Tag Archives: Family

Be Sharing a Song

🎵 This is what I do! 🎵

I love seeing Mama’s who live “on purpose” in their day whether it is at work or at play.

They plan, schedule and make it happen and when someone gets sick their is no more lapping.

They shut things down, they hold the fort tight and just hold their baby knowing it will be all right.

No striving or goals will be checked off on that day, they just sit still and maybe have a play.

With the ones they love.

That override it all.

With the ones they love.

That they help hold tall.

With the ones they love.

They see them through and through.

With the ones they love.

They know inside what to do.

When things are flowing, the checklist may be long, but us Mama’s know that we need to be strong.

We need to hold space and show up with grace.

When we are focused and fierce and know exactly what to do, there is nothing that will stop us, not even the loo.

We need to have goals and show up as we are.

This is what I do!

With the ones I love.

That override it all.

With the ones I love.

That I help hold tall.

With the ones I love.

I see them through and through.

With the ones I love.

I know inside what to do.

I love being a Mama who lives “on purpose” in my day whether it is at work or at play.

There is no shame in doing, as long as you are being you!

There is no harm in being exactly who you are.

Show up.

Be you.

With the ones you love.

Show up.

Be you.

With the ones you love.

(A song written in the gift of grief, with fond memories of our Lab, Summer. May this bless you to be present and to live fully as a human being, not just as a human being. Be enough. Be free. 😘 Joanna)

NOTE: I started writing songs after my annual conference for my nutrition business in NASHVILLE in August. These songs just started pouring out of me there. What fun writing songs are… cannot wait to hear someone sing them!

Be Learning Life Lessons from a Lab

I was a cat girl growing up. Now, I am a lab girl for life!

I loved cats independence. Loved their gentle purrs and how they would sleep with you in the most obscure ways. My cat, Boots, loved sleeping right on top of my neck or chest.

Enter in Sexy Neck into my life in 1992 with a visit to his family home which was definitely a dog family. Their little dog, Mandy, was a sweetie. Someone to walk with, someone to greet you happily every single time you walked in the door and a great companion for everyone.

This cat girl growing up didn’t stand a chance! Nineteen years ago, I became a dog person, more specifically a Labrador retriever girl. My life would never be the same!

Over these years, I have had the privilege to learn from our two labs, KT and Summer. These are the specific lessons from Summer as this was a very Holy day celebrating her life.

💫 LIFE LESSONS FROM A LAB 💫

💫 Enjoy all the seasons, especially winter. Rolling around and sliding down slight inclines on your side is especially fun!

💫 Wag your tail at everyone but bark at the mailman.

💫 Always be on the lookout for food. You never know what you will find. Even things that you need to lick off the pavement are enjoyable.

💫 Be a baby watcher. Stand as close as you can with your wet nose on the baby blanket. Diapers are the best things to smell on babies. (We called Summer our “Nanny dog”.)

💫 Pour out love to the humans CLOSEST to you. Always be happy to see them. Always greet them at the door. Always look up to them with adoring eyes, especially when they have treats for you.

💫 Love children. All children. Always love those children that will rub your ears, your belly and play fetch with you.

💫 Take your master cross country skiing at all hours of the day. Be their companion and confidante listening to all their stories. Don’t get stuck in the powder!

💫 Be content being with, playing with and taking care of your core group of people. It’s the simple things.

💫 You are never too big to cuddle or have your ears and belly rubbed.

💫 Don’t leave the food you like unattended on the table. It might disappear! (This is a lesson from my boys: Nine and eleven year old. This is something Summer just started doing last year, which was ironic because her arthritis was so bad that we had to lift her into the car. That piece of toast on the table, though, no problem!)

💫 Don’t trust strange dogs.

💫 Be present

💫 A little mess doesn’t matter.

💫 The stuff you leave behind is meaningless. It’s the memories, the cuddles, the smells and the moments that create a MAGICAL life!

🙏🏻 LIFE LESSONS FROM A LAB 😘

Magical memories with this puppy: swimming, always being happy to see us, chasing golf balls, cross country skiing, eating every crumb off our floors, shedding a small dog every day, being my comfort and companion, witnessing the birth of all three of our boys…

Thank you faithful friend. Thank you for the life lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I will miss you every day!

