Category Archives: Grief

Be Opening the Treasure Box (Mother’s Day 2018) 

Five Mother’s Days! 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018 

Five specific moments to ponder the gift of grief that I received when my mom died.  

Five seasons of pondering, praying and seeing what my hamster mind would create with the unthinkable fact that I won’t have my mom’s physical presence with me until we meet in heaven. 

Five Sundays to remember that I made a decision that nothing bad would ever come from my mom’s death.  

And it hasn’t. 

Ever! 

The moments where the waves of grief come over me have helped me uncover treasure.  

The waves have washed away the debris and clutter.  Clarity has come.  

These waves have made me sit or lie down and ponder what pieces of gold that my mom gave me that I am now missing. 

This grief has given me the privilege to see my mom’s life in totality from a perspective I never imagined.   


As a daughter.  


As a neighbour.  


As a teacher. 


As a friend.  

Watching my mom’s life come to an end allowed me to see and feel in a new way!  I was able to see and feel her influence, to this day, as my fingers tap on this keyboard. My mom/Super Nana’s presence is still felt in our lives by those who knew her and people that now know us, but never met my mama.  

Below are the treasures I have discovered about my mom.  Miraculously, now ALL these treasures are held and given to me by different people in my life, especially Sexy Neck!  The light has overshadowed the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death. I am incredibly grateful for these treasures given in DEATH to me by my mom and now given to me in LIFE by my close family and friends.  


 The treasure box has been flung open: 

✨ My mama had a golden heart.  She was always open to others and felt things deeply.  Her heart was incredibly good. It was pure gold.  She was the most non-judgemental person you could meet.  (And she never commented on my choice of clothing!). 


✨ My mama had a silver stature and posture. She could have been a President of a large company or a Principal of any school, but instead she chose family first and help raise myself, my sister, my cousins, our friends and anyone she taught. We were given the ability to hold our posture no matter what came our way. She exemplified this.   She even helped me keep my posture when I said “F*ck off” to our neighbour Chris H. by washing my mouth out with soap.   


✨ My mama had a shining smile and life-giving words that flowed from those lips. She always found something good to say, even when  people, in the same situation, may not have found something good to say.   I remember when she was close to the end of her cancer journey and we were talking about her having cancer and she responded, “Why not me, JJ?”  


✨My mama was clothed in humility.  Her volunteerism, going above and beyond in all her teaching job was a treasure for me that I now out on every day.  She created healthy boundaries but still often found ways to put others first.  We often had our cousins on family vacations, neighbours over to swim and we even had one of my sister’s friends live with us for a year just because she needed a place to live.  She was always helping and connecting with her three siblings and often our summer holidays involved visiting them or having them at our house.   She was incredibly thoughtful and now I aim to be a magical memory maker, like she was for our family.  

(My mama always made homemade birthday cakes for me and then my boys birthdays.) 

✨ At the bottom of my mama’s treasure chest after all that gold, silver, shining words, and cloths of humility, I have found nuggets. 

Not the nuggets that my boys like to talk about, but the nuggets that stick with you that you pass onto your children.  Well, I guess in some way my boys did get their nuggets from me.  My mom’s words about these specific topics still ring in my mind: marriage, parenting, the cycles of teaching, friendship and life.   

💥 Only boring people are bored.  

💥 Don’t share anything that’s negative with her (or anyone) about your marriage because they will remember and you may not tell them how you worked it out.  

💥 Don’t be so hard on your oldest child. 

💥 You are a great mother.  

💥 Wash your hands before you eat. 

💥 The same issues in teaching cycle around and around, just wait for it to correct itself. 

💥Find friends who love the same things you do.  

💥 Be a good person.   

💥 Make your bed.  (I have to admit that I still make my bed, but I really could care less if my boys make theirs.) 

💥 It’s never too late to do anything.  (My mama got her teaching degree in her late 40’s, took Spanish classes after my cousin moved to Spain and was cycling with a group in Mallorca, 90km per day, eight months before she died.) 

