10 Quotes That Summarize 2016 and Inspire 2017

Yup. I’m still on the whole reflecting and planning thing even though we’re moving into the middle of January. I had been planning for weeks (months?) to do a year end post summarizing all the things I’ve learned in 2016 but when I was thinking about last year and what’s coming up, I realized quotes are the way to go. Sometimes a good quote can sum things up way better than a 5000 word blog post. #amirite

In no particular order, here are the 10 quotes that nicely sum up what I’ve learned in 2016 and where I want to be heading in 2017.

10 quotes that sum up what I've learned in 2016 and where I want to go in 2017

I’ve fought so hard to be who I am after being brought up to be nice, quiet, and told not to rock the boat. Honey, that boat is a canoe and it wobbles like hell. And, I’ll continue to be who I am. I rock the boat. I burn those bridges. But I’m loyal and loving and will do anything for my friends and family. I worked too hard to get here to ever turn back.


10 quotes that summarize what we've learned in 2016 and where we're headed in 2017

Almost self explanatory. I’ve done a lot of bowing down to “the powers that be” because I wanted to be liked or just get along. I’ve pretended to be someone or something that I’m not and it’s awful.  That’s over. It never really worked and just made me feel sleazy. Ugh. Never again. I’m not compromising my values or beliefs or personality ever again to make someone else comfortable. I liked this so much, I printed it and it’s going in my office.


10 quotes that perfectly summarize what I've learned in 2016 and where I want to go in 2017

Yes. Nicely put. You can’t go stomping all over other people just because you finally grew a spine. Sometimes in our efforts to speak up we swing the other way and get kind of obnoxious. Balance is good.


10 quotes that perfectly sum up what you learned in 2016 and what motivates in 2017

I’m working on remembering this every time I wonder why things are tough and it looks like everyone has it so much easier. First, that’s an illusion. We don’t know the truth about anyone and who they really are or what they struggle with. And second, I’m finally learning to be grateful for all of the adversity because that’s where strength comes from.


Wrinkles, cellulite, and age spots included. And I’m not just talking the physical. This is about learning to be so content with yourself that when someone tells you that you “shouldn’t be that way”, or that they don’t like who you are, you don’t even look up.  An arched eyebrow and silence will do nicely.


10 quotes that summarized 2016 and motivate me in 2017

This may be less of a quote and more of a mission statement. I’m a bit obsessed with the whole #warriorwoman thing and I always have been. It’s probably because of my Mohawk blood. I’m good at warrior. The battles I’ve fought for the boys over the past five years really bring this picture home for me.


This quote really speaks to my belief about my purpose in life. I believe that we’re here to love and serve others. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why things don’t change, particularly in social work. The past couple of years, I realized that I can make things change. At least on the micro level. So I don’t often refuse people who need me to speak up for them, particularly foster parents who need a voice for the children they care for. It’s a lot easier these days because I’m not afraid of losing my job any longer 😉



I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this one or not but it does define who I’ve become and how I’ve moved ahead with things that people used to tell me were impossible. Mostly it’s some kind of system that people refuse to fight against. Go ahead and fight if it’s important to you. Just be careful not to lock and load for every little thing (note to self.)


I’m pretty good at banging away on closed doors. I stayed in child welfare for 20 years despite being a square peg in a round hole. I stay in relationships way too long and I pursue things that clearly aren’t meant for me. Like diets. Just kidding there. Sort of.  Doors stay closed for a reason. Move forward, find the door that opens.


I had the crap experience of watching some mean girls at work this past year. It’s happened everywhere I’ve worked so I don’t know why I’m still so shocked when it goes down. Women! We need to support each other. The old boys club still exists so if we can stop ripping each other apart because someone else is pretty, skinnier, happier, louder, that would be great. You feeling me, ladies? We do it because we’re jealous or threatened by some imaginary thing that we believe she has that we don’t. It’s all bullshit. Let her shine and she’ll make you shine even brighter. Win/win.

Now it’s your turn. What are the quotes that define you? Where you’ve been and where you want to go. Share them with me 🙂 We can motivate each other.

The List- 1.7.17

It’s the first weekend of the new year and I’ve spent most of the last couple of weeks reflecting about 2016 and planning for 2017. I love this time of year because it feels like a brand new start and I love me some planning.  Following through…not so much. I’m a work in progress.

I also like sharing my random finds and ideas that have worked with all of you. I don’t know if this is going to be a regular series or not. I haven’t planned that far ahead yet. Consider this more like a “Where did you get that?” and “Guess what I found?” and “Pass the wine” sort of hang out. Except you can stay home and wear your pjs. Or you can come here and wear your pjs, too. I don’t judge.

