If we let our minds go to all the potential horrors of Covid-19, it’s enough to feel utterly overwhelmed and anxious.

There are the disheartening numbers of increased deaths and cases, at home and globally. Financial ramifications are widespread and worrisome. We hear of Covidiots (yup: Covid + Idiot = Covidiot 🙂 ) buying more than their fair share of supplies and exploiting the situation to profit from such hoarding.

I’m drawn daily into this media vortex, and have to make myself come up for air. Being informed is one thing. Being inundated is another! I need to stay grounded so I can provide the emotional leadership my family needs, and for my own sanity’s sake.

That said, we don’t have to look too hard for some of Covid’s silver linings. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

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Whether our kids are big or little, in primary school or getting married, our intentions are the same: We want to have loving, connected relationships with them.

And if you’re part of this Inner Circle, chances are we’ve talked about Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate’s book, Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers. We know it’s critical for our kids to be securely attached to us and other caring adults, and that peers must never replace us.

But what happens if they do?

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OMG this is amazing, and I’ve never even been a huge fan of key lime pie. But when I tasted a slice of this I HAD to make my own as one slice wasn’t enough.

This recipe requires a food processor; it’s totally worth borrowing if you don’t have one. And you don’t have to make this as a pie. My last batch I put the filling on the bottom of a dish and sprinkled crust ingredients as a crumbly topping.

I confess to having and serving this for breakfast, too! Lovely with some vegan vanilla yogurt on top. Mmm.

 

Ingredients

For crust:

2 cups nuts (I used pecans & cashews but almonds work well too)

1/8 – 1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 – 1/2 cup pitted dates

pinch of salt

For filling:

3 avocados

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight (or minimum 4 hours), rinsed and drained

1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar or honey all work)

5-6 limes, zested and juiced

 

Directions

To make the crust, pulse the crust ingredients together until it forms a coarse meal. If you’re using as a crumble topping, it can be coarser. If pressing down as a pie crust, make it finer so that it doesn’t fall apart. Press into a 9″ pie/tart pan or 8″ cake pan.

Wipe food processor clean. To make the filling, blend cashews, coconut oil and sweetener in food processor until smooth. Then add avocados, lime juice and lime zest, and blend until smooth.

Spoon the filling onto crust (or bottom of dish and sprinkle crust ingredients on top). Refrigerate at least an hour, or until firm.

Tip: Eat within two days. The lime juice slows down the browning process of the avocados, but after a couple days the pie filling loses its pretty green colour.

“Today I will live in the moment. Unless it’s unpleasant, in which case

I will have a cookie.”  Cookie Monster

 

It’s been one of those months. Despite my best intentions, I’ve been MIA from my blog and any other personal goal.

Thankfully I’m not dealing with anything earth-shattering, like a horrendous medical diagnosis. It just started with last month’s Christmas chaos, followed by a family holiday. Interspersed with a few bouts of stomach flu, colds, and snow days. Oh, and dealing with some surprising and scary issues that come with parenting a teen.

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“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than

a successful present moment.”  Eckhart Tolle

 

Success can be a tricky concept. We all have definitions of what constitutes a “success,” and I bet most of us feel like we fall short. 

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“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become

by achieving your goals.”  Henry David Thoreau

 

Last week I went to an adult/teen gymnastics class. No joke.

There was a seventeen-year old, two university students in their early twenties, and me: an old(ish) mom more than twice their age. Thank God I was able to dismiss my ego, because you know what? I had FUN. I played on all the trampolines and equipment like I was a kid, flipping into the foam pit, taking some risks, and feeling utterly alive and present the whole time.

Why was I there?

I needed to get out of a slump. Nothing serious. Life is going well; I have no major problems and plenty of blessings, which I’m grateful for. But in the absence of misfortune, I’ve started to feel apathetic.

I’d way rather be energized and inspired, like when I’m working toward a goal or acing a metaphorical life test. I want a shiny gold star for my win, even if I have to give it to myself. 

Question is: What’s the win?

Since becoming a mom thirteen years ago, I’ve grappled with how can I feel “successful” as the homemaker who gave up her career. I often go in circles thinking about deep existential life goals. On the other hand, setting and meeting physical goals are simpler and immediately accessible. Physical goals are easily tailored to be anybody’s win.

It could be as simple as setting a number of pushups. Or running a certain distance or time. Maybe cycling, juggling, horseback riding, kickboxing, or swimming a number of laps. All that matters is that goals are specific, measurable and attainable.

