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Family Matters

Champion of the Little Things

2014-11-02 07.39.54

Mom Says:

I am often accused of being an over-committer, a keener, a person who can’t say NO, doing too much, not relaxing enough…

Yeah. You know what? I probably am.

I thrive in being busy. When things are slow I feel sluggish and unmotivated. It’s the push that keeps me going. Keeps me focused and moving forward. I have such a believer of living life to the fullest but lately that fullness has made me feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes, I take on too much. I hit these moments of realization but get stuck in the fact that I committed. To me, commitment and integrity are two massively important parts of my life.

So how do you find that balance?

The little things...Like the midst coming off the lake
The little things…Like the mist coming off the lake

Dad Says:

Husband here. Ok, so here is the deal.  Jenn has a huge problem as a human being; She is a human doing.  Always something going on, filling blank spaces with lists, charts ,future plans, theme parties and possible colour combinations for duvets and accent walls.  I don’t often wax poetic on the colour wheel or where our relationship could use refocusing, but I instead appreciate the quiet times. The times when the suns sets and makes that magic colour… the kids have a leaf fight, and you know you could block the attack, but they are 8 years old so you just eat it… you know the little things.

So it is my sole quest on this planet to slow Jenn down.  I work on it constantly, and try to make sure that she takes the time to enjoy the day. Latest plan: I will consistantly make sure there are flowers on the table so as to ensure she can always stop and smell the roses.  We often get to a point where Jenn is working on life, plus all the little things like timely billing and swimming lesson scheduling, and we boil over.  Thats where I come in.  I know that these things are necessary, I do.  But we need to find a balance in the world, a cosmic shift that allows for Jenn to eat leaves and paint faces and realize all the crap we go through is so we can appreciate the little things.  I am the champion of the little things, and I will always push for them to be remembered and known.

So we couldn’t do any more PTA.  Jenn was a member of 2 councils, a board of directors, a daycare executive, a book club, and a variety of charitable choices/passion projects.  So we have let a number of things go. This has freed us up for more leaf fights. To stop, reflect and taking the time to enjoy.

To embrace all the sweet small things in live.

And that… is a good thing.

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Family Matters

The Perfect Storm: Story of How We Met

Chris & Jenn-1st Meeting

We often joke about turning how Chris and I met into a movie. Trust me, we have the rough draft already started.

Those who have known us over the years, know this story well but as I write my next post for our writer’s challenge, there is some relevance to see us from the beginning.

The email below was one I sent out the Monday after a freak ice storm/harried weekend trying to get back home to Winnipeg for a bestie’s wedding. We met, had our second date a month later, were engaged at 3 months in and got married in 2004.

10 years strong and it all started here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 8 April 2003 11:13
Subject: Stranded
To:

Hey all!