💥 Make no excuses.  Find a way to do what you want to do or ask for help.  (I am not very good at asking for help, but I am working on that!) 

💥 Be kind.  Work hard. Make shit happen.  

💜 MOM 💜

Her treasure box is open. 

Feel free to take what landed on you today.  

I thoroughly love all the treasures I have personally have been given and continue to discover.  

Thank you God that light always prevails.  

Always look for light, my friends!  Even in the darkness, you will find a sliver.  

This is my wish as we all celebrate Mother’s Day in our own way! 

Take something from the treasure box of my mom’s life.

A golden heart. 

Silver stature. 

Shining smile. 

Cloth of humility. 

Nuggets.  So many nuggets.  

With gratitude for all the women in my life who have my mother’s loving, vibrant and thoughtful heart!  I am blessed.  


😘 Joanna 

Be Having Spongy Strategies

A little while ago, I went on my facebook live to talk about “standards” and got all us thinking about whose standards we are living by.  Our parents? Our culture? Our teachers or coaches?  Our pastors?   In the video, I also talked about: “What is the standard of being a good person?”.  Being a good person used to be my standard.  Now, my standard is LOVE, giving love. Freely, without barter.  Like these words that I pour out through my feelings and thoughts into this blog.  Giving freely with no expectations of any behaviour. I encourage you to listen to this facebook live and ponder your own personal standards.

After considering my own standard for living life, I became overwhelmed with depth of feeling about what I was dealing with in my daily life. These past weeks have been a deep, cherished growing time.   I work part time as a Physical Education teacher, I run a full time nutrition business that I am very passionate about.  I am loving on an elderly labrador retriever.  Add on to my plate running a VRBO guest house, creating time to write and workout all while pouring love and being present to three beautiful boys, that will give you a small snapshot of daily life.   As my husband has been travelling in Asia the last few weeks, my sponge has gotten more and more full.  I can tell that the sponge has become too full, as one night I yelled at my boys to put on their pajamas.  Really!  Yup, yelling, crying, feeling disgust and not being open are my ways of knowing my sponge is becoming full! Do you know your feelings that arise as your sponge gets saturated? And what the f does one do with those feelings?

Let me give you the privilege to share what I did this past week to make it to the end of the week still upright, continually smiling and still living within my standard.

Every day I move my body.

In some way.  Anyway.  Kitchen dance party or going to the gym.

I find a way.

Laugh.

Find someone who always makes you laugh or listen to something.

Find a way to laugh.

Bath.

Showering helps too!

There is something that is very refreshing and soothing about water.

Even though your sponge is full, find a way to get water moving around your body.

Limit your input.

For one day this week, I did not check any type of social media.

I purposely stayed in the “real world”, present to what was going on around me.

I found a way to have less input and more me.

Go within.

Pull the curtain back.

Look in the dark corners.

Thank those places that brought out the anger, the tears, the disgust.  Allow them to be.

That’s where I find me.

Hiding in the back, around the corner.  Truly me.

Live through the spongy times.

Fully awake to what you are feeling.

Knowing they will take you to a deep place.

A place to learn, to grow, to create roots to keep you from blowing over in the stormy weather.

A place to create an even larger sponge to deal with what comes your way in life.

A place to feel deeply.  Look deeply.  Be Deep.

Time to rinse out that sponge.

With one deep breath.

With the “spongy strategies” from the gift of grief from my mama.

Move.

Laugh.

Water.

Limit.

Go within.

xoxo Joanna

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 Having a New View 

When do you feel your knees shake or your mouth turn to sandpaper?  What makes your mind spin with emotionally charged random thoughts? 

For me, up until today, it was that building with the gigantic H on the top of it. Yessiree Bob, the hospital. 

Knee shaking. 

Sandpaper mouth. 

Mind blowing. 

Emotional muscle building hospital. 

