All posts by Be Enough

Be Bawling your Eyes Out (At the Gym)

Who walks into their gym and bawls their eyes out?

Me!

Who sobs crocodile tears all over a dog?

Yup, that would be me again.

This week, I walked into the gym for a usual workout, it was squat day. I walked in carrying my shoes and water bottle and see the service dog that is often sitting on the mat by the bench waiting for his handler/trainer to finish her workout. I have never greeted the dog because I wasn’t sure if the dog was working or not. I saw the handler/trainer working out and asked if I could give her dog a little pet. She said, “Yes!”.

I proceeded to sit down and the dog looked me in the eye, like only dogs can do. Viola, tears start flowing, sobbing ensues and I am soaking the fur on the top of the dog’s head.

I did “get myself together” to do my workout, but I realize in hindsight, with a bit of a chuckle, that I probably needed that cry more than any workout!

The blessings of dogs.

Enjoy their soulful presence.

Their divine eyes.

Their knowing ways.

Their ever present love.

We are blessed to have had both our dogs for so long.

Be Savouring the Seasons

One of the secrets sauce of life, I believe, is savouring the seasons. Both the physical and metaphorical seasons that we go through.

We can’t change the climate where we live, so unless you are planning on moving, we all need to embrace where we live.

We can’t change what happens around us, so unless we can time travel or have out of body experiences, we all need to embrace where we live.

The amount of discourse on the weather, right now, I find slightly overwhelming and mildly humours. The physical season is affecting many people’s metaphorical season.

Do we not have better things to dialogue about?

Is it really that interesting that one of Canada’s cities was the coldest place on the planet for one day?

How’s your heart doing today? Isn’t that a gooder!!

What about snow? There are places in southern Canada that have had snow this week and their schools have been closed because of it. Welcome to Canada my friends.

This northern girl grew up in cold and with snow piled up to the roof. She had to embrace it all with big heavy mitts.

Now, I live in a balmy four seasons utopia where I truly can say I enjoy each and every season.

Winter.

Deepness.

Spring.

Growth.

Summer.

Flourishing.

Fall.

Gathering.

To embrace this season, this winter wonderland a friend and I flew away to the ski hill on Wednesday.

To hike…

To cross country ski…

And to skate…

As a friend once told me, there truly isn’t bad weather, just bad clothing.

Put on that bikini, hat and sunscreen.

Or those gumboots and rain jacket.

How about that comfy scarf and tall boots.

Or those wool socks and long johns.

Four seasons.

Winter.

Deepness.

Spring.

Growth.

Summer.

Flourishing.

Fall.

Gathering.

Embracing them all.

Creating freedom.

Controlling what I can.

Choosing to embrace and release the rest.

Being free.

Each day.

As the sun shines, snow falls, wind blows or rain rolls in.

Blessings poured over each of you as you live life in the season you are in.

😘 Joanna

Be Building a Big Heart

Happiest of Valentine’s Day to my beautiful peeps!

I have a gift to give you on this day and it goes waaaaaay back to my university days in the faculty of Physical Education at the University of Alberta.

Do you know how your body builds muscle?

When you workout with any type of weight, your going to create little tears in the muscle fibres. During your rest time, these little tears are going to be repaired. The body repairs them by adding more tissue around them, thus increasing the size of the muscle. Viola! Building muscles. Isn’t the body incredible!

Now walk with me as I take these words from my university days about building muscle and create a Valentine’s Day ❤️ metaphor for the most powerful and life-giving muscle, the heart.

Do you wonder how to have a huge heart besides doing cardiovascular exercise?

Do you ever hear people say “S/he has the biggest heart!”?

I know that these ‘big hearted’ people have something in common to create these huge hearts. I have seen it all around me through death, divorce, and destruction (physical and emotional).

I believe that when we feel things deeply and allow our hearts to be broken, we create little tears in the muscle fibres of our heart. During our feeling and healing time, these little tears will be repaired. I believe that the body repairs the heart by adding even more tissue around them, thus increasing the ability for us to feel things more deeply and have a HUGE heart. Viola!

Take those things in life that break you and allow them to build you.

Feel things deeply.

Allow the breaking to happen.

And know that your heart.

Your humanness.

Your empathy.

Your kindness.

Your ability to break.

Will all grow into the largest heart as you feel and heal.

Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️

😘 Joanna

Be Sharing a Song

🎵 This is what I do! 🎵

I love seeing Mama’s who live “on purpose” in their day whether it is at work or at play.

They plan, schedule and make it happen and when someone gets sick their is no more lapping.

They shut things down, they hold the fort tight and just hold their baby knowing it will be all right.

