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Family Matters

Family Matters

WHAT I LOST. WHAT I FOUND.

Natural landscape beautiful sunrise above mountain top

THE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP

My husband has a saying.

“You put the feelings in a jar…you push them way way down…& then you close the lid”….

For me, this past year not only popped off the lid. It kind of shattered the whole jar.

One of the hardest years of my life and probably one of the best in teaching me how to live.

I felt a tremendous sense of loss this year. From losing a dear friend, business relationships, money, trust, beliefs, and faith: this year suitably kicked my ass on all fronts.

But what I realize now is that every time I have felt lost, I ultimately ending up being found. Whether it was the discovery on how I function, behave or think, each loss gave me new perspective & priority on what is important in my life.

Friends & Family who always let me know they have my back
Friends & Family who always let me know they have my back

What I lost. 

Connection.

Grief hit deep and hard when one of my closest friends passed away this year. Her loss was cataclysmic and admittedly I lost my way. I retreated. I was deeply blue. I felt alone. I felt disappointed by a number of my friends. Friends who I had been there for, listened to, nursed, and supported through a number of trying times in their lives didn’t seem to be there when I needed them the most.

Here’s the kicker. 

I forgot to tell them.

And they forgot to ask.

With the advance of social media, we assume we know what is going on in each others lives because of the 1% of our lives we have posted that day. It has become the norm that a “like”, a <hugs>, a <3 means that as a friend you are thinking of someone. When people see you smiling, travelling, experiencing life on social, they automatically assume you are OK.

Not so my friends. So not so.

I hadn’t wanted to burden them with my stuff, and yet they were going through a ton of stuff on their own that they too didn’t want to burden anybody with. Damn you Facebook.

By managing friendships through social, we have lost the ability to look into friend’s eyes and see what is really happening in their world. To sense their hesitation when you ask what’s up. To see the tears well up when you ask if they’re ok.

These peeps always make me smile
These peeps always make me smile

What I found. 

When I started actively reaching out, I found that I still have those friends. Those relationships are in the core of my heart. Those friendships are solid. They have carried me over the hardest hills and helped me land on the other side.

The biggest priority for me now is to renew friendships in person and value the relationships I have cultivated. To make plans (& stick to those plans) to spend quality time in person. To show them my love & my gratitude. To take the time to let writers/friends know their words affected me. To share impact moments. To show appreciation, practice kindness, and spread joy.

Seeing, listening & being with each other in real life. Laughing, crying, hugging and supporting each other through ALL our times.

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Laughter & friendship are my best medicine

That connection point for me is the most essential to renew in my life and I simply can’t wait to catch up.

Heart made of fire, heart in flames, the fire in the shape of heart

 

 

 

 

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Family Matters

The Perfect Family Present. Ross Petty’s Peter Pan #PettyPan20

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If you are in need of a gift for a family in your life or you yourself are looking for a guffaw, a giggle, or a moment of pure unadulterated delight..let me guide you to the perfect present.

The BEST gift you could possibly give this year is laughter. Bring sheer joy & smiles to family on your list by giving them tickets to Ross Petty’s Peter Pan in Wonderland at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.  

I can’t say enough about how truly awesome it was.

Go. Just Go.

Click here. Buy tickets.

NOW.

You have to. Trust me.

We had the pleasure of attending our first ever Ross Petty experience this past week, thanks to our friends at the Yummy Mummy Club. I had heard great things about Ross Petty shows in the past but I didn’t really understand the wonderfully interactive and unique experience it provided until we went ourselves.

I thought we were going for the kids. What I didn’t realize was how much fun and entertainment it would be for us adults. I can say in earnest that I was in tears twice during the show for two entirely different reasons.

The first was from the humour of the performance. The writing was crisp, the innuendo plentiful and  the characters were fabulous. Jessica Holmes, who played an epic Queen of Hearts along with Dan Chameroy, Ross Petty and Anthony MacPherson gave both my abs and my eyes an awesome workout.

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The second was that I didn’t expect the beautiful reaction our children would have to the show, especially our son. Having a child with Autism lends itself to checking for the nearest exit points at a venue, just in case you need to make a fairly quick escape. I will admit to usually surveying the people around us to see where the expectation for “normal” behaviour might come into play and cringing if it looks like there is potential where patrons might get annoyed.

I was worried for no reason. The casual and interactive nature of the program meant that kids were encouraged to be part of the show, and were we ever. My son enjoyed the participation and music so much he was literally bouncing out of his seat to dance.  The mood of the people around our seats were jovial and relaxed. By intermission we received comments on how much they enjoyed watching our son’s joy (as did we).  Of course I cried. I was touched that they took the time to say something and beyond grateful that Ross Petty makes the occasion such an inclusive experience.