Our new weekly list of things we love, stuff that caught our eye, and our favorite new ideas

Bullet Journals

Have you jumped on the #bujo bandwagon yet? I’m all over this trend and even joined a facebook group and started a new Pinterest board. As someone with a monumental collection of notebooks and planners, it will be interesting to see if I can make the bullet journal system work for me. I have a notebook for just about every subject but I can rarely find what I need when I’m looking for it. The whole concept of the bullet journal is that you track, plan, and organize all in one place.

bullet journal ideas #bujo

Plus it’s epic fun to have a place to use up all my washi tape and finally have a new use for my art and gel markers.

Face Serums

Dark spot correctors that I've personally tried and can recommend. Because they actually work! #beautyover40 #darkspotcorrector
Clinique || Vitamin C Serum || Retseliney || Garnier

Are you sitting? Because I have a big dumb secret. I didn’t use sunscreen for a long time. Like, until this last year actually. Gasp. I  know. I was warned. I always told myself I didn’t need it because I don’t burn. Well, guess what? I might not burn but I do age and now I have all these dark spots all over my face that literally just showed up overnight. Right on my 48th birthday, it seems. I went from looking okayish to having to find a way to cover my new freckles. Which really aren’t freckles at all. Here are a few products that I’ve actually tried these last few months (including sunscreen!) and all of them have been helping to fade and hide the spots.

The Clinique was a bit out of my price range, in the interest of full disclosure. I got it as a Christmas gift (Thanks, friend!!) and I absolutely love how it makes my skin look and feel. I have a feeling I’ll be coughing up for more when this is finished.

I use the Garnier as an overnight peel once a week and it’s really helped. The Vitamin C is kind of my favorite right now since it’s so light and I can wear it under my primer and I don’t feel greasy. The Retseliney has been a God send for my, ummm….cleavage area….which has also betrayed me by going all spotty. Ugh.

I’m never going to be 25 again (thank God!) but all of these little products have helped tame the ageing on my face and chest. And that’s a small miracle right there.

Ankle Boots

I was late to the ankle boot trend because I wasn’t really sure what to do with my pants. Not even kidding…no one could accuse me of being fashion forward. But I’ve figured it out. You roll them. Doh.

#ankleboots with cuffed jeans
scarf || sunglasses || vest || shirt || jeans || boots

I’m kind of digging the look so I grabbed myself three pairs of ankle boots right before Christmas and I wear them constantly. Love. Grab your own pair, roll your cuffs, and we can meet for coffee and look cool together.

Blogging and Social Media- A look back at 2016 and some changes

Happy New Year! Aside from the freezing weather, I really do love this time of year because I find it so motivating. A brand new year means brand new plans, dreams, and ideas. All things I love to do. Follow through is a bit more work for me but I’m working on that. But like any look ahead, I firmly believe you need to take some time to look back to see where you’ve been before you move forward. Which brings us to why I’m  here today…


Blogging and social media. A look back at what has and hasn't worked for me over the past year and what I'm doing differently in 2017. 24cottonwoodlane.com


2016 was a really terrific year for me and our family in so many ways. The boys were finally made Crown Wards (terminating parental rights for you US folks) which means the threat of removing them from my care is no longer in my face every single day. The agency also backed off on forcing adoption on us as it really isn’t a good fit at this time. Which means I can focus on long term fostering without fear and it’s made a huge difference all the way around. The stress I’ve been under and constant implied threats have taken their toll. I’m glad that piece has wrapped up.

Although we were forced to move over the summer, read those stories here and here, I absolutely love our new house. This space just works so much better for our family. PS….a few coats of paint can really make a huge change. Everything happens for a reason and all that good stuff. (Note to self the next time I freak out about change!) I will, eventually, get around to sharing some updates. No dramatic room reveals since I’m never really finished but some updates are in order.

New Websites

I launched two new websites last year. FASD Families has been a huge hit in providing practical (and sometimes humorous) stories and ideas for families raising children with FASD. Thanks to all of the readers who are so actively engaged and keep the love flowing. I wasn’t as consistent as I hoped to be in adding posts but I’m plugging away.

FASD families....supports and resources for families raising children with FASD.


