Category Archives: Wordsmith

Be Wondering about Water, Garbage and Plastic

🎶 Fish and Chips and Vinegar, vinegar, vinegar. Fish and Chips and Vinegar. Pepper, pepper, pepper salt. One bottle pop, two bottle pop, three bottle pop, four bottle pop, five bottle pop, six bottle pop, seven bottle pop, pop. Don’t throw your junk in my backyard, my backyard, my backyard. Don’t throw your junk in my backyard cause my backyard’s filled. 🎶

Anyone else remember this song? It came to mind today as I took a 75 kilometre (46.6 mile) bike ride around our beautiful valley this morning. I also pondered a few things about our beautiful, healing planet.

What would happen if every person in the world resolved never to buy a container that was composed of water or was water itself? Shampoo, lotion, laundry soap, cleaning products, juice, chicken broth are a few that come to mind. Imagine if products ONLY came in concentrated pacs or bars or granules and then we added the water to that product once we purchased it. I have no idea how this would work, as I sit here on a Sunday night, but I wonder how much money would be save in transporting costs and how would the world we live in change?

What would happen if everything that a manufacturer churned out, they also had to dispose of on their own property? How would our personal spending habits change if we had to dispose of every single product that we acquired in our own backyard? (Yes, now you see the connection to the song I was singing at the top. HAHA!) How would the cycle of consumerism profoundly change with these two patterns?

What would happen if every plastic product on earth was banned? I am not a scientist, but I have heard rumblings that recycling is the greatest myth of my generation. Plastics are mostly petroleum based and there are some scientists that believe that they are never destroyed, but simply get smaller… and smaller… and smaller…. (Yes, you can see what I am throwing out there!)

And that’s all for this Sunday night folks. Keep thinking, hugging and loving what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Restarting Your Health Journey – vroom vroom

I can count on my left hand those that know that in 2019, before Steve’s mom died, that I was training for an Ironman triathlon. My goal was to swim almost 4 kilometres (2.5 miles), bike 180 kilometres (112 miles) and finish it all off with a Run/walk a marathon (42 kms and 26 miles.). I gave up on that dream when she died and we spent every few weekends in Vancouver for a few months. 

I can count on no hands nor fingers those that know the depth of my physical and mental health struggles the last three years. Here’s the honest truth on what the big picture looked like for me:

🔆 Two summers of not wanting to get out of bed even when the sun streamed in my window. 

💪🏻 Two plus years of sheer willpower and “push” to get off my butt to exercise, which has been a first for me in my entire life. 

🧥700 days of hiding under extra-large clothing, even in 30 degree Celsius weather. 

🙈 700 days of hiding, to be honest. Not wanting to see people, run into people I know or even reach out to friends. 

🙏🏻Tried two different counsellors, neither were a good fit. (or is it “neither was”? hahha)

😩Reached out to no one nor shared with anyone the depth of the pit I felt that I had dug for myself. 

👀The heaviest weight I have ever been in my life, even more than my three pregnancies or after my mom died. (This sure doesn’t feel good!) 

And why I am writing about this now and what changed for me? 

Did I lose weight? Finally found a professional counsellor I could trust?  Started seeing other human beings, outside my work, on a regular basis? None of these things happened for me!  

Four things did changed for me and they all involved random conversations with other people when I stepped outside my four walls. The message I am going to share with my stories is simple: If you relate to any of the six points I wrote down above, don’t wait 700 days to reach outside of your four walls. Right now, listen to a podcast, text someone, go for a walk, ask your neighbour for an egg or simply reach out to another human being in any way that feels good for you. 

The four things that finally helped me make some really HUGE personal shifts took place over a six month period of time. 

First, I have always been someone who listens to podcasts when they do laundry or when I drive or go for a long solo walks. In October, I was introduced to a podcast that began THE shift. Mel Robbins, your twice weekly podcasts have been something that have given me so many tips, moved me to take some small steps and gave me the shovel that started my dig out of my mental and physical hole. Your life journey is powerful and I am grateful that you share with us all. I gave your ideas a try.

Second, in October, I was at my lowest point of this two plus year journey. I was in Vancouver and a friend knew I was in town. We went for a walk and she shared about an App that helped her with her eating habits and overall health. I gave it a try. 

Third, in April, Steve and I were out for our evening walk and we ran into some neighbours.  They shared that they were doing a “Couch to 5km” walk/run program that was simple and tailored to what you want to do. (This was humbling to consider as four years ago, I would run 20 kilometres for fun on a weekend!) I humbled myself and gave it a try. 

