I feel free!

I feel free.  Free some stress, free from work, free from children saying “mama, mama, mama” 18 million times a day and free from packing and unpacking boxes. I am here in my house in St. John’s and my daughters are having a fun sleepover at their grandmother’s house.  Thank you, Maggie! Glenn arrives home in a few hours and he has not been home for 2 years.  It’s time for a rest. My house is still in the slings but I don’t give a rat’s ass. It will all get done. I feel free that the chapter of the past 7 years is closing and a new experience beginning. I also feel grateful that we even experienced that chapter because without it, there could not be the next one. I am so pumped for our future.

Over the past few days, the front door of my house has been opening and closing so frequently it feels like I live in an old-time saloon. It’s been wicked. Friends and family dropping in for a coffee while they are out running errands and kids running around like crazy people. And while there hasn’t been much “spare time”,  I have stolen a few moments here and there to sit and relax and just be.  Summer is here!

I also feel free because I went to Costco today.  After being in China for three years, I almost wept with joy when I entered Costco today.  It has everything…no hunting and gathering like it can sometimes feel in Shanghai. Especially when you have nothing in your pantry and no cleaning supplies. Oh I have missed Costco and I avoided it like the plague before I left for China.  I had both of my girls with me and we had a cartload of stuff (I could have bought a ridiculous amount more but I had to remain focused on essentials!)  and it was still a pleasurable shopping experience. Bonus – there were no dried pig faces and not one person banged into me with their cart and they still apoligized. I love Canadians. The Carrefour in Shanghai has given me perspective.

Here are some photos from a couple years ago of my oldest daughter. The progression of photos says it all.  haha

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That’s all for now. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are having an incredible day/night.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

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Holding Pattern

For the past few months, our family has been in a holding pattern. A holding pattern to find out the future of the company that my husband has worked for the past 7 years. It is a small Canadian environmental company that has been building its business in China. In hindsight, they entered the market too early as it is only now that the market is opening up.  Unfortunately, those 7 years cost a lot of capital and there were a host of hard lessons learned.  The company is now filing for bankruptcy and the company, as we know it, is coming to a close.

We have not been paid personally for many months.  The company did pay us some money a few weeks ago but it was less than half of what we were owed and we had to pay our rent and the girl’s school tuition, which the company is contractually responsible for paying. We were left to pay for our flights home and they also cancelled our medical insurance without notifying us and left our family in a foreign country uninsured. Man….that was a scary couple of months.  While the company says that it was an administrative error by the insurance company, it was still a negligent mistake that was not our fault….and no one notified us. After 2 months, we did get reinsured but the rub is that we now have preexisting conditions that are not covered.  So it is still a stressful time but at least I don’t panic every time our daughters get on their bicycle or cross the damn street.  Talk about heightened anxiety!

The girls and I flew back to Newfoundland on June 21.  We have been surrounded by our family and friends and it is the much-needed break that we required.  A breath of fresh air. Since we moved to Shanghai 3 years ago, our house has been rented to a family from Australia.  They loved the house and Newfoundland and left it in perfect condition when they moved out on June 30. Dream Tenants! I spent my 13th wedding anniversary, July 1, unpacking boxes that had been stored in the basement. We don’t have a lot of stuff but what we have is so special. There were a few tears shed and a lot of excitement about my huge washing machine – it fits at least 8 china loads in 1 – and my amazing dishwasher. I have not had a dishwasher in 3 years. But my piano and our music room. The piano is so out of tune but I am still loving it and the space. I have been unpacking our life here for the past three days and it really feels like home. It is a beautiful space and I am savouring the memories we have already made and am so looking forward to the memories we will make here this summer. Glenn will be back in a few days and we will take this time to rest and heal and laugh with the people we love.  All will truly be well.

We could not have gotten through this time without the support and understanding from the people in our lives.  The girl’s school, our landlord in Shanghai, Lucky-our incredible ayi and our people all over the world.  You know who you are. This year has been the most challenging one yet but we are surviving, growing, grateful and stoked for the future.  I do not know exactly what the future holds but what I do know is that it’s going to be amazing and we are not done with China yet. But right now, I’m thankful to be home for a rest.

And some pictures of my beautiful home province, Newfoundland, Canada

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

Back on the rock


The girls and I are back on the rock for the summer and absolutely loving it. Jet lag is still brutal, as I write this blog at 4:30am, but we are doing fabulous and loving seeing our peeps. We are surrounded by love. It feels amazing. I cannot wait for Glenn to join us soon. We need to decompress and regroup in our home. It’s going to be a beautiful summer. 

