Wildwood Wonder: New Beginnings

Wildwood Wonder is, officially, the name of this little area of the ‘net I’ve carved out. It’s new, and you may be wondering why I’ve made the change. Even if you aren’t wondering, if you keep reading you’ll at least know where my head is at, these days — and maybe find some inspiration for yourself, too.

The Backstory Behind Wildwood Wonder

The past several years have been… intense, to say the least. I went from moving to a rental home with my then-boyfriend-now-husband; becoming engaged; getting married; getting pregnant; buying this home; having our daughter and learning how to be a mom; three devastating pregnancy losses; getting and staying pregnant and all of that anxiety; having our son… plus some love and loss and job changes and challenges and joys all mixed into that.

Now that M is a fledgling kindergartener, and A is developing his own personality and independence, I am breathing. A little bit. But breathing. This last month — September 2017 — I have been working hard to take important steps toward cultivating the life I want. That sounds complicated, maybe, but it isn’t. It actually just means I’m doing simple things like getting into a cleaning routine, using paper and pen to plan our days, feeding my family healthy meals, and fixing up our household spaces to bring calm and peace.

It has not been a long process thus far; I’m in the beginning stages. But I believe I’m making great progress, and I think it’s changed the vibe of our household for the better. My ultimate goal is to seek wonder, in everything — in little moments of light spilling into our home in the in-between hours, in getting ourselves out the door to breathe in crisp fall air more often, to finding the right spot to hang M’s kindergarten artwork, to perfecting my morning routine.

What’s the ‘Wildwood’ in Wildwood Wonder?

Wildwood is another word for forest — but doesn’t it sound so much more alive? I love the idea of finding wonder in what is in its natural, wild state. Sure, we can cultivate it, too, but there’s something to be said for what already exists.

The tagline for Wildwood Wonder is letting go and living and that’s because it’s exactly what I want to do: embrace the wild and the wonderful, let go, and live my best life. I want to balance that with guiding my life in easy to manage, simple, peaceful ways.

As I was ruminating on the idea of wildwood wonder, I thought about one of our favourite places to visit in Sioux Lookout. Cedar Bay is our local equestrian centre, but it’s more than that. There is a trail network running deep into the woods, leading to the lakeshore or winding around in the wilderness. When one first arrives at the parking lot trailhead, there’s a quote carved into a sign as greeting:

Wildwood Wonder - Thoreau

I can’t sum it up better than Thoreau did, truly. At the end of my life I want to be able to say that I lived, and that I did it with wonder and greatness and love.

I want to be able to say that I lived, and that I did it with wonder and greatness and love. Click To Tweet

That doesn’t mean I need to have accomplished anything spectacular — as Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui says in What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life?:

What if I embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. Make peace with who I am and what I need and honor your right to do the same. Accept that all I really want is a small, slow, simple life. A mediocre life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. I think it is enough.

But I want that beautiful, simple life. And I am working toward it. That’s what you’ll find here.




I’m not really sure where to start, here. I don’t think I’ve stopped writing for this long in quite some time. Every time I pulled up a blank draft document because I felt like I should, I reached for words. This time I’m just letting my fingers lead the way. It’s not that I don’t want to write her, it’s that it has hurt too much. It’s felt like another to-do on a list of to-dos that I don’t really want to do, at all. My energy has been flagging, and blogging has simply not been anywhere near the top of my priorities.

I don’t know if I’ll start writing a lot, again. I don’t know if I’ll be inspired, or if I’ll just jump back in and out when the mood strikes me. I don’t feel like planning ahead or making any kind of commitments when I don’t have to. The only thing driving me is me — that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the people who read these words, of course, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel beholden or anything like that, which is probably a good thing when you think about it.

There’s this theory that for every action you take, decision you make, thing that happens to you, you go one way and an alternate version of you goes the other. In some divergent reality, there is me — actually, a couple of mes — that had a much better run of the last three or four months than I have. To put it bluntly, because I have shared elsewhere and may as well share here, I’ve had two miscarriages in three months. It sucks. It’s getting better but it still sucks. A lot of days I wish I could somehow get myself aligned with that divergent me, either one of them, but that’s impossible and a useless expenditure of my thoughts and emotions. I am where I am and I need to work with that.


