Tag Archives: gift of grief

Be on a Radical Sabbatical in Paris

October 31st, 2019 – Paris

The Radical Sabbatical in Europe begins.

3 flights.

22 hours.

Pure excitement for the screens with movies, tv shows, podcasts, games and music on the seat in front of us.

Plus wifi while flying through the air too!

1 yummy airplane meal.

Copious amounts of water.

Lots of veggies from home, 2 meal replacement vitamin-shakes so no one gets a bungled up but.

3 hours of fitful sleep.

1 lost water bottle.

1 lost hat.

1 Uber drive.

1 random security screening and tears from our eight year old. (It is the second time he has been randomly selected for hand swabbing)

10:05am Arrival in Paris

1 hotel in Montmartre that actually looks exactly like the pictures in the online photos. (Hotel Migny Opera)

Sacre Coeur, the highest point in Paris and very close to our hotel.

Danone pudding cups. Oh man, do I love these delicious things. I would never eat them at home, but the dairy products and bread here are just oh so delicious.

Gotta love parks that have workout equipment. Plus fooseball, two playgrounds, a fenced in soccer/basketball area plus a ton of benches to sit on.

Amazing multi-purpose random parks where Sexy Neck ends up in a “dip” contest with other dads.

Hot Crepes. Who loves Nutella?

Pain au chocolat. Oh my.

In bed at 5:00pm to get our bodies onto this new time zone.

November 1st, 2019

14 hours of time in bed.

We made a mockery of the incredible French breakfast buffet and showed our boys where our love for jam, ham and cheese on bread came from.

We have the smallest elevator in our hotel! This is an actual real-life photo.

In our travel with our boys, we have realized one event per day is the perfect balance for us.

Today’s event was a Natural History Museum our eight year old picked out.

From the hotel.

On the metro.

To the Jardin des Plantes.

A misty walk.

A longer line than we are used to.

It was awe. some.

From the garden and zoo surrounding the museum, to the century old building that house the museum, we were in awe.

Then another metro ride to the Champs d’Elyssee for dinner.

14,862 steps.

3 metro rides.

One where I saw a man watching Steve buy our metro tickets. Then I saw the same man go through a turnstile with a woman, pickpocket her phone out of her jacket then proceed to give it back to her. I have learned that pickpockets use distraction and bumping into people to take things. The women didn’t even know he had gone through the turnstile with her. She thought it was just sticky.

5.5 hours of walking, talking, holding hands.

1 museum.

1 French dinner at Alsace restaurant.

1 priceless second day in Paris.

November 2nd

18,971 steps.

3 sweaty subway rides which were a nice reprieve from the cold wind.

1 canal boat ride along the Seine River.

3 bottles or Orangina and hot drinks by the “contained” Notre Dame Cathedral. There were high barriers around the property. We told the boys they will definitely have to go back.

Back to our hotel and 118 steps up a spiralling staircase to our room for a pre-dinner rest. We chose to be on the sixth floor. Steve and I decided that we will choose a place with a ton of stairs when we are 70 years old to keep us active!

Dinner at the highest point of Paris, Montmartre beside the Sacre Coeur.

Another beautiful day in Paris.

Cobblestone under our feet.

A quick pop-in to the LEGO store for the boys and H & M for me.

November 3rd

2 more Metro rides today.

We went to my favourite museum on earth, and it was free because it was the first Sunday of the month. If you love museums, checkout their free days and always note what day they are closed. It’s usually one weekday.

Off to my pick for this part of the trip: Mussee D’Orsay.

Monet

Two hours in the Museum D’Orsay was a hit. We climbed up to an observation deck on the fifth floor of the old train station and we asked the boys to see if they could recognize any of the artwork as we wandered around. We had a fun treasure hunt. But, I will admit that the biggest hit was the free virtual reality machine that gave the boys a two minute tour of the museum from the train station’s development over time.

Observation Deck
Virtual Reality Machine

16, 673 steps.

Over 700 of those steps straight up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower.

Up in the day and down in the night is highly recommended.

Also, instead of accessing the Eiffel Tower from the plazas, come in from the side on Avenue Silvestre de Sacy. My boys found the sellers quite noisy and strange when we came from Pont d’lena yesterday to check out the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower truly was an inspiring and incredible place to visit and I know it will ignite many future conversations with our family.