No striving or goals will be checked off on that day, they just sit still and maybe have a play.

With the ones they love.

That override it all.

With the ones they love.

That they help hold tall.

With the ones they love.

They see them through and through.

With the ones they love.

They know inside what to do.

When things are flowing, the checklist may be long, but us Mama’s know that we need to be strong.

We need to hold space and show up with grace.

When we are focused and fierce and know exactly what to do, there is nothing that will stop us, not even the loo.

We need to have goals and show up as we are.

This is what I do!

With the ones I love.

That override it all.

With the ones I love.

That I help hold tall.

With the ones I love.

I see them through and through.

With the ones I love.

I know inside what to do.

I love being a Mama who lives “on purpose” in my day whether it is at work or at play.

There is no shame in doing, as long as you are being you!

There is no harm in being exactly who you are.

Show up.

Be you.

With the ones you love.

Show up.

Be you.

With the ones you love.

(A song written in the gift of grief, with fond memories of our Lab, Summer. May this bless you to be present and to live fully as a human being, not just as a human being. Be enough. Be free. 😘 Joanna)

NOTE: I started writing songs after my annual conference for my nutrition business in NASHVILLE in August. These songs just started pouring out of me there. What fun writing songs are… cannot wait to hear someone sing them!

Be Learning Life Lessons from a Lab

I was a cat girl growing up. Now, I am a lab girl for life!

I loved cats independence. Loved their gentle purrs and how they would sleep with you in the most obscure ways. My cat, Boots, loved sleeping right on top of my neck or chest.

Enter in Sexy Neck into my life in 1992 with a visit to his family home which was definitely a dog family. Their little dog, Mandy, was a sweetie. Someone to walk with, someone to greet you happily every single time you walked in the door and a great companion for everyone.

This cat girl growing up didn’t stand a chance! Nineteen years ago, I became a dog person, more specifically a Labrador retriever girl. My life would never be the same!

Over these years, I have had the privilege to learn from our two labs, KT and Summer. These are the specific lessons from Summer as this was a very Holy day celebrating her life.

💫 LIFE LESSONS FROM A LAB 💫

💫 Enjoy all the seasons, especially winter. Rolling around and sliding down slight inclines on your side is especially fun!

💫 Wag your tail at everyone but bark at the mailman.

💫 Always be on the lookout for food. You never know what you will find. Even things that you need to lick off the pavement are enjoyable.

💫 Be a baby watcher. Stand as close as you can with your wet nose on the baby blanket. Diapers are the best things to smell on babies. (We called Summer our “Nanny dog”.)

💫 Pour out love to the humans CLOSEST to you. Always be happy to see them. Always greet them at the door. Always look up to them with adoring eyes, especially when they have treats for you.

💫 Love children. All children. Always love those children that will rub your ears, your belly and play fetch with you.

💫 Take your master cross country skiing at all hours of the day. Be their companion and confidante listening to all their stories. Don’t get stuck in the powder!

💫 Be content being with, playing with and taking care of your core group of people. It’s the simple things.

💫 You are never too big to cuddle or have your ears and belly rubbed.

💫 Don’t leave the food you like unattended on the table. It might disappear! (This is a lesson from my boys: Nine and eleven year old. This is something Summer just started doing last year, which was ironic because her arthritis was so bad that we had to lift her into the car. That piece of toast on the table, though, no problem!)

💫 Don’t trust strange dogs.

💫 Be present

💫 A little mess doesn’t matter.

💫 The stuff you leave behind is meaningless. It’s the memories, the cuddles, the smells and the moments that create a MAGICAL life!

🙏🏻 LIFE LESSONS FROM A LAB 😘

Magical memories with this puppy: swimming, always being happy to see us, chasing golf balls, cross country skiing, eating every crumb off our floors, shedding a small dog every day, being my comfort and companion, witnessing the birth of all three of our boys…

Thank you faithful friend. Thank you for the life lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I will miss you every day!

February 5th 10:28am 💜 Summer 🙏🏻

Be Talking About Death (Green Burial)

There are people in your life that show you how to live well and die well. People that you have the privilege to watch come full circle in life.

My gift of grief and my true knowledge of the circle of life was given to me by my mama in 2013 and if you have followed my blog the last decade, you know her beautifully, deep story begins here.

This blog isn’t about my mama’s journey, but about another woman, and her thoughtful husband who brought such life and wisdom into Steve and I’s life. These wise and kind people are Colleen and Murray. Sexy Neck’s Grandma and Gramps.

See, when my mom died, it was a shitstorm of 25 days. Truly. My sister was on holidays in Australia. It was Christmas time. As a family, we had never talked about the possibility of my mom dying even though she was living with a very serious cancer diagnosis for over six months. It’s a perfect example of “seeing things how we are, not how they are.” We had no plan. No map. No idea what to do. It was the perfect storm for chaos and overwhelm.

GG and Gramps showed me how different death and celebrating a life can be. Gramps died one and a half years ago from cancer, within two weeks of being diagnosed. GG has been living with Alzheimer’s for over a decade. GG peacefully died a few weeks ago.

It was wonderful. A true celebration of lives well lived. Gramps was cremated. GG wanted a green burial. Therefore, in this picture Gramps lies with GG in the most beautiful wicker basket. The funeral home had never done a green burial before. I think they were as curious as us all. But GG and Gramps had a plan and the family, Linda, Ron and John, just had to follow the plan.

It was beautiful. The pastor shared many special memories. We saw family and friends we hadn’t seen in years. The great-grandchildren (my boys and their two cousins), an uncle and aunt, their great-uncle and his partner even went on a scavenger hunt looking for other relatives in the cemetery. Gramps had brought their spot to be laid to rest many, many years before.

What a privilege to watch Gramps and GG’s lives to be celebrated. What a gift to have them in our lives.

Now, the journey becomes personal. What do I want. How can I make things beautiful and simple for my family. It is with one hundred percent certainty that I know we will all die sometime in the very distant future. I know that I want to live and die well. Really well.

Thank you for the gift Gramps and GG! We love you. We miss your presence in our lives and we will miss our visits at The Quay.

Off to talk to my family about where to spread my ashes and the celebration of life that I want to take place in a gymnasium with bouncy castles and cotton candy.

Be a Toastmaster

Do you feel like you have to increase your life insurance or at least put on extra deodorant when you need to speak to a group of people?

Have you heard of Toastmasters?

Are you afraid of public speaking?

Did you know Toastmasters started in 1924?

Do you find it difficult to listen?

Do you know you have a unique perspective to share with the world around you?

When a mentor of mine told me about his over twenty years with Toastmasters, I was curious. I had never heard of it, nor did I know what it was even about. After being asked to speak in front of adults at my company’s events, I knew I needed to checkout a Toastmasters meeting. Speaking to children is no problem for me. I even find it fun and feel like I can be one percent myself. Speaking to adults, makes my face turn crimson red and the sweat to start flowing down my back.

Thanks to Vic Lindal’s encouragement and support, I googled a local meeting time and went. The meetings are an hour long and there is actually a timer to ensure that we don’t go over time. There are prepared speeches, humour, impromptu conversations, evaluations and amazing growth that happens at every single meeting.

I have regularly been attending meetings for over a year. Jumped this September into the role of Secretary Treasurer. I can honestly say that Toastmasters has changed the trajectory of my personal growth, not only in my public speaking, but my ability to listen and lead small groups with growth.

Last fall, I was asked to speak, with a microphone in hand, to two hundred pre-service teachers and I loved every minute of it. This spring, I am preparing to speak to a thousand plus people about technology and our children at a local university. Speaking has become a place of peace and joy for me.

This last Wednesday at our Toastmasters meeting, I was the Toastmaster, the person who runs the meeting! We had the theme of Winter Wonderland and it truly was the most fun I have ever had as a speaker and leader. I introduced the “Toasties” who had prepared speeches. I kept things flowing and managed to keep us exactly on time.

Now that you have a bit of knowledge about Toastmasters, I encourage everyone to seek out a local meeting to attend to see what its really all about. See how it feels for yourself. You receive three meetings for free and the vibe at every meeting is different in every club. Our OC Toastmasters Club is fun, kind-hearted and growth-focused. We love and desire for everyone to contribute and bring their unique gifts to the meetings.

Now, I must come back to that last question I asked at the beginning. That one about your unique gifts. Find a way to feel comfortable sharing with others what you are passionate about and the unique gifts that God has given you. They are there, I promise you. If you can’t see them, talk to me and I will help you discover them. Once you know what they are, learn to share them, speak them out and listen to the gifts of those around them.

What a journey!

What a life!

Thank you Toastmasters for being the impetus for even greater learning and growth that I could imagine.

Be Giving Four Tech Tips to Parents (speech preparation)

In April, I am going to be sharing my experience with technology and our three boys to a group of parents, professors and community members at the local University. I will be on a panel with four experts that have immersed themselves in learning and being awake to technology.

Here is my speech, your comments are appreciated:

When I was growing up I had a neighbour named Michael. He was not allowed to eat gum, candy or anything that had sugar in it. When he became a teenager, he always seemed to have a piece of gum in his mouth as soon as he walked down the end of his driveway. He was focused on when he could have his candy and gum. He was a sugar zombie. As I now raise three boys in a overtly technologically driven world, like sugar was for my generation, and ponder them as teenagers, this has been in the forefront of my mind. As parents, my husband and I always “start how we want to finish”. We don’t want to do anything that won’t help our young children grow into adults.

Our discussion around technology began when our youngest was four months old and I flipped on a children’s television channel and saw an Oil of Olay commercial. I asked myself if I wanted my son to grow up thinking that women looked like that? The answer was no and the cable was taken off the television. Our boys are now 11, 9 and 7. They have access to technology but have maybe seen the nightly news five times in their entire life. My husband and I have come up with four guiding questions or tips about technology that have helped us as we parent our boys.

BUT, before I share these tips, I want to give you a bit more depth of insight about our vantagepoint as parents. All of the information in the world, is now in our pockets, we can also take pictures, communicate immediately, count our steps and even open our garage door. When we grew up, we had to access a library, find someone, or have a gigantic set of encyclopedia Brittanica on our shelves at home to access information. With this power in our pocket, we also know that it lights up our brains like cocaine. Oh it feels good! Technology gives us instant gratification. And we have observed that most people spend more time with their technology (than?) with any human being in their life. Therefore, we don’t take technology and our children’s connection to it lightly.

NOW, here’s our four questions we use to guide us. I implore each of you to steal our questions or be inspired to create your own. May you find a healthy relationship with technology for you and your family.

First, how do we want technology to look in our family knowing the average usage of screen time is 6 hours per day for children?

We held a family meeting to discuss this and we talked about our weeks as well as the activities that we live to do. We decided on 4.5 hour per week. Yup, per week. The boys created Tech Coins so that they could personally keep track of their time. We know they will soon be teenagers and I don’t want to be keeping track of their technology time. I want them to be able to know when enough technology is enough. Remember my neighbour and our motto for parenting: “Start how you want to finish”.

Second, we wondered how do we help grow creators using technology not just consumers. Like good food, alcohol, shopping… we believe you can consume too much technology. Have you ever met a young child that can only talk about technology? I believe we are dealing with an overconsumption! In our boys, 4.5 hours of technology per week, they do play a few games that are apps. They mostly will create skits that they video, make cartoons, build things or make stikbot movies.

Here’s the big question, number three: How do we engage in social media as a family? I use it sparingly for work, after I overcame my own addiction. My boys don’t do it at all. Common Sense Media recommends that children aren’t ready til 14 years old. And as my husband has worked as a Vice Principal at both a middle and high school, I don’t know if our boys will have access to social media before they leave our home at 18. Haha. My husband estimates that 70% of the issues he dealt with were at least partially connected to social media. It’s a platform that creates communication and a life that isn’t real. I read things personally, that I know that person wouldn’t say to another living human beings face but the technology had caused a disconnect. We are all about connection.

Our fourth question was one from my journey, do we crave technology? Can we leave it for an hour or two or a day or a two? I am proud to say that I now can. But now I am very careful to see if my boys are being seduced into the instant gratification of technology. If yes, we talk about it, then take a break for a day or two.

Image from http://www.rearfront.com

People worry about zombies coming to the earth, but I think they are already here… mouths dropped open, head down, phone in front of their face, running into poles on the sidewalk, ignoring every human being around them. To prevent a generation of zombies, I ask:

1. How does technology look like for you and your family? What do you want it to look like?

2. Are you using technology to create or consume?

3. How do you engage with social media?

4. Do you crave technology?

A few questions to ponder as we live in an ever changing technological world and strive to raise awake, creative human beings and not zombies.

Be Listening Within (mute the noise)

How many hours per day do you spend consuming other people’s beliefs, ideals, opinions?

Honestly?

One hour per day?

Four hours?

I used to fall into the scroll hole until I woke and realized what I was pouring into my brain each day.

Someone’s rant about the government.

Another person’s love of cats.

And someone else’s opinion on schooling.

Hours.

Every single day.

Now, I choose to limit my time going down the hole. My goal is thirty minutes per day of consumption.

I choose to be conscious of the opinions I am absent-mindedly fillings my heads with.

To be more conscious, at the beginning of 2019, I moved the apps around on my phone as well as unfriended/unfollowed many people. These two things worked for me.

Now, I am conscious and making space in my day to listen to the ideas swirling in my own head, to hear what’s stirring in my soul and to see where I want to go.

It has been a prolific start to 2019 as I have listened within and muted the outside noise. I encourage each of you to listen within, to the genius inside of you. We all have it. We are all one part of a great human race. Imagine if we all stopped and listened within.

But first we need to mute the noise.

Blessings as you begin this new year. 2019!

😘 Joanna




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