This morning started out like any other:  I woke up with Nathan’s alarm but rolled over when he turned it off and buried my face under my pillow.  I stayed like that until Topher padded in in his footie pyjamas.  “Mommy?” he asked.  I didn’t move.  “Mommy?”   Sometimes I like to stay as still as possible so he thinks I’m not there anymore and goes to find Nathan instead.

Nathan was already at work so after a few minutes of playing possum I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen to make breakfast.  When Ellie was contentedly shovelling oatmeal into her mouth and Topher was munching on a strawberry pop tart, I sat down at the computer to check my e-mail.

The first message – from my sister, in New Brunswick – stopped me in my tracks.

"I called the ambulance to take Nanny to the hospital this morning. She is ok but likely has broken bones. She was outside for who knows how long having fallen trying to take the trash out early this morning. She was an ice cube. Talk to you later. She is ok. I don't think she lost consciousness but we don't know for sure."

* * * *


This is a picture of my grandma taken at my sister’s wedding back in June of 2007.  The photographer captured her perfectly – whenever I look at this picture I can hear Nanny’s voice in my head: “Are you listening?!?  ARE YOU LISTENING?” – as she tries to offer (usually unwanted and often ignored) advice.  Or the “Oh, shut up Gord!” dismissal she often gave to her husband when he was trying to push her buttons.  At 87, she’s got more spunk than anyone I know.  Not only does she have the biggest and best maintained garden in the entire town (it’s more like a field; tourists actually tour it!), she’s also constantly renovating her house a la her beloved Trading Spaces – and she (stubbornly!) does everything herself.   Stripping wallpaper, painting, pulling up carpets … you never know what you’ll find Nanny doing when you stop by for a visit!

* * * *

Two hours later I finally received an update:  A broken shoulder and badly bruised hip.   They want to keep her in the hospital for at least a few days but Nanny – true to form! – is arguing with her doctors, begging them to let her go home with 24/7 home care instead.

The winner remains to be seen.


I hate being so far away from my family when things like this happen.  I always thought my kids would grow up in the same town I did.  We’d live down the street from my parents and my sisters, our kids would go to school together and be the best of friends!  When I came to Alberta I had every intention of moving back east as soon as I was finished school – but then I met Nathan, and he completely messed up my plans.

Funny, how that happens.

Now I’m a city slicker with two kids who have no idea that the “chicken” on their plates at dinnertime is the same “chicken” they pick up and cuddle at the petting zoo.   One sister lives in Calgary, a mere three hours away – but the eight kids between us makes even that short trip difficult to arrange more than once every few months.  My other sister lives in New Brunswick, just down the street from my parents.  We see each other once every two years, which is slightly more often than I see my parents.

I hate learning about things through e-mail and Facebook and I hate waiting for phone calls to update me on what’s happening when I could be sitting in the waiting room at the hospital.  I know there’s not much I could do even I was there, but being so far away makes me feel helpless.




When I was in university I remember my young adults pastor telling me that the reason I was still single was because I was too independent.

I rolled my eyes at him.

(I rolled my eyes at him a lot, if you were wondering …)

I was 21 years old and not remotely interested in dating.  My last relationship hadn’t ended well and it had nothing to do with my independence and everything to do with my boyfriend’s inability to date just one girl at a time.

I thought my pastor was out of line then and I still do – but maybe he was right that I’m too independent.

I’ve always been the type of person who likes to do things for myself.  If I can do it, I will, and if I can’t do it – I’ll do everything in my power to find a way to get it done without asking anyone else for help.

I hate having to rely on others.

I hate not being in control.

I had surgery last week.  It was just minor surgery – one of my wisdom teeth came in sideways and was pushing on the tooth in front of it, so it had to be removed.  I didn’t write about it beforehand because I didn’t want to think about it beforehand!   They had to put me to sleep to perform the surgery and Nathan was supposed to stay with me for a full 24 hours afterward (though he cheated and went to work half a day early, leaving me lying on the couch with my fancy ice sock tied around my head while the kids and the dog ran wild!).  It was the real deal.

And for me, it was a lesson in dependence.

I had to depend on the surgeon.

I had to depend on the nurses.

I had to depend on my husband.

I had to depend on my brother-in-law, who babysat the afternoon of the surgery (and who had never taken care of both children at once or changed a diaper until Wednesday afternoon!).

I had to depend on Topher to call Nathan in the event of an emergency, and to take care of his little sister when I couldn’t move from the couch.

And it was hard.


This was my view from the couch. Chloe didn’t leave my side (or my stomach!) for days. She’s such a good nurse!

I didn’t expect to be incapacitated for so long:  One little wisdom tooth, and I was out for almost four days.   I had a list of things I wanted to do – which transformed into a list of things I wanted Nathan to do – which was shortened to a list of things I desperately needed Nathan to do – and everything else was placed onto a list of things I’ll get to when I feel better.

