Tag Archives: death

Be a Papa Dealing with Death

Death.

Divorce.

Despair.

Distance.

These four D’s that I talked about in my last post can bring us to our knees.

These gifts of grief can also help us rise into who we truly are.

This is what it’s been like for our Papa as he finds a new normal without his beloved wife after 52 years.

The partner Papa loved to share with and bounce ideas off of.

The woman who showered him with food love and a beautiful home.

The exceptional mother of his handsome boys.

The ever present Grandma of his five grandchildren.

Papa could have easily been brought to his knees but he truly has risen.

Going to many of the grandchildren’s events in the last three weeks.

Planning a funeral to honour his beloved wife and my mother-in-law.

Papa has poured out gratitude for everyone’s help.

He has poured out his heart in tears and given himself space to grieve.

May all people deal with grief like our Papa. He is a role model for us all.

Blessings poured over you, Papa, as you walk this journey. We, your fellow grief journeyers, are so proud of you.

Xoxox

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 Leaving a Legacy (5th Anniversary)

December 26th, 2013 7:00am

The lady that will leave the largest legacy in my life left the earth.

Five years ago.

She breathed her last breath.

My dad at her side.

My boys and I sleeping at her house.

December 26th, 2018 7:00am

I set an alarm.

I woke and took a deep breath.

I began to ponder this adventure we have created these last five years and I must admit that I am shocked it has been five years living on this earth without my mama.

Some days, my breath gets taken away with grief and it seems like just moments ago that I was told that my mom had died. Other days, it feels like she has been gone for a hundred years. It truly is like the disciple Peter says: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. “

On days like today, I am able to look back and see five distinct legacies that my mom created for me and my boys:

  1. My Mama was thoughtful! She was incredibly present with her people and truly saw how she could add value to their everyday life. She used her “spidey sense” to buy the best gifts. She really saw people and what they needed. Most days, she was the gift people needed.
  2. My Mama was a “mover”! She was cycling in Mallorca, Spain eight months before she died, cycling up to 90km per day. If she said that she was going to do something, she did it. Plain and simple. Joanna, “I was to learn Spanish!” Boom, at 65 years old she signed herself up for a Spanish class. My Mama was an athlete her whole entire life from living on the farm, to playing basketball, to being one of the first moms to join a gym and finally her passion for cycling, hiking and cross country skiing. My mama was woman of her word and a mover to boot.
  3. My Mama was creative! Whether it was when she was quilting, creating in the kitchen or working in her garden, my mom always added her own flare to what she was doing. She was never afraid to try new recipes or create something with our boys, even if it involved sparkles. My Mama was a creator.
  4. My Mama was not perfect! She was the person who gave me permission to be perfectly imperfect. I saw her shed tears over the things that her relatives chose to do to her and I saw her unsure at how to respond. I saw her get angry and apologize. I heard her speak about other people and also then apologize. I watched her when I was younger as she moved jobs and share what it was really like to work as a teacher in an antiquated system. My Mama was a human “being”.
  5. My Mama was LOVE! At 7:00am in the morning when the boys wanted to watch cartoons, she would let them crawl into bed with her. Whenever we showed up at her front door, my Mama always gave the very best hugs and made space for us in her life. Every time, I needed to talk with her, she listened. She listened really, really well. Time. Hugs. Listening. And so much more than my simple words can convey. Who could ask for anything more? Pure love!

Today on December 26th, we put on our skinny skis and went down the nordic trails to remember my Mama and my boys’ super Nana. We talked about the legacy that she has left for each of us. We cried. We laughed. We sent a balloon up to heaven. In rememberance. As a symbol of our connectness and the legacy that will never leave each of us.

With gratitude for every moment that I could spend with my Mama here on earth.

For the legacy she left.

With gratitude for the Mama that I now get to be for my boys.

For the legacy I will leave.

Thoughtful.

Mover.

Creative.

Imperfect.

LOVE.

And the greatest of these is love.

Unconditional.

Unwavering.

Unforgettable.

LOVE.

Remembered on the trails today.

And every day as we live out our legacy now!

Leave a beautiful, imperfectly perfect legacy my friends.

Love, Joanna

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 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 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.  

Be Off Track

I was a racehorse running a race on a track that I hadn’t signed up for.

Living the life that I thought was expected.

Trying hard to be ‘good” to all people, but myself.

I was running hard and fast.

I was constantly pushed around the track by the daily winds and the other horse and riders.

Feeling like I could never train enough, do enough or be enough to run the race.

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One day my main cheerleader, my amazing listener, my main supporter, my incredible mama died.

This horse stopped dead in her tracks.

I chose to hit the pasture in the middle of the race course.

I made a decision to eat some of the best food on the planet right now.

I decided to rest with the other horses on the inside of the race course.

I stopped in my tracks.

I went off track!

Yup, that’s me in the middle of the race course hanging out, living out of this race called life.

