Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Lesson

A few days ago I had the opportunity to help out a stranger. It wasn't anything special - I believe most people in the same situation would respond in the same way.

There was no thank you. Instead, these words were spoken softly:

"I didn't know there were still good people in the world" with the hint of a sad smile. And then she was gone.

I wonder if she knows how powerful those words were - that hearing them once again in my mind causes my throat to ache as I try to contain the tears?

What world must this woman live in where goodness and kindness are the exception and not the rule? What experiences has she had that cause her to doubt the compassion and caring of others? What do her eyes see? And why are they hiding behind such dark sunglasses on a cloudy day?

I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who are good and kind - and while I am grateful for these people each and every day, I will admit that often times I take it for granted. It's hard to be reminded that not everyone shares those qualities - not everyone has access to people who are caring, supportive, and loving on a daily basis.

It's hard to believe that one action - even if I consider it to be insignificant, can in fact be so very significant. I didn't give her the gift of my service today - perhaps it was something much, much more.

Perhaps it was the gift of hope.






Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Princess Ball

Thursday, November 21.

I had been waiting for this day to arrive for a long time. I was filled with excitement. I was filled with anticipation. I was keeping my fingers crossed.

What was so special about November 21?

That was the day tickets for "The Princess Ball" went on sale. I had made plans to purchase tickets for my daughter and niece as Christmas gifts - after all, what little girl wouldn't LOVE to get all dressed up and go to a Ball?!? With princesses, and princes, and a whole bunch of wonderful things to do? It was a perfect idea.

That morning, I got the kids off to school, waited for my husband to finish up some work, and then we headed in to the mall to get in line for tickets. I got there a bit later than I had planned; however the line up didn't seem too bad, so I remained hopeful that I would have those tickets in my hot little hands sooner rather than later.

The doors finally opened and the line moved forward as people bought their tickets. I felt my heart sink as I got closer and it became clearer and clearer that the pile of specially made Invitations was not going to last long enough for me to get to the front of the line.

I felt disappointed. I mentally chastised myself for not getting there soon enough. I listened to people grumbling - and some even raising their voices - about their inability to obtain a ticket. I watched as the organizer attempted to calm some very upset people in line, and I saw the discomfort of the volunteers selling tickets as people became irate that there were no tickets left. And suddenly, I felt angry - very angry as a matter of fact - not because tickets sold out ten people in front of me, but because at that very moment, the organizer and volunteers should have been celebrating, and the crowd should have been cheering as the event SOLD OUT in 35 minutes. 35 minutes!!! Amazing! Instead, their effort and energy was spent trying to settle a small group of people who were obviously disappointed but not expressing it very maturely. And to me, that's a rip off.

So what? you might be saying …

The reality is, The Princess Ball is organized by a local Mom whose daughter has Cystic Fibrosis. The proceeds of The Princess Ball go towards research and finding a cure for this chronic, life threatening illness.  That's right - it is a FUNDRAISER. For a CHARITY.  A unique and interesting way to obtain much needed financial support for research - so that those living with CF, and those who are yet to be diagnosed with CF, have access to treatments and opportunities that will allow them to live a full life despite their illness.

Yes, a day at a Ball sounds wonderful and exciting … but you know what sounds even better?!? In 35 minutes these folks raised $24,000!!! $24,000!!! Sure, some of that will go towards the costs associated with putting on an event of this magnitude - but seriously, how can one NOT be excited by the fact that such a significant amount of money was raised in less than an hour?

Look, I get it. I understand the frustration of having waited in line and not gotten a ticket. I understand the disappointment of little girls who will not get to have their day at The Ball. And yes, I even understand why someone would get hot under the collar because of a misunderstanding.

However:

I am also the Mom of a daughter who has a chronic, life threatening illness (not CF). I understand the drive and the desire to raise monies for our charity so that perhaps one day she, along with many others, will be free of her disease - or at the very least have access to technological advances that make it much easier to 'manage'.

I understand what it is like to see your child go through medical appointments and procedures that are scary and uncomfortable. I know the worry and fear associated with the "what if?" and "what next?".  I have lived through nightmarish hospitalizations where I honestly was not sure whether or not my daughter would survive - where I have wept while begging God to please not take her yet. I have been part of conversations where a nonchalant mention of someone dying from the disease my daughter has can shake me to the core, and I momentarily live the inexplicable  grief that family must be enduring. I can relate to the drive - no, the need - to keep moving forward, keep educating, keep trying to find a cure - all occurring simultaneously with an exhaustion that at times can be completely and totally overwhelming.

I realize that there are many charities out there - all deserving of our support. I have felt the discomfort associated with fundraising at times - because as much as I want to find a cure, I also struggle with continually asking people for money. It is understandable when people are unable to donate - but at the same time, I feel discouraged. I cannot even begin to explain how much I appreciate those who continue to give not just their money, but their time and commitment to being there, over and over and over, and I appreciate and value their support in ways they will never imagine.

