Tag Archives: volleyball

Be on a Radical Sabbatical from Vimy Ridge to the Armpit of France to Brussels, Belgium

WARNING: Nylons and short skirts are back in style over here (coming soon to North America), Canada Goose jackets are more popular here than in Canada, jogging is a huge deal over here, bikes and biking paths rocks and yes you can eat too many croissants. Cleansing tomorrow!

Monday, November 4th.

5 hours of driving, broken into two parts.

13,560 steps.

1 baguette.

1 shake.

2 bags of cookies.

4 yogurts.

2 bags of Whey Thin protein crackers.

2 E+shots.

1 bottle of water.

All used as sustenance for this day of transition.

From France to Belgium.

From past to present.

From past dreams to present-day dreams.

We left our cozy, sweet sixth floor Paris hotel room on Monday, November 4th to start out European road trip after picking up this sexy station wagon:

We had two special places we want to show our boys: Vimy Ridge and Harnes, France (which will be furthermore known as the Armpit)

First, Vimy Ridge. A place to remember. A place to learn. A perfect place to be in November (or any time of year!) We went through the tunnel and the trenches, soaked up the information in the new museum and had a private tour of the monument. God even gave us a rainbow, like He did on the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Could you imagine living eight feet under ground?

When we lived in Harnes for one year, I used to come running on this land, given to Canadians from the French because of the significance of this Ridge during World War One. Being back in this place as a mother, I was touched by the Mother Canada statue at the front of the monument and all the mothers that have been affected by war. I am grateful for our country. 🇨🇦

After Vimy Ridge, we made a quick tour of the town where Steve and I spend our first year of marriage. Steve was playing professional volleyball for Harnes and I played a bit and coached ten year old boys volleyball. We found the gym with the cement floor and our old apartment across from the canal and coal excrement hill. I wish we had a video running as we drove into the village. At the time, we were surrounded by great teammates and didn’t realize what an armpit that we were living in. No train station. A little rough around the edges, a bit smelly and really in the middle of nowhere. An armpit.

Looking at the bar in the foyer where everyone would smoke and drink after the game, with their knee pads still on!
Our apartment was bottom left.
Harnes’ church in the top right. We took the photo and moved on!

We arrived in Brussels around 6:00pm. With time to checkin to our uber cool, mostly young person’s Meininger hotel/hostel and wander through Brussels and find an awesome Italian restaurant. We closed down the place!

Bonne Nuit sweet friends from room #401. (Every room number is an individual work of art here!)

November 5th

10,396 steps walk

A quieter day at our hostel hotel.

Buffet breakfast (9.50 Euros for each adult and 4.95 Euros each for the boys)!

Yes, we did have Belgian Waffles. The boys were very surprised there wasn’t any maple syrup.

We had a morning of math and writing in the common area then zipped to our old favourite discount grocery store, Lidl, to pickup food so that we could make lunch and dinner ourselves today.

The arcade games behind us have been a huge hit. Old school driving games and some pinball too.

From living three years over in Europe, we knew that concrete ping pong tables are at every school and almost every park. I tucked four paddles and some ping pong balls into our suitcase. We plan on many days of playing. We had this ping pong table one block away.

Today was CC’s turn to plan an activity and he researched and chose the chocolate store, Leonida’s.

CC didn’t find any chocolate that he liked!

These chocolates looked like a white mushroom with a chocolate, caramel filling. Wow!

We then walked and visited the famous Mannequin Pis. I hesitate to even post a picture because the surprise we received when we visited the statue….hmmm… maybe I won’t post a picture. Nah, I think I will leave the Mannequin Pis as a surprise for all of you.

After visiting the statue it was time for dessert before dinner – more Belgium waffles and some ice cream too!

We finished off the time in the city with a few handstands in the City Hall square and listening to some beautiful accordion music.

Evening was spent cooking together with four other multicultural groups and talking about a hilarious reality tv cooking show in a hostel where no one speaks the same language and there aren’t enough pots, plates or cups to go around. Plus, you are so tall that you keep bonking your head on the vent and one burner on the stove keeps randomly going on. After the hilarious and hot kitchen, dinner tasted good.

Goodnight from Brussels. What a spectacular view our room has looking across the canal towards the city and the lit up Ferris wheel.

November 6th

Our last full day in Brussels, Belgium involved wandering, waffles and a wonderful adventure to pickup our superfood nutrition from a friend of a friend who we had it delivered to. More room in our suitcases for presents for friends.

After saying “au revoir” to Daddy who will be working in Berlin and Düsseldorf for the next two days, we decided to try and find the Ferris wheel that we have been watching out our window in the evenings. We found the Ferris wheel plus stairs and concrete barriers to do parkour on, a construction site to watch and eat more Leonida’s chocolate at, a skateboard park, and many poles to “kong”. (To think I didn’t even know what konging was a week ago!)