For the record, we were seated on the Orchestra level, Row V, Seats 32-36. It is THE perfect spot for special needs. It’s on the aisle and right in front of one single seat and a pillar with a direct beeline to the stairs if suddenly needed.

Thank you Ross and thank you Erica for giving US the perfect family present to start the holidays with.

Sincerely, think about making this moment a special one of yours this year.

You won’t regret it.

 Ticket prices range from $27-$99 Adults • $27-$69 Children under 12 

Get your tickets NOW for PETER PAN, The 20th Anniversary Family Musical PANto-monium, running at the Elgin Theatre from November 27, 2015 – January 3, 2016.

NB: No expectations were asked of me to write a post or support this show. I sincerely loved it SO much I just HAD to tell you all about it.

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Family Matters

Look at me Adulting..

ADULT

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Sometimes, (oft times) I get surprised about where I am in life.

I can’t quite comprehend how I am in my forties given that a moment ago I was in high school.

I don’t feel like an adult.

I can’t wrap my head around that I am married, that I’ve have been left in charge of these humans and are responsible for helping shape and mold their life. Wow. That’s heavy.

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MY CHILD

On my life’s soundtrack, I can pin point the exact song I was listening to when that “Moment” happened and I felt like it wasn’t just about me anymore. It was early early in the morning and I was up trying to feed our 2 day old bundle of joy in the hospital. I was overwhelmed. The whole breastfeeding thing wasn’t working and I was listening to Sarah McLachlan’s Ice Cream to try to create a “calm/nurturing environment”. I was petrified. No part of me felt grown up enough to take care of this little one. No part of me felt old enough or wise enough to know what to do.

No one gets guilt & fear like a parent

As I listened to the song, the lyrics hit me hard. All I could think in that moment was “its you and me kid.” In this for a lifetime.

The mama bear in me made that commitment, then and there that I would always, always be there to protect these children of mine.

Ice Cream Lyrics

Your love is better than chocolate
better than anything else that I’ve tried
oh love is better than chocolate
everyone here knows how to cry
it’s a long way down
it’s a long way down
it’s a long way down to the place
where we started from…

MY HUSBAND

We had a moment last year when my favorite man (yes that would be Chris, the hubs) jumped off the dock and accidentally impaled his foot with a buried piece of T bar at the cottage. I had just left, oblivious and on my way to the airport to head out of town. I got notice as I was at the airport that he had been hurt and was simply heading up to the next town for stitches. What I wasn’t told until I returned home is that the shock & pain of the injury caused him to pass out, our friends finding him face down in the water, unconscious.

They endured the frightening challenge of having to pull him out and revive him. When it all came out in the wash, my security blanket felt a little less secure. A matter of minutes and the urgency of our friends coming to his aide was truly what made the difference.

Our little girl is still doing this. 8 years later
Our little girl is still doing this. 8 years later

MY FRIEND

I have always looked at Life Insurance as one of those checkboxes you tick off to make sure you are covered. This year though, everything changed. One of my dearest friends passed away in May and I watched first hand the importance of how life insurance played a role. We all believe that we won’t need it until we grow old but witnessing it in this light made me realize how essential is it to have something in place, how important it is to make sure those we love are covered.

When presented with the opportunity to work with Manulife on this, I was all in. I was really interested in  checking out the Cover Me application form to see how easy it was to apply.  Simple and fast, it has made me feel better to add just a little more coverage, to be sure those I love are well looked after. I timed it, it took less than 1 minute. Perfect even in my I-don’t-have-time-for-this excuse book.

We are going to be talking about life’s moments when you realized it wasn’t just you anymore tonight on an @Manulife #BeCovered Twitter Chat at 9pm EST, 6pm PST.

I encourage you to join us to talk about this essential part of life and adulting.

@Manulife Twitter Chat Co-Hosted by @CommonCentsMom and myself @HartGalla
@Manulife Twitter Chat Co-Hosted by @CommonCentsMom and myself @HartGalla

 

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Family Matters

Birthdays & The Gift of Friendship

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TAKING THE TIME TO TELL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN YOU A GIFT IN LIFE

I have been waking up at 4:20am almost every day. Yes I know. The irony of the time isn’t lost on me but now its about getting older/sleepless nights than it is celebrating a certain international time of day.

It’s the quietest time of day and one where I somehow find it easiest to talk to Tracy.

I often start my conversations with her with “I miss you. I miss your giggle. I love you. I’m sorry.”

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I think of what I wish I had said to her. I wish I had told her more often how important she was to me. I wish I had told her how I adored her kind heart, her sense of humour and her generous, thoughtful nature. She always made the effort and took the time to tell those around her. Good things, kind things, how special you were, how proud she was, how excited she was. She was just that kind of person.

It’s her birthday today and I have been trying to figure out what to do.

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It came to me at 4:20.

