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A trip to Southlands Farm

southlandfarms, pony rides, vancouver

This weekend we piled into the car and drove a quick 20 minutes from the city towards Southlands Farm. It’s a quaint little farm that we used to visit weekly last year when little Isla used to take riding lessons, but when she became aware that Henry hated horses (and anything else that was bigger than him or would make noise) those lessons quickly ended. She would do anything to make him happy instead of screams of terror. I didn’t feel like I should force Henry to face his fears so we never returned.

However, lately the children have been asking over and over to see horses. To make them smile I would drive down back country roads an hour away from the city and say “look out Henry’s window, a horse!” and it made them smile but it wasn’t good enough. They wanted to see them up closer.

So yesterday I asked them if they’d like to go see horses up close and Isla grabbed her boots and jacket right way while Henry went around the house saying “horsey, horsey”. So we left the buzz of the city and drove through the most beautiful houses I’ve seen and drove up to the creaky gates of Southlands Farm.

We wandered around the grounds letting the children lead the way from the tire swing, to pointing at the chickens, attempting to pet and feed the goats and then finally into the barn to see the horses. I’m happy to report that Henry didn’t cry! I would say that was a success for him!

As we stood outside watching one of the horses she used to ride on Isla asked if she could ride Magic. Thankfully they were able to accommodate our last minute request and out came Bailey the sweetest horse who loved to give kisses. Henry clutched my jacket while wide eyed, but I could tell he was completely enthralled with the horse with the velvet nose. Isla couldn’t contain her excitement and when I swung her up onto the saddle her smile was as big as I’ve ever seen it. She was so confident and happy as she sat tall leading her horse around and we were beaming watching her.

southlands farm, pony rides, vancouver

  • BonnieMay 5, 2017 - 11:58 AM

    This looks like the farm where I rode for many of my teen years. I would walk from Granville Street in order to muck stalls to pay for my riding.ReplyCancel

    • LesleyMay 11, 2017 - 11:09 AM

      That is a dream I have for Isla if she wants to pursue horseback riding!!ReplyCancel

Stop with the screen guilt

I’ve recently started watching Gilmore Girls for the first time (I know, I’m behind) and I’ve become completely fascinated with how Rory has if not one but numerous books with her so that she can read whenever there is a lull in her day. Sitting at the bus stop, in the hall at school, outside waiting for her best friend, even before meeting her date she will read a few pages before she is interrupted. And she is always interrupted, and she greets it with a smile.

So I’ve started doing the same, only, with one book. I tuck it into my purse and pull it out while either at the playground with my children, going through drive through for an afternoon pick-me-up, waiting in the car while one of my children nap, and especially at the end of the day before bedtime. It’s really relaxing and enjoyable!

This new way of living has made me become more aware of how much guilt and judgement there is around screens. If I’m at the playground and starting at my screen I feel a sense of guilt that I should be paying more attention to my child instead of at my phone. And I’m also wondering if other parents are judging me for doing this.

I remember reading an article a few years ago about a mom who gave herself such a hard time because she was staring at her phone so intently that she wasn’t able to save her child from harm and they ended up hurting themselves on the playground. She wrote a whole entire article about how our phones aren’t worth the time that our children need. There was a part of me that agreed, and sympathized with her, but also at the same time I shook my head.

When I would go to the playground or the pool when I was younger, my mom had one eye on me and another eye on something that she was interested in – either a book or a friend. And it was good. I hurt myself and would come crying to her, she would hug and kiss me until I felt better and then off I went, and she back to her activity. It wasn’t a big deal.

So I wonder why there is such guilt around screens that it’s making everyone anxious and judgey. Can’t we all just get along, enjoy whatever activity we bring to entertain us to our child’s activity whether it be a book, a phone/ipad, notebook or a colouring book. If it leaves you feeling good, then by all means, go for it.

Let’s lay the screen guilt aside and pay attention to what activity feels good for us for once.