There are many things I notice and appreciate when I return home. Drinking fresh, cool water from the tap is incredible. I can’t get enough of it. 

The air is so clear. Can’t get enough of that either. 

There is so much less tension all around me. No busyness and so much more calm. It doesn’t take the same work to calm my own energy. It’s nice to have a break from that. 

But the thing I notice most about being in Newfoundland is the people. My friends in Shanghai consider me to be a pretty funny person but what they don’t realize is that I’m on the low end of the Newfoundland funny spectrum. People here are so quick and every encounter I have with people, random and otherwise, involves busting a gut laughing. That has been so good for the soul. 

So here’s to a summer of busting a gut laughing. Looking forward to sharing some of our experiences with you all. 

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

❤️❤️

How do you deal with life’s stresses and challenges?

Life can be a roller coaster of joy and sorrow. Everyone has different challenges to deal with and how you deal with them ultimately defines how you live your life. We’ve been thrown a lot of curveballs over the past few years. I don’t want to bore you with all those details but I would like to share just some of the strategies that are helping me manage stress and anxiety while striving to live my best life.

Breathing. I use meditation to focus on gratitude and to calm me down especially when I can feel my anxiety rising. This has helped me so much. I can’t adequately describe it but it has been life changing. I can feel my energy calming and relaxing. It’s a great tool. I started with various guided meditations and now am able to do it myself. Even a short time helps. Last summer, when we returned to Shanghai from Canada, my oldest daughter was having trouble falling asleep. She just could not settle and was getting herself wound up. I downloaded a guided meditation and she played it on her iPod. It took some getting use to but she used it for months and now doesn’t need it anymore. She falls asleep peacefully……most nights.

Make a list. I’ve always been a list maker but when life is getting stressful, my list helps me to focus on accomplishing one item at a time. Only one item because if I start to think about everything going on it can become overwhelming. The feeling of accomplishment helps with forward movement, motivation, focus and keeps me from getting “stuck” in my own head.

Set goals for yourself. Long term and short term goals. Big and small. Write them all down. Make a plan to accomplish them….and then follow through. Cut yourself some slack when life gets in the way of checking off items but don’t stop trying to accomplish those goals.

Make self-care a priority. Everyone knows exercise and nutrition are important and we have made some great progress in that area as a family . Still lots of work to do but we have been focusing on living a healtier life and have both lost the weight that we gained when we moved to China 3 years ago…hhmmmmm….it was an amazing first year of dining out in Shanghai HAHA. But I’m also talking about smaller, simpler, daily tasks of self-care like moisturizing, flossing, cleaning my skin or soaking in a hot bath. Just basic self-care. Doing these tasks with love and gratitude have helped me accept and love myself and be more grateful for my body. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the attention and care you deserve.

Reach out to your support group or see a therapist or BOTH! Find people you trust and love that can support you emotionally and without judgement. Have people in your life that will send you loving energy and positive thoughts and give you solid advice. For me, it has always been quality over quantity in the friend department. I am blessed to have beautiful people in my life that love and support me and my family all over the world. But don’t wait too long to open up because you’ll end up feeling alone….and that is never good. Once I opened up, I could feel the love and support coming our way and it helps makes everything feel lighter.

Remembering that this is our daughters’ childhood. They deserve a happy childhood. I don’t mean completely shielding them from life’s challenges. Life will inevitably be tough at times and they need to develop the coping skills to deal with it. They are watching how we deal with challenges and how we communicate as a couple. This will shape how they deal with their life and I want to be a good role model for them. I strive to be really present with them and remember to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. There is nothing sweeter than hearing your children’s belly laughs….pure joy.

Gratitude for the people in my life. I don’t have it all figured out, by any means, but what I do know is that the most beautiful part of my life is the people in it. It makes me think of the lyrics “for I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love” from Pearl Jam’s song Just Breath. When our friend, Scott, passed away, “da b’ys”, as we say in Newfoundland, were jamming this song at the funeral party. That line just stuck in my brain. It still pops in my head at the most random times and is always a good reminder that makes me smile. Scott was a special man who died too young but he made a lasting impression on literally everyone who met him. He’s been gone for 7 years and still makes us laugh on a regular basis with memories of his crazy antics. His life was too short but his legacy is one of love and laughter. We have a life filled with love and laughter and know how lucky we are. I have no intention of ever taking that for granted. I’m thankful that my daughters have role models in their lives that are exceptional humans and they will always have people that love and support them.