I walked through seven years, um I mean days, of hospital time with my mom exactly three and a half years ago. If you followed my blog back then you know this meant pain, excruciating pain, worried nurses who thought they were going to kill my mom with pain meds, a stolen chair, sleeping on said chair and a final ambulance ride in the snow with my mama to the incredible hospice house. 

Hell 

Healing.  

Stretching. 

Restoring. 


Today, I walked into the hospital to see another dearly beloved family member.  I didn’t want to go, but my peeps are so much more important than any discomfort that I may feel.  I put on my armour, remembered what I learned in my last journey and walked through the doors.  

Walked through the doors with a “New View”, knowing that I had experiences that could help, a story that could support others and the keen sense to find tea, be in the right place at the right time and know the questions to ask when that magic right time happens. 

Shit, I have learned something and grown into it!  

I walked through the valley of he shadow of death, embraced it, rowed the waves of grief through it and now I can see the sun! I can see hope!  I can see a completely New View.  

Standing strong. 

Calm, steady words. 

Mind calming. 

Emotional muscle built hospital. 

The gift of grief keeps on giving and will for the rest of my life. My mom’s life and death had been one of my greatest teachers.  It brought me to my knees and helped me learn to stand.  Let this five all my fellow grief journeyers hope.  

Standing in my truth. 

With my experience. 

Soaring in my gifts. 

With my journey. 

Soaking in my New View. 


With love and gratitude for all that I can do and share. This post is dedicated to a beautiful couple who are our role models and the hospital that is supporting them in their journey. 

Be Learning About Shame/Guilt 

Brene Brown is the shame expert in our generation, but I want to add my two sense as shame has been my game for most of my life.  I have been shamed, shamed others and watch people shame.  It’s powerful emotion and one that can be used as a tool to destroy! 

Your spirit.  

Your belief in yourself. 

Your belonging.  

Your being.  

First, let’s talk about the difference between shame and guilt to get this emotional, mindset roller coaster rolling down the track.  


For me, the difference between shame and guilt involves the external versus the internal.  Have you every had anyone ‘put’ something on you, that’s most likely shame.  My most recent example was when someone criticized what I said during a conversation they overheard and then, without me asking for feedback, they told me what I ‘should’ have done.  When I get ‘should’ on, I know it’s shame.   Someone is trying to tell you what to do and wielding the shame sword to get you to do it.    My father recently told me that “I thought mom and I had brought you up better than that.” Yup, I am 43 years old and that is called good ‘old’ shame.  

No should.  

Just could.  

No shame.  

Just guilt.  

No swords. 

Just freedom.  

Guilt for me is a super power that comes from within.  It moves you to deeper places.  It helps you grow.  It’s the feeling inside, “Oh, I could have done that!”  You realize your mistake and seek answers to make it better for next time.  It completely happens within.  It could have been triggered by an external event or conversation but no one ‘put’ anything on you.  It’s 100% coming from you.  This happened recently with something I ate.  I felt guilty afterwards because it wasn’t fueling my body but instead was feeding an emotion.  My guilt allowed me to move into a new place thinking about fuel versus feeling foods.  

Your spirit. 

Your belief in yourself. 

Your belonging.  

Your being.  

Free to live your life.  

Free to make mistakes. 

Free to listen within. 

Everyone living without shame ‘put’on each other.  

Free to get off the shame roller coaster.  

Free to step aboard the guilt train. 

Be Free.  

Be Enough.  

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 A Brut-iful Life!

img_8886 As I sit, ponder and let my mind wander, I think of all of you reading this 2017 message. Each of my Facebook friends and all 996 of you that follow my blog. I want to pour out extra love to everyone going through their sprinkling of brutal and beautiful as I did three years ago.  Couldn’t that be all of us?  Isn’t life imperfectly perfect?  What a brut-iful life we are living here in the stunning Okanagan Valley!  A sprinkle of brutal, but ALWAYS beautiful!

