Tag Archives: gratitude

Be Living Beyond Expectations (Painting)

Who knew what these last twelve months would bring?

Surprise after surprise, both wonderful and heartbreaking.

My self-assessment twelve months ago would have used the descriptors: mom, wife, daughter, previous jock, teacher-on-leave, Vtown girl…

I no longer live in Vtown, nor think of myself as a teacher, neither do I have a living mother anymore… The fact that I am painting makes me lie of the floor.

I was introduced to watercolour painting by Herta at this retreat. Sexy Neck bought me a set of paints for my birthday in a month later.

My heart is full of gratitude for having the luxury to play with colour on beautiful watercolour paper. My boys love it and always join me. We paint quietly together often talking about cool new colour creation or telling each other what we can see.IMG_4842 IMG_4843 IMG_4844 IMG_4845 IMG_4846


































Soul care.




A pure gift from God.

Beyond anything I ‘thought’ I could do.

Have you lived beyond your expectations today?
Two year old OC:



Almost Five year old CC


Seven year old JC’s paintings including a hairless one of me.



My paintings from my soul, feelings and things I see in God’s creation.







Chains or freedom.

Choosing freedom.

Living in the beyond.





Be Saying ‘Thank You’ to my Mom’s CFUW friends

I have talked before about my salty people. As my mom and dad journeyed through cancer, I got to see first hand the saltiness of their friends.

Yesterday, I was fortunate to help my dad host a group of my mom’s favourite people at their house overlooking the lake.

20140709-202042-73242308.jpgAll of these women belong to the CFUW. (Canadian Federation of University Women)



Mom moved full time to Vtown when JC, our oldest, was three months old in July of 2007. Over the years as mom and I talked about all the amazing people she was meeting hiking, biking, quilting, volunteering or even her next door neighbour, mom always expressed “oh she’s in CFUW too!” They are everywhere.

20140709-202224-73344037.jpg“Where are Nana’s friends?”

I have taken up riding my bike very early in the morning. For those who know me well, you are probably lying on the floor laughing or passed out, as you know I not a morning person nor much of a long distance bike rider. I feel close to my mom in the quiet mornings as the pedals crank and hear the birds. I also love seeing who is out and about as well as exploring this new city. Earlier this week, I chose a random street along the lake and you will never guess what I saw. A sign stating:

20140710-080735-29255301.jpgThe CFUW are everywhere, even taking care of a street along the lake.

During my mom’s cancer journey, her CFUW friends were everywhere. They provided food delivered to hospice for our family, picked up boxes of books to be donated, just because I asked. They provided close conversation and space for mom to be herself. They brought pictures to uplift and stories to comfort. This group of women did everything they could for my family and especially my dear mom.

At the Vancouver Peace Summit in 2009, the Dalai Lama foretold that Western women will save the world. After watching my mom’s CFUW friends, I believe him.

With gratitude,

For all the gifts,

Giving freely and lovingly,

Over the course of this last year!

To a group of women,

Who gave these gifts,

Of themselves, through themselves,

Independently and collectively,

Thank you from the bottom of my family’s hearts and stomachs!


Be Reading Beth Moore ‘Breaking Free’

I took this book off the shelf this week.

I put it on the back of the toilet seat to open when I had a quiet moment while I lock myself in the bathroom.

Then I opened the book to this page:

These last few weeks I have been in a dark tomb of anger, fatigue, sadness and again wondering how to live this new life in the light without my mom. I have many words tumbling in my head, most not rated G. I am thinking thoughts I have never thought and experiencing deep emotions on both ends of the spectrum.

I feel sadness that knocks me over as I watch mothers with their mothers. I cannot move but just stare when I see the grandmas picking up their grandchildren, filled with joy, from preschool. I want my mom by my side on my bike. I desire her steady presence and insight into my life.

I weep.

I don’t know what the next moment will bring, but my heart is full of gratitude for the gift of Beth Moore, books, my ability to read and God weaving everything together.

Holding on.


Sitting in my grief.

Damn, it’s hard.

Knowing this will not overcome me.


Being grateful for the life I have.

In Christ alone.

Be Painting the Walls Orange?


I am not sure where that came from. My thoughts are often strange peaceful and painful creatures I have never seen before. Apparently these creatures are currently orange.

My dad gave us this painting:

And… I decided that I wanted to paint the wall behind this picture orange.

Take a look:

(Oh ya, I am also painting the fireplace!)

Side note: my mom has painted every house that I have owned. She would come over with her own paintbrush and paint clothes. She would paint while I would keep the boys out of the paint. My mom, in her pain, painted the green cupboards in our current kitchen. I love my mom’s presence and the love she poured into our homes in more ways than one.

So…. I was feeling pretty crazy about this orange thought so I decided to text my soul friend on Saturday and she gave me this insight about orange: Orange means courage, passion, dunamis power, fire, harvest and strength.