It was CC’s choice for our meal today and he chose a waffle place. Imagine waffles with anything you want on them or in them. Our oldest had a smushed waffle sandwich with hamburger and cheese plus one with caramel for dessert, the other two had ham and cheese and then one with whipped cream for dessert. It was a memory making meal and a favourite for our boys. If you are travelling in Belgium or France with kids, Waffle Factory would be a safe bet for the family (as long as you aren’t looking for any fruits or vegetables!)

After our waffle meal, we went on a cross city journey to retrieve our super food box. This beautiful soul below received our package and allowed us to pick it up at her house. We are looking for partners in Belgium if you know anyone who lives there and is into helping people get healthy and wealthy!

We finished this day off with a hallway workout and a few more races on those old school video games in the common area.

Oh and I have to show you one of the bikes that captured my heart. I love this country for their biking culture: the trails, the bike shops, and the bike themselves.

This was a father who was going to pickup his daughter from school.

November 7th

Gooood morning from Brussels and goodnight from Frankfurt, Germany.

3 hour and 58 minute drive.

18 minutes in the Netherlands.

1 stop at the awesome “rest stops” on the side of the Autobahn. 50 cents for the toilet.

Side note: I was surprised at how many Burger King’s, Starbucks and McDonald’s are now available at these Autobahn rest stops. Twenty years ago, these rest stops were a highlight because of their uniqueness and you never knew what you were going to get.

We did get yelled at for not knowing that the ketchup dispenser had a foot pedal, so that kept things real for us.

Oh ya, on our way out of town, we had CC’s last choice for activity: Driving to a RC Car store, apparently the last RC car store in Belgium. The owner, Bernard, was THE BEST! We were able to hear stories about his story, his family, his businesses and all the trophies that lined the entire store. It was a blast. The boys were super happy and CC was pumped to walk away with a race car he can fix up.

After enjoying the RC car store and our Autobahn experience as well as seeing many churches in the distance, we arrived in Frankfurt!

We are pumped to be staying at Monopol hotel across from the Hauptbahnhof with a breakfast buffet, free mini bar, a bathtub and a hotel that has a door that swings out. (It’s the little things that these boys are finding interesting!!)

After checking in, we took a cruise across the street to the train station to have our first German pretzel and see what a train station looks like. It was as spectacular as I remembered. The book and magazine store was delicious. I loved watching people bustling around and the whooosh as the trains pulled into the station.

The boys were enamoured with this miniature train station in the huge train station.

Guten Nacht sweet friends. We love you ♥️ and if you have made it to the end of this entire blog post air hug 🤗 and high five!! Leave me a comment so I can send them to you!

Be Creating a Culture of Honour (Panda Style)

When you desire a culture of honour and have the privileged to see it face-to-face, it is humbling.

Win or lose.

Good or bad.

Honour stands.

It gives freedom.

It shows respect.

It is empowering.

It involves healthy discipline not punishment.

Culture of honour for me is thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Honour.

Freedom.

Respect.

Empowerment.

Healthy discipline.

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My CC, was able to sit in a circle of honour last weekend.

Surrounded by warrior athletes, who sacrifice to help their team become its best year after year.

They are led by their empowering coach, my coach from many years ago when I played Varsity volleyball.

Despite losing last weekend’s match, my son was welcomed into the fold to stretch, hangout and be amongst these warrior women and coaches.

Being present.

Creating space.

Growing.

Allowing being.

culture of honour)

I am reading this amazing book as I seek honour.

Within myself.

With my Sexy Neck.

With my boys.

With my family.

With my friends.

In my community.

Within my business.

Culture of honour.

Honouring myself, which honouring every person who comes across my path.

Be Introducing Sexy Neck

This is Sexy Neck, aka Steve, one year before we got married. (1996)

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We met playing volleyball, living 785 kilometres apart, then dated long distance for four and a half years living 298 kilometres apart.  We had never lived in the same city until we got engaged.

Sexy Neck is first and foremost kind. Also very athletic.  Intelligent. Loves God.   Witty.  Sexy.   Artistic (most people don’t know he can draw and learned to play guitar by ear).  Hardworking.  Dog lover.  Gardener.    Handy.   He’s an idea guy.    I think he tells me about a new idea every day!

And he is incredibly “cool”.  He loved taking “Selfie’s” before selfies were selfies.

Here we are back in 1996!

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Full of gratitude for this man.

His strong shoulders.

The love for his boys.

His passion and care for me.

Sexy Neck,  are you blushing?

P.S. We ran into a friend’s mom that we had never met before, but she had been reading the blog.  She giggled when she saw Steve, called him Sexy Neck then asked to see his neck.  It was one of the sweetest moments in our new neighbourhood with an old volleyball friend’s mom!

Be On the Team (6 Points)

Apparently, I use a whole stadium full of sports lingo in my language.

