As a student and a mother, I am often studying in odd places. I am regularly in the local recreation center studying while my kids are in an arts or sports program. I try and find a nice quiet spot, and failing that I put on my headphones and crank up the tunes. This day I got all setup when a group of 5 people sat at the table next to me, and the group quickly expanded to about 30. But it was quiet. With large groups often comes noise, but not this day.

I was quite distracted by this group and they were making almost no sound. It was fascinating to watch the intimate communication shared among this group. They were looking at each other, bodies facing each other as they read lips and signed to each other. I was sucked in by the excitement and emotion being expressed as this group greeted each other.

I can’t remember what I was studying that day, but it was something boring in comparison. It was a good reminder that words are not the only form of communication. We do speak with our bodies, some of us better than others.


The next time you are speaking with someone try putting down your device or knitting and really look at the person you are communicating with. Look at their eyes, their face, and their lips moving. Pretend for a minute that you can’t hear their words. What are they really saying? What is their body telling you?

I like to talk, a lot. I am not the best listener. I get distracted. I get excited. I disengage. Watching a group of people communicate silently was inspiring. This year my New Years resolution is to listen more and talk less. Wish me luck because I am going to need it.





Musical Resolution

I have been celebrating a New Year and a new start daily since I had surgery to remove a brain tumour. But with the coming of the new year I still made a resolution.

When I was a kid my house was filled with music. No one actually had any musical talent, so it wasn’t filled with piano melodies or anything like that. More like constant classic rock blasting out of the speakers all day and night. My dad would turn on the stereo when he got up in the morning, and it stayed on until he went to bed each night. It didn’t matter if anyone was home to listen to the music, it played on.

He had an extensive record collection which was replaced with tapes and then CD’s and now his Ipod. He is musically obsessed to the extent that when he comes to visit me he brings his own speaker so that he can listen to music at my house.

Just after I was diagnosed with a brain tumour I couldn’t listen to music. I was interpreting every song as sad, and it was depressing. I asked my brother who inherited my fathers musical appreciation to make me CD’s of happy music, and my husband obliged as well with a happy playlist.

At some point when CD’s stopped being the method of listening and collecting music I stopped filling my house with music. When we first had kids the CD player got broken (that button that made the CD tray go in and out was so tempting to little fingers) and that was it, music died in our house. It has been my wish to get our house wired with speakers in every room so that when you move from room to room the music is already there waiting to welcome you to the next space. That has yet to happen, but the next best thing did.

For Christmas this year my husband bought me a pair of wireless speakers which we can add to over time. My resolution this New Year is to listen to music every day intentionally because it calms me and makes me happy. Whatever your New Years resolutions are I hope that they also make you happy.




Happy New Year

HAPPY-NEW-YEAR-2013-WALLPAPER-xnys7Today I am celebrating a new year because the last one wasn’t all that great. On August 13, 2014 I lost my job which wasn’t the worst thing that happened in the last year, but it wasn’t fantastic either. I had decided to go back to school to pursue a MBA before I lost my job but the job loss was a shocker all the same. I started back to school in September as my oldest started Kindergarten. It was an adjustment for all of us. My youngest wasn’t the biggest help as I attempted to study and care for him simultaneously, I guess two is a little young for graduate school.

Cartoon-2Being a student can be a little demanding on the body and mine wasn’t used to the neck and shoulder strain, so I spent a fair amount of time with a physical therapist trying to undo some of the student induced tension. My physical therapist suggested that I get tested for rheumatoid arthritis because of some of the pain that I was having. The jury is still out on that condition but some of the neck and shoulder tension can be attributed to my stretching meninges.

I was looking forward to Christmas as much as my kids were. But my desire for the holidays was more to do with the break from school and less to do with the arrival of Santa. Once I unwound from school and got into the Christmas spirit there was about a day before I had my first blinding headache. It was more like I got hit in the head and dropped to my knees.

weightLike any thirty something woman with two kids and a sedentary lifestyle I made the same promise that I always make to myself come the new year, and that is to lose weight. Enter the second blinding headache. Part way through my first workout of the new year I found myself lying on the living room floor hoping that the pain would subside. Being that I am a graduate student you might think that I would be smart enough to realize that two blinding headaches in the span of a week might signal me to see a doctor but no such luck.

The third blinding headache took a day to get over it was more severe than the first two and again you might think that maybe I would call the doctor. But no it was only when I made an appointment for my son to see the doctor that I casually mentioned these random headaches. My family doctor thought that his resident would be interested in listening to my issues and he was right. The eager resident attempted to do a bunch of tests while my two-year old was riding my foot like a horse and neighing for good measure. The resident was not distracted by the horse-play (I couldn’t help myself) and wanted me to head to emergency right away for a CT scan. After the resident chatted with my doctor they decided that it probably wasn’t an emergency and they requested an urgent CT scan.

March comes I have the scan. Then I get a call from the doctor’s office to come in for a follow-up to the scan (which is never good news), and then they cancel and reschedule, and cancel and reschedule my appointment again.  The resident warned me that if I ever have a sharp pain that stops me from moving again I should head to the emergency room and so I do. But this time it’s not a pain in my head, it’s a pain in my gut.

1100My symptoms were all over the map that day and as it turned out I had the flu (which my husband and son had the next day) and a particularly painful ovarian cyst. I happened to mention to the attending doctor in emergency that night that I was eagerly awaiting the results from a CT scan that I had in that hospital earlier in the month. I asked if he would mind telling me the results of the scan. I hope that March 18, 2015 will forever be the worst day of my life. Standing in my pajamas in the hallway of the emergency room I learned that I had a brain tumour.
It was a rough month which included among other things holding my crap together for my kids and fighting with my school to get my exams deferred. I managed to see a neurosurgeon in April and had a MRI which confirmed the presence of a tumour. In June I was able to get back into see the surgeon and surgery was tentatively scheduled for July 31. Before surgery I was determined to finish the exams I had outstanding and studied like a crazy person for weeks. The break in my studies from April to July did not help me as I found it necessary to relearn most of the content in order to write the exams during the month of July.

A few weeks before I was supposed to have a craniotomy I got a call to bump the surgery date to August 7th. My parents rearranged their flights and I breathed a sigh of relief. I really wasn’t looking forward to having my skull cut open. I was also interested in getting rid of the tumour which was hanging over me like a dark cloud but one week wasn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. So on August 7th I headed to the hospital willingly wanting someone to cut my head open. On August 12th I was sprung from the hospital. It was exactly a year after I lost my job and my bad year started.

NY 2In theory I should have started the new year on August 13th but I was so high from the drugs I didn’t know what day it was for a while. So today I am kicking off the new year. I don’t want to wait until January and every day begins a new year anyway, right?