Traveling Single Mom launched last spring and I’m adding material here and there. Our travels were much more limited than I’d planned since I went back to my social work career in early spring (part time), limiting the amount of time I have for blogging, travelling, and writing in general. Travel is my true love (next to sleep) so I have no intention of giving this site up. It’s just going to take some time to develop. Stay with us 😉

Travelingsinglemom.com- Ideas, stories, trips for single parents and kids

Which brings me to blogging in general. I love, love, love blogging. What I don’t love is the crazy pressure to be the biggest, the best, and having to be a social media guru. When I starting teaching college this fall, I took a huge step back from blogging out of necessity. It just wasn’t possible to plan, teach, and follow through on four courses and then DIY everything and write about it. The fact is, I’m not the biggest and most well known blog. I haven’t made a living blogging even though it’s more than four years. And as a single parent, making a living is kind of a big deal. Also, I’m pretty shitty at self-promotion so even if I made and shared something brilliant, the idea of being in everyone’s face about it just isn’t for me. Mad respect for you full time blogging ladies, but I just can’t. I need sleep, comfort food, and a fairly steady pay check…so back to work I went after my almost two year hiatus from social work.


feminine WordPress themes

Social Media

Oh, social media. I love and hate it all at the same time. I recognized that I maybe had a social media addiction when we came home from Cuba (there’s no wifi at any of the hotels unless you pay for it and stand close to a computer lol) and spent two hours at 3:30 am scrolling through Facebook while my boys slept in the hotel bed next to me. I acknowledge, in full, my addiction to Facebook and Pinterest.

But social media also makes me feel overwhelmed and kind of lacking at times. And the pressure as a blogger to use social media to promote my blogs has proven too much for me. I don’t want to spend hours scheduling and promoting my posts nor do I want my Pinterest feed cluttered up with blogging idea posts. I want to look at pretty things, funny memes, and inspirational quotes. Pinterest became a chore and a responsibility rather than the inspiration board it was intended to be. So I pulled out of all the groups I was in to promote my stuff, scaled way back on who I followed and have just starting pinning things for me again. I don’t care how to get followers or how to promote anything on Pinterest. I just want to be selfish and inspired. My boards are for me but if you like the same sort of things we can be Pinterest friends. 🙂

Twitter…not even going there. It is like junk food for my already scattered brain so I’m pulling out. I might just use it follow really funny people.

Facebook. God, I need a break but I just can’t. I have people to stalk and friends to share love with. And that’s it. If my post publishes to FB, that’s great. But I’m done with the attention seeking, like my post, follow me thing that I’m not so good at.

Genesis Framework for WordPress

Instagram. Oooohh…Instagram. So pretty. Except in the interest of being polite and doing Instagram challenges where we all have to follow each other it became yet another site full of things I didn’t care about. I’m unfollowing just about anyone who doesn’t inspire me with pretty pictures. That’s all I want on Instagram these days. Pictures of pretty rooms, flat lays, and beach photos. Maybe some bullet journals but that’s a story for another day. To my friends and family, I already see your lovely photos on FB so forgive me for deleting you on Instagram. Sixteen photos of your kids skating is great but I want a picture with pink flowers on a marble background.  No offence. I’ll still like and love all your stuff on FB, though. Promise 🙂


Interestingly, I got some negative feedback this year over a few posts, features on my link party, and lost a shit ton of followers over my last post, both here and on my social media sites. That’s totally okay. In fact, that feels great. It tells me that you’re not feeling my vibe and I get that. If we don’t mesh, or our political ideals and my cultural heritage makes you uncomfortable, it’s cool to unfollow. It’s not cool to make racist and hateful comments about me or why I’m not a Trump supporter. I get to delete those types of comments because this is my happy space and that’s just not helpful or something I need to see when I sit down to write for those of you that still like me. I unfollow stuff that doesn’t interest me, too. It’s all good.

I’ve never shared anything about my Native culture and ancestry before on this site, nor have I shared anything political. But I stepped out of the lifestyle blog last week, took a chance on sharing my history and feelings about this past year and I’m so grateful for the love via comments, and emails that I have received about that post. It felt good to come out of the well designed pantry closet and just chat. Haters gonna hate, but the rest of you made me weep with gratitude. Love you all.

Ah. The Blog.  I have no idea where I’m going with it, but with teaching college and doing court investigations for custody and access disputes, I don’t have the time to be creating 15 fun ways to make Valentine’s day special. Truthfully, I never really did, but I tried. And if I do find some time and inspiration to create something crafty, you’ll be the first to know.

I have a feeling we’re heading in a different direction around here… more in the moment things I want to share and less planning and stressing about holiday posts and all that craziness.  Right now I’m all about taking care of the age spots that have crept over my face (because I’ll be 49 this year and all), organizing my life, and bullet journals. If you like those things, too, that’s great. Love you all madly and I hope we can still be friends.


