Category Archives: grateful

best parts, worst parts

Our family does this thing at dinner. Best parts, worst parts. What are the best and worst parts of your day? Ben’s best parts often revolve around food and he rarely has worst parts. He shrugs his shoulders. “It’s been a pretty good day.” He speaks last because he is so busy eating he can’t form words around all of the food. Annie is eager to talk because she has many best and worst parts to her day, all of which must be shared, so she usually starts us off.

The rule is that there are no rules. Scott and I don’t get to judge even if it turns out the worst part of the day is when Ben got kicked by his sister or mummy lost her mind in the car. If their best part was that they got a smencil (a smelly pencil) and they saw a cool bug, awesome. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, their best parts. Sometimes the worst part is so embarrassing that we preface the story by demanding that “you can’t tell anyone outside the family” with a long, threatening look for emphasis. We have found this dinner thing a great way to start a conversation, rummage through their hearts and brains a bit (every once in a while their answers go deeper than a smelly pencil), and the kids know they can talk without fear of us freaking out.

So. Here are a few of my best, worst parts over the last long while.

It has been an intense few months for me. I was busy promoting Fancy Feet and then I became a part of the ICBC Road Safety Speaker program. From March to June, I spoke to 20 high schools, telling my story and talking about choices. The best parts of being in a high school are questions from students that made me think, clusters of girls saying thank you and meaning it, a 17 year old boy hugging me with tears in his eyes. The worst part is how old I felt. When I returned to my former high school, they said, “Oh you can find your grad picture in the heritage wing!” The heritage wing. Wow. There I was, one of only a handful of girls with straight flat hair among all the big-haired girls of 1992. I felt a little smug until I remembered my hideous grade 8 and 9 photos.

While I was having the busiest year ever, so were my kids. Between school, guitar, soccer and dance I discovered I could not divide myself into a thousand pieces. The best part? I was focused on 2 things – being mom and going to work. The worst part? There wasn’t enough time to do everything else and the guilt…the anxiety of not being able to keep up with it ALL was overwhelming. I can’t even. I mean, write much? And my legs. My damn legs. My legs will always pay for busy, for my unrest and this was an especially tough year for my fancy feet. My legs deserve a post dedicated to them, perhaps titled: so this sucks.

At the same time, and this is the best, best part, it has been one of the most meaningful, incredible years of my life.

 

who cares

This year I’m going for a “good-enough” New Year’s resolution. Clearly, because we’re near the end of January and I am only now coming up with a resolution. No lofty goals or profound words for me this year. I simply want to care less because I often care too much.

I am who I am and I am pretty happy with me, flaws and all. I’m fairly certain I have an awkward 13 year old girl living inside a 39 year old woman who compensates with chocolate and Netflix. I’ll never be rid of insecurities, but as I’m getting older and becoming more of a grown-up, I want to let go once in a while and be less afraid. To be less obsessive. Less at war with myself. Just less. In a world where it is mostly about more, I’m aiming low.

Last year Ben struggled with anxiety around pick-up time at school, birthday parties, activities – every pick-up time. If I wasn’t in his eye line he panicked, “Mommy! Mommy?” He grew louder; his body twisting, running to find me. And I was there, in the shadow of a tree, on a bench, talking to someone, never far. “Ben, Ben. I’m right here.” Calm and smiling, I comforted him. Sometimes there were phone calls from mothers, good friends letting me know Ben is upset. He wants you. Do you want to come? I did. He hadn’t always been like this. This was new. When I arrived, his cheeks were red and tear-stained. Shoulders straight, he was quick to recover. “I thought maybe you weren’t coming. I’m okay.” I pried, asking him why he felt this way, but I never learned the root of his fear. We’d strategize about what to do if plans changed. I reassured him over and over. “Remember to breathe. I’m here. It will be okay.”

I feel like Ben some days; my insides twisting, heart racing over something that may or may not happen. These past few months I have discovered there is nothing quite like putting your memoir out there to rattle your bones and remind you of your vulnerability. Asking for help, hassled by guilt, wondering if I’m too much, then not enough – I’m an old clock wound up tight and tick-tick-ticking until it’s all I can hear.