Child-like mindset

I’ve been having some difficulty in sitting down and writing anything of value lately. Despite my ritual of setting myself up with my tea, starting my writing playlist, and open my document to where I left off – I get nothing. This is probably the first time I’ve truly dealt with what is commonly known as “writer’s block” and it’s frustrating to the core.

I complained to a friend about my “problem” (this is in quotations because writer’s block is hardly a problem in the grand scheme of things) and she was sympathetic and encouraging and then asked me to write her a poem. I almost laughed in her face because prose and poems are not something I do. I am fearful of them and just do not understand them.

She called it a creative exercise.

I took the bait.

there once was a zoo made just for you.
there were animals: hairy beasts, sharp teeth, and fuzzy warm noses.
the noises were wild and a little scary too.
But deep inside you found the tiniest of ponds.
exquisite and gleaming.

She praised me and clapped her hands and exclaimed “I love it, you did a thing!”

I beamed and felt my cheeks glowing in pleasure and instantly thought of my children. No matter how grotesque their painting, how dirty their knees and hands, how easy their obstacle – when they show me what they have done I clap my hands, smile with glee and praise them for their effort.

“Darling, you did a thing!” and I mean every ounce of the words coming out of my mouth.

Yet, I cannot conjure up those same feelings for myself. Why is it that we constantly beat ourselves up over the smallest of successes saying they aren’t good enough, yet can easily praise anyone else.

I encourage my children to try again and again till they exhausted all their options, yet I know that as adults if we can’t accomplish what we want perfectly the first time we give up. Or is that just me?

I want to live with a more child-like mindset. To say “I did a thing!” even if it isn’t perfect, all that matters is that I’ve tried and I created something.

How to have a child-like mindset:

  1. Be proud of the small accomplishments and show them off.

    My daughter asked me to make a dragon tail for her to wear the other day, so I brought out all the papers and crayons and went to town. The end result was nothing you would find on Pinterest but she was thrilled. She ran around the house with it saying it was a dragon tail kite.

  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and then try again.

    I see this time and time again in my children, they aren’t afraid to make mistakes and if they don’t get it right the first, second, tenth time I’m still there beside them encouraging them to continue or find a different way to their goal. The same goes with anything you’re putting your attention to, be willing to make mistakes and then try again.

  3. Stay curious.

    Continue to be curious as to why, when, how things happen. Children aren’t afraid to ask questions yet at the same time thirst for knowledge in all subjects whether it’s dinosaurs, trains, magical fairies, or how the world turns. Stay curious and let your curiosities go from interest to interest and then pursue each interest as deep and as wide as your curiosity takes you. You’ll leave with more knowledge than you had before, and no one can say that’s bad for you!

Now I encourage you to start right now with a child-like mindset and see what happens. You’ll never know where it will take you!


  • ArshiaApril 28, 2017 - 10:47 AM

    That poem is so lovely, I found myself reading and repeating it a couple of times… You are so talented!ReplyCancel

    • LesleyApril 28, 2017 - 2:24 PM

      Wow, thanks Arshia! It’s the first poem I’ve written in years. You sure know how to make me feel good. 🙂ReplyCancel

Writing in real time


I thought it might be interesting to let you in behind the scenes of what my world looks like when I’m writing. I unexpectedly had an hour of quiet while the children were napping while at the in-laws so I ran up the stairs powered up google drive and opened a new document. I didn’t have any of my previous writing with me, but I knew what I needed to work on so I got right to it.

I also always have my playlist available on my phone, or saved as a playlist on my computer so that no matter where I am I can allow it to transport me into the world I’m creating in my novel. I write very organically by writing out the scene that is playing before me or any words that I hear in my head. I try not to self edit before the words are on the page because then it becomes a habit of not thinking my writing is good enough, so I just go with the flow and trust that the words and the scene will evolve in front of me.

Anything in brackets is me opening a tab in chrome and dashing off to do the research and then coming back with the information that found.

Below is a snippet of a scene that I’m adding into the novel, which is completely in the raw and could possibly have some spoilers.