So along comes Kelly Tibbets. She decides to do something innovative - something amazing to raise money while also delighting little girls and their mothers everywhere. She starts to organize The Princess Ball. She does this while she runs her own business. She does this while her husband works away from home for extended periods of time. She does this while she is raising her children. She does this while she attends appointments and provides treatments for her daughter. She does this while she volunteers at her older daughters school. She does this while she reconciles the joys, excitement, fears and worries associated with having a child with a chronic illness. I haven't ever seen her in a cape, but I'm pretty darn sure she's a super hero!

She and her trusty volunteers solicit donations from businesses so that the majority of the ticket price goes where it belongs - to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They spend countless hours assembling invitations, making arrangements for princesses and princes to greet you at the door, arranging for silent auction items, etc. It's a HUGE job - and one that couldn't be completed without the full on personal commitment to finding a cure for CF. I applaud all of them for their perseverance and dedication.

So - for those of you who are fortunate enough to be attending this event - enjoy! Dance with the Princes and Princesses, treat yourself to some candy, and love every single minute - but also remember why you are there. Bid on the silent auction items, make a note of the sponsors and give them your business, or consider making a cash donation.

For the rest of us, consider donating the price a ticket would have cost you to Cystic Fibrosis Canada and mark The Princess Ball in the memo.  Email Kelly (cfcentralalberta@gmail.com) to find out if there is any way that you can offer some assistance or sponsor a silent auction item. You may not be able to spend an afternoon surrounded by magic and whimsy; however you just might make a difference in the life of someone living with Cystic Fibrosis.

Also, be sure to check out their new website  The Princess Ball - you will find the sponsors listed there. Check out their Facebook and business pages as many of them are running contests for tickets right now - who knows, maybe a Ball is in your future after all ;)

For those of you who would like to learn more about Kelly Tibbets, check out her Guest Post over at
Unlimited BS - she is an amazing woman and we are so very fortunate that she is a part of our community.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

More Than Just a Donation

Today is Bell Let's Talk day - an initiative put forth by Bell Canada to encourage discussion and openness about Mental Health, with the side benefit of a financial donation to various Mental Health initiatives in our country.

Some people will argue that it is a 'feel good' advertising campaign - a ploy to increase overall revenue while getting the company name/image out there for a relatively small cost. That Bell could simply make a donation without all the sharing and retweeting. And they are probably right.

Image from umc-gbcs.org

When I look at my Twitter feed today, it is EXPLODING with comments, confessions, encouragement, support, love, and honesty. One does not have to look far to realize that Mental Health issues impact us all at some point in our lives - either directly or indirectly. And judging from how often this kind of stuff shows up on my timeline on days other than Bell Let's Talk day, we still are perhaps not quite comfortable enough to actually share about it on an ongoing basis. Sure, these conversations may take place 'in real life', but the atmosphere of support to share publicly is nowhere near what it should or needs to be.

And I started to wonder … what would happen if every day was Bell Let's Talk day - not just today? 

What if we were comfortable enough to share our vulnerability, our struggles, our progress -  without having to add the hashtag #BellLetsTalk?

Would someone out there feel less alone? Inspired? Encouraged to seek help? Would it save even one life? Would people lend us support, lift us up, walk beside us on our journey?

When others share their struggles, we learn we are not alone. When people we believe have 'got it all together' expose their vulnerability - their pain - we realize that it isn't just us. When we see people get through struggles and heartaches and come out whole and strong on the other side, we become inspired and hopeful. When someone opens their heart and asks for help, we are able to comfort, share, support, and guide.

Today is more than just Bell Let's Talk day. It is an opportunity to be open, to be vulnerable, and to share a piece of ourselves with others. It is an opportunity to create change, to advocate for supports, to stand together and say "let's get this done". But most of all, it is a reminder that we are all impacted - even if only peripherally.

Today is Let's Talk day. What will YOU choose to do about it tomorrow?


If you, or someone you know is struggling with a Mental Health issue, you are not alone and there IS help available. Reach out to:


  • Family or close friends
  • Mental Health Centre or Crisis Line (in Alberta 1-877-303-2642)
  • Your local Suicide Information/Education Centre (in Red Deer (403) 342-4966 or suicidehelp.ca)
  • A member of the Clergy
  • Family Physician or Walk In Clinic
  • Emergency Department
  • School counsellor 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

My Cirque du Soleil Audition

I've always enjoyed performing - just ask my poor relatives who suffered every Christmas as my sister and I put on an impromptu pageant complete with costumes and off key notes.

Over the years I tried my hand at musical theatre, jazz dancing, and of course, the performance of my life so far - pretending to be a completely competent mother of four.

Today, I decided to change things up a bit and try to perfect my acrobatic routine. This brilliant idea came to me as I took the garbage out this afternoon. What happened is this - last weekend I took a bag of garbage out and tossed it into the container. Unfortunately it was a rim shot, and tipped the can backwards so it was laying on the floor. I had my fingers crossed that someone else (aka Mike) might notice and set it back up for me. No dice.
Note the Blue Garbage Can - this is the one that was laying
 on the floor causing all the problems.
Also note the landing with the box of booze on it - this is approx. 2 feet off the floor.

Fast forward to a couple of hours ago when I got the brilliant idea to try and right the can by reaching over and snagging it with the handle of E's scooter. After all, it was only about a 5 foot reach - what could go wrong?