So? Today? As part of my quest for less, I’m going to watch an episode of Call the Midwife. See my daughter dance and not be in knots about the costume that isn’t ready yet or her upcoming competition. Hope that inspiration finds me instead of striving to find it. Remember to breathe, I will be okay. Maybe in less, I will feel air and sky and room will be made for more.

swept up
in dark chocolate & peppermint pretzel crisps
I’m having issues with posting images, so you’ll just have to click to see all of the goodness that are these crisps. Sadly, they are only available during the holiday season. They were on sale and I bought 10 bags – need I say more?

the little things

“You have two kids!”

She smiled as I sat down in a chair and I smoothed my dress over my knees. I had stepped off the stage moments ago after telling my story to a group of women.

I signed the book she held in her outstretched hand. She moved closer, rested her hand on the table beside me as we talked. We didn’t discuss my disability. We didn’t dissect the car crash or the many reasons I was led to the stage this night. We talked about what we had in common. How we have two kids, a girl and a boy, two years apart. We swapped stories. “I used to drive my babies around for ages just so I could get some sanity.” “I never thought I’d repeat myself so much.” “I’ve turned up the music loud in the car…I mean loud…so I could drown out the whining. Oh the whining!” And we agreed – thank God for drive-thru Starbucks. We laughed over the innocence and craziness of our children, the perils of parenting. Mom stuff.

As our easy conversation came to an end, I stole a glance at my phone. Somewhere between speaking about loss and choosing hope, a text had come in. It was from my daughter Annie: Hi mummy just wanted to say an early goodnight and that I Love you. Followed by smiley faces and hearts. I sighed, my heart full. I typed: Awww…I love you too! I was just giving a speech. Miss you babycakes. Give Ben a hug for me. Smile for your ballet teacher tomorrow.

I held the phone in my hand and smiled at a woman walking toward me and I saw the word before it landed, before I felt its truth. Blessed. I am blessed.

Swept up
cache_180_155_2_100_80_necklace_rayoflight-1I was just introduced to this incredible organization Global Mothers at a friend’s Christmas party. “Women in North America may have differing economic environments than their counterparts in the Global South, but they too share the universal role of motherhood. From seeing the first smile to hearing the first words, being a mom is a new and powerful experience that connects women with each other. Global Mothers seeks to strengthen this connection through a product line that is designed specifically for new moms and their young children. When a mother in North America purchases a product to care for her child, she is in turn caring for another child in the Global South by providing valuable income for that child’s mother.” You guys! Isn’t that awesome?! I just bought beautiful bracelets for teacher’s gifts and I’m wondering how I can get a certain gorgeous necklace into my stocking. AND you can shop online! I am in love with their stuff and their message: Every product has a story. Buy good.

 

 

 

a very fancy feet Christmas sale

FANCY FEET has been busy, thanks to many of you! Book signings have been successful and so much fun. One of my favorite stores to visit was Third Place Books in Seattle. Shelves lined with beautiful first editions served as my backdrop as I read from my book to a lovely group of people including some supportive writerly friends. I shared a green room with The Wiggles just before my interview at Breakfast Television. I was reunited with 2 of my 4 rescuers at a BC Professional Fire Fighters burn fund event. Between driving my kids around, tackling my laundry, signing the one hundred and sixteenth school form and panicking over a too-big ballet costume for Annie, I’ll open my inbox to find kind messages like this one:

Hi Heidi
I want to thank you for sharing your amazing story. I just finished reading on my Kindle and was so sorry to reach the end. I felt like a dear friend had left. Best read I have had in a long time, your outlook is a great example to follow.
I wish you and your family the very best!
Jacqui

It has been an incredible few months and I am very grateful. Many dreams have come true.

AND, if you can believe it, the holiday season is almost here and I am having a FANCY FEET Christmas sale! Check out the reduced prices of my books here. I will also happily sign your books!

774_620111178053295_696701484_nHere I am standing with my heroes, 2 of the 4 Abbotsford firefighters who rescued me 15 years ago.

be the hero of your story

“If you could have any superpower, what would it be?”

My brothers and I were playing in our backyard asking questions kids have asked forever. I was emphatic. “I want to fly.”

Although, at the age of 9, I would have been satisfied to see more than a few inches in front of me and have straight teeth. But these questions were not about our measly humanity. This was about far-away and fantasy. Living in an alternate dimension.

We discussed all the superpowers, debating which ones would be the coolest. X-ray vision. Invisibility. The ability to cling to walls. Which superheroes were the best? What about the Wonder twins? They can take on the form of an eagle or a waterfall. Batman has stealth. Superman has speed. Wonder Woman has a gold lasso. Their special powers make them superheroes but they have other traits in common. They have flaws and fears, obstacles to overcome. They wrestle with their humanity.