February 5th 10:28am 💜 Summer 🙏🏻

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 Giving Four Tech Tips to Parents (speech preparation)

In April, I am going to be sharing my experience with technology and our three boys to a group of parents, professors and community members at the local University. I will be on a panel with four experts that have immersed themselves in learning and being awake to technology.

Here is my speech, your comments are appreciated:

When I was growing up I had a neighbour named Michael. He was not allowed to eat gum, candy or anything that had sugar in it. When he became a teenager, he always seemed to have a piece of gum in his mouth as soon as he walked down the end of his driveway. He was focused on when he could have his candy and gum. He was a sugar zombie. As I now raise three boys in a overtly technologically driven world, like sugar was for my generation, and ponder them as teenagers, this has been in the forefront of my mind. As parents, my husband and I always “start how we want to finish”. We don’t want to do anything that won’t help our young children grow into adults.

Our discussion around technology began when our youngest was four months old and I flipped on a children’s television channel and saw an Oil of Olay commercial. I asked myself if I wanted my son to grow up thinking that women looked like that? The answer was no and the cable was taken off the television. Our boys are now 11, 9 and 7. They have access to technology but have maybe seen the nightly news five times in their entire life. My husband and I have come up with four guiding questions or tips about technology that have helped us as we parent our boys.

BUT, before I share these tips, I want to give you a bit more depth of insight about our vantagepoint as parents. All of the information in the world, is now in our pockets, we can also take pictures, communicate immediately, count our steps and even open our garage door. When we grew up, we had to access a library, find someone, or have a gigantic set of encyclopedia Brittanica on our shelves at home to access information. With this power in our pocket, we also know that it lights up our brains like cocaine. Oh it feels good! Technology gives us instant gratification. And we have observed that most people spend more time with their technology (than?) with any human being in their life. Therefore, we don’t take technology and our children’s connection to it lightly.

NOW, here’s our four questions we use to guide us. I implore each of you to steal our questions or be inspired to create your own. May you find a healthy relationship with technology for you and your family.

First, how do we want technology to look in our family knowing the average usage of screen time is 6 hours per day for children?

We held a family meeting to discuss this and we talked about our weeks as well as the activities that we live to do. We decided on 4.5 hour per week. Yup, per week. The boys created Tech Coins so that they could personally keep track of their time. We know they will soon be teenagers and I don’t want to be keeping track of their technology time. I want them to be able to know when enough technology is enough. Remember my neighbour and our motto for parenting: “Start how you want to finish”.

Second, we wondered how do we help grow creators using technology not just consumers. Like good food, alcohol, shopping… we believe you can consume too much technology. Have you ever met a young child that can only talk about technology? I believe we are dealing with an overconsumption! In our boys, 4.5 hours of technology per week, they do play a few games that are apps. They mostly will create skits that they video, make cartoons, build things or make stikbot movies.

Here’s the big question, number three: How do we engage in social media as a family? I use it sparingly for work, after I overcame my own addiction. My boys don’t do it at all. Common Sense Media recommends that children aren’t ready til 14 years old. And as my husband has worked as a Vice Principal at both a middle and high school, I don’t know if our boys will have access to social media before they leave our home at 18. Haha. My husband estimates that 70% of the issues he dealt with were at least partially connected to social media. It’s a platform that creates communication and a life that isn’t real. I read things personally, that I know that person wouldn’t say to another living human beings face but the technology had caused a disconnect. We are all about connection.

Our fourth question was one from my journey, do we crave technology? Can we leave it for an hour or two or a day or a two? I am proud to say that I now can. But now I am very careful to see if my boys are being seduced into the instant gratification of technology. If yes, we talk about it, then take a break for a day or two.

Image from http://www.rearfront.com

People worry about zombies coming to the earth, but I think they are already here… mouths dropped open, head down, phone in front of their face, running into poles on the sidewalk, ignoring every human being around them. To prevent a generation of zombies, I ask:

1. How does technology look like for you and your family? What do you want it to look like?

2. Are you using technology to create or consume?

3. How do you engage with social media?

4. Do you crave technology?

A few questions to ponder as we live in an ever changing technological world and strive to raise awake, creative human beings and not zombies.

Be Finding Balance Again (Overconsumption has taken over!) 

Overconsumption rules the world right now and, in my opinion, is ruining the world. 

From the plastics that are flooding the earth and waters. 

To the devices that are flooding our brains and bodies. 

On to the food that is stripping our lands of minerals and then not giving our bodies what it needs even when we think it’s good for us. 