Three years ago, I walked with my mom as she was being released into heaven.  I walked as a daughter, an advocate, a pain reliever, a massager, a water getter, a midwife and had to make phone calls that I never thought I would have to, I think back at how brut-iful these moments were.  Brutal moments where I just have to lie down and cry and beautiful moments where I lie down and rejoice!  All magically weaved together into living each day with the gift of grief.

My boys were playing in their “Astronomer’s Lair” a few days ago, and I was very surprised to walk in and see them playing with old Tupperware bins.   I experienced one of my brut-iful moments when they proceeded to inform me that the extra bed was a place for their beloved Nana.  It was a lying down rejoicing and crying kind of moment!  The boys were 2, 4 and 6 when my marvelous Mama went to heaven, but she is still very much present in our lives!   It is slowly moving from brutal memories into beautiful moments.  Don’t underestimate your power to leave an impact on peoples lives!

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As I send  you wishes for an healthy, energetic, adventurous 2017 filled with dreams, may you savour all your brut-iful moments knowing that they are neither good nor bad, they just are.

Day by day.

Beautiful.

Brutal.

Memory-Making.

Healthy.

Living EVERY day.

Brut-iful living.

Brut-iful life!

Smooch, Joanna

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Be In Relationship or Right? 

As I lay my head down on the pillow, I ponder relationships, as I often do.  My peeps.  My random people.  All humans who crossed my path today.   

I shower gratitude over the people in my everyday life: our neighbours, our friends, our teachers, our coaches, our secretaries, our service industry works.  

I feel sadness and wonder what I could do with those ‘lost’ relationships.  I wonder about what I could have done differently and I often come to the conclusion of: NOTHING. 

As I lay my head down on the pillow, I realize that some people would rather be right than be in relationship.  It is truly their way or the highway.  They actually like to be “highway patrollers” telling others how to drive on the highway of life.  For me, my patrollers, are no longer in relationship with me because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do.   I don’t want to drive my vehicle in their style.  They are right and I am wrong.   And I am totally okay with that! 

I may be wrong but I walk in freedom.  Complete and utter freedom.  As a recovering perfectionist, I am no longer afraid of wrong.  I am no longer afraid to fail.  I am failing faster than ever before as I learn about fueling my body and moving out of my comfort zones. (Because we all know that this is where the magic happens!)   I believe our greatest learning happens when we pick ourselves up after we fall down. I am no longer afraid of others judgements or insight in my wrongs.  I am too busy growing myself. I honestly don’t have time or energy to judge what others are doing. Plus, I value relationships over being right. 

I love my peeps, where we can talk honestly and opening about where we are at.  Our lives aren’t all glossy like a magazine cover, it is like a gorgeous diamond bracelet with the shine and shadows.   No one is striving to be right nor wrong but to be in relationship.  

Loving. 

Laughing.  

Learning.  

Living.  

In relationship! 💛

(This post is written in celebration of a group of women who met this morning to share the life and death of their beautiful mamas! #griefgirls) 

Be Walking out your Grief 

It is such a privilege to walk with someone and hear their story about living through the death of their precious mama.  

This is a treasure. 

It is an incredible gift to hear how someone is truly feeling about their life on any given day because of packed scheduled, presentations, or sleepless nights. 

This is rich.  

It is profound to get to know so many people negotiating grief while experiencing divorce, death, dog bites, loss of jobs, moving… The list is endless.  

This grief journey is priceless. 

I am blessed to be having these deep conversations on a daily basis now that I have been sitting in my own gift of grief. 


I am now learning to walk it out.  

Honesty, most days I still want to hide.  

I am broken inside. 

I am softer and more affected by life.  

My heart leaks out of my eyes at unexpected moments, like today when beautiful Crystal told me she was proud of me.  

I want to lie on my laundry room floor and pray and wonder and ponder and rest.  

But, I know I need to walk it out. 

My lying down days are gone.  

I have lying down moments, like today in Superstore, which I still really enjoy. They no longer need to humble me for the whole day. 

I get out and walk. 

I talk. 

I swim. 

I write and play with words.  

I run. 

