Be Leaving a Legacy (5th Anniversary)

December 26th, 2013 7:00am

The lady that will leave the largest legacy in my life left the earth.

Five years ago.

She breathed her last breath.

My dad at her side.

My boys and I sleeping at her house.

December 26th, 2018 7:00am

I set an alarm.

I woke and took a deep breath.

I began to ponder this adventure we have created these last five years and I must admit that I am shocked it has been five years living on this earth without my mama.

Some days, my breath gets taken away with grief and it seems like just moments ago that I was told that my mom had died. Other days, it feels like she has been gone for a hundred years. It truly is like the disciple Peter says: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. “

On days like today, I am able to look back and see five distinct legacies that my mom created for me and my boys:

  1. My Mama was thoughtful! She was incredibly present with her people and truly saw how she could add value to their everyday life. She used her “spidey sense” to buy the best gifts. She really saw people and what they needed. Most days, she was the gift people needed.
  2. My Mama was a “mover”! She was cycling in Mallorca, Spain eight months before she died, cycling up to 90km per day. If she said that she was going to do something, she did it. Plain and simple. Joanna, “I was to learn Spanish!” Boom, at 65 years old she signed herself up for a Spanish class. My Mama was an athlete her whole entire life from living on the farm, to playing basketball, to being one of the first moms to join a gym and finally her passion for cycling, hiking and cross country skiing. My mama was woman of her word and a mover to boot.
  3. My Mama was creative! Whether it was when she was quilting, creating in the kitchen or working in her garden, my mom always added her own flare to what she was doing. She was never afraid to try new recipes or create something with our boys, even if it involved sparkles. My Mama was a creator.
  4. My Mama was not perfect! She was the person who gave me permission to be perfectly imperfect. I saw her shed tears over the things that her relatives chose to do to her and I saw her unsure at how to respond. I saw her get angry and apologize. I heard her speak about other people and also then apologize. I watched her when I was younger as she moved jobs and share what it was really like to work as a teacher in an antiquated system. My Mama was a human “being”.
  5. My Mama was LOVE! At 7:00am in the morning when the boys wanted to watch cartoons, she would let them crawl into bed with her. Whenever we showed up at her front door, my Mama always gave the very best hugs and made space for us in her life. Every time, I needed to talk with her, she listened. She listened really, really well. Time. Hugs. Listening. And so much more than my simple words can convey. Who could ask for anything more? Pure love!

Today on December 26th, we put on our skinny skis and went down the nordic trails to remember my Mama and my boys’ super Nana. We talked about the legacy that she has left for each of us. We cried. We laughed. We sent a balloon up to heaven. In rememberance. As a symbol of our connectness and the legacy that will never leave each of us.

With gratitude for every moment that I could spend with my Mama here on earth.

For the legacy she left.

With gratitude for the Mama that I now get to be for my boys.

For the legacy I will leave.

Thoughtful.

Mover.

Creative.

Imperfect.

LOVE.

And the greatest of these is love.

Unconditional.

Unwavering.

Unforgettable.

LOVE.

Remembered on the trails today.

And every day as we live out our legacy now!

Leave a beautiful, imperfectly perfect legacy my friends.

Love, Joanna

Be Keeping SH*T Real

There is a pervasive message in our culture that is saying “stay positive”, “think positive”, shift your mindset to be more positive and everything will be AWESOME!

Those that know me, know that I do have a positive mindset, but I did not, I repeat, I DID NOT, get there by being positive all the flipping time.

Rails and Trails, 2018

Let me tell you a little story about these three geniuses above:

My boys were 7,4 and 2 years old when my mom was dying. This grief experience would become the greatest gift that our family has been given! Plus, isn’t it amazing to know that we all having the incredible Nana waiting for us in heaven. When we were given this gift of grief, I spoke with my counselor, a tremendous amount, about how we grieve as human beings She taught me, and my children showed me, that the very best grievers are actually children. What they do is feel things very deeply, stay in each moment and move in and out of grief very quickly. This was exactly our experience. They would see or remember something from Nana, wham, the tears would come. Then they would see their favourite LEGO and wham, they are smiling and playing again. My counselor taught me that the best thing I could do for them, and myself, was to sit with them in their grief, feel things with them and wait for them to shift or helps them slowing shift after being present with them. Rarely, did I need to do anything but merely sit and be present with them.

Imagine this same grief journey, if I constantly put on a positive face, ignored their feelings and told them to be positive. “Just be positive” said over and over and over again.  In a child’s world, this would be completely invalidating their feelings and not give them the permission to feel or grieve. I wonder what counselling they would need later in life to get over not feeling the feelings they had during this time?  

This year is going to be our fifth Christmas without my marvellous mama and I must admit that I have become an expert at negotiating grief. I sit with myself. I feel things deeply and then gently move myself when I know I am ready.  I cried in the pool this morning while swimming lengths. I feel the feelings, I let the tears flow. 

Germany, 2003
Robyn’s wedding, 1998

I am blessed because I can now see and sense this grief process working in others and I easily give them space to move through the process. We do this often with relationships, situations, and even with our food.  I can see people giving themselves lashes for not being positive enough or at all.  I can see people trying so hard. 

This brings me back to the positive rah rah that is overpowering our culture.  I WANT TO BE A PERMISSION BEARER.  As I observe and grow a business in this culture of a constant positivity, my message has clearly become “keep sh*t real”. The more honest my customers can be with me, the more I can walk with them. The more we can sit with each other in the real sh*t that exists in this world, the more we can move each other into positive places. We have to sit together, listen together and then move!

Feel the feels. 

Sit in them. 

Then look, seek and find solutions and that positive place. 

When you look around and feel like sh*t because you aren’t positive enough, pretty enough, doing enough or…. <insert what it is for you here>… keep it real and sit with your sh*t. And realise that when I look around and see the pervasive positivism overwhelming my feed, it’s usually being put out into the world by men, young couples or empty nesters. You don’t often seen mom’s waking up to puking kids or having to put every single thing they had planned that day on hold because of a child with a fever, spewing the positivity message 24/7.

It’s about keeping sh*t real. Finding a way to keep taking one step forward every day towards where you want to go. Surrounding yourself with people who will cheer you on and be positive even when you have spit up on your shoulder and haven’t combed your hair.  Find that tribe that keep things real and can be positive when you can’t be.  

If you aren’t feeling that you are good enough, positive enough or that you are doing enough, STOP that sh*t.  Remember my lessons from grief that my boys taught me.  

God has given you many talents that you may not be able to see right now.

That’s okay.

God is taking you through a season that is going to give you great strength.

That’s amazing.

God is going to reveal everything to you in EXACTLY the right time.

That’s incredible.

BUT, life isn’t always okay, amazing or incredible.

But you “Cann”: 

Always hold hope.

Always brings peace.

Always hold love.

Always keep sh*t real.

Even when the positivity police try to overtake you.

Learn from my greatest teachers, my boys, in this upcoming season.

Sit exactly where you are.

Feel things deeply.

Move when you are ready.

Always hold hope.

Always bring peace.

Always hold love.

Always keep sh*t real.

😘 Joanna Cann