Lastly, at the end of April, I was at a teacher’s conference and three of my colleagues were sitting around a table. Suddenly, one of them shrieked about a job that was available at our school and said, “You would be amazing at that!”.  They immediately called over my boss and she wholeheartedly agreed.  I decided to apply. 

In all of these instances, I was showing up in the world as my unhealthiest, unhappiest, down in the lowest point in the second most challenging spot in my life.  (My mom’s death was and is still number one!) 

But, I just showed up and walked. 

I showed up and walked some more. 

And I simply did my job to the best of my ability! 

Now, things are shifting in radical and profound ways (more on that in a later post!). 

Be you. 

Exactly where you are. 

Show up, how and when you can. 

Reach outside those four walls around yours. 

And watch things unfold. 

Let my life be a testimony that there is always hope. 

The best is truly YET to come for me, Sexy Neck and our boys. 

And the best is YET to come for you too! 

Strap yourself in folks for what is to come and love what you do! 

Xoxo Joanna 

Be Framing Your Job with One Thought

 My one thought about my job today: I can be replaced in a minute.  The leadership of my school is so remarkable, I could probably be replaced in less than a minute.

Yes, it’s true for me and for you.  No one is irreplaceable in their work.

I recognized this shortly after my mom died and I fully grasped that she was truly irreplaceable.

Gone forever.

Never to be replaced.

Yes, we have had phenomenal people “fill in the vast gap” my mom left, but no one can restore her place in our lives as a mom and super nana.

A job is a unique arena of life as we all need to find ways to house and feed ourselves, but this great loss made me understand the temporality of work and life.

This morning, I am interviewing for a new job for the next school year. I am taking this mentality into my interview and I feel free.

Free to ponder.

Free to choose.

Free to open the door and see if this new opportunity will help me be a better wife, mom, friend, teacher and human being living on this earth.

Free to live!

So folks, as you ponder this next year ahead of you, what would you change if you knew you could be replaced in your job tomorrow, but never be replaced as a mother, father, daughter, brother, sister, cousin…?

Here temporarily.

Never to be replaced within your “family”.

Have an epic Tuesday and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be a Hard No to Retention and Acceleration

My current occupation as a teacher is as an Online Teacher with students in Kindergarten through grade nine. I help set-up individualized programs for my students, suggest resources, provide weekly feedback on learning samples, do home visits three times per year and write two report cards. In my world as an online teacher, everything is individualized for the student. Yes, every little thing! Parents are free to use any resource from any grade, with some supplementation when needed. Students can work on their individualized plan throughout the year or intensively for months and set-up the schedule that works for their family’s rhythm and any activities that they choose to schedule.

Sidenote: I LOVE THIS HOME LEARNING LIFE!!!!!

In the last three years, I have worked with over twenty-five different families, totalling almost fifty unique students. Out of these fifty students, I have had four students whose families have wanted their children accelerated through the grades that they are currently in. This means that they felt that their child was exceeding what was expected for that particular grade in the nine or ten subjects that they were enrolled in with me: Math, English, Social Studies, Science, ADST, Art, Careers, Christian Studies, Physical Education and a Second Language, if they were in grades 5 through 9. Yes, they believed that in every single subject their were not only above the grade level, but they needed to be in the higher grade. This has put me in a terrible position as the educator “gatekeeper” for this process to happen. I have had a mom scream in my face, inches from my face. I have had a mom have every email and ever conversation revolve around acceleration. I have had mom’s question why I didn’t think their child should be accelerated. And I have had to get really crystal clear on my thoughts around accelerating children, which was never a discourse that I had had in the years I spent in the public campus schooling system.

First, I think all children are amazing with unique gifts and talents. Truly! I see such gold in all the students that I have the privilege to work with over my 23 years of professional teaching and many years before that through coaching and camps. I have never met a student that I didn’t genuinely like. I see preciousness in all of them.

Second, I believe that if you are in favour of and allow for acceleration that you must also be in favour of and all for retention. And, I would NEVER encourage retention for any reason. I have worked with a student in grade seven that was born with part of his brain missing that functioned intellectually as age five, but whom fit in completely with his grade seven class with the support of an EA. (Educational Assistants or EA’s really are saints!) I worked with a hard-of-hearing student in grade six, who had difficulty communicating, but could write like Shakespeare. I also had a student who couldn’t sit in his seat nor focus when someone was verbally speaking to him. He needed to move and have visual cues. Imagine if any of these students’ were “retained”. What needed to happen is that, I as the teacher, needed to be “retrained”. I needed to see what supports and programs needed to be put into place to support this student and their learning style so that they could be with their peers. Retention would not have solved anything. Retraining of me the teacher changed everything.