I am off the track.

AND I FLIPPIN LOVE IT!

My expectations on myself and those I choose to be in relationship with are GONE!

My idea of what my life could look like has completely changed.

My time is precious, the greatest gift that I can share on this earth.

I am full of gratitude!

I am able to be myself.

Full of thoughts tumbling in my head and words pouring out of my fingers as a Wordsmith.

Energy radiating out of my being as I move through my day.

Love flowing from my heart for those I see living life around me and through the beautiful medium of Facebook.

Peace sitting within my being as I hold and allow myself to be imperfectly where I am.

Honest, authentic and often waaaaaaay to blunt for some people’s likings.

Yup, me hanging out off track!

AND DID I TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE IT?

Love a duck, I am the most fortunate woman in the world.

I have found my path in life, the way I am meant to wander.

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Off track.

In the trees, like I am ten years old.

Playing in the powder with my boys.

Full of emotion, wet kisses and lots of hugs.

Having the time of my life as I play, make mistakes, learn and LIVE in all areas of my life!

I am alive!

Off track.

AND LOVING IT!

 

 

Be Riding Nana’s Bike (Post about Joy!)

Lately have you felt that happiness that just flows out of you?

Your teeth seem whiter and brighter?

Your smile is larger than life?

Joy seeps out through every skin cell in your body?

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Last weekend, we decided to get the bikes ready for a ride to a local coffee shop.

We noticed Nana’s old bike in the back of garage from when our friend Sara used it last year.

We asked our oldest, JC, if he wanted to ride Nana’s bike.

The ride was PURE joy for him and it flowed through us all.

He loved the feeling of being up on Nana’s bike.

He was mesmerized with her gears.

We talked about all the different places that Nana used to ride her bike and how she would often just miraculously show up in our backyard for a ‘break’ and a drink of cold water.

Really we knew that Nana loved a destination and she loved seeing her people!

As we watched JC ride Nana’s bike, happiness flowed out of us all.

Our teeth seem were whiter and brighter.

Our smiles were larger than life?

Joy was seeping out through every skin cell in our bodies?

A perfect joy-filled precious moment.

Just being.

Enough.

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Be Sh*tty

Tonight, I sit and I ponder.

I stir things around.

In my mind.

In my spirit.

I allow the hamster wheel of thoughts go round and round.

I allow the thoughts to stop the wheel on “I feel sh*tty!”.

I am not one to swear, nor one to go towards the side of feeling sh*tty.

Tonight I do.

Feel.

Sh*tty.

I have a dear friend walking the same journey that I did two years ago.  After a hospital stay and doctors doing what they can to prolong life, my friend’s beautiful mama is going home to die.

I have one of my best peeps in KCity awaiting to see if she has cancer in her body.  She had a biopsy to have melanoma removed from her back last week.

I have a fellow volleyballers who’s servant-hearted Dad is living with Alzheimer’s.

There is a girl in the boys elementary school that starts life-saving, on your knees “hoping for a miracle” treatment for a brain tumour.  This sweet soul was also in Owen’s preschool last year.

My cousin is back in town from up north to have surgery, the second surgery in a few weeks.

And my three wee boys are under the weather.

So, what do I do?

I lean into the people who love me.

I spend time carving pumpkins.

I look at the beautiful autumn leaves.

I take a week off from my teaching job, to sit, to serve and to be.

An opportunity to be where I am.

Sitting with my feelings.

Feeling sh*tty.

With gratitude.

For all I can do.

All of my feelings.

Being a human being.

Be Riding Waves of Gratitude

Over two years ago, I started down a road that I never knew I would go down.  My energetic, athletic mom had cancer take over her body.  It pummelled her, humbled our family and eventually took her body on Boxing Day six months later.  

I rode waves of grief.  

Face planting.  

Knee crawling.  

Life stealing.  

Grief. 

I had never known pain like this. 

I had never lived a day without my previous mama.  

But I did.  

And I am.  

I was at the beach a few days ago and was watching this: 

  
And then I noticed a woman sitting under a tree, just like my mom used to, watching the boys play in the sand. I would have felt paralyzed by this before but now I just found gratitude in my heart for this beautiful woman who reminded me of my mama.  

  
I am living.  

Living with abundance.  

Living a life of my dreams.  

I am continually surrounded by saints on this earth.  

Friends who walk with me. 

Strangers who bless me with their presence.  

Friends who LOVE my boys. 

Friends who ask ‘how are you?’ And wait to hear the answer.  

Right now in my life, I am riding the waves of gratitude.  

It hits me every day at how blessed I truly am.  

I feel extremely grateful for who I am surrounded by, all that I have and all that I can do.  

The possibilities are truly only limited by my mind.  

My opportunities seem to flow into my dreaming mind and humbled heart.  

I am free.  

I am flying.  

I am riding waves of gratitude.