Relax. Don't do it.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was younger, I had a moderately effective way of managing my anxiety. I would find a nice cozy spot, smoke a few Matinee Extra Mild® Menthols, lie down and have a nap. Then, my high school principal would barge into the second floor girl’s washroom trying to find out who set off the sprinkler system again.

Like he didn’t already know.

Through the years, I have developed different ways of coping. For one thing, I haven’t smoked a cigarette since September 7, 1990. At 9:57am. Also, my 4-year-old daughter has tracking skills far superior to those of good old Mr. Nielsen. May he rest in peace. Unless he isn’t dead. In which case... awkward.

Since becoming a mother, my bathroom retreats typically end prematurely with me hiding in the corner (not so different from high school) while my daughter shouts “Maaaawwwwwwmm! Are you pooping?” as she successfully executes a MacGyver-worthy locksmith move involving pennies, butter knives and a handful of googly eyes.

The kid is undefeated in her weight class.

So now, when stress starts to get the better of me, I do what any normal, fret-ridden person does. I hold it all in. Until I break out in a rash. Or, more accurately, until my left eye swells up and fastens shut like a bloated oyster and my right hip begins to resemble a dot-to-dot picture of an antelope in heat. I’m guessing.

In other words, I can’t hide my neuroses. Though I try, with the help of antihistamines. But, the thing is, I’ve got so much Reactine® in my system, it’s entirely possible I may never sneeze again.

Yesterday, in an effort to try to naturally reduce my anxiety (and my hives) I decided to join my mom while she did her meditation exercises. It’s supposed to be an uplifting experience. Like a Celine Dion song. Or a really stiff wind.

The man speaking over the speakers reminded me instantly of the poor bastard who administered my driving test when I was seventeen years old. He didn't pronounced the “t” on words like “lef(t)” and “righ(t)” either. Though I suspect my driving examiner was far more preoccupied with parallel parking than the mysterious voice who was telling me to empty my mind and relax.

“Take a deep breath, down to your stomach and out to your shoulders. Good. Now let the breath out comple(t)ely. Every drop."

Breathing is the kind of thing that should come naturally. However - apparently - when someone tells me to breathe… I can’t. Also, since when does breath “drip”? Is breath supposed to be wet? Because I think mine is dry. Maybe I'm sick. These and other thoughts were interrupted by more words from the MD (Meditation Doctor).

“Fill your mind with though(t)s of anger. Repeat the phrase – I am angry – five times. Remember to breathe and don’t concern yourself with the cause of your anger.”

Huh? I did not expect that. I didn’t feel mad when I started, but I was pissed enough to squish a pile of puppies (cute ones), by the time the next exercise began.

“Now, repea(t) after me, ‘I feel fear’. Do no(t) concern yourself with what makes you feel fear. Just repea(t) the phrase, five times. Remember to breathe.”

I.FEEL. FEAR. Yes! Of course I feel fear. This is why I am anxious – no??? This is helping me, how? As I tried not to concern myself with what makes me feel fear, I began to mentally run through a list of all the things I’m afraid of (heights, pain, death, spiders, home invasions, unidentifiable noises, blue cheese). Then, I heard my daughter coughing in the next room. Oh crap. Is she choking? Did she just come down with the flu? Where the hell is the thermometer? Could it be pneumonia? Oh dear god.

In other words -- no problem feeling fear.


Shallow gasps of air forced their way into my lungs as I wondered desperately when the relaxation part of the exercise would begin. I thought about asking my mother, but she was too busy belching on the other side of the room – presumably from the pain of trying to breathe deeply.

Instead, I decided to soldier on, thinking that perhaps this was all part of the process. But in the end - somewhere between shame and sadness – I nearly worked myself into a pretty decent panic attack, which - I’m fairly certain – wasn’t the objective.

After abandoning the experiment and heading to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher - a surprisingly soothing pursuit - I came back into the room just in time to hear, “lef, righ, lef, righ, lef”. So I walked in place until I felt just this side of dizzy.

I looked over at Jan who was doubled over with laughter. Once I started giggling, I couldn’t stop. And, as it turns out, deep breathing is a cinch when you’re snorting like a hippopotamus.

Mission accomplished. I am nailing this meditation stuff.

No, really.

This post has been edited and republished on BLUNTmoms with the title: Relax: Don't Do It.

Hollywood bound (and determined)

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Life is funny. As in, feet sometimes remind me of giraffes. Also, you never know where one hello will lead.

Case in point...

Several months ago, Geoff and I were contacted by a Hollywood producer-slash-art director-slash-clearance manager. He was looking for talent and had heard about Geoff's line paintings from a friend of a friend of a friend. You get the idea.

One email led to several Google searches, which led to a few phone calls, which led to a pile of paperwork, which eventually led to this:

And this...

Four paintings (three of mine, one of Geoff's) were shipped off to Hollywood last week, in the hopes that they will be chosen and used as background decoration on film or television sets. Another of Geoff's paintings is scheduled to leave next week.

I know, right?!

I'm super stoked. Which is Hollywood-speak for excited.

And, by the way, if - while you are flipping through channels, or sitting in a popcorn scented theatre - you see any of the following paintings... tell me. Or Geoff. Immediately. Unless you spot them in a porn flick. Then, the news can probably wait. Possibly forever.

Ok? Thanks.

No, really.

Happy new year - have you seen my cool?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Geoff, the 4 year old and I were sitting in the car, waiting in the parking lot,  while Jantje shopped for snow pants in the store.

The air outside was cold. I knew this because my window was down – so I could get a better view of the moonrise. I glanced back at my daughter who was busy tracing virtual letters with her fingers.

“Can I have the ipod?” I asked. “Sure,” my little one chirped as she handed me the first real handheld smart device our family has ever owned. Well, the second, if you count the painfully large electronic organizer I carted around with me in my twenties. It was black, had lots of tiny buttons (despite it’s gargantuan size) and had just enough memory to hold four, maybe five addresses. Six if you left out the postal codes. It was the perfect match for my Motorola bag phone – you know, the one with the curly cord.


It was the 90s. I was awesome. Obviously.

As I took a few photos of the bright yellow ball hanging low in the winter sky, Geoff turned on the radio. A Beyoncé song was playing. At least, we think it was Beyoncé. Truthfully, we had no idea.

I handed the ipod with all of three educational apps back to my tech-savvy child. Then, Geoff and I started dancing. In the car.

My window was still open, allowing the music to escape - thus drawing the attention of other parking lot dwellers who were now watching two 40-somethings grooving to the beat.

It was dark out. We looked awesome. Obviously.

I rolled up the window, noticed a few spectators on the sidewalk and said, “Check us out, a couple of old people, chair dancing in our Volvo.

As I bounced my head and performed my signature shadow-boxing dance move, it occurred to me that this was not hip. I looked over at my middle-aged husband who was shoulder shrug grooving – eyes closed.

Oh dear god, " I said, "This is the antithesis of cool.

Geoff stopped his jiving, looked at me and clarified, “You know what’s not cool? Using the word antithesis. Nothing about what you just said is cool. There is nothing we’re going to do at this point that will make us look cool.

Pausing to comprehend the level of our collective lameness while Queen B (do we still call her that?) completed her booty ballad, we both burst out laughing as our 4-going-on-14 year old youngster sighed and said, “Guys, can you PLEASE turn that down?”

It might be time to dig out my satchel phone. I've got a feeling this kid might appreciate it.

And so it begins...

No, really.