When these goals are met, it feels awesome. Like “YAH, I did it!” Doing that gymnastics class last week earned me a gold star. And that winning energy triggered a positive chain reaction, fuelling me for days. All those rumours about exercise appear to be true: moving our bodies feels good. It uplifts and energizes, making us more optimistic and creative, which primes us for meeting and creating new goals and opportunities. 

There is a ton of research that shows how regular exercise helps us feel better, have less stress, be more productive and focussed, and even think more creatively. If you need more convincing, read this article on mental and health benefits of exercise.

Going to that gymnastics class has inspired me to set new goals. Simply trying it empowered me almost as much as if I actually learned how to do a back walkover again.

This week, I hope you feel the power of setting a physical goal and moving your body. Go ahead and Push-Up Your Way to Power—or cartwheel, bounce, run, swim, bike, juggle, trapeze… 🙂

 

Purely Practical Fitness Tips

We can get stronger and more flexible with inexcusably little effort. Try two of my easy favourites: Calf raises while doing just about anything, and squats while brushing teeth. 

Another good one? Earning treats. Whether it’s our morning coffee, dessert, or bowl of buttery popcorn, we can set a small physical-exercise payment before indulging. Do some crunches, lunges, tricep dips on the coffee table, or even a few simple stretches.

 

Join the Conversation

How do you get motivated to exercise?

Exercise helps me move out of apathy. What does exercise help you with? 

What are your favourite tricks to sneak physical activity into your day? 

This week my goal is to do a handstand against the wall every day, beating my time each day. What’s your physical goal?

You all know my love affair with words. If it makes me think, makes me smile, or makes me actually LOL, it’s here. Don’t forget to Leave a Reply and add your favourites below. I’ll update this page regularly.

 

Oh, I don’t try to hide my weird. I like to wave it around. It scares off the boring people and it’s like a beacon for my fellow weirdos.  Author unknown

Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.  Eckhart Tolle

You either like me or you don’t. It took me twenty-something years to learn how to love myself. I don’t have that kinda time to convince somebody else.  Daniel Franzese

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“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking

they don’t have any.”  Alice Walker

 

We’ve all heard of the #Me too movement. It’s done an impressive job of making everyone aware of how widespread sexual harassment and assault is. In fact, I wish it was around when I was a teen. I look back and remember several #Me too moments from the age of twelve on. They ranged from relatively harmless to definitely harmful.

But even though #Me too has put this topic in the spotlight, inspiring important changes, I’m ready for a new direction. Yes, perpetrators need to be held accountable. Yes, sexual abuse is pervasive and yes, it’s abhorrent.

But what next? 

We need more than awareness. We need to empower ourselves, our daughters—and our sons—to prevent this type of abuse in the first place.

It’s a little like protecting our homes by taking precautionary measures. When we leave the house, we lock our doors and windows, strategically leave lights on, and set an alarm if we have one.

We can compare this responsibility of safeguarding our homes to safeguarding our bodies. My girls need to know a lot more than the prolific ways they can be victimized. They need to be armed with the confidence, awareness and skills to thwart any unwanted sexual advances, and to prevent precarious positions in the first place.

This doesn’t mean it’s in any way the victim’s fault by not “preventing” abuse if it happens. Of course not. Just like it’s not our fault if someone breaks into our home because we didn’t leave the exterior lights on. But aren’t we better off reducing the chances of either situation from ever happening?

When I have safety conversations with my daughters, we talk about how to prevent unsafe situations, and how to get to safety if they are in dangerous territory.

This means teaching our girls to pay close attention and take control when their Spidey senses are tingling.

It means knowing it’s OK to appear “mean” or unfriendly to stop unwanted advances. Girls don’t always have to be nice, especially when others aren’t playing that way.

It means focusing on their surroundings, especially when they’re alone, by not being distracted by music or smart phones.

It means teaching them how alcohol affects judgment, and to have a buddy system in place so that friends are always aware and taking care of each other.

It means knowing that date-rape drugs can be snuck into drinks at a bar or party, and how to prevent that from happening.

But we need to include our boys and men in these conversations too. There is a backlash effect of the #Me too movement that’s created hostility and fear among males. I agree some of them have a lot to learn, but there are also many well-intentioned guys now tiptoeing around females or avoiding their company for fear of committing unintentional infractions.

