Tag Archives: journey

Be Giving Birth…

…to a book! 

  
I have given birth three times, twice at home and once at the hospital. All were beautiful labour-intensive moments that I would do again tomorrow.  They were all miracle moments after nine months of growth and preparation. 

And now after nine months, I am giving birth to a book baby.  Twins actually.  The first book will be birthed into the world sharing my inner journey through the gift of grief and then my outer journey book will be ‘pushed out’ shortly afterwards. 

Putting my thoughts into words involved early mornings, late nights, many uncomfortable moments and back pain from sitting in a chair.   It caused endless hours of introspection as I prepared to plunge my words into the vast unknown of Amazon and people paying to read my words.  

I know I am awaiting the time.  

I have prepared.  

I have pondered.  

I am ready to live my miracle moments. 

Knowing I am enough.  

I can be enough.  

Just being. 

Me.  

Giving birth to twin books. 

Be a Tour Guide not a Travel Agent

I have a daily choice to make on how I want to live my life.

My life.

Impacting others.

My choice.

On how others impact me.

I have made the decision that I am going to live the rest of my days as a TOUR GUIDE.

I will be a leader.

I will speak clearly and kindly.

I will explore new places with excitement.

I will be show love and forgiveness to those on this journey with me.

I will try all sorts of new food.

I will jump into new activities.

I will not sit in my desk as a travel agent, but I will lead the tour!

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Today, I unveil my new website www.beenough.me.

I will be your tour guide on this journey into being “enough”!

Here I am with my boys:

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I am taking 100% responsibility for MY LIFE.

I am going to neither blame nor complain.

I will continue to LOVE deeply those placed around me.

I will listen.

I will ask.

I will be overflowing with gratitude that my basic needs of food, clothing and housing are completely met.

I am going to live my dream and create a clear vision for my family.

I will allow my path to wander.

I will believe.

I will know that what others think of me is none of my business.

I will set goals and create small daily tasks for myself.

I will look for others who have done what I am going to do.

I will link arms with those who inspire, encourage and love me as I am.

I AM releasing the BRAKES.

Here we go….

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Be Sharing your Story – Katie

It is with honour and gratitude that I introduce our guest blogger today, Katie!

Katie’s the beautiful blonde holding the cutie in light pink in this photo.

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We have journeyed through motherhood together as our oldest children are only months apart. Her daughter being a few months older than JC. We have now journeyed through our mom’s having cancer. Her mom being diagnosed two seasons before mine. Her mom is on the right of this photo. They celebrated a wonderful Christmas together as a family!

I feel humble gratitude for Katie going ahead of me on this crazy cancer journey with my mom. I really appreciate all our parking lot conversations and hugs!

Here’s Katie’s story:

I first met Joanna at Baby Talk (a parenting group here in Vernon), over 6 years ago. I think we literally had our babies in our arms when we first met. JC was maybe 3 weeks old, and my daughter was 2 months old.

Then our babies grew into pre-schoolers, and they went to the same pre-school together. Because the pre-school relied heavily on parent (and grandparent!) volunteers, both my mom and Joanna’s mom volunteered often at the pre-school. I know the kids loved it when a grandparent got to volunteer. It seemed to be something extra special. (I think all the kids even called them Nana!)

Before we knew it, pre-school was done and it was time for our oldest “babies” to start Kindergarten. It was September 2012, and my daughter and JC began Kindergarten at the same elementary school. It was an exciting time. Then a week into that school year, my mom was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. I remember explaining to Joanna this devastating news when I first found out my mom was sick. For some reason I remember telling Joanna in the school parking lot. I could barely say the word “cancer” out loud. It was too new, too raw of a feeling. At the time I didn’t know anything about cancer. I struggled with the thought of losing my mother, and I struggled with the challenge of being present for my own two daughters at the same time.

I remember seeing Gwen volunteer in JC’s kindergarten class that Fall. I loved seeing this energetic, smiling Nana stroll the halls at the school. A couple of months later, Winter 2012, I would see Joanna, Steve and the boys skiing up at Sovereign Lake. And quite often I would see Gwen with them. As I watched this amazing, active Nana walk around the lodge, I remember wishing my mother was healthy enough to take on an activity like cross country skiing. My mother was only an hour away in Kelowna, but while I watched Gwen I remember missing my mother terribly. Even though my mother was only an hour away in Kelowna, at home, I was already grieving.