At 6:30pm, we arrived back home to our hotel for a simple picnic dinner while writing in journals and looking at and sharing photos amongst our devices.

We are very grateful for this day!

We saw concrete evidence of art in action and what a “rough draft” and “final copy” looks like! Yup, always a teacher!

We discovered a rose placed on a fence below the Eiffel Tower that reminded us of our beloved Nana in heaven:

We stumbled into an obscure Starbucks after a very rainy walk from the Museum D’Orsay to the Eiffel Tower:

The sun came out for our trip up and down the Eiffel Tower and we even saw a rainbow🌈:

Steve and I have THE BEST travel partners in the world!! No complaints. Easygoing. Flexible. Great communicators of their needs. And so MUCH FUN!

This Mama’s heart is overflowing.

“Acceptance” posture. What will be will be!

🚙 Today, we are off to visit the town used to live in in Northern France and also Vimy Ridge. Then Brussels, Belgium tonight for the next three days.

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 Observing International Women’s Day

What is a better what to observe and notice International Women’s Day than with words and photos.

This wordsmithing woman threw together some words and founds some pics to show you the faces of the inspiring woman surrounding me.

May the women around you stand by you.

Lift you up.

Hold you up.

Pray you up.

And never stand you up.

The woman in my life that is ALWAYS very present was my Mama.

She made me a better mom to my boys, a more thoughtful friend, a more forgiving wife and always helped me to get over my temper tantrums.

I am grateful for all the women in my life.

If you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with, I am kick *ss.

These are the women in my life.

The ones that truly care and you know that they are there.

Ones that help you with your babies and your business.

Those who nurture your mind, heart and spirit.

Women that help you grow, that you may not even have in a photo. 😉

Thank you to all you wonderful women!

😘 Joanna

Be Finding Food For Fuel (4 Pillars of a Healthy Fuelling System)

Isn’t it funny how a few days flat on your back allows you the privilege to reflect on health? February flu season is wafting through the house and it happened to grab on to me last Friday. The weekend was spent trying to breathe, staying warm and lying in a slightly upright position. Fun time for this jet engine energy girl. One thing about me, though, is situations like this help me grow.

These last seventy- two hours have afforded me the opportunity to think deeply about what I put into my body. Over four years ago, I was forty pounds heavier than I am today. Over four years ago, I was on a deep growth journey working through the grief of my loving mama. Over four years ago, I discovered, by my own willingness to never sit or lay in a pit too long, the best fuelling system for my body. And I want to stress “system” because there are no miracle products. Sorry. There are no one week detoxes that are going to fix your eating habits. Sorry again. And there are no amount of counting calories or points that will teach you how to nourish and listen to your body. Truth.

I now have partnered with the company that formulated this system over fifteen years ago. I have left my full time teaching life that I was very passionate about because I think all children are a gift from God. I now help match people’s personal goals to a system of products that support the systems that work within the body. And yes, we even touch on poo! After my mom died, as well as weekends like I just had, I know with 100% certainty that if we don’t have health we have nothing. If we don’t get a handle of how to fuel our bodies, we don’t have energy. If we don’t understand what our individual bodies need, we will have “dis ease”.

Here are my few gems from lying in the couch with “dis ease” if you truly want to learn how to fuel your body:

First, before you even try to uncover the food dilemma, how is your water intake and what amount of sleep are you currently getting? Furthermore, are you drinking enough water and sleeping enough for your body? How is your sleep hygiene? Are you able to sleep without your “handheld computer comforter” beside you?

Second, what do you LOVE to eat? Do you enjoy plants, meat, soups, fruit? Just because the current rage is to eat no fruit (no carbohydrates) or only eat meat (protein), you decide what is best for you personally and build your fuelling system around that.

Third, are you moving between the eating habits of starvation and overindulgence. Most people do. My company’s name literally means “balanced life”. This is your ultimate destination with your fuel. Eating every couple of hours with a balance of variety of foods that nourish you and bring you energy.

Water.

Sleep.

Love.

Balance.

Simple.

Isn’t it!

The four pillars of a healthy fuelling system.

One that doesn’t rely on feelings or emotions.

One that doesn’t flutter in the wind depending on the current ‘famous food’ that you can’t pronounce or diet plan you really only can follow when motivation is high.

Something that relies on you nourishing and listening to your body.