Side note #2: (How many are you allowed in a blog?)
My insightful friend, A, gave birth to a baby girl yesterday! We lit a candle for her as we were creating our ‘Speak to me’ paintings.

But… Sexy Neck still wasn’t sure about the orange. He said, “Ask Ang!” I asked our designer friend Ang and she surprised us all with a “Go for it!” AND I DID!

Today, I started with a wall at the end of the hallway where we will put yesterday’s creations. I figured I would start small for my first wall painting endeavour. Then I moved to the big feature wall in the living room!



Orange baby!

Painting through my grief.

Better than eating!

Working it out.

Staying present.

Letting go of fears.

Throwing out expectations.

Living outside of judgement.

Painting the walls orange parrot.

Thank you Benjamin Moore.


Side note #3: One more coat of paint tomorrow. Finish product photos coming soon!

Side note #527 I just received a comment from from Ang Interior Design friend. (See comment below)
Guess what orange symbolizes in the design world – “Orange offers emotional strength in difficult times. It helps us to bounce back from disappointments and despair, assisting in recovery from grief.”

Yup, orange it is! Now I have to lie on the ground AGAIN. Who knew colours could make connections to my life too!

Be Saying Thanks

My dad continues to amaze me.

In each moment, throughout his grief, he has always been thoughtful of who he needs to say thank you to. He has exemplified gratitude through taking the time to express his heartfelt thanks.

With editing help from myself and my sister, my dad managed to get this thank you into this mornings paper. Incredible!

The hardest part of this process was that he was afraid he would forget to thank someone.

Today, I am feeling sad but filled with gratitude for all my people in PG, Williams Lake, Summerland,Calgary, Edmonton, Vietnam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Spain, Germany, Cowichan Bay, Dawson City, Vancouver Lumby, Coldstream and here in Vernon where I currently row my boat of grief.


Be a “KCAM” Mommy

It’s important to have some peeps no matter where you live. It is difficult to live in isolation, as I know.

I’m extremely grateful to these four women that I get to see on a regular basis at school pick-up and drop-off. I called them KCAM women because of their beginning initial and they also represent the piece in a wheel called a cam. A cam helps transforms rotary motion into linear motion.

These four kcam’s have helped me and encouraged me to keep moving forward into this new life in KCity instead of feeling like I am spinning in circles. Oh I would be spinning in circles without these four!

They have helped us find a church, a dry cleaner, a Christmas gift for the teacher, piano teacher and hockey program. They have jumped into trying Bikram yoga with me and told me about other fun things to do in the city.

Let me introduce you to this fabulous women that God has allowed me to meet:

K – mom of boys
– kind and lovely person to see at preschool and elementary school pick-up/drop-off
– incredible with her boys and the children she nannies
– helped us find a church
– encouraging and real
– track star from down south

C – incredibly thoughtful and kind
– hospitable, has already invited us over for dinner twice and we plan to make it over there soon
– mom of boys
– open and encouraging
– athletic, fit, classy
– moved into a new house this summer too

A – an “old” friend from volleyball days
– someone I was delighted to become reconnected with again
– we moved into their hood (she grew up down the street from us and now lives behind us)
– dropped off a pizza dinner when we moved in (how sweet is that!)
– took me walking to show me around
– athletic, likes to be organized
– super outgoing and friendly

M – someone Sexy Neck (my hubby) met at parent orientation night. M and her husband blew him away with their kindness.
– fellow mom of three
– is a teacher on leave too
– just ‘gets it’
– loves being a stay at home mom
– athletic, fit styling and spends time outside

GOTCHA – this is one half of the KCAM

20131121-215513.jpgKind, lovely, encouraging, real, thoughtful, hospitable, enthusiastic, athletic, open, classy, organized, outgoing, friendly, kind, empathetic, styling, love being moms!

Yup, I would say I am pretty fortunate to be surrounded by four incredibly inspiring and well rounded women during this season of my life!

Be Pruned (and Mom update!)

Last week, I was watching my boys play on their scooters and bikes when I saw this beautiful Daylily that had grown back beautiful, green leaves since I had pruned it in September. This will give you a hint of the abnormally warm weather we had in October.

On that day, this little plant taught me a very valuable lesson, something I have been pondering for over fifteen years.

In the bible, the book of John tells us that Jesus says, God is the gardener, he is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus goes on further to say that he prunes us so that we will be even more fruitful.

I’ve never really understood this beautiful picture. I’ve always thought if God is God why does he need to prune us?

Back to my Daylilly in front of our house. As I walked up to it I started having a conversation in my head.

I’m sorry little Daylily. You are incredibly beautiful and wonderfully green, but I’m going to have to prune you. I know that the winter is coming soon and you are going to die unless I prune you. I need to cut back your leaves so that in the spring we can enjoy your beautiful flowers.