Flash forward to Spring, 2013. Joanna shared her concerns about her mom, and the change in Gwen’s health. I think Joanna also told me this in the school parking lot. (It’s funny what you remember when you’ve had intense conversations) Over the next few weeks I did my best to share with Joanna some parts of my mother’s cancer journey. I told her what I knew about chemo, blood tests, markers, anxiety, oncologists, social workers, CT scans, etc. It’s steep learning curve if you’ve never encountered all of this terminology before.

I think it is a strange and powerful grief when you learn your mother is terminally ill, and that one day she will not be around to “mother” you anymore, to share things with, to watch her be with your own children. Because we are mothers. And yet we are also daughters who need our own mothers. And although I didn’t know your mom well Joanna, I’m sure she was extremely proud of you as her daughter, and who you’ve become as a person, and as a mother.

Be Sharing Your Story – Jan & Don

I grew up on Clark Crescent. I think it was the best place in the world to grow up. Walking distance to schools, Moore’s Meadow and the store. Plus, we had the best neighbours.

Here’s our neighbours from three doors down. Mom and dad of three boys! Gotta love that!!

Hi Joanna and Michelle, Mike and all your family. I just wanted to add a bit to your wonderful blog. Some things I remember:

Your Mum -taking a course where she needed to study a child. She asked if she could do this with Ryan. I said sure as long as he was ok. Of course, easy going Ryan assented. Then you Mom said what if I do all three boys? Again. Sure if they are ok. So she did. Because all she did was confidential I never really knew what was asked or answered, but she did tell me they were classic: oldest, middle and youngest. When I see and hear of your fun exploits with your three boys Joanna, I can’t help but go back to my own years with 3boys.

Just one other thing. On your wedding day, when our friend Jean Rapaich was here at our home, doing your hair, I can’t begin to tell you how special it was to me. A GIRL in my home getting ready for her wedding day. Wow.

And your wonderful selfless Mom easily and willingly sharing that with me. Little things mean a lot. I picture Gwen- always with a wonderful smile on her face. And that’s the smile she is bestowing on your family now.

Sending love to all. Jan and Don

Be Sharing Your Story – Wendy

Wendy has known me since I was born, and my mom longer. I asked her to share her journey with mom. I am grateful.

Here’s Wendy at the hospital when we had a sleepover with mom last week:

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Hi Joanna. Here is my story with Gwen especially for you.
Where to begin ….. ?
I know ….. at the beginning.

The introduction of Gwen:
The first time I met Gwen was at Jim’s and My house in Perry Sub. It was a Mohawk Party. And Mike brought his new fiance with him to meet us all. Apparently, (as the story goes) only one of the ladies at the party spoke to Gwen. (Not a nice story)
But then, as the story goes, Gwen and I became great friends.

Basketball:
We began our Prince George career in basketball with Uncle Bill Fraser as our Coach.

The Prince George Mohawks:
Mike and Jim were defencemen for the Prince George Mohawks. And we went to many games, parties, family get togethers over the next 4 years. Joanna and Amber hung around with each other at the arenas. Little rink rats.

The Prince George Mohawk Oldtimers:
Later on in years we got to travel with our husbands so they could play Oldtimer Hockey.
One memory of Gwen and I is that of a tournament held in Kelowna where we could wear our shorts and sit out side and suntan.
Yes, we both love the sun.

Austin Road Elementary School:
Gwen was Amber’s Librarian at Austin Road Elementary when Amber was in Grade 4. Gwen asked Amber if there were any animals at our Pet Store that she would like to bring to school for Show and Tell. Amber brought the cutest little rabbits, and she left them overnight. In the morning “Mrs. Jenkins” had to ask Amber to go all over the school to pick up bunny “poop” as the rabbits had escaped.

I also volunteered, once, in the library and then Gwen shooed Me off to help in the gym to coach basketball.
She said I was better suited there. haha
I also helped “Mrs Jenkins” on Sports Day.

