What do you feel when you think of and sit with what happened on March 16th, 2020?
I will forever be grateful for those that walked through March 16th, 2020 and beyond alongside our family:
containing no humiliation, damnation nor discrimination.
with an open heart and open mind to those around them
containing no judgement, harsh words or anger.
It wasn’t easy, I know.
My counsellor explained to me that during this initial period starting from the shock of March 16th, 2020 (we were suppose to be in Vancouver at a gymnastics competition), people couldn’t hide anymore. The levels of appreciation for life became stronger or the levels of anger in life also became stronger. There was rarely a middle ground.
To those who study and “know” science and walked uncomfortably through the ENTIRE scientific method while living through what was happening to us as a country, a culture, a world, I am eternally grateful.
(Plus they didn’t simply jump to the “conclusion” step of the scientific method as that is always the most comfortable place to be. I truly take my hat off to you!)
I will always be grateful for those people who know that personal choice, personal story and personal wellness were always an alternative in this world.
I have no opinion, even after three years of looking at the research being obtained from around the world, on what anyone else should have done with their lives on and since March 16th, 2023, but I am sure very, very, very grateful for our own family’s choices.
Living up at Apex Ski Resort until 2021.
Continuing with home learning.
Spending time in nature.
Keeping up with our community of diverse-minded people with Zooms, phone calls and in person visits when we simply wanted to hunker down and hide.
Sharing my love of home learning with people who were pushed it into and even sharing some tips on how to teach over Zoom.
Hugs whenever we could get them.
Not allowing those living in fear and judgement and “conclusion-making” to bump us out of experiencing the greatest scientific experiment of our time. Three years later, we don’t have conclusions, especially in British Columbia and Canada, with what started on March 16th, 2020.
Happy Thursday amazing folks and love what you do.
P.S. I have never shared my personal “health status” and I won’t, which has caused many people discomfort. I am not a doctor, virologist, nurse or even remotely involved with the health care system. I will not be sharing my status as I believe, as an Educator, everyone needs to dig in and do their own research, especially right now. The beginning of all knowledge are questions. It is a fascinating time folks and it’s okay if we have been wrong during these last few years of working through this “Science”. I know that I have!
These last few months, I have been thinking that our family needs to move back to Vernon…. almost ten years here in K-City and, well, I am not sure what to say about it. In the last three months, I have ran into four friends from Vernon at Costco, the ski hill, for walks and I have realized the deepness of these friendships I really miss.
I miss those friends who:
~ knew me before I was a mom
~ knew my own mom
~ I spent time working with and on vacation with
~ walked through years of change involving birth and death
~ did Music classes with me when the boys were in preschool. (Such a sweet season)
Ten years ago we made the decision to move here as Steve was commuting to K-City, 45 minutes away from our house in Vernon, and he was seeing very little of us due to long hours and evening meetings. One day, yup one day, after we moved to K-city my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Five months later she had died.
As I sit down and have a serious conversation with the family about moving back to Vernon, the boys are all a “hard no”. They were 2, 4 and 6 when we moved to K-City and this is really home for them. They have activities they love, a neighbourhood that loves on them and freedom to move around the city with confidence.
And now I remember a story from a wise uncle. Uncle John owned a fabulous apartment near Commercial Drive in Vancouver. He decided that he wanted to live a bit more freely and travel more than he already did. He sold the Commercial Drive apartment and moved into a great rental apartment on Chestnut Street beside the Burrard Street bridge and one block from the beach. His views were incredible and the accessibility to Vancouver was amazing. If I lived in Vancouver, this is the area I would want to live.
Uncle John loved living in this apartment building and weathered the loss of his parents and his sister. His entire family of origin died in a these short few years. Then Uncle John heard that his old apartment was for sale again, after being fully renovated. He jumped at the chance “to go back”. He rebought his old apartment, moved in and realized he had made a terrible mistake. He had bought the apartment “to go back” to a time where his parents and sister were alive. He wanted to truly turn back time. After a few short months, he resold his apartment on Commercial Drive for a second time and again moved back into his amazing rental apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He was really happy and realized that you never can go back.
…and now as I ponder our family moving back to Vernon, his story has become my own. Why do I want “to go back” to Vernon? It is mostly because I want “to go back” to a time when my mom was alive and we had a wonderful circle of support around us. These have been lonely few years that have developed a deep well of resiliency and perseverance on my part raising three young men without that close support and encouragement as a mom. Even today when I receive a compliment on my role as a mother, I am always surprised because it is so rare. It often brings me to tears.
So we won’t be moving back to Vernon. The show must go on in K-City for this mom of three boys now ages, almost 16, 13 and 11. BUT, you never know where we will end up once the boys are graduated and finding their own paths in life.