High five!

Hurry hard!

With speed this time.

Go! Go! Go!

I imagine it has to do with growing up shooting around the hockey rink while my dad played. Perhaps it could be the plethora of hours I spent playing volleyball (or really any sport)in a gym. Or even the days we spent on the snow while talking about the hockey rink or what was transpiring in the gym. Could it be my infatuation for tennis and ringette in my younger years that fuelled this sporty language acquisition? Maybe I could even put the blame on my very athletic parents.

Deuce!

Ace!

She scores!

This sports lingo has been a tremendous oar as I have had to row through my grief about cancer with my family and now with the loss of my ever-present mom.

Upon reflection of the words I choose, I have come up with six points on the scoresheet that are helping me understand how to be the healthiest, fittest and strongest player for the team.

Turn on the scoreboard, here we go:

1. CHOOSE TO BE A PLAYER! WE ARE STARTING WITH SOME NEW DRAFT PICKS. THE TEAM IS CHANGING JERSEY’S, STRAP YOURSELVES IN AND PUT YOUR F1 HELMET ON.

I have always tried to be a team player. I have always wanted everyone to be on the team. I have always felt the need to encourage people on the team that surrounds me – my friends, neighbours, family members and even the mail lady. This was a lot of energy going into being on the team as well as trying to be the team manager and cheerleader.

2. STEP UP, OR STEP OFF THE PODIUM. PLAYERS ONLY GET TO PLAY.

I am not interested in having people on the team who tell me I am now in charge of organizing things for the team. Sorry, every person is going to have to pull their own weight, plan their own lives, holidays, trips. I ain’t taking over the coaching role mom vacated. I definitely don’t like the cheerleader’s outfit nor the fact that the manager doesn’t get to play the game.

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(1985/86 Ringette Team)

3. TALK. LISTEN. TALK. LISTEN. COMMUNICATION IS KEY.

I am definitely not interested in having people on the team who have told me they need to have communication boundaries. If you can’t talk as a team, there is no team. Plain and simple. Oh ya, my children are on my team til they are eighteen so you better figure out what you need to do to swing the bat for the team. Otherwise, you will most likely will find it frustrating coming onto the field to play with a team you don’t know, but may have known twenty years ago in Little League.

3. GIVE ‘SOMETHING’ OF YOURSELF TO THE TEAM. (Not just expensive gifts!)

I am not interested in players who want to be on the team, but not be open or available to anyone by sharing something of themselves. Being on a team means give ‘n ‘r for the team: physically, emotionally, mentally.

4. YOU CAN MEET YOUR OWN NEEDS ON THIS TEAM.

I am no longer interested in being the one to plan, ponder and even worry about how you are fitting in with the team. Time for each person to step up to the plate and say what kind of skates don’t hurt your feet. Practice saying what you want then if you don’t get what you want, get off the bench. and get it yourself. No more moaning and groaning.

5. A TEAM IS NEVER PERFECT.

Lastly, on this team there is a place for mistakes. Yes, I just painted two walls of my house orange. Yes, I often say the ‘wrong’ thing in your eyes. Yes, I am raising my boys imperfectly with all my love. Oh ya, you can also throw your judgements (or prayers concealed as judgment) down the luge track.

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(1990 High School Volleyball Team)

6. LIFE IS A CHOICE: GOLD MEDALS EXIST FOR BOTH TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL SPORTS.

If you want perfection, stick to the 100 metre dash, keeping your eyes on the finish line, practicing to the best of your ability knowing I wish you well.

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(1991 Volleyball Provincials)

I choose to play on a team.

I was laughing out loud as I write this post. What great memories my parents created for me through sport. What a privilege it is to be in such a ‘raw’, fragile time!

Be a Panda in a Heat Gym

Whenever I coach volleyball, my eldest son loves to come with me. He insists on wearing his “coaching” shirt which is a University of Alberta Pandas volleyball shirt. This shirt is precious to him (and me!) as it was given to him by my coach when I played. Her daughter had worn the shirt until she grew out of it.

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I love this shirt too! But last week, I was coaching at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Club Volleyball tryouts (Whew, that was a mouthful!). I chose my wardrobe carefully, wearing a Heat shirt of course! He wore his Panda shirt and I must admit that I received a comment from someone on the Heat coaching staff.

It made me realize how immune my son is to doing something simple that made someone else feel uncomfortable.

How often do I do the “comfortable” thing because I don’t want to offend anyone? How often do I do something because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings?

EVERY SINGLE DAY!

I am so outwardly focused on wondering and worrying about my actions or words and how they are perceived by people outside my immediate circle. My inner circle gets the “real” Joanna, but others get a watered-down “comfortable” version of Joanna.

This simple shirt incident made me realize that I need to be more like my five year old son. Every day, I need to put on my ‘coaching shirt’ of my choice, do my best and have fun! Sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable!