I refused to believe I couldn’t walk then. I bore a child because I refused to believe I was infertile. I have been alone, alone and pregnant, alone with a child, and I have been strong enough to do all this because I refused to give up on what needed to be done. So.
This year I will be employed, and Mummy, and alone. And I will be strong. I will do what needs to be done. And I will be here for others in the same place when they think they can’t.
Some days I will need reminded of my own strength, and some days others will be the ones needing reminded. On days when I can give of myself, I will. On days when I need you to give me a little of the strength back, I hope you will.

Join the Rebellion Today!

In what perfectly encapsulates my 2016, this week suddenly and surprisingly has me attending 3 job interviews. That’s 150% more interviews than I’ve had during the rest of the year in a single week. 6 days before we start Christmas leave. 2 weeks before Christmas. Also, the only week where I lost my voice.

Yes – let’s do this.
In June, MiniSir and I decided it would be good for our family if I started looking for work again. No pressure; I could take my time, but we agreed it would be great if I could get some recent employment experience under my belt, get Grunt some opportunities to see kids his own age more frequently, and bring in a little extra income. Since we don’t know what’s happening after MiniSir is posted out of the Regiment, at least with some fresh job and daycare experience it might be easier to acclimate whenever we end up.
So I started applying. Had my first interview in early September. Then another right before Hallowe’en. I’ve been slow but steady about the entire thing, and I have my checklist: I want a job that I can leave at work at the end of the day so I can still focus on my family; I need something that is set hours so when MiniSir is in the field I don’t have to find additional care for Grunt; I have to make a certain amount to be able to cover Grunt’s regular care costs; and I want to make some sort of difference or give back to my community, whether it’s the military family or my city as a whole.
Not too demanding, actually. There are plenty of jobs out there that fit the bill. But I wasn’t fiercely scouring employment websites and postings, preferring to spend a little time every so often for maximum result. I still have a house to run and a family to look after, and, certainly closer to the holidays, many social events to attend or host. I wasn’t really focused on hunting. I figured maybe something would come along next year. But two weeks ago I got a heads-up about a position opening, and then last week I got an email to set up a phone interview for this Monday, so I was hopeful – maybe I would get a job after all!
On Sunday, I lost my voice after Grunt’s mild cold made a successful germ trench run on me. And since I never do anything the easy way (ever), it hit me with all the force of two proton torpedoes in a Death Star. Monday my voice had returned, at the loss of any lung capacity and self-respect I had left. So I spent the 30min phone interview slugging coffee, water, coughing, and apologizing. I aced it. And while I was on the phone, I got another email to set up an interview – this one on Wednesday. Yesterday I got a phone call: another interview for Friday.
When it rains, it pours.
I’m sleeping sitting up. I’m taking all the drugs. I’m not eating. All I want to do is lie in bed and soak up the warmies. Instead, with the windchill at a balmy -20C, I’m wondering if it’s socially acceptable to meet the RCMP wearing pants. I hope it is; my body is telling me that I’m not leaving the house in a dress because the thought of having to wear that much underwear when I’m this sick is just daunting.
I can do this. I know I can. I’m just probably going to be doing it in pants. But hey! Maybe I’ll be starting 2017 off on a high note!

Another Dirty Word

Something weird happened to me yesterday. I sat down, slouching into the soft couch, to watch one of Grunt’s favourite shows with him. At one point, he climbed into my lap and I looked down to make sure he was going to get comfortable in a way that wouldn’t hurt me either.

And then I realized: I can see my legs. Not just my legs, but the tops of them. And not just the tops, but I can the rest of my body underneath my tummy. Somewhere along the way of losing weight and getting more active, I actually got thinner than I remember being in a long time.

This is an important milestone for several reasons. Since puberty, I have had this annoying large stomach that protruded over my lower abdomen, the tell-tale mark of someone with PCOS. It has only gotten more prominent since having Grunt, as I carried him very high. And since my accident, I have had a much larger behind, thanks to all that fluid that stuck around the injured areas because of the nerve damage done. So, when I look in the mirror sideways, all I see are these two problem areas; my torso gets lost somewhere in the middle.

In 2015, MiniSir and I decided we were going to get healthy – lose weight, eat better, take care of ourselves a little more. The previous 4 years had been a cluster of serious, terrible, and exciting things; a time in our lives we could not forget even if we wanted to. But 2015 we chose to start fresh, and give Grunt positive role models right at home. We purchased pedometers, started counting calories, watching portion sizes, and intensely meal planning. MiniSir started exercising right away, and his weight melted off. He has since managed to successfully lose over 50 pounds. Exercise has always left a dirty taste in my mouth, so I focused on being active with Grunt and trying to hit my 10000 steps a day. It was easier said than done, but by the end of the year, I had lost nearly 40 pounds.