If we have this flexibility in the online learning world plus I fully believe that retention is never an option, how can I support acceleration?

If a child is bored, try hands-on learning or games.

If a child is flying through their resource, choose a different one or let them fly.

If a child needs greater challenges, have them take an online course or write their own problems to solve.

If a child is wanting to be with a friend in an older grade (yes, a parent has even given this reason to me for acceleration), they can learn patience to meet with their friend after school or at other activities.

Retention.

Acceleration.

These two words really mean to me that we need to retrain ourselves to see what the child is needing to do to learn in the best way possible.

Stepping off the soapbox today!

Have an epic May long weekend and love what you do!

xoxo Joanna

Be Astounded by Top-Down Wipers

I was 49 and 3 days years old when my son pointed out a Lexus with a back wiper that came down from the top.

Astounding.

Revolutionary.

Mind blowing.

Why don’t all wipers come down from the top?

The wiper was hidden up at the top under the overhang of the car. I didn’t even notice it! It wiped away the equal amount of the window as a wiper coming from the bottom, so why don’t all cars have this?

Imagine scraping the snow off the window in the winter without a wiper to contend with at the bottom?

Imagine not having that back wiper sticking out to grab onto an oversize sweater you are wearing?

Imagine less wear and tear on the wiper as it doesn’t sit in the snow/rain/hail/sun every single day?

I am guessing in the next few years that every single car will have a back wiper that comes down from the top, unless someone can tell me some negatives from this really revolutionary idea.

And that’s my random thought from this week.

Have a sunny, relaxing Sunday and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Married for 26 Years

May 3rd, 2023

Today is our 26th wedding anniversary plus two days of me being 49 years old. The best part is that Sexy Neck’s birthday is two days from now, yes it is a fun week of celebration, at least this is what we thought when we were university students on our semester ended in April and Steve was getting ready to head to the National Team.

When Sexy Neck and I got engaged in November of 1996 at the West Edmonton Mall we were talking about a possible wedding date. We thought it would be hilarious if May the 3rd fell on a Saturday in 1997 so that could be our wedding date! Well, God knew that our brains would think like that and yes, you guessed it, our wedding day was on Saturday, May 3rd, 1997.

Sidenote: Sexy Neck was going to propose at the top of the rollercoaster at WEM, but we ended up getting in a disagreement because I didn’t want to go on it. He ended up putting the personally-designed ring in an ice cream, which I thought was the sweetest thing ever! I was shocked.

May 1

May 3

May 5

The beginning of May is a week of celebration!

On top of thinking about the date in which we decided, or God decided, for us to be married, I have been reflecting on being married for more than a quarter of a century.

It’s all about “choice”!

Yup, choice.

Not sex, love, infatuation, coercing, settling, changing someone, manipulation… it’s simply about a personal choice made daily by each person in a marriage.

I remember in the pre-marriage counselling that we did before May 3rd, 1997, the counsellor talked about marriage as being about a “daily choice”. As I sit here today, I couldn’t agree more.

My personal choices that I think about often are:

  • Do I bring out the best or worst in my husband?
  • How do I listen and also feel heard?
  • How do I show love even when I don’t feel the emotion of love?
  • How do I support my husband’s personal life journey even when it adversely affects my own life?
  • Do I want to be my husband’s biggest cheerleader or the “bring him downer” in his life?
  • How can I share my needs and also consider my husband’s needs?
  • How do you live with someone who has very different standard of timelines and schedules? (We shared a computer when doing our Bachelor of Education degrees. It worked beautifully because I always finished my projects a week ahead of time and he did everything the night before. And guess who always beat me in the marks department, yup Steve! Probably because I always stayed up with him and proofread all of his work. HAHA)

Choice.

Love.

Partnership.

Best friend.

Marriage.

Choice.

26 years baby!

Have a wonderful Wednesday folks and love what you do!

xoxo Joanna

Be Having Dreams and Nightmares

I am not sure if you are a dreamer when you sleep or if you have ever experienced nightmares, but I am full entrenched in the dream/nightmare camp. For my entire life, I have always had vivid dreams and nightmares that I can remember even after I wake up. I can even still remember my nightmares from when I was child.

When I was a child, I would often have a nightmare of being in a wooden cabin where the floor would fall open, In other nightmares, there would often be fires in this same cabin. In grade six, I had a dream I could fly. I thoughts this dream was so real, I tried to fly away from a confrontation outside my grade six classroom. Let’s just say that it didn’t work and I couldn’t fly. On top of these dreams/nightmares, I would sleep walk. One time my mom caught me standing in front of my door knob screaming with my hand stretched out. (It was hot from the flames from the fire in my nightmare.) I also once went for a sleep walk out our front door. I don’t remember this, but I have often been told the story. Our neighbour Mrs. Wood was having her “bridge ladies” over for game night when my dad ran out our front door in his “tightie whities”. Mrs. Woods saved my dad and told him that she would turn me around. She gently guided me back into the house. I don’t remember a thing about what happened that night.

