Category Archives: Family

Be Living a radical sabbatical

What does this radical sabbatical actually look like and is Sexy Neck working? Are we divorced? Where are you? What are we doing? These have been the pervasive questions over the last month as we have lived this radical sabbatical. Some people have been inspired, some people have thought we are crazy and others have just looked at us with wide eyes as we explain how we are living.

5 people.

Yes, Sexy Neck and I are 100% in this together. (And not divorced)

900 square feet.

Condo living.

8 months.

On the top of a mountain.

At a ski hill.

With the cows.

Travelling to Europe and Asia.

Homeschooling.

Not volunteering for anything.

Taking a radical sabbatical from the life we previously knew in the city.

What does this radical sabbatical actually look like for our family of five?

The boys do formal schooling Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. This formal schooling involves the 3 R’s – reading, writing and math! And I am hitting them hard. Going over basic facts, teaching them grammar and helping them understand the basics of the english language. They are writing in a journal, writing stories and doing research. Our 12 year old is researching Ancient Rome and Tesla. Our 10 year old is immersed in simple/complex machines and robots. Our 8 year old learned everything he could about Bobcats. Did you know they pee in the water so that they don’t leave a scent? Previously, the boys have been in French immersion, so the older boys have been doing their math in french and our youngest continues to write in french. But, I haven’t been stressed about it. If we decide to dive back into french next year, we will do a bootcamp in the summer to help them get back up to speed. This year is all about filling in some educational gaps that I see and having fun learning about what they are interested in.

Now, to talk about Sexy Neck! Right now, he is in Mexico City sitting at a fair, promoting his school district to families considering international education. And he LOVES it! Sexy Neck isn’t taking a radical sabbatical this year, but we are one hour closer to his work, so he does have a shorter commute! We are looking forward to joining him on a few trips that he is going to be taking for work. Sexy Neck LOVES his job and couldn’t imagine leaving it. It is truly what he was meant to be doing: a combination of education, business, travel and working with people. His dream life! We are happy that our radical sabbatical works alongside his dreams and brings him freedom from his commute and a more relaxed mountain life. He also loves backcountry skiing, which he can do every day after work in the winter. Truly his dream life!

Everyone who knows us, knows our backgrounds in Kinesiology and our love for physical literacy. All of our boys have done gymnastics from very young to eight years old. After eight they could choose to continue in gymnastics and our two older boys have. They love the community of boys, their coach and being able to achieve their personal goals through gymnastics. Thus, our radical sabbatical involves two days per week commuting one and a half hours each way back to the city so that the boys can practice with their team. Other than gymnastics, our sporting life will involve exploring the ski hill we are living on and embracing every day of winter. The boys have a goal of skiing every single day of the ski season. We know it will be “Canntastic”!


Lots of people have been wondering about our daily routines. To recap, here are a few of our routines that we have established for this radical sabbatical:

The 3R’s Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. And yes the boys say it is hard. And yes, we do have a lot of fun and flexibility. The boys take a recess break when they choose and they also choose where they work within our 900 square feet. Sometimes it’s on the floor, on our bed, at the kitchen table and often it’s at their desk. Sexy Neck is teaching them guitar and I am doing the rest with their teacher and our friend, Michelle, from Traditional Learning Academy.

Sexy Neck is fully involved in his work as a Principal of International Programs. He continues to embrace his role working with his students, the homestay families, his amazing staff and of course travelling to promote his program.

The boys are continuing with gymnastics and loving every minute of it. It is very motivating and they love the goals they have set: our ten year old wants to do an 8 second handstand and our twelve year old wants to do a giant on the high bar all by himself. WOW!

Outside of these routines, I have been personally surprised by four different pieces of this radical sabbatical:

1. Our garbage and recycling has reduced significantly. From one large black bin of garbage per week, to one medium-sized black bag. To one large blue recycling bin every two weeks, to one medium blue Tupperware per week that I will sort at the recycling depot in about five minutes. This surprise feels pretty amazing.

2. It’s outstanding to see the people who have stepped up to support us on this journey. We know that it truly does take a village to educate our children. Not only did we take the boys to Barkerville, a town from the 1800’s to kick off the school year, we took them to Science World and the boys got a welding lesson from their beloved Papa in his beautiful garage. The two older boys learned to weld, drill, grind, sand, paint and create a rebar coat hook with their initial on it. This was really incredible to see!

3. Living in a condo with no balcony and no private outside space, I was worried about what our outside time would look like. If you know us, we spend a ton of time outside during a day, even when the boys were in brick and mortar school. The boys and I have LOVED the mountain life. We love the exploring on foot and by bike. We love the terrain. Sexy Neck has loved climbing to the top of the ski hill. Bring on the snow! I cannot wait to see what that life will be like covered in white!

4. As the daughter of a teacher and a teacher myself, believe it or not, schooling has always been a thoughtful, somewhat worrysome process. The interesting thing about homeschooling is that I am being more intuitive: watching the boys learn, seeing what lights them up and letting them lead. No yearly plans, just living in the moment and finding resources as I need them. No stress of the September startup: Wondering which friends they would be with and which teacher they would have. Throughout the boys schooling, I known the importance of a teacher and their influence on their students. We have been fortunate to have incredible teachers and we have grown through some excruciatingly inflexible and mediocre ones. I am incredibly proud and honoured to be my boys’ teacher this year for grades three, five and seven. We don’t know if we will continue homeschooling next year, but for this month, it has been magical. I have learned that my boys LOVE to learn. They have embraced all the new skills I have thrown their way, including making a meal (spaghetti and meatballs), taking them to my health and wellness conference (anyone need more energy, want to sleep better, perform better or get rid of your fluffy tummy I am your girl) and learning to sew (curtains for their triple bunk!) alongside those 3 R’s that I talked about. I have seen where my boys have gaps in their learning and I have been able to fill them: capitalization, divisibility rules, number patterns, phonics, oh my! My heart is full. And only two pencils have been thrown in the process by my ten year old! A boy after my own heart with his emotions right at the forefront. I feel very grateful for this time together. I am not surprised at how much I truly LOVE being their teacher.

On September 26th, we celebrate our youngest’s eighth birthday.

We celebrate one month of this radical sabbatical.

We sit atop this peaceful mountain and ponder the adventure to Europe in November.

The projects that we want to learn about and where our questions will take us.

I have always believed that the beginning of all knowledge is asking a question.

And I wonder where this radical sabbatical will take our family.

A band of brothers.

Sexy Neck.

A homeschooling entrepreneurial Mama

Walking on this path.

Every day into the unknown.

With routines, that are flexible.

With surprises along the way.

Watching who shows up.

What lights them up.

And what this radical sabbatical will look like.

I pray for more days like today.

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Dignity.

Grace.

Living our best days.

On this radical sabbatical.

xoxo Joanna

Be Creating a King/Queen Culture (Top 3 Tips)

Lessons are everywhere if we look for them! Especially lessons about the culture we want to create for our kids.

After watching my boys learn and negotiate playing ping pong with each other, I have become clearer on exactly what I want for the culture within my family and business. Imagine a little white ball going back and forth, off the roof and walls, teaching us about culture. Yup, that’s how I roll! Lessons are around every corner and at the end of every ping pong paddle.

Here are my three tips for anyone that wants to create a culture where everyone is treated like the royalty they are.

A king.

A queen.

Uniquely created.

Individually gifted.

God-given talents.

Royalty.

My King/Queen culture is:

1. Calm & Strong.

2. Focused & Fierce

3. Humble & Proud.

When my boys were hitting the ping pong ball back and forth, the boys that were calm and strong were the most successful. Flailing, getting annoyed, crying, having temper tantrums on the floor and flopping around like a a leaf in the wind, didn’t help move forward the skills my boys were trying to learn in ping pong. In my life, when I have allowed my emotions to run rabid and guide me, I am neither calm nor strong. In the culture I am creating, calm and strong must reign. The ability to be present exactly where you are, as exactly who you are. The ability to look at situations and what’s happening around me with a peace in my heart and knowing I can handle anything.

Calm & Strong.

Have you every played ping pong or tennis or any other racquet sport? How do some players just smash the ball into the corner of the court? How do they always seem to hit the exact spot that you can’t reach? They are one hundred percent both focused and fierce. They seem to not hear nor see anything happening around them but the object they need to hit. This is the culture I want to create. And something my oldest son has mastered in ping pong. He can really hit that ball. In this King/Queen culture in my business, the focus is first on the person being helped or served. Nothing else matters, I listen without judgement or preconceived notions. I am fiercely focused on finding out what they need and how I can help. Looking for that exact spot where they might have a nutritional hole that needs to be filled.

Focused & Fierce.

Lastly, in this culture the one that will be the most successful must be both humble and proud. When I was watching my boys play ping pong, I could sense the happiness and sense of pride in a shot well done and I knew that they were humble when they won. No showboating or boasting would have been tolerated by the other brothers. Isn’t it amazing to see people that love what they do, take pride in what they do, but are also willing to learn. I truly believe that having a humble heart that knows there is more to learn is such a beautiful thing.

Humble & Proud.

A culture of people willing to learn. A culture of people open to what’s happening around them.

Living as human beings that are:

Calm & Strong.

Focused & Fierce.

Humble & Proud.

In all areas of life, but especially while playing pingpong.

😘 Joanna

<Pop over to Instagram to say hi! @cannjoanna>

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 Finding Balance Again (Overconsumption has taken over!) 

Overconsumption rules the world right now and, in my opinion, is ruining the world. 

From the plastics that are flooding the earth and waters. 

To the devices that are flooding our brains and bodies. 

On to the food that is stripping our lands of minerals and then not giving our bodies what it needs even when we think it’s good for us. 

Overconsumption has taken over! 

Did you know that most teens now spend more time on devices than an adult spends at their full time job per day?  

Did you know that some family’s have their children signed up for activities every single day of the week? 

Has anyone else noticed that rarely do we talk about reducing or reusing what we consume, instead all our energy has gone into recycling?   

Tonight, I lift my glass and say cheers to finding a balance life. 

True balance. 

Harmony within and around. 

Time and space to be. 

Energy and effort to do. 

Balance between men and women. 

Testosterone and estrogen. 

Just enough.  

All around. 

In balance.  


Our three boys ages, 10, 8 and 6 receive four hours of screen time PER WEEK. Today, their brains were flooded with the sounds and sights of skiing on snow. Their bodies climbed trees, hammered rocks, played piano and even jumped on mattresses in the basement later in the day.  

My husband and I don’t allow screens anytime on Mondays and Wednesdays when the boys have activities.  The rest of the week, they are free to choose when they use their “tech time”.   They are open to choose how to spend their free time.  It is in these in between time that is so fun to see what they create. 

Imbalance is killing us. 

Overconsumption is killing our planet. 

Each of us, can find ways to create balance. 

Individually it is easy. 

Collectively it makes a difference. 

Balance in mind, within our bodies and through our spirit.  

Imagine this place of balance for you, what it would look like and feel like. 

Who would be around you? 

What would you eat? 

What activities and moments of stillness would flow through the day? 

What would you do tomorrow if you lived a day in balance? 

You ‘Cann’ do it. 

😘 Joanna Cann 

Be Untrainable (a post for my three boys) 

    Boys, there are some thing that I never want the world or anyone in the world to train out of you.  I watched all of you complete a triathlon on Sunday. Personally, I love how sports and being active can teach us about life.  I feel this to be particularly true about volleyball and Triathlon.  


                        OC- 5 years old 


    Volleyball will teach you how to deal with failures when they happen and get over them quickly.  It teaches you how to always work as a team and how to be a contributing team player, no matter the role assigned to you.  Volleyball will take you through a life full of emotions in only one match.  But oh, Triathlon, this teaches us even more about life.  


               CC – 8th birthday day 

    Triathlon teaches us so much about ourselves.  Three years ago, I wouldn’t even have considered doing one.  My mind was holding me back.  So that’s the biggest hurdle we need to overcome is our mind’s desire to hold us back from success and adventure.  With training, anyone can complete a swim, cycle and run triathlon.  


                      JC – 10 years old 

    Swimming in triathlon is a special part of the event because you can drown! Mentally, you need to overcome that thought of dying, overcome the affects of water and waves as well as “Just keep swimming!” as Dory likes to remind us to do.  Now, we get to cycling boys! The part of the event that could lead to injury.  Through contact with other racers or the road.  You may need to hold your composure with equipment failure or getting passed on the hills.  Always remember that the swim and cycle part are really getting you ready for the run.  Imagine the swim as your birth to elementary school years.   Cycling is that adventurous and fast teenage years.  The run is adult life. This is where the real magic happens.  Every little stroke in the water or on the bike has set you up for the run.  On the run one step at a time, you will need to focus. Neither looking back nor too far ahead.  The run, like life, is a time to savour and enjoy a race well done!  And you did this on Sunday!   You showed how you want to live your life and my prayer tonight is that no one will ever take these skills from you, all these skills that you exemplified during your triathlons.  

    Tenacity. 

    Drive. 

    Heart. 

    Intrinsic motivation. 

    Deep feelings. 

    Athleticism. 

    Creativity. 

    And oh did you love that Sun Rype buffet at the end! 

    Keep celebrating.  

    Keep being you.  

    Always be you! 

    Love your very proud Mama 

    Be Awake 

    Awake.  

    The world around me sleeps. 

    Calm, rhythmic breathing, like a heartbeat.  

    Steady.  

    Predictable.  

    Breath.  

    Awake. 

    Pondering the dying.  

    Their raspy, grasping breath, like a tight fist holding on.  

    Wavelike. 

    Unpredictable.  

    Breath. 
    Awake.  

    Allowing my thoughts to tumble.  

    My thoughts to jumble. 

    My heart to mumble.   

    Mumbo jumbo. 

    Awake.  

    Allowing myself to be, just as I am.  

    Awake.  

    Open. 

    Pondering.  

    Unafraid to feel. 

    Deeply.  

    Awake.  

    Alive.  

    Outside in. 

    Coming out of the fog of oversaturated information from the world around me. 

    Going within. 

    Fully alive and awake to what is happening around me.  

    Living inside out.  

    Rightside up.  

    Standing strong. 

    Weak in the knees.  

    Pondering a future on earth without one of my role models, my overcomers, my heros! 

    Awake.   

    Steady.  

    Feeling.  

    Inside out. 

    Facing forward.   

    Looking into the unknown.  

    Be Searching for Something 

    As I sit watching the sunset, I ponder that ‘something’ I search for.   That ‘something’ that will fill feelings of grief, sadness and overwhelm.  

    That space that I try to fill every time I open my phone to check Facebook. 

    The hole I avoid when I run away from what I am feeling.  

    The darkness I turn from every time I sit in numbness, not wanting to feel, not wanting to go down old trodden paths of pain.

    But sometimes life doesn’t give us a chance to avoid.  

    It allows us the privilege to sit up, to notice, to see our grief journey clearly and how much pain we have turned into gratitude.  

    This search for something that is really nothing outside of us at all. 

    We can’t avoid living life and why would we want to. 

    The privilege to be with our people, to see into the eyes of their souls and to get to know them on a deeper level. 

    Yes, Facebook could do that. 

    Walking away could help us reflect. 

    And that darkness I talked about, well, that only helps us see the brightness of the light.  

    See, I have learned to let go of my sense of judgement as things are neither good nor bad, they just are.  I have also learned to be present with what I am feeling, as these feelings are neither good nor bad, as well, they just are! 


    So, as you search for that ‘something’ today may you first look within your soul, your beautiful unique self sitting within you.  Resting in your spirit.  

    Being you! 

    Then may you look around you at those imperfectly perfect people around you. Building Knex, asking about the birds and the bees, reading books, playing with pillows… are what my people are currently doing. 

    Being them! 


    Search for that something that is already within you. 

    Beautiful.  

    Imperfectly perfect. 

    Neither good nor bad. 

    Just being. 

    Full of strength.  

    Overflowing with hope.  

    Sitting in the presence of His peace.  

    Knowing you are loved.  

    Searching for nothing. 

    Found! 

    *written for a special person in our life on this significant ‘something’ kind of day! 

    Be Leaving a Legacy 

    Words often can’t do moments justice, except maybe if you are an Inuit person who has fifty words to describe snow. 

    Today, I had an incredible moment where my mom showed her heart and the legacy that she has left myself, my boys, her family and her friends.  I pray that my words will do this moment justice.  

    Since my mom died three years ago, there are a few memory making places that I haven’t been back to because of circumstances or choice.  The beautiful Cottage Day Spa with the extraordinary human being, Pam, was one of those places I chose not to go.  The Cottage Day Spa holds a very special place in my heart as it is a place where my mom felt peace and was truly cared for, in body, mind and spirit.   Pam has a gift to share and a beautiful Cottage to share it in.  


    For my mom’s last birthday, I planned an elaborate surprise birthday party including a limousine scavenger hunt, poster collage, brunch at her favourite restaurant and an afternoon with Pam at The Cottage for a facial.  

    Jump forward three years and I hadn’t made an appointment to see Pam. Before Christmas of this year, was when I ran into Pam for the first time.  I hadn’t seen her in years.  I then ran into Pam a second time in the parking lot of our ski hill about a month ago and I knew it was time to go back for a visit. 

    Today, I stepped into The Cottage Day Spa.  The memories of coming with my mom enveloped me. She was always so full of joy coming here.  Truly free and truly happy. Today, I was shocked when I sat down and Pam pulled out this note from my file: 


    Before my mom died, she paid for my treatment today! Pam honoured my mom’s legacy gift to me from over three years ago and today I was given the most relaxing, kind, beautiful, mom-inspired facial.  

    Legacy. 

    Living legacy.  

    Loving. 

    Learning.  

    Giving.  

    Thoughtful.  

    Kind. 

    My mom’s legacy.  

    What will you be leaving as a legacy through your thoughts and deeds? 

    My hope is to leave a legacy of:

    ✨ My love of ALL people. 

    ✨ Being a river of money, constantly supporting and passing on. 

    ✨ Home being a place of peace and joy. 

    ✨ My desire to be strong and athletic.  

    ✨ My moments of creativity and inspiration through solitary actions of writing, painting and photography. 

    ✨ My gratitude for God’s divine moments in our lives woven through people, greatness, mistakes and living imperfectly perfect.  

    My legacy. 

    My mom’s legacy.  

    My inheritance.  

    My heart interwoven through her constant encouragement and presence in our lives. 

    Forever and always. 

    Amen. 

    Be Living Reality 

    Ask anyone I taught with, I was a reality tv junky. 

    Addicted? 

    Probably! 

    The Bachelor.  

    Big Brother.  

    American Idol.  

    Survivor. 

    At the schools I worked at, I used to organize Survivor Pools where we each would ‘be’ a character and we would see who would be the ‘Sole Survivor’! 

    Hours upon hours of reality tv, where my week would be organized around the specific day and hour the show would be on. 

    Survivor was Thursdays.  

    8:00pm. 

    5:00pm if you had an eastern channel!

    I loved it when my mom moved to town because she had that eastern time zone channel. 

    Yup, imagine revolving your whole week around a reality tv show?  I did it!  Yes, I did! 

    When my oldest, who is now nine, was four months old, I knew I had a wake-up call from tv land and I realized I had to make a decision.  

    I had just started maternity leave and was home full time with JC!  I was moving from an incredible, full 14 hour days as a teacher, to home and my Reality tv land.  Can you see where I was going?

    I knew I had to make a choice: watch reality from the couch or live it everywhere I went.   We decided to live it.  We stopped paying for cable television.  We started being intentional about what and when we wanted to watch tv shows on the Internet or via DVD’s.  We saw less commercials.  Our boys have rarely seen a commercial in their lives and often find them annoyingly interrupting to what they are watching.  

    (Sidenote: The constant Oil of Olay commercials on the children’s network, Treehouse, also persuaded me to cut cable. Did I want my boys to think that women’s faces looked like that?)

    Now, I live in reality every day with my brood of boys.  

    I live it everywhere I go.  

    Television shows and movies are rare. 

    Connecting with others and creating space to be is happening every day. 

    I have space to let my mind meander.  

    I have nothing ‘pulling’ me away from my vision of what I want my daily reality to look like.  

    My living ‘reality’ involves copious amounts of food in somewhat strange combinations, refereeing wrestling matches, going off the beaten path and lots of high energy activities.  That sounds exactly like reality tv, doesn’t it? 

    Survivor anyone? Who will be the sole survivor?  Some days it’s me!

    Big Brother? Me and my houseful of boys.  


    Really real. 

    Living life.  

    Awake.  

    Aware. 

    Alive.  

    Perfectly imperfect.  

    Being me.  

    In my reality.  

    Hmmmm…. maybe it’s time to get rid of Facebook?  But that’s really real, isn’t it? 😂

    Be Writing a Love Letter to My Boys 

    Dear My Boys, the ones my heart chose, 

    There is nothing on earth that I love more or am more proud of. 

    My “titles” of wife and mother are my DIAMONDS 💍.  

    When you calls me ‘love’, ‘sweetie’ or ‘Jo’, my heart melts. 💏 You are incredible to live with, dream with and be with.  it is such a gift to be able to hear your incredible ideas. 


    When I hear ‘Mama’, my heart soars. 🦋 You boys are my proudest achievements.  It is such a gift to be able to watch you grow.  


    My greatest 💃🏼 moments and memories involve you four.  

    My heart 💜 overflows as I write this.  

    I feel warm inside.  

    My mind is at peace.  

    Glory to God alone for this magnificent life we are creating together.  ❌⭕️❌⭕️

    Happy Valentine’s Day 2017 💋