Something that allows your body to become more alive as you age and continue to grow.

Until we breathe no more.

Fuelling with water.

Recovering as we sleep.

Nourishing with lovely food.

Finding balance in all areas of our life, but especially with our food.

Comment below with your favourite fuelling tips.

Follow me on Instagram: @cannjoanna

If you need support in your fuelling, be free to ask me for more information at jj_cann@yahoo.com

With gratitude for feeling healthier,

😘 Joanna

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 Keeping SH*T Real

There is a pervasive message in our culture that is saying “stay positive”, “think positive”, shift your mindset to be more positive and everything will be AWESOME!

Those that know me, know that I do have a positive mindset, but I did not, I repeat, I DID NOT, get there by being positive all the flipping time.

Rails and Trails, 2018

Let me tell you a little story about these three geniuses above:

My boys were 7,4 and 2 years old when my mom was dying. This grief experience would become the greatest gift that our family has been given! Plus, isn’t it amazing to know that we all having the incredible Nana waiting for us in heaven. When we were given this gift of grief, I spoke with my counselor, a tremendous amount, about how we grieve as human beings She taught me, and my children showed me, that the very best grievers are actually children. What they do is feel things very deeply, stay in each moment and move in and out of grief very quickly. This was exactly our experience. They would see or remember something from Nana, wham, the tears would come. Then they would see their favourite LEGO and wham, they are smiling and playing again. My counselor taught me that the best thing I could do for them, and myself, was to sit with them in their grief, feel things with them and wait for them to shift or helps them slowing shift after being present with them. Rarely, did I need to do anything but merely sit and be present with them.

Imagine this same grief journey, if I constantly put on a positive face, ignored their feelings and told them to be positive. “Just be positive” said over and over and over again.  In a child’s world, this would be completely invalidating their feelings and not give them the permission to feel or grieve. I wonder what counselling they would need later in life to get over not feeling the feelings they had during this time?  

This year is going to be our fifth Christmas without my marvellous mama and I must admit that I have become an expert at negotiating grief. I sit with myself. I feel things deeply and then gently move myself when I know I am ready.  I cried in the pool this morning while swimming lengths. I feel the feelings, I let the tears flow. 

Germany, 2003
Robyn’s wedding, 1998

I am blessed because I can now see and sense this grief process working in others and I easily give them space to move through the process. We do this often with relationships, situations, and even with our food.  I can see people giving themselves lashes for not being positive enough or at all.  I can see people trying so hard. 

This brings me back to the positive rah rah that is overpowering our culture.  I WANT TO BE A PERMISSION BEARER.  As I observe and grow a business in this culture of a constant positivity, my message has clearly become “keep sh*t real”. The more honest my customers can be with me, the more I can walk with them. The more we can sit with each other in the real sh*t that exists in this world, the more we can move each other into positive places. We have to sit together, listen together and then move!

Feel the feels. 

Sit in them. 

Then look, seek and find solutions and that positive place. 

When you look around and feel like sh*t because you aren’t positive enough, pretty enough, doing enough or…. <insert what it is for you here>… keep it real and sit with your sh*t. And realise that when I look around and see the pervasive positivism overwhelming my feed, it’s usually being put out into the world by men, young couples or empty nesters. You don’t often seen mom’s waking up to puking kids or having to put every single thing they had planned that day on hold because of a child with a fever, spewing the positivity message 24/7.

It’s about keeping sh*t real. Finding a way to keep taking one step forward every day towards where you want to go. Surrounding yourself with people who will cheer you on and be positive even when you have spit up on your shoulder and haven’t combed your hair.  Find that tribe that keep things real and can be positive when you can’t be.  

If you aren’t feeling that you are good enough, positive enough or that you are doing enough, STOP that sh*t.  Remember my lessons from grief that my boys taught me.  

God has given you many talents that you may not be able to see right now.

That’s okay.

God is taking you through a season that is going to give you great strength.

That’s amazing.

God is going to reveal everything to you in EXACTLY the right time.

That’s incredible.

BUT, life isn’t always okay, amazing or incredible.

But you “Cann”: 

Always hold hope.

Always brings peace.

Always hold love.

Always keep sh*t real.

Even when the positivity police try to overtake you.

Learn from my greatest teachers, my boys, in this upcoming season.

Sit exactly where you are.