My son, hesitant and proud, called me a cyborg last week. I laughed because I kinda am. Part machine – so cool, right? Very superhero! But the truth is I am an ordinary person who is afraid to fail, afraid that I will be crushed by the weight of the unknown. Yet, there is more to me than my fear. I can’t manipulate time or see into the future, but people’s pain doesn’t scare me. I have empathy. That’s something my scars and cyborg-ness have given me. We are more than what’s wrong in our lives.

When I was a kid my fear was that the baseball would reach me in the furthest part of the field. What if I couldn’t catch it? I’d cringe every time I heard the crack of bat against ball. Now the fears are grown-up, bigger, and I can’t outrun them. There are some I can shake off and others that hang on tight. Everyone is confronted with fear. We can’t be fearless, but we can have courage. We can be afraid and try anyway. We can take a deep, wobbly breath and stand up. We get to be the heroes of our stories.

I’m inspired by the heroes I know, in the way they live their lives. My mom has a backbone of steel and loves her grandchildren fiercely. My world is a brighter place because of the generosity of my friends. My friend Anna lost her beautiful boy and somehow manages to find grace in heartbreak and stun us with her strength.

We get tired, sad and lost, and we have the capacity to be kind, compassionate and bold. Possess the character traits of a hero. Armed with our experiences and lessons learned and perspectives, we have stories filled with resolve and depth, bursts of brilliance and color. While I would still love to fly and have superhuman speed to save someone from disaster, being a hero does not have to be about invincibility. It’s about our hearts and minds, the glory of our humanity.

swept up

007-4web-300x224in the kindness, thoughtfulness and ENERGY of the high school I spoke at a few weeks ago. My talk was about being the hero of your story. Aren’t these girls lovely?!

 

so. this happened.

Scott and I were on our way to a Fancy Feet book signing when I got an email from my publisher with the subject: Are you sitting down?

This has to be good news because I don’t think my editor would send me an email full of bad news with that subject. If it’s bad you use a generic subject like Hey or be super direct: Your life is about to take a turn for the worse.

Confident this was good news, I opened the email and found this gem. “I have some wonderful news for you. Consortium, our distributor, got a Kindle Big Deal for Fancy Feet. It will sell for $1.99 from 10/11-10/27 and is one of only 1,000 titles to be picked. It will be in Amazon’s promotional email and on the website and Kindle devices, of course.”

I read it out loud to Scott. “This is pretty cool, right?” I’m a little slow when it comes to good news.

That deal begins today! You can download my book at Amazon for $1.99 from October 11th to October 27th.

Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive, so wonderful about Fancy Feet. I have received such thoughtful and kind messages. Thank you to those of you who have shared your stories and trusted me with a piece of your heart. I’m honored by everyone’s generosity and grace. It’s Thanksgiving for we Canadians and I am going into this weekend with a whole lot to be thankful for.

lost and found

I wrote this and posted it in April 2012 and it has become one of my favorite posts because it’s about my daughter, our family, the way we are. Annie is 10 now and Benjamin just turned 8 – my summer babies. We fight and bicker and I get annoyed about “ALL the Minecraft”, but we have our sweet, bottle-it-up moments too and this is one of those moments. 

We’re in the car, windows rolled down, words measured and aired. My family holds some of our best conversations strapped into our seats driving toward various destinations.

My eight-year-old daughter Annie, who has expressed a steady stream of thoughts and opinions, interrupts herself, “Are we always learning?”

I nod, “Yes, we are. We’re taking in the world around us. That’s one of the best things about life. We always get to learn.”

“Why do people do bad things if they know it isn’t good for them?”

I wonder why all the philosophizing, but I’m going with it. “I don’t know. We have choices, but sometimes we don’t make the right choices. Or we want to try something out, so we do, and then find out it’s a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes.” I catch her eyes in the rear-view mirror, eyes like mine. “I do know it’s important to think for yourself.”

She wonders, “Is it important to like yourself?”

“Yes it is. To know and respect and like you is very important.”

In my girlhood I often felt hesitant and cautious, searching for something just out of reach. I had trouble identifying my emotions at the age of eight, but I knew I was lost. I silenced my confusion, who could understand me? Instead I played to my strengths. I was the loyal sidekick, a friend to the popular girl. What I couldn’t do for me, I did for the girl in charge. I made her feel good about herself.