I want to honour her generosity & kindness by paying it forward. I will take the time to tell friends how much they mean to me. A simple gesture but one that feels right.

And so… To the wonderful people in my life and their gift of friendship:

To Jasmine: I love when we dance together. I love when we explore the world together. Our smiles are infectious, the groove lives in our soul and you are truly our Sister from another Mister.

To Kendra, Alice, Foxy: I am so flippin proud of you and all that you have accomplished. It looks like lately you too have fallen down the rabbit hole and I am beyond excited to meet someone who makes you smile that big.

To Jen: My heart aches with what your family is going through and I think about you every day, wishing & willing Bry to get better. Oh and Sam cheering at the Bomber game. How do you have such a daredevil? 🙂

To Shasta: I think of you & your laugh so often. Heading for fish & chips in our PJ’s in Glasgow, meeting new friends in Temple Bar in Ireland, pretty much every time we are together.  I miss you. Let’s get away, even if its for the weekend.

To TLC/Clever: I hear your shriek/laugh in my head and go back to rolling on the floor in the gazebo at the cottage or wandering about the campground at Folk Fest. So many hijinx.  I am so sorry for everything you have been going through. This has been such a tough year & I so look forward to giving you a hug in person soon.

To Susie: We have been business bosom buddies for so many years now. Your sarcasm, eloquence in speech & social, love for your family and friends warms my heart so deeply. I am so proud of everything you have kicked ass at.

To Julie: Your strategitude blows my mind. Your heart is big. Thank you for letting me in. #Nuffsaid.

To Carrie, Rocky, Grace & Emma: You guys are like a big cozy warm blanket. So much love and support between us all. I am indebted for life.

To Wendy, Bryan, Jen, Bruce, Shirley, Cliff, Jen & Laird, Tara: Thank you for the day to day & the special occasion friendship. It certainly DOES take a village and I am wholly grateful that you are all part of ours.

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To the Eatonville Divas: Ladies! Who’s turn is it? We have to set up something soon. Your camaraderie is so special to my life. This time no fire department ok?

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To the Mirvish crew: I am so grateful for our “cultured” moments. They guarantee we connect, they hold so many incredible memories and that is so important to me.

To my Hockey pals:  Yes, I love hockey but its the giggles in the locker room after I enjoy most.

To Dan & Erin, Pat & Erin, Greg & Cindy, Mart & Dawn, Del, Paul, Taru & Daniel, Jason & Gillian, Dan & Gill, Drew & Jen, Glyn & Haanita their families and so many more friends:….A family is a group of people you love. Thank you for all being part of ours for so long.

Friends & traditions for so many years
Friends & traditions for so many years

To Marnie, Kristal, Jen, Kim, Nadine: We have gotten to be good friends because of Tracy. I think you all completely rock. I know why she loved you and the hugs & hilarity you bring to the fold.

To Sean, Anna & Avery: We will always be here. We will always be ready to tell you what an amazing mom you had. What a beautiful soul she was. Just say the word.

To Spencer: Your sweetness & enthusiasm over so many things makes my heart sing. You have taught me how to appreciate the little wins. You have taught me joy. I am more grateful than you will ever know.

To Lauren: Your spirit, heart and inner beauty are so gentle and considerate. You are an old soul and I love how much we laugh together. I giggle with you like we are BFF’s and yet you are 7.

To Chris: Whether its Saffron Risotto in Tuscany, Beers in Amsterdam, Crackers at the top of Kili or Coffee on the dock… You are truly my partner. Through it all. My rock. My best friend. My dance partner. #TeamPowell

So much love for these guys
So much love for these guys

To My Family: You have to love me. So there. But seriously, I adore you. Our roots are strong and deep.

To the BlissDom Canada community: Your PM’s, DM’s, notes and emails have been some of the sweetest I have read. Thank you for all your incredible support.

One simple gesture.

Gratitude to those who make a difference in your life.

How about you join me if you can? Take one simple moment out of your busy day to send a note of gratitude or love to someone in your life. It would be the best present you could give today. 

Happy Birthday T.

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Family Matters

Come on. Get Happy.

get happy

OUR NEW NORMAL

Mom Says:

This song has been whirling about in the soundtrack of my brain for so many days now.

Is this my subconscious? Or my friend Tracy sending me a message?

Come on. Get Happy.

It’s hard to believe its been 2 months since she passed away.

I have learned through this that grief ebbs & flows. I have dealt with loss in the past but never before has it been with that in-your-bones heartache that comes with an unexpected death. I keep holding on to a wish that she will come back. That this somehow has simply been some sort of gross misunderstanding. But lately, as I come out of my fog, I know that I need to let go. I know that I have to somehow admit that she is gone.

I have had a tremendously difficult time managing through this. Writing a post has seemed trivial, talking on social silly, and somehow finding the words to get back in to the right place weren’t coming.