Waking up the next morning she pulled the warm furs up towards her chin turning her body towards the canvas wall burying her body deeper into the corn husk mattress [research adequate mattress style for royalty as well as ease of traveling], breathing as deeply as she could to ease the weight that curved around her chest. She had a fit of a sleep, tossing and turning most of the night running through the previous nights event in her head.

Every time she rolled over she would ask herself how she could have been so ignorant of the state of her country, and even worse the state of the Legion Counsel’s anger towards her. Fleeing for her life had unsettled her and she needed to find a way to gain control of herself.

The flap of the tent jarred her from her anguished thoughts and Sarah popped her head around the opening, concern eased into the creases of of her forehead.

“I didn’t want to disturb you, I just wanted to bring you some warm breakfast” her breath floated into a silver cloud in front of her nose as she stepped in with a tray of  hot porridge with honey.

[suddenly hungry and run downstairs to grab a snack, all the while thinking of Sophia and Sarah’s exchange.]

“You delivered me from my troubled thoughts more more than anything” Sophia tried to smile as she forced her warm body to meet the frigid air. Sarah quickly placed the tray on the wooden table before bringing a blanket to wrap around Sophia’s shoulders. Holding Sophia’s hand she lead her towards the waiting table surrounded with candles.

“Doesn’t seem like sleep helped you much” Sarah left Sophia to find [research when matches were invented] her flint box and then proceeded to light the candles around Sophia to keep her warm. Sophia dipped her spoon into the thick amber honey then her porridge and enjoyed the sweetness on her tongue and the warmth that enveloped her body as it settled in her stomach.

“No, I think it might have made it worse actually. I felt completely useless the entire night feeling that if only I knew more or wasn’t lied to I could have given a better answer. Oh Sarah, it was terrifying to see the anger they had towards me as well as running through that dark cave following some man I had never met before!”

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you through it.”

“I would have felt worse if you were! Thankfully Thane was there, or I…” stirring her honey into her porridge, “I don’t want to think of what would have happened.”

Sarah patted her hand and then went to her trunk to pull out her dress for the day, the green traveling suit and a large brimmed hat with emerald velvet ribbon.

“You’ll have plenty of time to think of what you’ll do next, we’re packing up today and moving.”
“I had forgotten all about it: Sophia’s brown eyes fell upon her breakfast, pushing the bowl away from her.”

So there you have it, that free hour of time turned out 500 words (which is roughly about a half hour of writing time) plus research and a bit of a snack.

Not giving up my art

Today I went out for lunch with a woman who I haven’t seen since before I left for Europe, and in that hour we quickly caught up, shared stories, and let vulnerability seep in. I walked away feeling like I was seen. I found a comrade.

That despite the weight and responsibility of motherhood I don’t want to lose myself amongst wiping sticking fingers before they touched the couch, cleaning up toys scattered around the house, and packing bags for daycare while planning the dinner menu.

I need to have my creative endeavors.

I want my creative pursuits to keep me alight, energized and feeding my soul.

I’ve tried giving up my art in the name of motherhood. I would watch my other mama friends thrive in their roles of sole caregiver, playing, napping, cuddling, teaching with a sense of contentment around them. They had hard days, for sure, but they always appeared to be thriving and loving it even in the bad times. So I would return home telling myself I would put aside my creative pursuits to play on the floor, cuddle and hold them until no end, make another meal, clean another sticky chair, take them to another play group with the hope of finding the same contentment.

But it would never come.

I would always feel this tugging at my heart, a longing to be somewhere else feeding my own soul instead of the belly of my child. It felt selfish and I feared that my nightmare had come true – I was the worst mother in the world. But no matter how hard I tried to be a mother and nothing else, that longing would become louder and louder and I would become more and more unhappy.

I could never be the mother who could focus solely on my children.

I struggle to manage it all, and sometimes wonder if it would all be better if I waited till my children were of school age to pursue my art but I know that inside that wouldn’t make me happy at all. I have to believe that following my curiosity is exactly how I’m supposed to live my life, and that having a happy, creative filled mama is exactly what my children need more than me being at home with them while my art collects dust.