The Christmas I Didn’t Christmas At All

Those of you that have been hanging out here for awhile may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much (or at all!) for this Christmas season. Which is pretty a strange decision given this is a lifestyle/design/home blog. I mean, Christmas, is big right?  Crafts, meals, decorating, and gift guides. I tried. I really tried this year but I couldn’t do it. Here’s why.

The year I didn't Christmas the shit out of everything. Or anything at all. 24cottonwoodlane.com


First, I went back to social work/teaching. Actually teaching courses in a traditional Aboriginal healing/counselling program. For the longest time after leaving my child welfare job I swore I wouldn’t people anymore. Then last winter my friend asked if I would fill in at the college where she works, teaching a counseling course. Turns out I loved it. Not right away, of course. Social anxiety had me in a bit of bind until I got over myself. But once I did, I hit it hard and this fall I actually taught 4 courses to an amazing group of college students on the Reserve (Reservation for you American folks) near where I live.

Just like that, I tumbled back into the real world after almost 2 years of working at blogging. Not that blogging isn’t real. It’s just a different kind of real than the trauma, PTSD, Aboriginal legal issues, Native psychology, and the reality of life for most of my people and the people I’ve worked with as a social worker over the last 20 years deal with on a daily basis. Suddenly creating Christmas recipes, design ideas, and Pinteresting the shit out of everything had a whole lot less meaning. Every time I sat down to create an article or something for the season, I just felt blocked and resentful. So I went with that.

The disconnect I was already feeling really  hit home in November when America elected a child rapist, misogynistic, racist, pussy grabbing, hate mongering president. After the shock rolled through me, I had a hard time putting together a link party about cookies, crafts, and design. It felt silly and trivial given what had just happened.

Earlier that fall, my people had been gathering in Standing Rock to make efforts to protest, pray, and protect the water that we all need for life to continue. Again, I struggled to come up with ideas for or creating DIY gift tags while I watched those gathered in Standing Rock (including some members of my friends and family) deal with law enforcement shooting them with rubber bullets, grenades, and hitting them full force with freezing water in frigid conditions. In an effort to push forward with a pipeline that would only benefit big oil and their bottom line at the expense of everyone else. If you’re looking for an understanding of the issues at Standing Rock, here is an excellent and quick background read.

Source– Police use water canons and tear gas on unarmed protesters in sub zero temperatures in Standing Rock.

At the same time, I was driving to work in the mornings to the Reserve where we don’t have drinkable water and haven’t as long as I can remember. My own people don’t have water they can cook or drink with. In 2016. As an aside, there are 133 water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada and most of them are in Ontario.  That’s why Standing Rock became more important to me than making 16 kinds of cookies this year. My waist line was also pretty happy about that, just as an aside. Not that happy since you can buy really good cookies from a bakery, but still.

And of course America now has a president that invested in that Dakota pipeline. We’ll see how that plays out, I suppose. But I don’t imagine, given this guy’s refusal to believe in climate change and his history of racism against anyone that doesn’t look like him, including Native Americans, that the temporary cessation of building that Pipeline on traditional reserve lands will be anything but temporary.

Meanwhile back in the classroom, I was teaching a course called Aboriginal Psychology which looked at our history of colonization, residential school, and the child welfare sixties scoop*, and the inter-generational trauma that Native people continue to experience. We looked at domestic violence, addictions, and the astonishing rates of suicide in our communities and again, I couldn’t get into writing a gift buying guide or blogging home tours for the holidays. I spent 4 classes teaching about PTSD, multi-generational trauma, and the psychology of forgiveness. And I just kept on ignoring that it was December completely.

The final piece that hammered things home for me was that my word for 2016 was INTENTIONAL. I was really trying to live with intention vs reacting to things. Major good things happen when I let go of reacting and start asking how we want to live and if this is something I really want to do. So Christmas was a big fat no. Just like Easter (when we went to Cuba), June (Dominican Republic) and Thanksgiving (Cuba again!). Not celebrating the holidays in a Pinterest worthy fashion made for some really intentional living. (Hello, beaches! Goodbye, family drama and craft overload!)

This year, I did all of my Christmas shopping in two days. I made not a single baked good nor did I prepare our standard brunch or Christmas dinner. We had frozen waffles, bacon, and mimosas. (Much yum!) For dinner we ordered Chinese. And you know what? Not a single f#*^ was given by anyone. No one cared that we didn’t have our traditional meals, the cookies were store bought, and we snacked all day on frozen hors d’oevres.