Overconsumption has taken over! 

Did you know that most teens now spend more time on devices than an adult spends at their full time job per day?  

Did you know that some family’s have their children signed up for activities every single day of the week? 

Has anyone else noticed that rarely do we talk about reducing or reusing what we consume, instead all our energy has gone into recycling?   

Tonight, I lift my glass and say cheers to finding a balance life. 

True balance. 

Harmony within and around. 

Time and space to be. 

Energy and effort to do. 

Balance between men and women. 

Testosterone and estrogen. 

Just enough.  

All around. 

In balance.  


Our three boys ages, 10, 8 and 6 receive four hours of screen time PER WEEK. Today, their brains were flooded with the sounds and sights of skiing on snow. Their bodies climbed trees, hammered rocks, played piano and even jumped on mattresses in the basement later in the day.  

My husband and I don’t allow screens anytime on Mondays and Wednesdays when the boys have activities.  The rest of the week, they are free to choose when they use their “tech time”.   They are open to choose how to spend their free time.  It is in these in between time that is so fun to see what they create. 

Imbalance is killing us. 

Overconsumption is killing our planet. 

Each of us, can find ways to create balance. 

Individually it is easy. 

Collectively it makes a difference. 

Balance in mind, within our bodies and through our spirit.  

Imagine this place of balance for you, what it would look like and feel like. 

Who would be around you? 

What would you eat? 

What activities and moments of stillness would flow through the day? 

What would you do tomorrow if you lived a day in balance? 

You ‘Cann’ do it. 

😘 Joanna Cann 

Be Untrainable (a post for my three boys) 

    Boys, there are some thing that I never want the world or anyone in the world to train out of you.  I watched all of you complete a triathlon on Sunday. Personally, I love how sports and being active can teach us about life.  I feel this to be particularly true about volleyball and Triathlon.  


                        OC- 5 years old 


    Volleyball will teach you how to deal with failures when they happen and get over them quickly.  It teaches you how to always work as a team and how to be a contributing team player, no matter the role assigned to you.  Volleyball will take you through a life full of emotions in only one match.  But oh, Triathlon, this teaches us even more about life.  


               CC – 8th birthday day 

    Triathlon teaches us so much about ourselves.  Three years ago, I wouldn’t even have considered doing one.  My mind was holding me back.  So that’s the biggest hurdle we need to overcome is our mind’s desire to hold us back from success and adventure.  With training, anyone can complete a swim, cycle and run triathlon.  


                      JC – 10 years old 

    Swimming in triathlon is a special part of the event because you can drown! Mentally, you need to overcome that thought of dying, overcome the affects of water and waves as well as “Just keep swimming!” as Dory likes to remind us to do.  Now, we get to cycling boys! The part of the event that could lead to injury.  Through contact with other racers or the road.  You may need to hold your composure with equipment failure or getting passed on the hills.  Always remember that the swim and cycle part are really getting you ready for the run.  Imagine the swim as your birth to elementary school years.   Cycling is that adventurous and fast teenage years.  The run is adult life. This is where the real magic happens.  Every little stroke in the water or on the bike has set you up for the run.  On the run one step at a time, you will need to focus. Neither looking back nor too far ahead.  The run, like life, is a time to savour and enjoy a race well done!  And you did this on Sunday!   You showed how you want to live your life and my prayer tonight is that no one will ever take these skills from you, all these skills that you exemplified during your triathlons.  

    Tenacity. 

    Drive. 

    Heart. 

    Intrinsic motivation. 

    Deep feelings. 

    Athleticism. 

    Creativity. 

    And oh did you love that Sun Rype buffet at the end! 

    Keep celebrating.  

    Keep being you.  

    Always be you! 

    Love your very proud Mama 

    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 Searching for Something 

    As I sit watching the sunset, I ponder that ‘something’ I search for.   That ‘something’ that will fill feelings of grief, sadness and overwhelm.  

    That space that I try to fill every time I open my phone to check Facebook. 

    The hole I avoid when I run away from what I am feeling.  

    The darkness I turn from every time I sit in numbness, not wanting to feel, not wanting to go down old trodden paths of pain.

    But sometimes life doesn’t give us a chance to avoid.  

    It allows us the privilege to sit up, to notice, to see our grief journey clearly and how much pain we have turned into gratitude.  

    This search for something that is really nothing outside of us at all. 

    We can’t avoid living life and why would we want to. 