Peru:
In 1994 Gwen and I, along with 8 other people, went to Peru. An amazing experience. It was wonderful looking at our outings through Gwen’s eyes. Gwen taught the country of Peru to her Grade 6’s and she always wanted to go. We have great memories, excellent pictures to document our trip, which was full of many laughs.

Volunteering:
Under Gwen supervision, I volunteered for the Scottie Ladies Tournament of Hearts.

Vernon:
In 2001 Don and I moved to Vernon as my sister Faye and husband Bill were living there.
In later years, Gwen and Mike bought a house two doors down from Michelle, Craig, Sydney and Abby.
This was so great as I knew I would get to chum around with Gwen again.

We:
Watched basketball games at Fulton, VSS – and when we started to watch we did not even know a player on either team. We just love basketball.
And finally a player we knew – Chris Richter for Fulton.
Watched volleyball at Fulton. And one season, I became Joanna’s Manager for the Grade 9/10 Fulton Girls Volleyball Team. Gwen was Team supporter and the Grandmother to Jackson. Best time of my life. I will treasure this memory always. (Joanna, you are such a special “girl” and those girls were so lucky to have you as their Coach – to make them better volleyball players and better people.)

Movies and Popcorn:
Either one of us would say “Good Movie on tonight….” “Meet you there”…. we would then have our popcorn and enjoy the movie whether it was excellent or just plain rotten. I will miss these times.

Coffee:
It was great just to meet for coffee somewhere in Vernon. There are so many little coffee shops.
One favourite thing to do was to go for lunch and have meat loaf sandwiches with our coffee.
We also drove to Armstrong for coffee with the Ladies we had met from Vernon and Armstrong.

Newcomers’ Dinners:
Sandy Morris took me to the first Newcomers Dinner. And there was Gwen . So now there are 3 of us from Prince George.
We were then introduced to book clubs, snow skiing, snow shoeing, hikes, quilting, bike riding, . Gwen participated in all these clubs I just joined a book club and snow shoed. 🙂

“Pals”:
Pals is the name of my book club. Stands for …… “Pay Attention Ladies” A wonderful group of friends.
Gwen joined the coffee part of our group.

Viper Hockey Games:
Gwen and I were fortunate to go to a few hockey games together. We enjoyed these outings, too. We would go to White Spot for supper first and then to the game.

Kelowna Airport:
How many times has Gwen driven Me to the Airport and then picked Me up from the Airport ???
I am truly thankful for this thoughfulness.

Trips to Vancouver:
Gwen and I have been on trips to Vancouver. She would drive down to see Michelle, Craig, Sydney and Abby.
And I would visit with my friend Karin.
On one of these trips we went to Williams Park in Langly. The Park is named after my great grandparents.
And as it turned out Gwen grew up with cousins of Mine that I had never met. So got to see the Park, meet my cousins, see where my cousins grew up, the school that the Rae sisters and my cousins went to, and the Church where they all were in CGCI together.

Hockey Golf:
For a few years Don and I golfed with the Hockey crew. So again, that is spending time with Mike and Gwen.
I enjoyed being on either of their teams.

Casino:
Even a few trips to the Casino. Gwen was quite lucky at winning. Would not stay long….she was smarter than Me ! 🙂

Dinners at Gwen’s
I was always so happy to be invited to Gwen’s for a family dinner. Always delicious and the company was rewarding.
My one regret is that I never did have a full “Jenkins” family dinner at my house before I moved back to Prince George.
I did , however, enjoy the company of Gwen and Gail.

I have many great memories with Gwen.
Love Wendy

Be Sharing Your Story – Theresa and John (Diana’s parents)

We are extremely touched by how many people are reaching out to us and are sharing this journey with mom and our family.

This morning I received an email from Diana’s parents. Diana shared her journey with us this morning.

Here is what Theresa and John had to say:

Mike. Joanna, Steve, Jackson, Colby and Owen and family

We have been following Gwen’s and your path all along the way; we are sure that Gwen appreciates all your loving support from the get go through to this difficult part of her journey – she may be too ill now to articulate it but never forget that she gives you her loving support right back. We like to think she will be doing that from on high when she gets there, and sometimes you will need to feel her doing that.

