Tag Archives: nana

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 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 Knowing the Opposite of Love 

I am a feelings girl. 

I no longer apologize for this. 

I feel things deeply. 

I am impacted by the words and even vibe of the people around me. 

I know this. 

Now, I harness this. 

People are powerful. 

We have emotions that fuel behaviour. 

We have passions. 

We have love!  

In my personal journey that I entered into as I walked through the gift of grief, the loss of my mama, I saw love.  

Pure love that no amount of pain could suppress. 

One moment my mama would be writhing and the next moment my boys would walk through the door.  

In that single moment, a smile would come on my mama’s face. Her eyes would open up and she would see them. She would hear them. She would be fully present and LOVING!  


On this journey, I also learned the opposite of love and it wasn’t what I had thought. 

During my four decades of life, I have surmised that the opposite of love was the feelings, thoughts and actions of hate. I realized the untruth of all of this. 

The incongruency. 

The inconsistency. 

I witnessed people, people I dearly love, be silent.  

Be unpresent. 

Eyes closed. 

Ears firmly shut. 

I asked them “why” and implored them to tell me “What could I do differently?”.

I received no responses. 

I had to sit with no answers. 

And then the moment hit me that the opposite of love had never been hate. 

Hate allows for discussion, emotion, action of some sort.  

The opposite of love has never been hate. 

It’s apathy. 

The nothingness. 

The unresponse.  

Love and hate are actions. 

Apathy is lethargy. 

Action and apathy are opposite. 

Apathy is meeting people to go sledding and one person decides to take a nap on the top of the ski hill.  This is not love! 

Apathy is inviting someone over for a two hour birthday party and they fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the party. (Note: The person is in their 30’s!). This is not love! 

Apathy is talking to someone daily and seeing someone weekly and then never being invited over to their house again.  They end up texting to tell you they are selling the house. This is not love! 

Apathy is having your phone in front of your face when someone is trying to have a heartfelt conversation. This is not love! 

Living in my gift of grief and my apathy examples, I implore you to be awake to love and aware of apathy.   


Keep your eyes open.  

Ears ready to hear.  

Be present. 

Be loving. 

I am a feelings girl 

Apathy is brutal! 

I no longer apologize for this. 

Nothingness is worse than hatred. 

I feel things deeply. 

I am impacted by the words and even vibe of the people around me. 

I know this. 

Now I harness this. 
I don’t spend time with apathetic people. 

People are powerful. 

If THEY choose to be! 

Overflowing with love, with action and knowing it’s opposite. 💖

Lessons from a Super Nana who would be celebrating her 75th birthday this week!   I love you Mama. 😘 Joanna 

Be In Relationship or Right? 

As I lay my head down on the pillow, I ponder relationships, as I often do.  My peeps.  My random people.  All humans who crossed my path today.   

I shower gratitude over the people in my everyday life: our neighbours, our friends, our teachers, our coaches, our secretaries, our service industry works.  

I feel sadness and wonder what I could do with those ‘lost’ relationships.  I wonder about what I could have done differently and I often come to the conclusion of: NOTHING. 

As I lay my head down on the pillow, I realize that some people would rather be right than be in relationship.  It is truly their way or the highway.  They actually like to be “highway patrollers” telling others how to drive on the highway of life.  For me, my patrollers, are no longer in relationship with me because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do.   I don’t want to drive my vehicle in their style.  They are right and I am wrong.   And I am totally okay with that! 

I may be wrong but I walk in freedom.  Complete and utter freedom.  As a recovering perfectionist, I am no longer afraid of wrong.  I am no longer afraid to fail.  I am failing faster than ever before as I learn about fueling my body and moving out of my comfort zones. (Because we all know that this is where the magic happens!)   I believe our greatest learning happens when we pick ourselves up after we fall down. I am no longer afraid of others judgements or insight in my wrongs.  I am too busy growing myself. I honestly don’t have time or energy to judge what others are doing. Plus, I value relationships over being right. 

I love my peeps, where we can talk honestly and opening about where we are at.  Our lives aren’t all glossy like a magazine cover, it is like a gorgeous diamond bracelet with the shine and shadows.   No one is striving to be right nor wrong but to be in relationship.  

Loving. 

Laughing.  

Learning.  

Living.  

In relationship! 💛

(This post is written in celebration of a group of women who met this morning to share the life and death of their beautiful mamas! #griefgirls) 

Be Riding Nana’s Bike (Post about Joy!)

Lately have you felt that happiness that just flows out of you?

Your teeth seem whiter and brighter?

Your smile is larger than life?

Joy seeps out through every skin cell in your body?

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Last weekend, we decided to get the bikes ready for a ride to a local coffee shop.

We noticed Nana’s old bike in the back of garage from when our friend Sara used it last year.

We asked our oldest, JC, if he wanted to ride Nana’s bike.

The ride was PURE joy for him and it flowed through us all.

He loved the feeling of being up on Nana’s bike.

He was mesmerized with her gears.

We talked about all the different places that Nana used to ride her bike and how she would often just miraculously show up in our backyard for a ‘break’ and a drink of cold water.