And I talk to people, lots of them because I love people.  

I bike.  

I workout.  

I do this to keep working things out. 

My body moves. 

My relationships grow. 

My minds ponders.  

My gift of grief keeps unpacking itself.  

Into this deep place where I am now able to have the privilege to walk with others.  

In their grief.  

On their own personal journey.  

Walking it out.  

What a blessing. 

I am blessed.  

I am enough. 

Each breathe. 

Each day.  

I am enough.  

Be Working Out to Work Things Out 

It was snowing this morning when I woke up. 🌨

Large. 

Fluffy. 

Snowflakes.  ❄️

It was cold. 

I lifted my head off the warm pillow, put on my work out clothes and headed out the door. 

Gloves and toques on. 

(Sidenote: sending love to Joan and Christina this morning💜) 

And then I ran.  

On the road, around the trails, under the ski lift.  

I ran to work things out this Thanksgiving weekend. 🍗

I work out as much for my body as for my mind. 

I have encountered grief many times in my life through friendships lost, moving, injuries, and the loss of my beautiful mama. 

I have watched people journey through grief during the process of divorce, their children aging, losing a job, gaining weight, not getting a contract and even not meeting a business goal.  

Grief is a daily journey.  It is a daily gift to take us to a deeper place as human beings. 

Awake.  

Feeling. 

Beings. 

In this grief that I have felt and witnessed through others, I see that we have FOUR choices, daily, sometimes moment by moment choices: 

1. First, we can numb ourselves with an outside substances or activity.  I tried nightly alcoholic drinks for awhile after my mom died, my greatest grief journey, but this just numbed me even more, so now I rarely drink.  If what you are doing is not allowing you to feel, then consider taking a break from the substance or activity.  I take rest days now in my workout weeks, thank you Coach Garry.  This has helped me tremendously as I choose not to numb. The greatest gift we have is to feel.  

2. Create a life of busyness and be a human doing is a second choice that I had to ponder and overcome.   This perpetual busyness allows us to keep going, feeling productive, going through the motions, but not living as a human being.  This “get ‘r done” girl knows this one well. I now purposely take time throughout my day to pray, meditate and be. It is important to feel as we live with grief. 


3. A third choice would be putting our ‘stuff’ onto other people.   We need to be 100% owners of our grief journey.  No two peoples will look the same.  We can walk side-by-side momentarily with people, but we won’t always walk together for long.  The feelings and thoughts that grief unfolds is as unique as each individual person.  Be gentle with yourself.  Be gentle with others.   Anger showered towards other people is an energy suck.  Bless and release.  Thoughts about others journeys is pointless.  Bless and release.  Telling others how it will be is a lie.  No one knows what grief will unfold for people. Who knew I would become a triathlete author who loves loves loves helping people be their healthiest selves through a nutritional system I discovered one November day at boot camp? We can only share where we are coming from and then allow other grief journeyers choose what will fit for them.  

4. We have one more choice, that I see on this journey. Sit, lie, walk, workout and stand in our grief.  Feeling it deeply with gentleness. Allowing ourselves to go to a deeper emotional place in whatever ‘position’ helps you grieve.  

My laundry room is my sanctuary.  This is where I lie. A place where I can be alone and lie on the floor, feeling my emotions. I lay there yesterday, crying, feeling, thinking and shifting.  I reached out to a divine-inspired friend, shared my heart, felt, prayed and then shifted my state.  

This morning, I ran. I worked out to give my mind time to churn. Space to think about my mom who always created magical holiday memories.   Time to be in nature and allow myself to feel.  

And now I stand.  I am ready to celebrate this magical thanksgiving weekend with my boys.  I have proactively processed and know I can react to anything that comes my way. 


Numbing. 

Busyness. 

Owning. 

Feeling. 

Our grief. 

Our feelings. 

Our journeys. 

Walking alongside those fellow awake, heartfelt people.  

Keep going my beautiful friends. 

Working out to work things out.  

You are not alone.