Instead I just lived in a deep cloud.

But this is so not me.

And I know its not what Tracy would have wanted.

So I am taking steps to get out this funk & back to life. Back to reality.

(See what I did there? Anyone want to break out in a little Fresh Prince of Bel Air? 🙂

A really good cup of coffee makes me happy
A really good cup of coffee makes me happy

I look at life so differently now.

I am so aware of time. How much of it there is, how its spent. Life seems far more fragile and I find myself wanting to focus on where to spend it and how it will make us happy.

View from Galla Lake. This makes me happy.
View from Galla Lake. This makes me happy.

I am completely intrigued by the Human Connection (Thank you Amanda Palmer), of being gentle and kind to one another, of taking the time to pay it forward. I am working on finding gratitude in every day and finding a healthy lifestyle to set my intentions to (Thank you Dai Manuel).

I love exploring new worlds. Whether that’s a new path at the cottage or a whole new country. To me, those moments of discovery are what makes me whole. They are the moments I am most happy. My amazing husband gets that and just let’s me go with the plan on where we are going next.

Travel - Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar. So Happy
Travel – Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar. So Happy

I am on my way back.

I still cry most days about Tracy.  But these days I see her a bit differently. Her tilted head, signature shoulder shrug, brilliant smile and gentle giggle saying “Come on, Get Happy will ya?”

Working on it T. Working on it.

Elephants make us both very HAPPY.
Elephants make us both very HAPPY.
Beautiful memories like this make me happy
Beautiful memories like this make me happy

Dad says:

Its tough to have someone in distress, and where the cure isn’t in your hands.  You can be there for them, support them, take care of the day to day stuff, but when it comes to the timelines for healing, its out of your control.  and that part sucks.  Might be a guy thing: you always want to fix everything.  It makes it especially difficult when Jenn wants to just talk, not solve.  It’s not in my makeup, but you go with your gut and try. It’s all you can do.

I can’t repair the loss of Tracy.  I can help find a voice for her sadness, and I can make sure there is food in the fridge and we don’t forget the kids at school.  But its up to Jenn to discover the new normal.  She is trying. She understands that it’s a one shot life, and you have to make the best of it.  My job in all this is to remind her that there is light and goodness too, and that you need to take the time for that stuff as well, or the rest of it isn’t worth it.

 

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Family Matters

Smitten – Crushing on your kid

Autistic kid helps friend

Loving your kids is a given.

They sit etched in your heart with that deep, beautiful love that will never go away.

But I am surprised at times by those moments you realize that you are truly, sincerely falling in love with your kid. Not that parental love but a massive crush. You gaze dreamily at your child as you witness a certain kind of character they are demonstrating. Admiring their virtue and wishing hard that what you see is a little taste of what the future holds, a core value they might hold true for life.

A morning last month started off like most mornings these days. Our lives have been hectic. Near insane in fact with two parents traveling for work, major projects coming to a head. We ran around like mad chickens, prompting getting dressed, pushing our daughter to get moving to brush her hair, reminding the kids of teeth, backpacks, lunches. You know the drill.

Through a serious case of two ships in the night, we both totally glitched on the fact that it was a special field trip day. Completely omitted from our Google calendars/brains/wall book that we had volunteered. We did rock, paper, scissors. We cursed a few times. In the midst of all the crazy, there was our son. Dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, boots on without any kind of reminders. He sat on his bed looking as pleased as punch. So excited about this field trip and so worried we would be late.

I accepted this sudden change in design of my day, and that I would be the one representing. After all, field trip + public transit + wandering Autism is like my very own version of Fear Factor.

We met our motley crue at the school. One of the members of our group was a sweet, little girl our little man decided was his responsibility to help for the day. My heart skipped a beat as we left the school into the rain. His SNA and I smiled at each other as we watched him pull out his umbrella to shelter both of them on the way to the bus.

My sweet boy and watching over his friend for the day
My sweet boy and watching over his friend for the day

When we got to the subway, he took her hand. He made sure she stuck with the crowd. He made sure she was taken care of and told her to not to worry, that he had her covered.

Throughout the day, I witnessed him checking in with her to see if she needed help, holding her hand, making me want to weep from his sweet heart.

I saw a kindness and a caring that surprised even me. We see him feel joy all the time when he does good things for others. Whether its reading to the little kids in daycare, or happiness when he has a special moment for a friend, he is a good kid.

This was different. Without encouragement he put effort into making his friend secure and safe. You could tell caring for kids makes his heart zing and that.. makes mine.

My happiness for the day couldn’t change after that.

In the simplest of ways, he brought back my faith in humanity. In the quietest of ways, he made my heart swell for him.

When one person simply cares about the welfare of another.

For that, I am totally smitten.

Falling in love with this smile over and over again
Falling in love with this smile over and over again

 

 

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