I’m finally starting to feel more like myself, and although I’m relieved – I don’t want things to back to the way they were before.  I feel that as a mom, I’m the one everybody depends on for everything – and it doesn’t have to be that way.  Topher was much better behaved and he had a real sense of pride when he knew I was relying on him to look out for Ellie.  There were no “accidental” punches in the head or pushes off the bed, and not once did he make Ellie lie on the floor while he rolled over top of her on a couch cushion.  Nathan took care of the kids Wednesday and Thursday and as soon as he got home on Friday.  He made sure I had food that I could eat and for two days he set the alarm and got up with me every three hours during the night so I could take my painkillers on time.   And he didn’t once comment on my appearance (or smell!)  after wearing the same pair of leggings, tank top and hoodie for three days straight.

Maybe dependence isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Getting Gutsy


For me, 2014 was the year of the written word.

It’s the year I started writing in earnest:   I wrote articles on rain rot, hoof abscesses, blanketing, biosecurity, dentition, cribbing and Newfoundland ponies.  I wrote personal essays on motherhood, courage, faith, perseverance, and identity.  I made it a priority to write regular letters to my mother, grandmother and sister on the other side of the country.   I wrote love letters to my husband.  I wrote in my journal, I wrote on my blog.

But the most gutsy writing I did all year happened on January 3, 2014, after weeks of careful contemplation:

“Please accept my resignation effective immediately. As you know, I had my second child in March and I have decided that I will not be returning to work after my maternity leave.

Thank you for the opportunities for professional and personal development that you have provided me during the past six years. I have enjoyed working for the Board and appreciate the support provided me during my time with the company.


Holly B.”

* * * *

I thought about quitting my job at least once a day every day beginning on May 14, 2010.

That’s the day my son was born.  I knew I wanted to stay at home with him – I didn’t want to miss his first word, his first step, his first anything  – but quitting my job wasn’t an option.  I had student loans, my husband had a car loan, and we had a mortgage.

So we arranged childcare, and I went back to work.

My daughter was born almost three years later, on March 12, 2013.  I thought by that point I would be happy – or at least settled! – in my role as a working mom, but after two years, it still wasn’t where I wanted to be.  As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to stay home with my children at the end of my maternity leave.

My  husband and I crunched the numbers.  We budgeted, we saved, we paid off our loans – and on January 3, 2014 I submitted my formal resignation letter.

It was terrifying.

I went from having a comfortable office job with a very good salary to working from home, struggling to balance my time between tea parties with teddy bears and writing enough articles to buy the english cucumber for their tiny sandwiches.

Some days I felt like a bad mom – usually on the days when I was trying to be a stay at home mom and a work at home mom at the exact same time.   I learned to set office hours for myself, but office hours are nearly impossible to enforce when your “office” is simply a desk in the corner of the kitchen!

And some days I felt like a bad wife.  When you work for yourself, your work is never, ever, ever, ever, ever done.   I always feel like there’s something else I should be doing – another interview I should be setting up, another article I should be pitching.  On the rare evenings my husband and I were both home and he wanted to do something relaxing  like watch a movie or a TV show, more often than not I turned him down because I felt like I had to work.

A year later I  still struggle to find that balance between my role as a wife and mother and my role as a writer.  Some days involve very little sleep and an awful lot of hustle!

It hasn’t been easy – yet I’m the happiest that I have ever been.

And I think that’s what being gutsy is all about.   It means taking the steps you need to take to live the life that you want to live – even if it is hard.

Or terrifying.

It means letting your faith be bigger than your fear. 


Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

One Little Word


I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to come up with a word of the year for 2015.  I skipped the project last year, figuring my only real goal, that of survival, wasn’t exactly fitting – but after a year of struggling to balance being a stay at home mom with essentially full-time work from home hours, I feel ready to try again.

My one little word for 2015 is Be.  I’ve shared before that I’m much better at doing than at being – I’m Martha, hands down!  With that being said, this year I want to

Be present.

Be grateful.

Be myself.

What’s your “one little word” for the new year?

Vision Board


Last week Susan shared her idea to start an Art Therapy Journal as an adventure for the new year and invited readers to join in.   Assignment #1:  Make a 2015 Vision Board.

I spent a happy Saturday evening creating my masterpiece – I forgot how much fun colouring is!   I’m not much of an artist so I went with a collage instead.  That amazing background is all me, though!

My vision for 2015 includes writing (and writing and writing and writing!) – about the real things, the hard things, and the personal things.   I enjoy writing about rain rot and hoof abscesses as much as any equine journalist, but I have bigger goals for myself than that, and 2015 is going to be the year to make them happen!  My vision for the year also includes moving into a house (pictured is my Grandma’s house in New Brunswick – don’t you just love that wraparound porch?), buying a horse (sorry Nathan, but you know it’s inevitable!), and of course lots and lots of quality time with my two favourite sidekicks.

Do you have a Vision Board for 2015?  I would love to see it!