I have my family. I have my health — I think, and I am actively working on getting that aspect of things squared away. I’m working with a really good medical practitioner who is helping me feel reassured that there is actually nothing wrong with me and I am just someone who has had the bad luck of having bad luck twice in a row. It’s weird to hope that I’ve just been unlucky, but if it’s a case of luck, then luck can change.

That’s all I’m going to say on the subject, I think. I don’t want to rip myself open and feel like I am super vulnerable all the time. I am through the worst of it, and I’m working through all of my feelings elsewhere. I might share them here one day, I might not. I kind of want to be able to enjoy a bit of frivolity and mindlessness, here, but I don’t think I can do that without acknowledging why I took a break.

Playing Hooky

My house is pretty disastrous right now. I managed to catch up on a few things this morning but I am slowly being swallowed by laundry. My stash of freezer lunches is dwindling, and my car is filthy. Having two parents working full-time is no joke!

I typically do both morning and evening daycare runs, make dinner, and keep up with the laundry basics for M and I (Matt gets his own work clothes clean when they need to be done and I try to fill in the blanks with t-shirts). M just wants to play outside the moment we get home now, and so, by the time all is said and done and she’s sleeping, all I want to do is crash in my bed and not have to move or think. Just keep swimming.


By Josefa Holland-Merten

I love writing and blogging and creating, but right now, I feel like I’m playing hooky from that part of my life to keep afloat with the everyday. It sort of reminds me of having a newborn — just make sure you eat and get enough sleep that you aren’t going to crash the car, a bit of fresh air when you can, try to wear clean pants and hope for the best. I’m not sure when this new normal will feel normal but until I adjust I’m cutting myself some slack. I may meet my 3x a week blogging goal; I likely will not.

There are things I want to post about — it’s cesarean awareness month, I got some awesome Live Clean products in the mail, I started some garden seedlings and I’m back to dreaming of interior design. But that stuff is going to live in my head for this week, at least, because there’s too much else to do.

As always — I’m here, and I’m reading, and I’m grateful to all of my friends, online and otherwise, who have patiently waited for me to catch up.

Checking In

We’re back from vacation! It was less than stellar, weather-wise, but other than that we had a great time (and a day of +8C on vacation is better than a day of -40C at home!).


I have things to share —  my February resolution round-up, more #WomensLives posts, some vacation details, a book review or two — but right now I’m in that post-vacation slump. Despite sleeping like a rock in my own bed last night I’m tired and trying to get my feet back under me while playing catch-up. I’m declaring blog reading and commenting bankruptcy, too. The last time this happened I felt better within a day, so here’s hoping I’ll be back on the blog tomorrow!

#WomensLives – Gender Inequality in Film

My household is not really in to pop culture — the nearest movie theater is a four or five hour drive away from us, and although we recently found ourselves with satellite TV for the first time in years, we mostly stick to Netflix shows and movies when we have time to tune in to the television. But, at nearly 15 months old, my daughter is starting to get a bit more screen time with her dad, and I find myself questioning what, exactly, pop culture is teaching her (and us!) about gender equality.

Have you heard of the Bechdel test? A film that passes this test must have:

  1. Two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.

You can apply it to other works of fiction, too — books, television shows, you get the idea. When I think about the media we consume as a family, I’m hoping we lean more toward works that would pass, especially when it comes to shows my daughter might see.

I’m intrigued by this 1939 film in which every part — over 130 speaking roles — is played by a woman.

Anyway, not being a big pop culture person, I was very, very surprised to read this PRI article indicating that females in the film industry experience the same wage gap that occurs across many other industries — yes, even big-name actresses get paid less than their male counterparts:

For “American Hustle,” Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were paid significantly smaller percentages — 7 percent each — of the film’s profit than their male co-stars Christian BaleBradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, who each earned 9 percent. Lawrence has been Hollywood’s most bankable star for the last two years. Last year, just two of her films, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part I” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” combined for $1.4 billion at the box office.

For some reason, I assumed that women in big-budget films, women whose names are instantly recognizable, would make the same as men — surely Hollywood must be different from the real life, right? Nope.

Wage inequality is not just a Hollywood thing, of course — it happens in nearly every industry and it’s frustrating as hell. I encourage you to check out the article, especially the great infographic attached, and share your thoughts. Should female and male actors be paid the same? What about women and men in other industries?