Feel things deeply.

Move when you are ready.

Always hold hope.

Always bring peace.

Always hold love.

Always keep sh*t real.

😘 Joanna Cann

Be Soil, Sun, Water and Oxygen

More today, now than ever, we need connections and people to mentor us on our life journeys.  Between the smoke and mirrors of social media and the messages being portrayed in movies, streaming and in advertisements, finding our individual growth journey is more important than it ever has been.  Slowly, we are inundated with the perfect lives, the neatly wrapped up stories and lives that are missing connections with the people breathing all around us.   We have forgotten to look around.  We are often looking at our phone missing the people around us.  

Look out. 

Look within. 

See the beauty around you. 

See the beauty within. 

As I thought about people who have helped me become the “flower” that I am: colourful, a bit tattered at the edges, long, strong and loving life amongst my other flowers, I have realised that there have been four key people who have helped me on my journey.    

Donna S, one of my mom’s very best friends, has been my soil.  She has provided nourishment at the right time of my life.  She has always held space and made space for me to be me.  I have never felt judgement from her, ever.  Donna has been the ground that I could stand on when growing.  She, too, was married to a Principal, worked in a care giving position as a nurse and chose to be a stay-at-home mom.  Donna is also a mom of three children.  She makes the very best zucchini sticks, fresh from her garden.  It never fails on my birthday that I will receive a birthday card from Donna.  A handwritten card will often show up at other pertinent moments, like my first year of University and my first time living alone, I received a card in November. I will never forget sitting on my dorm room bed, reading the card and crying because someone remembered me and thought of me.  Isn’t that a nourishing thought?  Where would I be without this soil beneath my feet provided by Donna?

At our wedding in 1997

Who loves the sun? Jean R. was my “University mom” and she was my light and sun during my growth as a university student.  She showed me how to live a life of freedom being exactly who you are.  Jean gave me physical and spiritual food and she showed me how to tap into God’s love and grace.  She had created beautiful rituals around the holidays and always had a handful of people home for the holidays, unrelated, but always at home at Jean and Joe’s.  Jean was married to an Engineer and is also a mom of three.  She, too, chose to be a stay-at-home mom and raise her three children while having a hairdressing studio in her basement.  She was also the person that gave me light on my wedding day by doing my hair.  Where would I be without this light-filled person in my world?  

Doing my hair for my wedding. 

Now enter into my life, water in the form of Hilde W. or Mrs. White in English.  She came to me in a season of tremendous growth, early in my marriage.  Hilde was my German mom and also a mother of three.   She showed me how to soak up new ideas and how she literally turned a century old barn into a thriving hotel and restaurant in a village the population of an elementary school.  Living in room 25 of her hotel, she also taught me how to cook pizza on a wood oven outside and load a mean dishwasher.  She was open and accepting and poured great love into both us.  She watered us on a daily basis with her kind words, big ideas and hard work.  What would I be without watching this clear living water pour from Hilde?  

Hilde and my German sister, Katrin, visiting Canada in 2006. 

Lastly, I end with my mentor who has breathed life in me from the very beginning.  She was my mom’s fellow ‘hockey wife’, one of her best friends and Wendy knew me when I was in my mother’s womb.  Wendy is also one of the first people that all my boys met when they were born. She taught me how to show up in live,  just be and breathe. Wendy also reminds me never to forget to laugh.  She showed me how to live the gift of grief when she lost her husband in a car accident when I was in my teens.  Wendy gives the very best gifts!  Through her actions and her words she is like a breathe of fresh air and her hugs, ah her hugs, they literally give you life.   Wendy helped in the family business, worked in schools, but mostly loved on her three children.  Where would I be without seeing Wendy live with full life with full breathes and have so much fun? O’Wen! 

Around 1982 at Shakee’s pizzeria. 

All of us are flowers getting ready to bloom.  We just need to remember or find those that are nourishing us as soil, sun, water and oxygen.  I wonder who those people are for you.  Conversely, I wonder who you could be those things for. 

Soil. 

Sun. 

Water. 

Oxygen. 

Moms of three. 

Filled with light. 

Overcomers of loss. 

Living life. 

All very important elements and role models for me to have to truly bloom.  

Note: For the article that inspired me to write this post, take a look at this article.  Thanks Wendy W. for the inspiration, my fellow flower!