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.
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…?
This is a public service announcement for anyone with children or grandchildren that haven’t yet tried alpine skiing or have children under 5 years old.
It is spring break skiing and the season where we see many young human beings flopped on the side of the mountain screaming, usually while wearing a “dog leash” (aka: ski harness). Insert gif here with child flopping like a fish in the snow while making shrieking noises.
Both Sexy Neck and I received kinesiology degrees before we got our education degrees. When the boys were young, we talked about our children’s physical literacy skills as much as their reading/writing literacy skills. We wanted them to be physically active for life. We introduced them to coached programs for swimming, cross country skiing and gymnastics. I also taught them skating shortly after they could walk.
One of the best things we did for our boys was putting them into the “Bunnies” (skinny ski) program when they were 3 years old at our local nordic ski area. It was parent participation and this program gave the children the skills to move bilaterally on skinny skis at a pace that was perfect for their growing bodies. There was no screaming, flopping, or crying from the parents or the kids. They could go at the speed that they felt most comfortable moving at and could attempt the hills when they were ready. Plus placing teddy bears along the track, kicking tennis balls in the track and gummy bears in your pocket can go along way!
Right now, we are seeing many parents strap on the big, thick alpine skis and attach the leash to their young ones. Then off they go. You can see that these young first timers are moving at a speed that they are uncomfortable with and thus the screaming, flopping and crying. It’s very tough to watch. I believe that even if the kids spend only one season (10 weeks) in a Bunnies or Jack Rabbit program, none of these experiences would need to happen for our young alpine skiers.
PLUS the added bonuses when kids start on skinny skis is that when they start alpine skiing those thick skis are easier to balance on and they even get to ride up a magic carpet or chairlift or t-bar instead of having to climb up the hills on skis. The children will really appreciate this new sport and hopefully have experiences on two types of skis that help them be active for life!
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.
I don’t have time to talk about you because if you are an important person in my life I am talking TO you.
I don’t have time to worry about if you have lost or gained weight, I am 100% focused on my own health.
I don’t have time to ponder what you are doing with your life, but I am praying that you would have a life filled with love, joy and peace.
I don’t have time to wonder why you left my life and want nothing to do with me as I am completely enveloped with love by the people who choose to spend time with me.
I don’t have any time to think about who you love or want to marry, I am focused on making my own relationships better.
I don’t have time to wonder why my family of origin has fallen far apart since my mom died. The rich relationships that have filled this Grand Canyon gap from my mom’s death and the ‘chosen family’ who shower us with encouragement are greater than any gift I could imagine.
I don’t have time to judge what you do with your money, your time or your relationships because God is showing me all the good He is doing through knowing you.
I don’t have time. I don’t believe in busy. I don’t believe in missing anyone.
I create time.
Busy is a swear word.
If I miss you, I reach out to you. The only people I miss are dead. They definitely don’t have any time.
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.
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.
Imagine biking away from school on June 28th knowing that you would not be returning to that industrial looking school building and schedule for over a year?Imagine being able to design your learning, travel the world and live at a ski hill with the foundational goal of skiing every single day of the ski season? Imagine moving into a nine hundred square foot home with five people and no dishwasher nor in suite laundry?
What would your radical sabbatical look like?
This imagining above is the reality we are creating and that I will be writing about during our radical sabbatical. Our family of five is riding our bikes away from grades two, four and six and walking into grades three, five and seven as homeschoolers living in a two room condominium, overlooking the ski hill.With the addition of two trips, one month long trip to Europe and one two week vacation in the spring, you now have the big picture of what is going to unfold over the next twelve months and corresponding chapters of this book about our life yet to be written.
Could you imagine?
Would you ever step out, take a time out and shake up your reality to press pause on life?
Stopping all activities except skiing and gymnastics.
Withdrawing from all volunteer positions on boards and activities in our community.Renting out our main house and only bringing the bare essentials into our small living space.
Inspired by the gift of grief given to us by my beautiful mama over five years ago.
Fanned by the gift of grief given to us this year by Sexy Neck’s mama, grandma, grandpa, my aunt and our Labrador, Summer.
Walked out first and foremost, by Joanne Kraft when her family took a year off from activities outside of school. Her book, “Just Too Busy: Taking your Family on a Radical Sabbatical”, jumped off the library shelf last winter and cemented this idea in my mind.
Watered and lovingly supported by our friends who live our freedom and growth lifestyle.
Practically supported by our teacher friends and the school that we will work with to educate our boys over the next twelve months.
Divinely inspired by our Father in heaven who knows our hearts and allowed everything to seamlessly and truly effortlessly unfold.
Now, we create space for us to live in a nine hundred square feet condominium.
Building a learning space for three creative and hardworking eight, ten and twelve year old boys.
Building a triple bunk bed so that we have more space to play.
A radical sabbatical.
Twelve months to pause and change our routine.
Finding our rhythm.
So, I sit here and ask again: What would a radical sabbatical look like for you? It doesn’t have to be as extreme as what we have done, but maybe it’s something as simple as eating dinner together every night or what Joanne Kraft did and taking a break from extracurricular activities. Whatever speaks to you as you share our journey with us, may it be meaningful to you and light up your life!
These are exciting times my friends. Truly exciting!
<Note: Joanna is currently seeking a publisher to partner with to publish her book as she helps people be free on their own journey as she shares her radical sabbatical with others.>
And its SURVIVAL mode for those people being inundated with company, people they see six to eight days per year. I had an epiphany to share with you, one to make you THRIVE this year.
First, start by thinking about those 365 day per year peeps in your life. Who are the people you live with or choose to have in your inner circle? What do you have in common with them and why do you choose to hangout with them? What do you talk about and what do you love to do together?
Now, think about those six to eight days per year people. Next proceed to throw everything that you thought about and love about your 365 day per year people and fling it directly into the bottom of the swimming pool. These peeps that are in your life six to eight days per year, may be old friends or family. They may be colleagues from your spouses work that you attend conferences with or neighbours you only see in the summer.
Here’s my secrets to not only SURVIVE but THRIVE with these peeps.
Remember that everything that you thought and love about your 365 day per year peeps has been flung to the bottom of the swimming pool, now throw any negative thought or judgement about the six to eight days per week peeps in there too!
Get ready to look at you: What are your standards for healthy relationships and how do you want to interact with all people, no matter how often they are in your life? For me, this is pouring love and bringing the joy. I don’t share much about my life or even feelings at all, with my six to eighters, I save this for my 365 days per year peeps. But I do have fun with everyone. We eat nourishing delicious food. We go on and find adventures. We talk about travel. We discuss health. But I do not go into the deep end! Remember all that stuff that you had flung down into the deep end of the pool? Don’t go there! Oh I used you and boy what a mess it made.
These six to eighters can’t keep up with the change that happens in the other over three hundred and fifty days of your life. They can’t embrace the change because it would be like getting hit by a fast moving train. The people who can keep up, are on the train. Invested in you. In your inner circle. Those every day peeps who support and love you. The six to eighters receive the benefit of your high standards and love-filled hospitality. But that’s it folks. You may end up talking about things you don’t give a shit about for hours, but you ask questions and listen. You probably will end up doing mind numbing activities that were never on your wish list, but you will discover the joy and enjoy the ride. You will create space to recharge with who you are as you live these six to eight days per year. I exercise. I read. I spend a lot of time locked in the bathroom. I bring games I enjoy playing. I bring up new topics of conversations and then change it back once I see the six to eighters eyes start to gloss over.
Judgement thrown away.
Negative thoughts too!
Thriving with the peeps who show up six to eight days per year.
Staying on your train, but diverting long enough to embrace other peoples rides.