On top of some really vivid nightmares, I have also periodically had realistic dreams throughout my life. The main reason that this topic of dreams/nightmares came to mind today was because I have had many dreams about Jesus, the reason we celebrate Easter. If you haven’t checked out the story behind Easter, I highly recommend doing some research and especially learning about Jesus, Judas, Pontius Pilate, Barabbas, the 3 Mary’s at the empty tomb and Joanna. (I was named after my mom’s friend Joanna, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that my name shows up in the bible here!)

Growing up, I didn’t know about Jesus. I attended the United Church a few times with my family and I did piano recitals at my grandparents Anglican Church, but there were no deep conversations about faith or bible reading or any type of spiritual discussions around the dinner table. Once I headed to the University of Alberta to play volleyball (and kind of go to school. haha!), I was fortunate to get connected to Athletes in Action and a very spiritual family that was leaving a very legalistic, rule-based church. They taught me about the love of Jesus and the grace of God. They took me to church where the donation bucket that was sent around was a KFC bucket and the pastor was gay. Remember this was the early 1990’s, so this was rare. This led to a beautiful journey starting at 18 years old involving knowledge and experiences in my waking life and dreams about Jesus when I slept. I have had Jesus driving me in a car and been face-to-face with him in my dreams.

The craziest thing that happened in regards to my Jesus dreams is that I once went to a retreat centre in the early 2000’s in the hills of our city called “Seton House of Prayer” and when I was sitting in the retreat centre, I looked at the wall across from me. There was a painting of the face of Jesus from the dream that I had a year previously. (BTW, Jesus is not caucasian!) In this moment, I actually had to leave the retreat for a few hours and lie down. Shortly after the retreat, I was able to find a print of this painting and it now sits in our house. If you are ever wondering what my dreams of Jesus look like, feel free to come on over.

As we celebrate Easter and all that Jesus did for us as human beings, I pray that your heart overflows with peace, that your mind is filled with knowledge beyond your own understanding and that your body would be surrounded by God’s love. You are a treasure to him.

Have an epic Sunday and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Enjoying Snow in March

Before Sexy Neck and I’s May 3rd wedding up north, on 53.9 degrees latitude, my mom had the water hose strung out across the lawn “watering away” the last of the snow in the corners of our lawn. My mom was determined that there wouldn’t be any snow on the lawn for our wedding day!

Growing up in the north and then moving east to 53.5 degrees latitude to go to university, winter existed from October until April. Yesiree bob, it was winter for more than half the year.

I believe, deep in my Canadian-heart, that every single person in Canada should live at least one year of their life, preferably before they turn 30, at 53 degrees latitude or north. If I live to be 100 years old, I will have lived one quarter of my life at this latitude.

I currently live at 49 degree latitude where “winter” exists for maybe three months. (Yes, I put “winter” in quotes because we often don’t have snow on the ground for all of these months PLUS we will usually only have two to three weeks of cold weather: below -10 degrees Celsius.) You can probably guess where I am going here…

Why are Canadians complaining about the season of “winter” especially those living at my latitude or lower, which is over 75% of the population in Canada?

I have a theory.

Yup, a theory! Feel free to test it with all your family and friends around you.

Canadians that complain about the winter weather have never lived above 50 degrees latitude and simply want to continue with their “summertime” life all year round. I am always sorry to tell these folks that this is a mentality that will lead to absolute failure and even depression. This “all-the-time summertime” mentality isn’t possible because of the weather that exist for most of us.

Snow.

Sleet.

Hail.

Blizzard.

Grue.

Cold temperatures.

And yes, even snow in March!

If you want to bike outside in the winter, you are going to need special tires and clothing. If you want to run, you probably need to resort to an indoor treadmill or strap on some yak tracks. Yes, life needs to ebb and flow throughout the season for us human beings.

We are enjoying every single second of this snow in March as we wind down our winter activities.

Cross country skiing.

Downhill skiing.

Snow fort building.

Sledding.

Snow picnics.

And taking lovely walks in the crunching snow.

(Can you tell I am a Chionophile?)

Embrace every season of your life and see what unfolds. It truly is a beautiful thing.

Happy Sunday funday everyone and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

P.S. Definitely let me know if you test out my theory about peoples love of winter being determined by where they have lived and if they try to continue with their summertime life. I am so curious myself!