There is a lot of striving for extraordinary in our world these days!
What extravagant location will I visit?
What luxury brand of purse or clothing can I buy?
How much do I make per year?
What private school do our children attend?
What can I post on social media to make myself be seen and be extraordinary?
Me, I am striving for ordinary.
How many walks or hikes can I take around our town and local hills?
How little can I shop or how many weeks can I go between having to step foot in a store?
How can I help my children truly learn in their unique ways?
How many conversations can I have that are authentic and encouraging on a daily basis?
How many books will I read this year?
I have been pondering this concept of always striving for being or doing something extraordinary. It reminded me of my last eight years in the Network Marketing realm. I remember early on when I started sharing the products I love, I met a woman in her early 30’s who was a true light, with two young girls and a house on the hill. She explicitly told me that her sole goal in the company was to speak in front of 15,000+ people at our annual conference. Her financial goals were intertwined with wanting to be in front of 15,000+ people. I always found this genuinely fascinating and unrelatable to me personally as my best moments were often chatting in the line to the washrooms or sitting beside someone in the seats or simply walking down the street. Ordinary moments that turned into extraordinary relationships.
I have realized now in my teaching careers as I am asked to speak and present information to others that I would rather be the person stacking the chairs at the back than speaking to everyone from the front. (I actually shared this two weeks ago to someone in our school leadership team.) I am really happy being behind the scenes. (And clicking away on my computer keyboard as I share my musings. I am so happy right now as I write this!)
Do you remember Thanksgiving 2023 when you boys were in grades 10, 8 and 6? Do you remember the Friday night when I drove away to give myself a few hours “timeout”? I am sure you do as I know that this was an upsetting moment for you as you could sense my sadness and could feel that I was angry.
Before I throw a piece of paper in the garage that I hastily wrote on, with stick people drawings, once I came back home, I wanted to enshrine it here:
What do you do when people feel sadness or anger?
Be annoyed and get angry back?
Try to make them happy?
Allow them to feel. Show empathy?
Any other options?
After I shared my little diagram, I love that all of you were able to to allow me to feel what I felt and even show me empathy. Oxford Languages says that empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Before my timeout, all three of you tried one of these different strategies above when you saw my sadness and anger. One of you started getting angry with me, another tried to tell a joke and lighten the mood and one of you was looking at me with sadness in their own eyes.
After I shared this diagram and we talked, you were all solidly in the empathy category with what I was experiencing in that moment and it was such a gift!
Allow people to feel.
Hold space for them.
Allow people to heal.
Be empathetic for them.
Allow people to deal.
Give time for them.
Thank you boys for walking that weekend with me and for being open to learning about empathy.
Hi Mom’s and Dad’s that have chosen to give up or change their careers because a wee one came into your life, I am sitting with you as I write this. Grab a cup of tea and strap yourselves in… I have a major wondering today.
Do you ever have a sense that your career changed in an exorbitant way because of your wee ones arrival on earth?
I have been thinking about my time on earth and my career a lot lately as I continue working through the gift of grief that my mom gave me in 2013. Yup, almost 10 years since that fateful day that our Super Nana died and I began my personal journey experiencing the finality of death.
With incredible clarity, I took leave from my career when our oldest came into the world almost sixteen years ago. I was a teacher, coach, volunteer and an advocate of campus education, but when that blonde haired boy with that straight edge part and blue eyes came into the world, my life pivoted and my career path changed forever. I never stepped back into a campus classroom full time and I have never wanted to. I am proud of the fact that I could help keep things simple in our family’s life by being the person “on the home front”. I never wanted someone else to raise my children or see their “firsts” or major milestones. I wanted to be the person to spend the most amount of time each day with them. We are only give twenty-four hours in each day. Those first few years on one income as we added wee one #2 and #3 were years of focus and frugalness, but our family never did without. We went down to one car, bought a home with a suite, took in international students, cut cable and reduced our expenses, by as much as possible, through figuring out what our needs versus wants were.
As the kids grew older, I took forays into selling Hawaiian Green tea directly to customers, ventured into Referral Marketing of health products, worked as an online teacher at a Vancouver-based school and even worked in my dream job as a part time Physical Education Teacher at an elementary school. This is what I wanted to share about today and is the reason I decided to write this blog post . This P.E. teaching job was absolutely perfect for me. I worked a half day Monday and full days Tuesday and Wednesday. I had the gym doors open every single day at lunch for the students. I felt that I could be creative in the physical literacies that I taught and truly impact the school as a whole in terms of health and wellness. I had personal time to train for and race small triathlons on the weekends. PLUS, I could be there for my own blue crew on the four days I wasn’t working as well as not work momentously long days doing prep for my teaching job. BUT, the boys didn’t enjoy getting themselves to and from their own campus school in grades 1, 3 and 5. They began fighting a lot and being unkind to each other on a level that reminded me of growing up when my mom went back to teaching when I was in grade 1. My dream job was no longer my dream job as I left to work with upset kids at 7:45am or came home to chaos at 4:00pm. Due to my family of origin and sibling experience, I have a very low tolerance for my boys treating each other like a-holes just because they are related. The dream career came to a clear closure.