As I sit here I still can’t believe what this weekend entailed…below is an excerpt of what happened in the “journey” of trying to get there!…To everyone I was supposed to see please forgive me..I am SOOOOOO sorry…..had I come in when I was supposed to it would have been fine but I only ended having 36 hrs in total there!
Hope you’re all well and enjoy the story below…I think its going to turn into a screenplay…
STRANDED
  • UP at 6:15am Friday morning to head to the airport
  • 8 am arrival to GTAA, only to discover flight is cancelled
  • 8:45am Plea with Air Canada Personnel to get on stand-by for 11:50AM flight
  • 9:00am Requisite Happy Dance and journey to breakfast
  • 9:05am Meet Kathryn and Waanita. Kathyrn heading to Winnipeg as a Maid of Honour for a wedding. Waanita off to Cape Breton for her parents 50th wedding anniversary.
  • 9:10 Enjoy the antics of VERY entertaining Russian waitress who…even if you asked for scrambled eggs and toast decided to bring you waffles and a fruit cup…You vant eggs…Ho-kay…I bring you sausage!
  • 9:40am 11:50 flight cancelled
  • 10:00am In line with Air Canada pleading for a new flight…currently 120 people on stand-by to the Peg for the next flight (Dude tells me there might be no flights out today at all)
  • 10:05am First cry of the day
  • 10:20am Meet Joe Flaherty from SCTV…gives me an autograph that includes his requisite JACKASS line…love it..renewed sense of optimism
  • 10:25am 2:50 flight cancelled
  • 10:30am Second cry of the day…
  • 10:35 am Back in line with AC…trying for the 5pm flight…NOW 405 people on stand-by for the flight
  • 11:00 am 5:00 flight cancelled
  • 11:30 am Re-booked for the 7:55 pm
  • 12:00 pm Totally frustrated- The entire airport is packed, and rumours are floating that all flights Friday were to be cancelled because of GTAA dumbass mistake of no de-icer fluid in existence at the airport….nasty evil people who didn’t realize that its NOBODY’s fault who are around them and yet they’re lashing out at anyone close …Try mentioning that thinking good karmic thoughts might be helpful…Almost get punched out..Allllllllllrighty then!
  • 12:05pm Meet some wonderfully friendly folk (Kathryn and Waanita both still hanging out)…Meet Rob, flying down to Washington to spend the weekend with a potential romance…Meet Wade, who hadn’t seen his kids in 14 months and it was his birthday the day before and he JUST wanted to go home…Met Chris, who was heading to Vancouver to go skiing for the weekend
  • 12:30pm Alright …Decide its past the yard-arm …might as well dig in cause we’re going to be here for hours!
  • 12:30pm-4:30pm Turn Lemons into Lemonade….Decide to have a party in the Second City Departure Lounge…Kathyrn, Waanita, Wade, Rob, Chris in for the count…meet up with Marilyn, Bryan, Oscar, Andrew and many others…who all are just the most fantastic people ever!
This is a couple of hours after we met. Destiny at its finest.
This is a couple of hours after we met. Destiny at its finest.
  • 5:00pm Go to check the departure board…absolute devastation washes over…7:55pm flight is cancelled…Biggest tears of the day…Chris who was also checking his flight convinces me to go talk to AC personnel (which of course I deem as helpless at this point)
  • 5:00-5:30pm…the beauty goddess AC personnel known as Lisa does the most incredible thing…she works some serious magic and gets me the LAST seat on the ONLY flight out of Pearson that night TO VANCOUVER (the flight has been given the last of the de-icing fluid rations because it was heading to Hong Kong)
  • 5:35pm…Crying for joy…get to see my family…Happy dance…kissing Lisa…she tell sme she’s not a lesbian…I tell her I’m not either but I DO think SHE is the MOST ROCKING chick I have ever met!
  • 6:00pm Rob sees that I get a flight so he heads to the US part to see if he can get one…so does Wade….BOTH come back having gotten the only flights out (persistence and patience pays off…everyone else had gone home)…Group Happy Dance!!
  • 6:05-9:00…Celebratory party that we’re all getting to go to where we planned
  • 9:50pm…Board flight…Chris and I are on same flight together, seats side by side and end up hanging out all the way to Vancouver…
  • 1:00am …Arrive into Vancouver…exhausted…spent….feeling gross…Chris helps me out by introducing me to Sean, one of the most amazing Newfoundlanders you will ever meet who ever so kindly offer a place for me to stay for a couple of hours and a shower (Once again…Thank you thank you thank you Chris)
  • 2:05am..Crying again (out of sheer joy)…having a shower..can’t believe it…the BEST feeling EVER in my entire existence
  • 5:00 am…Up and heading back to the airport
  • 7:00am …On flight to Edmonton to transfer to Winnipeg (In Seat 7B…Excellent…Wedding is at 2:30…at the front of the plane…COULD make it)
  • 9:30am..Arrive Edmonton…reboarding for Winnipeg…get bumped to last row of plane….So tired I can’t even cry anymore
  • 10:00am…Tell my neighbouring seat partner of my predicament and claim that I will trample him to get ahead of the rest of the people on the plane to get out in time)
  • 1:30pm…Touch down in Winnipeg…”Cabin crew prepare for…” Out of my seat….Doing a better sprint time than Ben Johnson…Get to 7B (where my luggage still was)..can’t get it out of the top container…saying loudly “I have 50 minutes to get to my friend’s wedding and …I can’.t…get…this…OUT!!! Lady in 8 F yells “somebody help her…she has to get to a wedding!!”…Very nice guys yank out my bag and set it down for me…am now trying to move past all folk in the aisle leisurely getting their bags…Lady in 8F (did I tell you I love her?) …yells again…”Get out of her way, she’s got to get to a wedding!!” …Everyone pushes back into their seats and lets me out…Running (Full speed) out of the airplane…out of the arrivals gate…down the escalator (clunk…ker plunk…ker plunk) my luggage trying to keep up with me…See my mom…grab her hand and get her running full out pace to the car…
  • 1:40pm…To the hairdresser’s (my hair was a good imitation of a rat’s nest by that time)…Ray (hairdresser is frantically doing my hair, my mom is helping me with my make-up…throwing on nylons and bra and everything (including dress) at the same time that all this is happening)
  • 2:25pm…Ray done…face done…dressed…boot it out of Ray’s…my dad is outside with the car running….Do a fabulous imitation of NASCAR racers as I keep saying “Go go go dad”
  • 2:33pm…Arrive at the church as Lisa is about to walk down the aisle..
  • 2:35pm…Run in, sit down AS the music starts playing the wedding march
  • Going through ALL of this, to see my friend get married…FABULOUS!
  • Head to the reception and have less than 24 hours in the Peg..stop by the St.Andrew’s Ball…do a little caliegh dancing…..see dad …see family…see a couple friends…have 2 hrs sleep and am back on a plane to Toronto Monday morning at 5am…
  • Get to the airport Monday am and they tell me I’m not on the flight…(Pardon? Did I just smoke some crack? My ticket says I’m on this flight…after verge of near tears ONE MORE TIME…they fix the problem and I head home)
Am I glad I lived for the moment…absolutely….am I ready to collapse…absolutely!! Thanks mom and dad for all your help this weekend!
Take care and I will talk to you all soon!
Love
Jenn
** Many Thanks to Susie Parker for keeping this email all these years and sending it to me on our 10th Anniversary. You are a sap and I absolutely love you. 
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Healthy Living

The Social life: Living in Social Media

Twitter pals

I was in conversation the other day with someone who defined my work from home lifestyle as relaxed and easy. I asked why they thought that and was met with a response of less pressure, how much stuff I can get done in a day, just sitting and being on Facebook & Twitter all the time.

Hmmmm….

It took a lot not to tell them to go suck an egg.

In some ways, 100% yes it is fabulous.

You get the flexibility to define your schedule and your life but it also means you don’t have such a thing as a set schedule.

Working in social media doesn’t happen from 9-5, and being a parent while working in social media means finding that precious balance between the work you have to do and making sure you are there (& present) for your family.

If you are an entrepreneur, a business owner, active in the influencer world or social media space, your world looks a fair amount different than other people’s.

So I thought I would give you an inside view of what its like when I “sit and do social media” all day.

1) You have had conference calls as early as 5am and as late as midnight.

2) Your posture sucks and your chiropractor has been actively calling you chicken neck.

3) On a good day, you take that as a great opportunity to create your own perfect day with a mix of work, knocking off errands, working out, lunch with a friend and quality time with the kids.

4) On a bad day, you just cry.

5) You have had conference calls while waiting at the gyno office, the coffee shop, getting your Visa for Africa (I will own that one), picking out lice, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, folding laundry, skiing, at the hockey arena, dance studio, having sex (I will own that one too…sometimes if the kids are away, you just have take advantage and its too late to reschedule the call), on the road, in many an airport, this list could go on forever.

6) You are now smitten with brands that in the past have wouldn’t have been on your radar and have now become part of your every day language. Special shoutout to Canadian Lentils & Manitoba Hemp Hearts on this one. (Discovered them both at BlissDom Canada).

I met this lovely lady, @Shasherslife on Twitter
I met this lovely lady, @Shasherslife on Twitter

7) Your brand affinities and loyalties are greatly determined by the interactions you have had with said brand on social media. Special shoutout to West Jet, Via Rail, Tim Hortons, Intrepid Travel

8) There is a dent in the comfy chair in the living room because that is where you get up early mornings to write, where almost all of your computer work even though you have a desk.

9) You have rules about putting away your phone during certain times at home.

10) You can jump on a Skype call or Google Hangout with a nice top and make-up and Goofy Disney pajames on under the table.

11) Your water cooler is Twitter and part of your job is being social on social.

12) You can be a volunteer at your kid’s school anytime you want.

13) You can get the kids to school every day and the only time pressure is to make sure THEY aren’t late for school not whether you ARE late for work.

14) You can take a day off and just play hooky, but it is kind of like cheating at solitaire …

15) If you started a blog/work from home while on mat leave, you mastered the ability of balancing boob, baby or bottle in one arm while simultaneously typing, tweeting or texting on the other.

16) Location: You have had business calls in the bathroom, car, laundry room, lobby, in the corner of an event, at Starbucks, and wherever there is a decent quiet place and reasonable wifi.

17) You have had Skype calls/Google Hangouts where your kids jump their faces in and introduce themselves or say Hi and usually wave at the kid on the other side of the Skype call /Google Hangout.

18) Your kids understand what a Twitter Party is and if you are running one, they (most of the time) understand that hour Mommy is typing frantically, can’t move from her computer and will chat/yell from the living room.

19) You can pick up the kids from school as early as you want or grab them for lunch..cause that’s how you roll.

20) Your car (most likely van) is your mobile office and you have perfected the charging station of plugging in your computer to charge your phone because inevitably you have lost the square plug piece to put the cord into AGAIN.

21) Your local food bank, day care, school, good will have received many donations from you of extra food, toys or products.

22) You can usually put a great basket together for raffle prizes because you have a schwack load of this-does-not-make-sense, why-did-they-spend-money-on-this branded schwag you received at an event.

23) You question whether something you are about to put out on social media is over-sharing, risks affecting your kids, your privacy, will it bring out trolls (those mean, anonymous types on social), yeah pretty sure it will bring out trolls and hit publish anyways.

24) You have met some of your closest friends because of Twitter and couldn’t be more grateful for those in your life. I could write a list of all the amazing people I have met through the years because of Twitter and BlissDom Canada but the list is actually far too long. Too all you social awesomes out there…see you at the Water Cooler.

Lisa - RentfrockRepeat.com and I met via Twitter and have enjoyed an amazing work and friendship because of it.
Lisa – RentfrockRepeat.com and I met via Twitter and have enjoyed an amazing work and friendship because of it.
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Healthy Living

Is it You or Me?

Feeling the love

It’s not you. It’s me.

October had to have been one of the weirdest months I have experienced in a long time. I think it was for so many people. Record numbers of people were experiencing bouts of anxiety (me too) and depression; crashes that hit hard when they  are generally happy people; snarky, mean, aggressive people; ones that simply couldn’t cut a break.

Call me crazy but I feel like Facebook is at it again… (or at least in some ways I am hoping so).

I thought it was Mercury in retrograde. One of the hottest buzz words of 2014, Mercury in retrograde at least would explain all the aggression. The planets were out of alignment, the moon was full. Whatever you want to take from it, its been messing with our happy chi.

Then I thought later in the month it was because of the Jian story breaking, one which for Canadians became instantly so unbelievably uncomfortable it has just set EVERYONE off with an opinion.

I wondered too if because of the Jian piece and the #BeenRapedNeverReported #Ibelieveher hashtags that people’s emotions are just SO raw that we have bubbled to the surface as a collective group of burnt out social media types..exhausted and spent from the anger that has been flooding our feeds.

And then I thought…Wait.

 

Love and Hate in social
Can’t we all just get along?

 

Anger has been FLOODING our feeds. It has become a hot bed of discussion on rape culture, women’s rights, consent, feminism conversations, exposes on celebrity abusers, so many loud opinions… its just too much.

Is my feed showing all this because according to Facebook’s algorithm, that’s what I am asking for?

Is there just a copious amount of anger that people need to release into the world? Is Facebook back at doing some random testing on the positive and negative effects of posting emotional content again?

The truth? I am kind of hoping so, because in some ways it would explain how we have become so malicious to our fellow man.

Facebook is starting to feel like that bite-your-head-off, snarky asshole you totally happily say “Hi!” to in the morning at work and they snap back with a scowl on their face.

When did it become so righteous to have such cutting, judgemental opinions? As much as its being written in social its carrying over into real life. I am seeing regular Joe guys being attacked for simply being part of a gender that very specific, singular people have done harm as. I am seeing women put out so much angry hate on for another woman I simply can’t understand. They are talking about violence against women on one hand then using their words to cut deep on the other. THEY are HUMAN BEINGS.

I get that you are trying to move forward a movement. But movements happen with intellect and strategy, not by slaying the other person down.

Maybe I just have to take a moment away from social media and clear my head of the constant throb of rage that sits there… maybe Facebook and I need to break up for awhile, or maybe I need to start clicking more likes on kitten photos, rainbows and unicorns.

Maybe people just need to take stock of being present, being in their moment, focus on living in harmony and gratitude. Maybe people need to find more ways to pay it forward and enjoy the catharsis that happens with giving?  Why does there need to be a #gratitudechallenge? Have we gotten to the point that we can’t appreciate the amazingness of living this life?

I feel like something’s gotta give or we will end up going down a rather wretched rabbit hole where negativity (& Facebook) will continue to pull people down. Try working on embracing positive energy, feel happy, love and if you can’t…

Then it’s you and not me.

Can we find a simple place to share love instead of hate?
Can we find a simple place to share love instead of hate?

 Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness

– James Thurber – 

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Healthy Living

Let’s Talk About RAPE…Shall we?

Forced to be quiet

TRIGGER WARNING: You might not like this post as it is an account of what I went through as a person who has experienced rape. If its going to bother you, then don’t read it. If you are open-minded and willing to embrace another part of a story then please proceed. 

I accepted another challenge this month. It is a writing challenge. One of truly to goodness straight up writing…

It’s about writing from the heart.

Contemplating what to write about, I have pretty awesome ideas on posts like “how to host a wicked fairy party,” “Venus VS. Mars and the quest of the conversation between men and women,” “how fierce you get as a mom of autism,” … but the one that keeps rearing its ugly head is “Let’s Talk About RAPE.”

The funny thing is I don’t want to talk about rape. It is actually the very last thing I want to talk about on the planet but there is a part of me that just wants to say one thing. That it stays with you. It will always stay with you.

As more and more women (& men) were including the #BeenRapedNeverReported admittance on Twitter last Thursday, I felt compelled to add my own experience to the rising number of people who were “coming out.” It felt comforting. It felt like I wasn’t alone.

I tweeted it. Threw up. Then went to bed. Only to have that fabulous recurring nightmare that night for the first time in eons and not be able to sleep past 4am.

I won’t talk about the rape. No I didn’t report it. It took many years before I could even tell my parents about it in fact. What I can tell you is that it fundamentally changed me and I am pretty sure I can say the same to anyone who has been assaulted, raped or molested. You can most definitely get past it but it will never GO away.

Forced to be quiet
Forced to be quiet

Let’s talk about what happens AFTER a rape…

  • The Shame
    • I can’t truly tell you how many times I used to berate myself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, how awful & stupid & responsible I felt for bringing this on myself. I blamed, bargained and berated myself for a really long time. I eventually stopped the shaming, but I can tell that there is still a small piece that sits with me to this day.
  • The Nightmares
    • For years I had a recurring nightmare of various scenarios from that night. Awful, violent ones that usually lasted right up until the moment I am about to get killed. I wake up flailing, out of breath, screaming–and as much as I know better, it takes me most of the night to settle down from one of those even now.
  • The Counseling
    • I had those nightmares for seven years, almost nightly, until I finally was convinced by my boyfriend at the time to go seek help. I tried numerous counselors. One had me “huff” all my grief and anger out and encouraged me to get primal with my anger. One had me scream at my assailant, which usually just exhausted me till I went home and slept for days. Nothing was helping until finally I went to Klinic Community Health Centre in Winnipeg. The counselor understood rape and we talked a lot about giving away my power and giving him so much power in terms of holding on to what had happened. I realized it was done. I couldn’t do anything to change it. I had to accept it in order to move on.
  • The Promiscuity
    • I went through some really strange relationships. On one hand, I would have relationships that were wonderful, kind, supportive and fun and I would almost inevitably fuck them up. They were too safe, or too kind, and I would want to control them. On the other hand, I would somehow be drawn to sex addicts or abusive relationships that made me feel… what? Desired? Wanted? Taken care of (see: Christian Grey & his dominant personality)? The one good thing that came out of these were that they exposed me to sex in a different light. By pushing those envelopes I somehow stopped needing to control sex and learned more to experiment with it. I started to own my body versus giving it away all the time. As bad as it was, it ultimately made me much more deeply connected to this day in what I like, who I am and how open I am willing to be.
  • The Guilt
    • I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered if he has done this to someone else. I wondered if I had said something, would things be different? People 20+ years ago were in no ways supportive of a victim’s claim of rape and for me, I was not willing or wanting to go through that process (given what I had seen others go through). Defense lawyers were primed to target all aspects of your personality and your life and for me, it simply was not worth the exchange.
  • The Forgiveness
    • Eventually, I learned to forgive myself for that night and in some ways forgave him. I had to in order for me to live my life fully and completely in present day. There will always be a scar, but scars fade.
  • The Never-Ending
    • This will stay with me for my lifetime, but how I manage it is up to me. There are SO many more layers than simply asking “why didn’t you report it?” Before passing judgment or forming any kind of opinion, please just remember that you never… really… truly… know anyone else’s story.

 

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Family Matters

The #CentsAbility of Sharing

CentsAbility

Our #CentsAbility Challenge

My dad has a lot of sense when it comes to money.  He can tell you with acute clarity how much my folks have in savings, investments and the cost of running the house.

I somehow did not inherit this trait in terms of good money practice and how to save.

This is why when Manulife put out the call to try a #CentsAbility Challenge for the month of October, I was 100% totally and completely IN.

We are solid in terms of putting money aside for savings like our kids RESP and for our RRSP, but I do find myself too often surprised and asking, “where exactly did the money go?”

The #CentsAbility challenge is setting us on the right path of planning before we go out and stopping the purchase of the “Impulse Buy” in order to take back the money we work so hard to make.

But for us…there is a catch.

We had the opportunity to go to Tanzania last month to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as our way of celebrating the milestones we have met this year (10th Anniversary & 40th Birthday).

We booked our trip through Intrepid Travel (who I personally adore) and because it was important to us to do something more than just go, we got connected with the Intrepid Foundation right before we left.

The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund that helps travelers give back to the communities they visit. They are supported by Intrepid Travel, Geckos Adventures and Peregrine Adventures which means all the admin costs for the fund are covered by those companies. They also match donations dollar for dollar which for me, and this #CentsAbility challenge, makes my heart sing.

The Intrepid Foundation introduced us to the Kiliproject.org which promotes education opportunities within the Kilimanjaro area. We have a #TeamPowell fundraising campaign going (again the match people, take advantage of the match!) and plan to keep it a continued goal in our world moving forward.

You see, when we were on the trip, I had an opportunity to get to know our guides (6 days hiking on a mountain can help with that!) local villagers, children, and “business owners.” I learned about costs of living, costs of education, gas, healthcare, retirement… for them it was “what is retirement?” not “when is retirement?”.

If you ever want to get a hard knock perspective on your life compared to what life could be like in another country, check out If it were my home. It provided us a serious look at how vast life is different between Canada and Tanzania. Tanzanian’s average YEARLY salary is about $1,400.

When we came home to our bungalow in Toronto, it felt like it was a palatial mansion. The clothes in our closet, the toys, everything just made me kind of grossed out.

We just have SO MUCH STUFF and it suddenly felt like we could easily do without much of it, if it means providing dollars that can change someone’s year over in Tanzania.

So our goal in the #CentsAbility challenge is to pull back as much as possible to help raise those much needed dollars for KiliProject.org. We are totally game in ways in which we can do this and are watching all the #CentsAbility challengers to find ways we can help make a difference.

CentsAbility
We apparently are both fans of this image AND of saving money

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