Really we knew that Nana loved a destination and she loved seeing her people!

As we watched JC ride Nana’s bike, happiness flowed out of us all.

Our teeth seem were whiter and brighter.

Our smiles were larger than life?

Joy was seeping out through every skin cell in our bodies?

A perfect joy-filled precious moment.

Just being.

Enough.

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Be Celebrating Another Nana

This post has been percolating in my mind for many months.  Stewing, forming, mashing all up together in my head and within the deepest part of my heart.

How could I best pour out my words for another beautiful, vibrant, gardening Nana?

Tonight, I just decided to sit down and write.

Tonight, I am celebrating another Nana.

I remember one day after dropping JC off at school in Vtown, a very good friend of mine K walked up to me in the parking lot.  I am not sure where the little boys were, but K and I ended up standing in the parking lot and she shared her news.

Her beautiful mom, Wendy, was diagnosed with cancer and they didn’t think it could be cured.
WUMP!

If you know my friend K, you know both her mom and her dad.  Like my parents used to be, their lives were woven throughout the fabric of their grandchildren and children’s lives.  Nana Wendy was a Super Nana, just like my mom.

I didn’t know at the time, but K and I would walk similar journeys as grieving daughters and mom’s of young children as we watched our Super Nana’s and mom’s live and die with cancer.  My mom wouldn’t be diagnosed until many months later and would pass away two years before Nana Wendy.

On December, 29th, 2015, just two short months ago, I was able to be present and sit as K and her family celebrated Wendy’s life.  Ironically, it was two years to the day that we had celebrated my mom’s own life.

Wendy’s celebration of life was truly remarkable and not something that I soon will forget. Candles were lit.  K read a beautiful poem.  Her brother shared his mom’s life story and some humour to go along with it.  K’s daughter shared her heart.  Family and friends shared stories.  It was the most lighthearted, beautiful, inspiring, celebration of life I had seen.  I felt like I had the opportunity to sit with Wendy, getting to know her more through her family, while in her garden.

This moment reminded me about the depth of character, which we all have, that allows us to grieve deeply, yet celebrate a life.   This same depth allows us to smile at little children and be grateful for an unborn baby that K’s brother’s family was expecting, while feeling sadness about the loss.

Life is created in these beautiful seeming “opposing” moments, created by amazing families, like K’s!

It is about embracing all of lifes beauty at all times.

I am extremely humbled to call K my friend and to have journeyed this passage of time with her through cancer treatments, hospital stays, time in hospice and celebrating our moms lives and deaths.

With gratitude, I pour out these words.

With humbleness of heart for being able to watch this journey unfold.

With a great lump in my throat for the loss we both endure.

With sadness for our children that have lost their Super Nanas.

With love pouring out because of how our mom’s lived their lives.

To the max!

With laughter.

With a good book at their side.

A beautiful garden to tend to.

And a family that deeply misses their presence.

Hugs to our Nanas in heaven.

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Be Celebrating Your Mom’s Birthday 

Last year, it was lemon meringue cake, dinner as a family and sending balloons up to Nana in heaven.

This year, it is receiving a beautiful phone call from my mom’s friend’s Donna and Wendy, a morning text from Sexy Neck and a great friend in KCity plus I took an afternoon bike ride.  



It is tears.  

It is joy.  

It is shattering grief and living life all wrapped up in pieces of mom’s birth day.  

I don’t know how to do any of this!  

How does one celebrate a day that they’ve always celebrated with a woman that they love celebrating when that woman is no longer with you? 

So, I bike. 

I sit.  

I cry.  

I look at reminders, especially this one I created one month ago that reminds me of the great roots my parents gave me.  



The waves of grief no longer pushes me underwater until I can’t breathe, but I am still on the boat, rowing in this grief, learning about myself and filled with deep gratitude for how present, wonderful and loving my mom was.  

I wish I could get a piece of that back! 

Be ‘Out of the Mouth’ of Boys

Tonight at bedtime, we were have cuddle and talk time, like we usually do.

But this evening was quite unusual.

I was lying with seven year old, JC, and three year old OC.

OC snuggled into my neck and licked me. Yup, like a cat.

He started to giggle.

I asked, “Why did you do that?”

Seven year old JC piped up from beside of me, “He is trying to get Nana’s love into your heart?”

Wow! Out of the mouth of boys!

Be. Be. Be.

Be present.

Be listening.

Be open.

What does a mom say when her two year old looks out the car window one Wednesday morning and suddenly yells, “I see Nana in heaven. On the mountain.”?

What do you do that same day when your middle son paints a picture of Nana in heaven? He’s painting her right now.

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And what do you think the next day when you have your oldest son’s friend over and she asks you to put on music and play “It’s a Small World”, my mom’s favourite ride at Disneyland?

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Be present.

Be Listening.

Be open.

I am grateful my children are so assured their beloved Nana is in heaven. I can’t even accept she has died.

I love that my children are so connected to their ever-present Nana that they think to paint her. I can barely look at her photos without being overcome with sadness.

I am blessed that there are so many signs on a daily basis that remind all of us of my mom’s love, kindness and who she was. She was a great human BEing.

Be.

Be.

Be.