After these thoughts went through my head, I wanted to get down and lie on the sidewalk. I have been known to do that before with my prayer walking buddies.

I feel that I am in a season of pruning and sometimes it hurts. It is hard to see those beautiful green, lush plant leaves fall away. For me those green leaves would be: expectations, needing to ‘know’, some relationships, wanting to help. None of these things are bad, but I see that to move forward I need to let these things fall to the ground.

Now I sit, with my people, and I notice.

I try to be gentle with my newly pruned self.

My pruning is neither good nor bad.

It just is.

I allow those beautiful plants around me to give me encouragement.

Those plants that are amazing at weathering the winter storms.

My counselor, my old Clark Crescent friends, my mommy friends, my prayer warriors, sexy neck and God.

In Him alone I put my trust.

I looked to His creation, His word and His ways to continue to teach me, and to allow me to weather this storm. How do you weather storms when they come?

Mom Update
Mom is one tough cookie! This process is not for wimps. Mom has had excruciating back pain all week due to her surgery two weeks ago. This morning we met with the oncologist to talk about her chemotherapy that she should start next week. This will be chemotherapy number four! Mom is very weak and still having difficulty eating. She also continues to lose weight. The doctor would like her to be stronger before she does her next chemotherapy. This should probably be the last week of November. Mom is greatly encouraged by her grandkids, a friend, Donna, who came for a visit this week as well as by my dad’s presence and my sister flying in tonight. God has us all in the palm of his hands. May you sleep well tonight mama. I love you so very much.

Be ‘Moving’ Backwards to go Forward

My counsellor has been working with me to let go of the Western ideal that we move from point A to point B never to return to ‘old stuff’.

When I continue to go over this old ground in my mind, I feel like a failure, I feel shame and I feel mad.

My inner dialogue goes something like this:
“What this again? Seriously Joanna. Are you really going to have this same conversation again? Are we really going down this path? How could this happen again?”

Thanks to my counsellor, I have shifted this A to B mentally to be more of a deepening spiral. Like a tornado funnel.

Oh I like this analogy because sometimes I have me some wind blowing around me!

Yes, I am going to go over the same road again but I am going to be in a different place on my path, a deeper place. (I am almost 40 you know!).

Last night, was a huge mental shift downward into my deepening spiral.

For weeks I have looked for a once per week hockey program that we could do in Ktown. Do you think I could find one? Nope! Minor hockey, that wants to devour families lives with their three times per week practices/games, is the show in this town.

We decided to take JC out of Grade One forty-five minutes early and drive the boys sixty kilometres back to the town we just moved from so that the boys could play hockey.

They are back at the rink they know.

CC has the same coach he had last year.
Papa was on the ice with CC.
JC got to move up a level.
He gets his own jersey this year.
I get to see old friends each week.
AND THE VERY BEST PART, NANA CAME TO WATCH. Can you see me up and jumping around?

It was amazing night of going backwards. JC’s teacher was supportive of our idea, dad laced up his skates and even went for a morning skate to get ready, lastly mom looked me square in the eyes and said, “I am really glad that you are coming here for hockey!”

Anything for you Mama! Now if only I could meet your request for a new body!

JC waiting to give his brother a high five before his turn on the ice.

Papa and CC working together.

OC watching the action.

Nana is on the right in the toque.

Sometimes you need to go backwards to move forward. Lesson learned. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Deeper. Deeper. Deeper.

Be Grateful

How do I express gratitude for some very special people who do so much for me?

I have tears in my eyes as I write this and try to express my feelings.

From the moment I was born, my parents have provided me with support, love, encouragement and they have never stood in the way of my dreams.  They have not been perfect, nor would I ask them to be!  But they have been unwavering in their love and willingness to help me.  They have watched me go off to University to chase a little white ball around a volleyball court, get married at twenty three, move to Europe and back three times, give birth to three little blonde boys and now get ready to follow my husband to a new job in a new city.   Whew! 

I think my parents have painted more walls in the houses of I lived in than I have!

My parents have been the sole second caregivers to my children.  They spend a lot of time thinking of crafts, reading books, taking them skating and letting them have the run of their house.  

They have always bought thoughtful gifts and things that we truly need, even if I don’t think I need a beautiful KitchenAid mixer!  Oh, but I did and how I love it.  My parents are wise!  

Who else has stepped up to the plate when I have no one else to call?  Who else has understood me when no one else did?  Who else would understand my emotional ways, but can hear the story behind these emotions? Who else is willing to show up with a cup of tea and time to chat on the couch?  What a gift I have been given in my parents. 

Last week, I went back to teaching part time.  A good friend and my parents stepped in to take care of the boys.  

Here is the little gift that we gave to them to show our gratitude: 


My husband and I truly mean what this says from the bottom of our hearts.