Turns out it was one of those times where I wished there was a hidden camera in the garage because I'm certain I would have been a contender for the big one on America's Funniest Videos.

As I balanced myself with my hand on the wall and my feet planted behind the box of booze sitting on the step, I reached forward with the scooter and managed to hook it onto the black handle of the can. What happened next is something of a blur; however when I came to I found my left arm and shoulder firmly wedged in the garbage can, my face smushed into a used furnace filter, and my right arm cradling an empty pizza box. Nestled between my thighs was an empty Corona. Truthfully, it kind of reminded me of college - minus the raging headache and fuzzy tongue courtesy of a really good night.

Suffice it to say, clearly I am not as flexible (or as smart for that matter) as I used to be. And that call from Cirque? Probably not gonna happen.





Monday, 11 November 2013

The Poppy

Sometimes I wonder if the conversations I have with the kids actually sink in.

I'm not talking about the standard "don't fart on your sisters head", "5 is an unacceptable time to get up", or even "if your mittens are dripping water everywhere, then yes - they are indeed WET". Those scripts are already on rewind and repeat and seem to have little impact.

No, I'm referring to the important conversations. Things like the significance of wearing the poppy, Remembrance Day, and honouring the contribution made by our current and past armed forces to ensure we have the rights/freedoms we often take for granted.  Admittedly, this is a concept that is difficult for a 6 year old to process.

Image from www.warmuseum.ca

The other day my children were fortunate to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony at their school. When they returned home that evening, all were very excited to tell me about the ceremony - and especially proud of the poppies they had pinned to their jackets. Except B. His coat was missing his poppy.

"B - what happened to your poppy? Did it fall off on the way home?" I asked.

"No. I buried it in the snow!" he stated excitedly. He then ran off to play.

At first I was mortified - why on earth would my child bury a symbol of Remembrance in the snow, and I secretly hoped he did this in our yard and not at the school.

At bedtime that evening, as I rubbed his back, I asked "Why would you bury your poppy, B?"

"So we could have poppies in the spring of course. Why should we only remember when snow is on the ground?" he replied, looking at me as if I was daft.

Perhaps I'm doing something right after all.


If you are interested in hearing the stories of our veterans, I encourage you to check out Veterans Voices of Canada  . This is an amazing project dedicated to ensuring our veterans can share their stories with generations to come. We must never forget.


Friday, 8 November 2013

DST - The Aftermath

After almost a week straight of 5 a.m. wake up calls, I have officially decided Daylight Savings Time can go to a place a heck of a lot warmer than it is here.

My kids have always been early risers - and are pretty consistent in their 6 a.m. 'rise and fight' routine regardless of the time they went to bed the night before. So when DST hits, we usually have a couple days before their internal clocks get adjusted.

Now we are 7 days in, and I have almost resigned myself to the fact that 5 is the new 6. Also, there is not enough coffee in the world to get me through this.
Or by screaming children … 


This morning, in sheer desperation, I wrote the following message on the stove:




Clearly I am in a stupor, otherwise I would have scribed this on something that other people in the house actually look at … but no, I chose the stove. I may as well have scribbled it in the leftover lint that dusts the top of the dryer … no one else looks at it either.

Sigh. I'm gonna grab me a Gin and have me a pity party today. Anyone want to take my kids for a sleepover?


Thursday, 7 November 2013

6 Year Olds CANNOT Be Trusted

There's nothing quite as humbling as becoming a victim of unexpected exposure.

A couple of weeks ago we dropped E off at choir, then headed back outside to enjoy some fresh air and activity until she was done.

About 20 minutes later, B decided he needed to use the bathroom "Really, REALLY BAD", so I took him back inside the church to use the 'facilities'.

Because the men's room was occupied, and he was squirming more than Rob Ford* at a press conference, I suggested he use the ladies room. After dragging him by the ear much convincing, he finally relented and came inside the washroom with me. While there, I decided that I could probably take advantage of the situation rather than having to return 5 minutes later.

As soon as he was done, I begged told B to wait patiently by the sink with his back toward me and proceeded to 'settle' myself. No sooner had I made seat contact, he stomped over to the door, grabbed the handle and flung it open, then ran into the main foyer leaving me literally with my pants down.

At which point I was grateful for three things:

Number 1
The woman seated directly across the hall from the washroom kindly averted her eyes and saved her laughter for later.

Number 2
All the squats I've been doing over the past two years have obviously paid off. I was able to waddle cover the 7 feet from the toilet to the door whilst my pants were at my knees and my lily white arse swung wildly to and fro in what I'm certain could be deemed as record time.

Image Credit: Mike Talma (you can see my pathetic attempt I erased before asking him for help)
Good thing I was wearing my fancy red boots and skinny jeans that day.
Also - what the heck is with my arms?!?
Number 3
I managed to hold in my sneeze until AFTER I scooted back to the toilet and sat down (those of you who have children will understand what I mean)

The moral of this story?

My red boots look hot and might help me turn into Wonder Woman when faced with a challenge. That, and 6 year old boys suck.


*If for some reason you live under a rock and don't know who Rob Ford is, I suggest you google him.