We found as we got doing it that it felt good. We enjoyed it, and it helped us keep our grocery costs and food waste to a minimum. Helping ourselves and helping the planet? Okay! We decided to purchase home exercise equipment for our joint Christmas gift – we had a friend looking to off-load his and we were given a great price. So now we have a treadmill and a recumbent bike, and since MiniSir is a runner, you can guess which one was for me.

I was reluctant to start seriously exercising – what if I hurt something, what if I made it worse, what if what if. Finally, I made up my mind to try without judgment, and I got on the recumbent bike and pedalled. The next day, I got on it again. And the next. Throw in a little yoga once or twice a week, and suddenly you know how I’ve been spending my time while Grunt naps since the start of the year.

Some days I just can’t even, and I still get on the bike. Today, for example. I’m biking and writing this blog. I have no qualms about multi-tasking, and if this helps me feel better about time I spend on me, then it’s a win-win. I can only bike for about a half hour before my back and pelvis tell me I’ve done enough, but I can work up a sweat in that time which tells me I have indeed done what I came to do.

I’m hungrier, downright starving some days. Last week I ate supper and then an hour later I had a bowl of oatmeal and almond milk. But I feel good when I’m hungry – it means I need the fuel.

So maybe exercise still sounds like a dirty word to me. And maybe I hide my scale in my closet so I don’t obsess over my weight. Maybe I’m taking anti-depressants still to help me sleep.

But you know what else I am doing? I’m kicking that bulletproof, armoured bank truck right in the ass.

You can’t beat me, truck. What didn’t kill me has made me infinitely stronger: physically, mentally, emotionally.

Bring it.

2016: A Year of Reaping


Happy 2016, everyone! I just know in my heart that this is the Year of Krista, and I am looking forward to making the most of it.

We could call last year “The Road to High Readiness”, in true army fashion. It saw a lot of ups and downs, for me and our little family.

We all started the year off with terrible colds, and I managed to get lice, an eye infection, and a lung infection on top of that over the holidays. Grunt decided he would start furniture walking as soon as I got sick, too, and became much more mobile while I attempted to get better. The constant barrage of demands from the condo board and MiniSir’s trip to Europe in March nearly did me in as I tried to be a mum, a home owner, and run the condo board all by myself.

But… we celebrated Easter in Walt Disney World and had a wonderful underwater-themed first birthday party for Grunt when we arrived back home.

We put the house on the market right as the price of oil collapsed, and nearly sold it twice only to have the buyer unable to get financing. I hired a management company for our condos, and struggled through our piece-meal finances with their accountant to get our books in order.

But… MiniSir got promoted, and we celebrated with the champagne he brought back from France. We had family visiting us in June, July, and August, and in between we had a whirlwind trip to Ontario.

MiniSir went to fight fires in Saskatchewan, but then we visited Banff and Lake Louise for the first time on an epic road trip, and it seemed like maybe we were finally getting ready to relax into fall.

And then my PTSD, depression, and anxiety all made a comeback and I’m back on medication to help me cope.

But… MiniSir completed an amazing “rugged” marathon called Mountain Man, a result of his hard work, training, and the loss of 50 pounds. He also got great career news and now we know we will be here in Edmonton for at least another 4 years.Grunt started walking and talking. The condo board took on new members and it now feels like we are a team instead of a one-woman show. I have lost nearly 40 pounds, with just a couple stubborn ones left to reach my goal weight. And we celebrated Christmas here, together: our little family with matching pjs in our little house.

Honestly, looking back, I can see the ups and see the downs, see the curveballs life has thrown at us and see the gifts. I wish for nothing more in the new year than for 2016 to hold more gifts than disappointments. I sowed many seeds last year, and I’m ready to reap the rewards. If I close my eyes and dream, I can see them all lying out on the path ahead of me. I know this year will be mine, and I’m ready for it.

From our home to yours: Happy New Year, and may your unexpected gifts be numerous!

35 is the new 25, right?

Welp. I’m 35.

Remember when you were 10 and 35 seemed positively ancient? Yeah. Well, 10-year-old self, you were right about one thing: I feel positively ancient. Though I don’t think I had factored in the freakish MVA back then. But still.