For the first time ever, I wasn’t tearing my hair out trying to get everything done and trying to create some crazy fantasy Christmas miracle. I wasn’t blogging so I wasn’t creating, writing, and photographing everything I created and trying to make everything Pinterest perfect. I just sat and worked on my courses at night and read and graded papers and finals this year. While binging on Netflix, of course. Perfection. I didn’t yell or cry this Christmas. Not even once. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or exhausted or taken for granted. I didn’t feel resentful because I had done all the work while everyone just showed up for the party. I joined the party because it only takes a minute to order in Chinese food. Hell, I was the party this year. That’s what letting go of all the Christmas crap did for our family.

I feel a bit like the Grinch who realized that even after he stole all the Christmasy things, Christmas still came. Because Christmas really does come from something bigger than 15 different tablescapes, and 12 over the top handmade gifts for your neighbors. I think we may have had the best Christmas ever and I literally did almost nothing to prepare. No lists, no baking, no cooking, no posting and publishing. Not a one.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this blog because I really do love a good project and all things home but I know that this year, taking a big step back has been the best thing I could have done for my sanity and for my family. I’m sure I’ll get inspired again soon enough but I’m already pumped up for the winter classes I’m teaching which will probably hold my attention to the fullest. I love all of  you and I’m grateful you’ve hung in there with me for the last four years. Keep hanging…I’ll figure it out eventually. 🙂


* The sixties scoop refers to the practice of child welfare professionals removing (or scooping) entire generations of Aboriginal children in Canada from their homes and communities and placing them for adoption with non-Native families. I was one of those children. This practice continued through the 1960’s into the 1980’s and some would argue that it continues to this day citing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care compared to population stats. 

For more about Standing Rock, check out the facebook page. Show your support buy grabbing one of these T’s from Amazon (affiliate link included).

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Updates, Changes, and the Link Party

Hello, my lovelies. How is everyone doing as Christmas season heats up? I’m planning to spend the weekend with my littles making Christmas ornaments for their tree. (Actually, they’ll be crafting and I’ll be drinking wine and supervising.) Yup, we have two trees. Because of my OCD ornament hanging issues and all. The sexy tall white tree is all mine and they can hang pretty much anything they want on theirs. They are thrilled.


If you’re hear looking for the link party, I’ll explain about that in a minute. Otherwise, bear with me. It’s been a long couple of months.

For those of you that are new here or don’t know our story, I’m the foster/grandmother to two wonderful little boys with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD). My guys are 4 and 5 and while they are a delight and I love everything about being their “forever mom”, there’s often a lot going on behind the scenes.


I’ve been teaching four college courses…which I totally love but it’s been far more time consuming than I would have believed. Duh, right? I’ve also taken on some part time working doing clinical investigations for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Love. But still….kind of time consuming sometimes. And the boys have regular medical, OT, speech therapy, physiotherapy, and all that good stuff.



Along with all of that, I’ve been in battle, once again, with the child welfare agency who is the technical guardian of the children. This time it was over school and it has burned me out. We won the battle to allow the boys to stay in daycare until they’re actually ready and to ensure the agency continues to fund daycare for working foster parents, but, truly…..I’m wiped out. Like, lay on the floor with a cloth over my eyes exhausted. Which I’ve tried but the boys keep jumping on me lol. #humantrampoline



And, finally, I’ve been struggling with insomnia off and on for the past couple of years but it’s been awful since the end of August. As in, I haven’t slept through the night since then and I’m really, really tired. Mostly I just flop around like a beached walrus looking for the magic sleep position. I haven’t found it yet.


Which lead me to having to take a look at what I’m able to manage around here. I love this blog and I’m not quitting. But I’m taking a few steps back and in order to figure out where we go from here. Things have become a little unmanageable lately. This year, I’m not doing a ton of DIY Christmas projects and you’ve probably noticed that. I don’t trust myself with a glue gun on this little sleep. I will continue to post and share as I can this season and on an ongoing basis but I’m taking a little break from the link party until after Christmas when I know what I can reasonably manage with my winter courses and work load.

If you’re looking to link up, please visit my lovely co-hosts who have been very supportive over this much needed break. They will continue to party and I’ll continue to tweet, pin, and share your links from their sites.

Cindy, Little Miss Celebration  |  Facebook |  Pinterest  |  Twitter  |  G+
Amy, Ms. Toody Goo Shoes    Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Pinterest  |  Instagram
Ginnie, Hello Little Home | Facebook |  Twitter Pinterest|   G+   |   Instagram
Paula, Virginia Sweet Pea | Facebook |  Pinterest  |  Twitter  |  G+  |  Instagram


Have a great weekend, everyone. If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here not sleeping… 😉