I changed my career in an exorbitant manner yet again. I said no to a returning contract as a Physical Education teacher and came back home full time for the next few years. During 2020, I was drawn back to work as an online teacher again at a new K-city based private school, which I love, but isn’t without some friction within my family.
During this winter season, I have often wondered, what would I be doing if I hadn’t changed my career in such drastic ways. What would my days look like? Where would we be living? Who would I be surrounded by? I am not sure if any other mom’s or dad’s can relate, but I sometimes wonder if I have given up too much. This life I lead working from home is often lonely, isolated and takes a lot of personal motivation/momentum as I don’t walk the halls or share daily energy with any colleagues anymore. I have always had big dreams, an ever growing thought life and a vision of making a major, positive impact on the world around me. By keeping my vision narrow and focused on my family, perhaps I have lost the bigger picture of my life.
Happy Sunday Funday Folks! This journey started on Friday morning.
The 11 months and 10 days we lived in Switzerland in 2004 were some of THE BEST and the darkest time of my life (besides watching my mama die!)
The darkness of living through depression and having no energy but to sleep, to be working in a difficult teaching environment, having Steve away training for volleyball each night and living in a country that is clean and exceptionally beautiful for a reason. They ‘control’ each other. I have never been yelled at more in my life.
The BEST moments meeting friends and students that are still in my life today, living in a pristine natural environment, travelling easily and learning more about myself.
Being back here now in 2019 with our boys is truly sublime.
Drove from beautiful Milan to the Rigi in the Swiss Alps.
With one stop in Locarno for our last Italian pizza and Calzone.
Over 25 tunnels. (We lost count!)
One 17 kilometres long.
We arrived in Vitznau about 3 and a bit hours after leaving Milan. What an indescribable drive. I am not sure my pictures can even explain.
One Mountain Train (Rigi Bahn) straight uphill into the Swiss Alps.
We have snow folks!
Meeting old friends that we taught with and their wonderful eleven year old daughter.
A gorgeous place, an incredible meal and amazing hot pools. Kaltbad Rigi
Guten abend von de Schwiez.
Guten morgen friends!
We started off with opening the hot pools before breakfast at 8:00am. We had a solo swim and play in the pools.
Then it was fruhstuck time here in the Alps. First, our super juice that helps our bodies deal with stress and goes everywhere with us. #partner
After a buffet breakfast, we decided to head to the top of the Rigi via the Mountain Train and then hike down. What a gorgeous three hours. And God even gave us another rainbow, like He did on the Eiffel Tower and at Vimy Ridge.
Now an afternoon of journaling, postcard writing, eating Swiss chocolate, shakes and German cookies!
PLUS another swim in the hot pools before dinner:
Dinner was many hours long, but the boys rocked it and luckily our friend’s play games like we do.
This is THE shift! This morning at 7:20am, Steve headed down the mountain on the train to take two buses and another train to the Zurich Airport as he heads home, then travels to Mexico in five days for another fair.
I had tears this morning as we said goodbye. I love this man on so many levels.
We decided I would stay here with the boys until Steve is done his trip to Mexico. I will travel with the boys for 8 days in Germany visiting old friends and then back to Paris for 3 more days for some tourist activities. And surprises for the boys. 😉
BUT FIRST, one more morning on the Rigi, a get together with some Swiss friends at an old school bowling alley with a jukebox near Zurich, then back to Germany.
This is the building where we were…
Then a 1.5 hour drive to one of our favourite spots in Germany with people living God’s plan through their lives and delivering a package from a mother’s heart to her daughter.
Finishing off the night with one of these… Sexy Neck would be proud! It was as good as I remembered.
Goodnight sweet friends from the Bodensee. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and for truly living these simple moments of an unfolding dream with us. I wish I could give you a HUGE HUG.
Truly an amazing time. No social media fluff and puff.
Take a scroll through and see what we have been up to as we have wanders from Germany to Italy. Please leave a comment too!
Biggest toy store (and LEGO section the boys have seen).
Oldest central plaza in Munich (Marienplatz)
Walking everywhere on foot.
Seeing Steve at work!
With help from a friend, I was able to find gymnastics training for the boys in Munich. It was a cool experience for them and made them appreciate their gym back home even more.