    The privilege to be with our people, to see into the eyes of their souls and to get to know them on a deeper level. 

    Yes, Facebook could do that. 

    Walking away could help us reflect. 

    And that darkness I talked about, well, that only helps us see the brightness of the light.  

    See, I have learned to let go of my sense of judgement as things are neither good nor bad, they just are.  I have also learned to be present with what I am feeling, as these feelings are neither good nor bad, as well, they just are! 


    So, as you search for that ‘something’ today may you first look within your soul, your beautiful unique self sitting within you.  Resting in your spirit.  

    Being you! 

    Then may you look around you at those imperfectly perfect people around you. Building Knex, asking about the birds and the bees, reading books, playing with pillows… are what my people are currently doing. 

    Being them! 


    Search for that something that is already within you. 

    Beautiful.  

    Imperfectly perfect. 

    Neither good nor bad. 

    Just being. 

    Full of strength.  

    Overflowing with hope.  

    Sitting in the presence of His peace.  

    Knowing you are loved.  

    Searching for nothing. 

    Found! 

    *written for a special person in our life on this significant ‘something’ kind of day! 

    Be Living Reality 

    Ask anyone I taught with, I was a reality tv junky. 

    Addicted? 

    Probably! 

    The Bachelor.  

    Big Brother.  

    American Idol.  

    Survivor. 

    At the schools I worked at, I used to organize Survivor Pools where we each would ‘be’ a character and we would see who would be the ‘Sole Survivor’! 

    Hours upon hours of reality tv, where my week would be organized around the specific day and hour the show would be on. 

    Survivor was Thursdays.  

    8:00pm. 

    5:00pm if you had an eastern channel!

    I loved it when my mom moved to town because she had that eastern time zone channel. 

    Yup, imagine revolving your whole week around a reality tv show?  I did it!  Yes, I did! 

    When my oldest, who is now nine, was four months old, I knew I had a wake-up call from tv land and I realized I had to make a decision.  

    I had just started maternity leave and was home full time with JC!  I was moving from an incredible, full 14 hour days as a teacher, to home and my Reality tv land.  Can you see where I was going?

    I knew I had to make a choice: watch reality from the couch or live it everywhere I went.   We decided to live it.  We stopped paying for cable television.  We started being intentional about what and when we wanted to watch tv shows on the Internet or via DVD’s.  We saw less commercials.  Our boys have rarely seen a commercial in their lives and often find them annoyingly interrupting to what they are watching.  

    (Sidenote: The constant Oil of Olay commercials on the children’s network, Treehouse, also persuaded me to cut cable. Did I want my boys to think that women’s faces looked like that?)

    Now, I live in reality every day with my brood of boys.  

    I live it everywhere I go.  

    Television shows and movies are rare. 

    Connecting with others and creating space to be is happening every day. 

    I have space to let my mind meander.  

    I have nothing ‘pulling’ me away from my vision of what I want my daily reality to look like.  

    My living ‘reality’ involves copious amounts of food in somewhat strange combinations, refereeing wrestling matches, going off the beaten path and lots of high energy activities.  That sounds exactly like reality tv, doesn’t it? 

    Survivor anyone? Who will be the sole survivor?  Some days it’s me!

    Big Brother? Me and my houseful of boys.  


    Really real. 

    Living life.  

    Awake.  

    Aware. 

    Alive.  

    Perfectly imperfect.  

    Being me.  

    In my reality.  

    Hmmmm…. maybe it’s time to get rid of Facebook?  But that’s really real, isn’t it? 😂

    Be Writing a Love Letter to My Boys 

    Dear My Boys, the ones my heart chose, 

    There is nothing on earth that I love more or am more proud of. 

    My “titles” of wife and mother are my DIAMONDS 💍.  

    When you calls me ‘love’, ‘sweetie’ or ‘Jo’, my heart melts. 💏 You are incredible to live with, dream with and be with.  it is such a gift to be able to hear your incredible ideas. 


    When I hear ‘Mama’, my heart soars. 🦋 You boys are my proudest achievements.  It is such a gift to be able to watch you grow.  


    My greatest 💃🏼 moments and memories involve you four.  

    My heart 💜 overflows as I write this.  

    I feel warm inside.  

    My mind is at peace.  

    Glory to God alone for this magnificent life we are creating together.  ❌⭕️❌⭕️

    Happy Valentine’s Day 2017 💋