We are full of admiration for Gwen, you, your family, and especially Joanna (and Sexy Neck – I can never think of Steve again without thinking of this reference – and the little ones) and how you are all coping and providing support and love for each other. I am sure there have been some bumps along the way where not every moment went totally smoothly, but even the bumps have been full of love.

Yesterday I went searching in our photos and finally found the one that epitomizes Gwen to me – Jackson’s 3rd birthday party whose theme was cycling – it was a neat party and you and Gwen were both very involved – attached are a few photos that show Gwen in her cycling jacket, etc. manning (or womanning) the water station and you, Mike, manning another type of water station – good thing it was a hot day!! The kids sure loved it all and it was one of our favourite birthday parties – though they are are all fun!!

Being her very dynamic cheerful self while Being interested in what family and friends are up to, Being active cycling or hiking (and encouraging others to do the same), Being proud of each of you for your special gifts, Being joyfully and enthusiastically involved with family and friends, that is what Gwen means to me.

John and I are thinking about Gwen and all of you

Love and Hugs

Theresa and John

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Be Sharing Your Story – Diana

I have known Joanna for 7 years. My 3 children were each born, into the loving hands of the same midwife, 1-2 months after each of Joanna’s children. We are incredibly blessed to have Joanna and Steve as our oldest daughter’s godparents. Joanna is my bosom buddy. Until 8 months ago, our family of 5 lived in Vernon. Our blood relations lived 500+kms away. To our family, Gwen and Mike are Nana Gwen & Papa Mike or simply Nana and Papa.
When Joanna asked me to say a few things about her mom, and being enough, I said “of course”. Only being concise is not my forte. So, I have since written several pages in my mind’s eye, each a smattering of all the places and times we have experienced together. I would guess Nana has seen more day to day life of our young family in the last 5 years than our children’s 4 grandparents. It has meant the world to us.

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• Early in knowing Nana, I remember her being so excited to cuddle my children on her lap, often reading, or even taking in a live sports game.
• Since then I have tasted a great many delicious gluten-free cakes Nana brought for JC, CC and OC’s birthdays.
• Nana handmade and gifted our family a beautiful beach bag
• Nana invited my parents over for Thanksgiving dinner, when they were camping in the area
• Nana has hung out with my children when I went back to work between mat leaves
• Nana has skied with my children on weekends
• Nana has surprised me with her skill and enthusiasm for paddle boarding, biking, hiking…

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Though this may sound like a list of activities or “doing” on a blog all about “being”, in my memory Nana is adept at making these one in the same. I have observed, over and over, how much she just knows exactly how to “be enough” in every moment… seeming to love whatever she is doing, whoever she is with, wherever she is: Disneyland, Hawaii, snowshoeing, snuggling up to read a simple book to her grandkids, or even fighting off wicked flu bugs she caught while taking care of them! When living in Vernon, Kurt and I both felt we could talk to Nana about anything. No matter what troubles arose in life, she always seemed to have this way of shrugging her shoulders, nodding, and without any hesitation saying (or often asking) something simple to knock stress and apprehension down a few notches.
When I asked Daria to draw a picture today for Nana, she drew this beautiful representation of the essence of Nana:

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The Heart. Through laughter, shrugging off her own talents, listening to others, asking thoughtful questions, giving to others, and more, I remember Nana through our time in Vernon overall as being genuinely heart-felt in each moment… as if she would be perfectly happy to endlessly continue doing just what she was doing. And in that way of being, Nana has a special easy way of letting her children and grandchildren bring their own uniqueness to the world.
I can hardly believe hospice is Nana’s new home. Like Ang, I do question: why the short time? Yet, I can say honestly from seeing Nana the past 5 years – Nana has already been enough!
She has shared so openly and freely of herself with her children, grandchildren, and everyone (like me) she has met along the way… from the bottom of her heart. What a precious and unique gift. I am quite sure she will continue to bring forth the unique spirits of each one in her family. I know I will always see Nana in their faces.
Nana just has that incredible talent of being there. Listening. REALLY listening. And being enough.