From lost and uncomfortable to insecure and loathing, I could not like myself. I wanted to, but didn’t know how. Years later I peeled myself from the wall, abandoned friendships that harmed, and stopped hiding in the shadows. It was okay to want more. It was okay to like me. It wasn’t arrogance. It was necessary.

When I get to observe Annie in her ballet class, I can see from fingertips to toes she is armed with confidence. Concentrating on a drawing, giggling with her best friend, bounding across the yard, she is fearless.

I once lost Annie at the school playground.

I can’t see her anywhere. “Annie! Annie!” I’m frantic. My fingers graze a friend’s shoulder as I dart by, “Have you seen her?” My eyes are everywhere at once. And I stop. Of course. I walk over to the tallest tree, the best tree to climb.

“Hi, Mommy! I’m up here!” she chirps. High, high in the tree is my girl. I gulp air, consoled by the realization that I know her, I found her.

In the car I listen to her chatter, her curiosity and I breathe; please, please keep this. This knowledge of who you are. Always, always be yourself. The wind finds me through the open window and carries my wish for both of us, discerning I need this grace as much as she does.

Swept up
a3841688826_2in the song San Francisco by the Mowgli’s. It’s my summer jam. You have to listen to it LOUD and with the windows rolled down.

 

a week in the life of a debut author

My phone is ringing, loud and persistent. I’m asleep and bleary-eyed as I roll over to look at who is calling me this early?! I squint. Does that say radio? I reach for my glasses and let the phone go to voice mail. I pick up my cell phone and see missed calls and texts. I put on my prosthetic legs and shuffle downstairs to the kitchen. The phone rings again. My friend, Jenn. “CKNW wants to interview you! You have to call them!”

I call the producer and she answers. “We want to talk to you in 10 minutes about the article you wrote for The Province.” I look down. I am in my jammies and I haven’t had coffee yet. For those of you who live life with me you know that I am not a whole person until I’ve had coffee. I can hardly string a sentence together. In fact, I can be a little mean before that sweet caffeine is in my bloodstream. I wait downstairs in the dungeon that is the office for them to call me back. I have ‘morning voice’, but I answer questions. The host is wonderful and I manage not to sound like a robot.

On Saturday I am at a TV News studio and seconds before the show is about to air live I’m concentrating on the very hot lights above me wondering why everyone isn’t sweating profusely all the time. I’m fascinated by the green screen and the weather person. Sunny skies! My thoughts turn to me and I give myself a pep talk. Do not screw this up. Be coherent. Don’t talk too fast. It’s not an inspiring pep talk but it works. The segment went great. I didn’t wave my hands around too much and the host was lovely. Phew!

I have received the nicest, kindest texts, emails, tweets and FB posts about Fancy Feet. People have spotted the book in a bookstore. Yay! So, so exciting! I ask my kids if they would like to do a little book tour with me. “Do you guys want to go into a couple of stores and see the book?”

“No, that sounds boring. Let’s go swimming!”

I turn to Scott. “I wanted to make them hold up the book so I could take a picture. It would be kinda cute, right? My kids with my book?” Annie shakes her head.

My kids – keeping me humble.

Seeing my book in a bookstore for the first time is wild, almost scary. I am tempted to shout, “That’s my book!!” Instead I sidle up to it and stare until the sweet girl at the register asks if she can help me. I point and smile. “That’s my book.” She congratulates me. “We just sold one.” She moves my book to the middle of the counter where more people can see it. I’m thrilled and I want to throw up a little and I hope, hope, hope people will like it.

Not everything is about the book. One afternoon Ben waved a slide-whistle in front of my face. “I’m going to play this for people. Outside. On the street. For money. How much do you think I’ll get?” I’m afraid he will live in our basement forever. On the flip side I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my 10 year old daughter home. I was headed to UBC to do an interview and Annie was desperate to join me. “Are there rooms you can live in when you go to University? What are those rooms called? You can live alone, right? What do those rooms look like? Can we see one?”

Can we see one? Live alone? “No, I don’t think we can see a room today.”

My kids – keeping me tethered to the earth and scaring me every day.

Swept up
in our Sundance trampoline
I’m not jumping on it – are you kidding?! But my kids (and the neighborhood kids) love this incredible gift from their grandparents. Ben snapped this picture of Annie jumping. No net! We live dangerously around here. BRaT2EtCAAE2Hy3.jpg large

my first reading

I pick up my book with trembling hands. “Thank you for being here. I’ve been speaking for the burn fund for a long time. Whenever I’m with you guys and our fire fighters it feels like coming home.”