After training, we were able to zip to where Steve was doing his Fair talking to families in the Munich area about his school district. We were very grateful to see what he does. CC bought a new jacket at H & M today which matched his Dada’s.
After the Fair, it was time to get back to the hotel, get packed as we had a 5 and a bit hour drive to Milan, Italy the next day.
1 final shower in our bathroom/shower room. Have you seen this before?
1 hotel breakfast.
1 shake for a boys who has eaten too much bread.
1 more walk to Marienplatz.
1 more visit to the toy store.
Purchases of 2 Porsche’s and a German Shepherd figurine.
1 solo shopping trip to H & M for ME! I found some awesome Christmas gifts for the boys.
11:11 in Italy. Remembering.
1 final squeeze through the driveway from the hotel garage to the street. The rental car was beeping like crazy. Sexy Neck is a genius to work the angles to get our station wagon in and out of this garage.
5.5 hour car ride to Milan, Italy.
Through 5 countries.
From Germany to Austria, by Liechtenstein, Switzerland and then finally into Italy.
Clouds, snow and sun!
1 panic attack by ME! (The first 5km tunnel freaked me out and sent me into fight or flight even though cognitively nothing was wrong! It was a learning experience.)
1 very strange toilet. You pushed the toilet seat down to make it flush and the water to wash your hands went into the toilet. 🤪
Another toilet for 50 cents.
5 amazing slices of margarita pizza, some gnocchi, a calzone and some gelato to end off this beautiful day.
1 awesome room at the Meininger Hotel/Hostel. (The same brand of hotel we stayed in in Brussels, Belgium).
Steve is working hard to catchup on email and prepare for morning meetings. The boys are watching cartoons in Italian. I am doing laundry… Hence the huge pile by my feet!
Bongiorno from Milan, Italy!
I had completely forgotten, or maybe I didn’t realize, how much Italians LOVE children. From the waiter ruffling our son’s hair and shaking their hands last night to the free metro rides and free entry to the museums, wow, I love you even more Italy.
Today was the day that our oldest son, twelve year old JC, has been planning for months. Tying in with his study of Ancient Rome, this would be as close as we would get. Milan. He rocked his negotiation of the metro system and got us everywhere he wanted to go. We even saw a movie being filmed by the fountain outside the Castle.
Today’s plan was a fun one! I love seeing my boys plan, take charge and speak with the locals along the way. Jackson even ordered our lunch in Italian and paid for it.
Parco Sempione (Park)
Castillo Sforzeaco (Castle)
Museum featuring the mind-blowing work of Leonardo da Vinci. Hallogram videos and sitting in the room he worked on for many years was incredibly awe-inspiring.
Fried pizza for lunch. There was a HUGE line at Luini’s, so we knew it must be good. JC found this place on the internet through watching videos about Milan.
Gelato in Gallerio Vittorio
Duomo Di Milano (Church)
Climbing over 200 stairs to the terraces of the Duomo.
A clean toilet in McDonald’s. (Probably the only reason I will take my boys there).
Meeting Steve spontaneously in between his meetings. (I almost hit him when he came up from behind and surprised us)
2 metro rides.
Many kilometres of walking.
Dinner back at a very Italian restaurant by our hotel in the Lambrate area. The boys declared that this was the BEST pizza they have had in their life. (Sexy Neck and I thought last night was better!)
And MORE gelato and a play at the park in the dark before we head to bed at 10:00pm.
Cake and pie for breakfast. Sure why not! We are in Italy after all! This is how our boys started their day. We are finding our rhythm with a buffet breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30, then a mid-afternoon snack and then dinner around 6:30 or 7:00. We are all feeling GREAT and are truly eating our way around Europe.
This is our second and last day in Milan before we head north to meet friends in the Swiss Alps. We have been asking the boys each morning what they would like to do and it was unanimous that today would include:
Heading back to the Parco Sempione, a stroll by the Duomo again, a stop at the largest LEGO store in Italy that just opened on the 11th, a visit to the main train station and dinner there too! And yes more gelato too! We even convinced Sexy Neck to take the boys back into the Museum to see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. He missed it yesterday when we went because he was working.
As the boys went back into the museum, I sat outside with a hot drink and got caught up on the blog. Now this is what a hot chocolate looks like:
It was hot and thick and absolutely delicious.
The boys wanted to checkout the largest LEGO store in Italy and along the way, CC decided to buy the Swatch Watch he had been looking at since we were in Brussels.
We decided to head home to our hotel/hostel via the metro to cook dinner for ourselves. We had soup and salad. First, we went to our favourite grocery store, Lidl, to pickup some supplies.
A few handstands before bed doesn’t hurt! Right? JC attempting to walk around the room on his hands.
Ciao! Italy, it’s been a very fun couple of days. We want to own an apartment in Italy one day.