When my mum turned 35, I turned 10 the same year. I wonder if she felt as ancient as I feel. And here’s the thing: when Grunt turns 10, I’ll turn 43. FORTY THREE. If 35 feels ancient, then 43 is probably decrepit. I mean, I’m just guessing here, but I assume it only gets worse.

In all honesty, with all joking aside, I do feel older this year. Now, maybe it’s because there have been so many challenges, and maybe it’s because I have been rough on myself while trying to take them all on, but for the first time, I feel my age. However, MiniSir and I were listening to the radio last week and the DJ asked what year we thought was our “best year” – the age we were at when we thought we were our best selves. MiniSir said this past year he felt like his best self.

My answer was “this next year”.

And although I can’t see the future, I can tell you that I feel good. I have 6 more pounds to lose to hit my goal weight (my weight pre-accident), and I feel amazing about that. It’s been a slow but steady loss, more of a lifestyle change than a diet. I am committing to buying myself new clothes (and nice clothes too!) to replace the ones that I have out-shrunk. My tenure as President of the Condo Board will be up in a couple of months, and I’m looking forward to enjoying new projects in my spare time that are about what interests me. Grunt will turn 2 – that magical threshold age where you can suddenly enrol him in cool stuff like baby tumbling.

Sure, we haven’t managed to sell the house, but that’s okay: MiniSir and I are making plans for basement and bathroom renos instead. Because why not make our space more like ours if we are stuck here? The excitement that comes with choosing paint and flooring and fixtures is steadily building. Plus more space for my Ponies collection. Which apparently just keeps growing.

So let’s make this next year, “The Year of Krista”. I’ll start.

35 years old, huh? Looking pretty good, kiddo. Pretty good indeed.

I Am A Terrible Blogger

Really. Just awful.

I originally started this blog as a method of therapy, a way to express myself in a safe environment where I could work out my thoughts and feelings while trying to navigate through life an anxious, post-traumatic stress-ridden woman in a new city. And so far, I’ve posted intermittently and never on a schedule.

I should have known that schedules were never going to work. However, I should also have known that writing would make me feel better.

The past few months I’ve been struggling with a relapse of depression and anxiety. It all started when I began taking a drug to help me with a completely unrelated physical issue and ended up quite depressed as a side effect. My doctor put a “cease and desist” on the drugs immediately upon seeing me again, and now I am waiting to see a specialist next month for some more testing and alternate options. However, since coming off the drug, I’ve still been struggling to get back to myself, the self I was before I started them – the balanced, “totally got this and don’t need more meds” me.

It isn’t working.

I bawled after getting out of the shower today because I was thinking about something that may (but 99.9% won’t) happen. And if that isn’t a classic symptom of anxiety’s cold fingers prying in my brain again, I don’t know what else would be. My sleep is beginning to be effected; I’m having more difficulty falling asleep and more difficulty waking up. I don’t want to do anything. Even MiniSir says I seem listless.

Yes, hello depression. Glad to see you could join us.

I have yet to relapse to anything PTSD related yet – thankfully – because if I do that, I will have a really hard time driving myself anywhere. And winter is nearly upon us, which means winter drivers and driving conditions and there’s a whole new heap of things to be anxious about.

So I am seeking help now. I have a call in to my psychiatrist, and if I can’t get in to see him soon I will talk to my doctor immediately.

In the mean time, if you see me and I look like I could use a hug, I could use a hug. Hug me. I am a good hugger. I like hugs.

(I would also like someone to buy my house. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

Ghosts That We Knew (4 Years On)

I cried last night. It’s been 4 years today. And I cried openly while listening to music.IMG_0401 Don’t get me wrong – it was moving. MiniSir and I treated ourselves to our first concert as a couple. We went to see Mumford & Sons, the band that has pretty much been the musical accompaniment of our life together. We courted to their first album, had the first dance at our wedding to a song from the second, and celebrated the birth of our son with the third – not many people have timing that good. So we made out a little to “Lover of the Light”, our dance song, and I thought that was as emotional as I was going to get. Then they played “Ghosts That We Knew”, and the audience looked like this.

It was magical. It was a moment out of time. And it was the combination of being there, in that moment, and listening to these words being sung as though they were directed at me, that started the tears streaming down my face:

You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart

But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We’ll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

And as MiniSir held me, and I wept, I felt almost whole again. It has taken four years – four years of agony and defeat and hope and struggle – but you know what? I feel renewed. I feel like the old me – or as close to the old me as I’ll ever get again. It’s not going to be the same ever again, but I don’t want to be any more. I love my new life. I am happy. And I can cry happy/sad tears and be okay.

Happy Fourth Anniversary, me. You have come a long way, kiddo.