My sister, Marlayne, is an incredible role model for me. She is beautiful, wise and kind and has been a sounding board for me for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, she shared “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz with me. It has helped formed how I deal with life. I use to worry so much about what people would think or would feel bad if I couldn’t do something I was asked to do. But by always speaking the truth with the right intention, you take away all the bullshit and worry. It’s very freeing. If you are truly always doing your best, then you can’t help but feel content. It brings peace and removes self-judgement. It takes a while to really own it but when you do, it feels good. I credit some of the peace and removal of self-judgement to turning 40…..but I think that is another blog post in itself….right ladies??!!

Enjoy The Four Agreements and I hope it helps you in your daily life like it did for me.

four-agreements
I would love to hear your strategies for dealing with life’s stresses and challenges because, at the end of the day, we are all on this roller coaster together. Post a comment or send me an email – smantle@me.com. I have learned so much from my community and am always hungry to learn and share more. Thanks for reading.

Until next time!
Only joy, only love,
Michelle
xo

The impact of a kind word

A couple of months ago, I was having a particularly stressful day.  I was ‘wound tight’ and felt like I may snap at any given moment. That’s a gross feeling.  It was taking a lot of conscious postive energy to speak patiently and kindly to my children.  This particular  day I  had to get groceries so the girls and I headed off to our local store, City Shop.  Their behavior at the store was fine but they were acting up a bit and I was feeling hyper sensitive and was trying to get them to be well behaved, respectful human beings….it’s a lot of work 🙂 It was especially a lot of work when my patience was maxed out.  Anyway, as we were shopping we kept bumping into this lovely older gentleman who reminded me of my Dad (who’s an pretty incredible individual). He was observing me interacting with my daughters and then as we were ready to leave, he made a point of stopping me and saying so sincerely “you are doing a great job”.  At that very moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear.  A little bit of encouragement, understanding and support in this world from an outsider who didn’t know shit about me. He could tell I was trying hard and my girls were benefitting from my effort.  I was thankful.

I have a theory…..if you think something nice about someone….you should tell them.  If it comes in your head say it out loud.  Be genuine and never doubt the impact your kind word can make on someone’s day or life.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

 

Happy International Women’s Day! ❤❤

Happy International Women’s Day to all the beautiful women in my life!  I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing, strong women all around the globe. May you always find peace and happiness in your days. 

I didn’t realize that today was Women’s Day when I booked it but I had the 1st half of my full medical today and spent the morning getting blood work and polked and proded. In the afternoon, I had my first mammogram which wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated 👍😀.  I’m glad to have the process started after scheduling and cancelling it twice already because of conflicts. Women’s Day is a fitting day to check another item off my self care checklist and have a baseline for my overall health. 

Much love to you all and remember to get your paps and mammograms. 😜😘  You’re all incredible women! 

Until next time!

Only joy, only love, 

Michelle 

To My Intrepid Friends

I recently celebrated my 41st birthday and I had a wonderful weekend with friends and my family in Shanghai. I also heard from people all around the world. I received so many thoughtful messages. Incredible. Connecting with people and keeping in touch brings me a lot of joy. I am thankful to have met each and every one of you throughout our journey and have so many wonderful memories…..from my teaching time in England, to Glenn and I moving around North America every couple of years and now, China. Thanks for keeping in touch and being part of our lives.  

I received a beautiful compliment the other day when a friend of mine replied to a comment I made on Facebook. She referred to me as her “intrepid friend”. Intrepid is not a word that I use and I had to think of what that actually meant. So I did what I always do when faced with this situation…..I asked Siri for the definition of ‘intrepid”. (I just love that woman!) When the words “fearless” and “adventuresome” popped up, I was over come with emotion. I don’t always feel fearless, although I am working on that with varying degrees of success :-), but it felt really nice to have someone view me like that. So thank you, Becky. You just never know when words of kindness can really resonate with someone. I’m thankful to have met you during your visit to Newfoundland and love getting to know your beautiful family through your photos. 

So to my intrepid friends…be fearless and adventuresome and dauntless. Those are great adjectives to live by. I’m having a lot of fun. I love you and want to thank you for loving us. We have a beautiful life and the incredible people we connect with along the way really do sustain us. 

41 is pretty fabulous so far! Thanks again for the wishes…..they meant the world to me.

And in case you needed a reminder…😂😂😂


Until next time.
Only joy, only love,
Michelle
xo