Deep breath.

“I’m going to read you a little of chapter 12 called ‘Home for Christmas’.”

Deep breath. My hands are still shaking. Keep still. But my hands won’t hear me.

I begin to read aloud from page 63. “Tinsel, wreaths and garlands…” On a hot July evening I read about going home for Christmas after being in the burn unit for 6 months. In front of me is a small audience of fire fighters and burn fund supporters. We’re on a large boat, big enough to hold many people, serve dinner, and pick up a gaggle of campers waiting on an island for us as we make our way across the ocean.

It’s quiet as I read. There is a smattering of applause when Peter is mentioned. Peter is the fire fighter who drove me home when snow had fallen hard in the Lower Mainland, making the roads slick and dangerous. My voice is steady but my hands continue to shake. This is the first time I have read my book aloud to a group of people. For years I’ve spoken to audiences large and small, telling my story, and I have never been this nervous, this raw.

I finish reading on page 66. I look up. “Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for listening.”

People are smiling and clapping. I look at my family, at Scott and my kids. Annie and Ben have never heard me give a speech. They’re too young to read my book, but they came with me today. I wanted them to be here, to be a part of what I do and meet kids who have suffered, who are spending a week at camp to have fun and be free. Ben jumps up from his chair. “Good speech, Mommy!” He wraps his arms around me tight. I squeeze him back, hard. “Thanks buddy.” I return to my seat beside Annie. Tears shine in her eyes. “Mommy, some of that was so sad. It makes me sad.” I pull her to me, rest my chin on the top of her head and breathe her in, shampoo and sunshine. “It’s okay. I know. But there is a happy ending.”

Swept up
in the incredible people of the BC Professional Fire Fighters burn fund

1082731_10152075690059202_159081274_n1085225_10152075690064202_1643917081_nThis photo of these lovely women reading my book was snapped and sent to me. The second photo was taken on the Burn Fund Cruise where I did my very first reading and signing.

fancy feet: turning my tragedy into hope

I had just dropped off a van full of kids at the pool on a school field trip when I decided I needed a coffee because everyone needs caffeine on a field trip. Home isn’t far, so I made my way there to make my extra dry cappuccino. I opened the door and found Scott in the kitchen. He pointed to a box on the counter. “Your books are here! I wanted to open it, but I thought I should wait for you.”

My books. My heart caught in my throat. Instead of tearing open the box, I circled it. “Go ahead. You can open it.”

Scott ripped open the box and picked up a book. I stared at them. Stacked neatly, one on top of the other, Fancy Feet: turning my tragedy into hope. My sparkly red shoes on every cover. My words on each page. I picked up a book, opened it, and shut it. Chapter 1, 15, 28…Acknowledgments. Uneasiness formed a hard knot in my stomach. I looked over at Scott who had begun to read the book. “You’re reading it now?”

“Yeah. This is awesome. We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Don’t you want to?”

I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture. Because I’m supposed to capture this moment. My book is here. It’s here! I’m supposed to be excited, but I’m not. I’m nervous. Apprehensive. Will people like my book? I snapped a photo of the box of books and posted it to Facebook. “A case of books! That I wrote.”

That hard knot of apprehension bloomed and then slowly shrank as your comments and emails and texts made their way to me sharing in my good news. Because this was good news. In the midst of worry, I’d forgotten this was good news, great news. I wrote a manuscript that became a book that got published. I’m an author.

A few friends and family who picked up early copies gave me more good news. I received texts like this one from my friend Jenn: “Just had to choke back tears at end of chapter 8. It’s so intimate, vulnerable and brave. You just let the reader feel with you. It’s beautiful.” And there were a few back and forth texts from my friend Tanya who said: “The book is so you. All I hear is you.” A request was made to the library for my book which will be a neighborhood’s book club choice. A dream come true.

The hard knot in my stomach disappeared and I felt gratitude, relief, and, finally, a sliver of excitement. People like my book. They’re seeing what I want for them to see. Through burns, amputations, the loss of a best friend, enduring more than 20 surgeries and a trial, there was hope. Hope was there from the beginning, woven through my entire journey, and here today.

I am thrilled to announce that you can pre-order my book today! For a sneak peek of Fancy Feet and purchasing a signed copy or finding other buying options look here. Can you hear my squeal of joy?