If we’re able to move beyond the hurt and anger embedded in the #Me too campaign, perhaps we can move to hope. Hope that future generations can proudly be part of a #NOT ME movement.

This means when asked if they’ve ever been the recipient of sexual harassment, assault or coercion, our daughters can say, NOT ME.

This means when asked if they’ve ever been the perpetrator of sexual harassment, assault  or coercion, our sons can say, NOT ME.

Regardless of which movement, if any, we align ourselves with, the message of safe and respectful relationships should be the ultimate goal. And then we can know we’ve done our job—as parents, and as a society.

 

Purely Practical Safety Plan

Create a plan that your son or daughter can use to get out of a dangerous situation. Let’s say they’re at a friend’s house and things go sideways (think drugs, alcohol, sex, potential violence, crime). Create a simple code they can text which signals you to call and come get them right away.

For example, Bert Fulks calls it the “X” plan, and it goes like this: If his son texts him “X,” it means Mom or dad has to call right away to say there’s been a family emergency and needs to pick up their son. Check out Fulk’s “X Plan” for a way better explanation. Whether your family uses this or a modified version, let your kids know there is a no-questions-asked safety net if they ever need you.

 

Join the Conversation

What precautionary steps do you take—or suggest—to prevent getting into dangerous situations?

Any insights from the male perspective? Some of you have sons. How has the #Me too movement affected them?

“In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket.

But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.” David Suzuki

 

You’ve probably heard of Greta Thunberg. Since August 2018, she’s taken the environmental world by storm. She’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism. She’s outspoken and blunt. She has Asperger’s. She’s only 16. And she’s making a difference.

Greta started in her home country of Sweden, quietly but persistently protesting in front of parliament to demand greater action on global warming. Now, she regularly speaks to world leaders everywhere and has inspired millions to attend and form their own rallies. She’s not afraid to call bullshit on political and United Nations’ leaders for lack of action, like when she spoke at September’s UN climate summit: “People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”

What I respect about Greta is that she has no hidden agenda. She doesn’t get starstruck when she’s speaking to world leaders or celebrities. She just wants everyone to recognize the urgency of climate change.

Big government and big industry aren’t happy with her, and try to dismiss Greta and her uncomfortable messages. They focus on her Asperger’s and previous “mental illness” (she suffered from depression, but her sense of purpose has helped cure that). Greta has often referred to her Aspergers as a superpower, allowing her to stay focused and see through lies. Condescending jabs, like suggesting she is her parents’ “puppet,” even though she’s clearly pulling her own cognitive strings, are meant to derail this incredibly focused young woman.  And it all makes me want to stand up and clap for Greta, who fearlessly confronts the behemoths perpetuating global warming.

David Suzuki’s quote inspires me. Where Greta Thunberg is like a pro-environmental tsunami, I’m more like Suzuki’s drop in the bucket. I’m not doing anything on a massive scale, but I take small steps: turning off taps and lights, carpooling when possible, writing about this topic here, and reminding the barista at Starbucks that I’d like my order “for here,” politely drawing attention to everyone sitting in their restaurant drinking from to-go cups.

I’ve also become a flexitarian, shifting my diet to be more plant-based, after learning about the huge impact that meat and dairy consumption has on our planet. If you’re interested (and I know food can be a touchy subject, like religion or politics :0) then try watching some documentaries like Forks Over Knives (more of a health emphasis), or Cowspiracy (environmental emphasis).

And when it’s time to replace my gas guzzling vehicle, you can bet I’ll be getting an electric or hybrid.

In the meantime, let’s remember the quote attributed to Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 

Purely Practical (Environmental) Tips:

Always keep reusable bags in the passenger seat (not the trunk) of your car. That way they’re a visual reminder, making it more likely you’ll bring them into the store, versus realizing when you’re at the checkout that you forgot them in the car.

Ask “for here” next time you’re at Starbucks if you’re drinking your beverage in their restaurant. Otherwise, they automatically put drinks in their disposable to go cups. They don’t ask, even though Starbucks sent 3.85 BILLION cups to the landfill in 2017 alone. And nope, they can’t be recycled.

 

Join the Conversation

What small (or substantial) steps do you take to help the environment?

Any favourite documentaries or books on climate change?

Good people aren’t hard to find

They’re right around the corner at the end of the line—it’s true. Great Big Sea

 

We were driving along a quiet and scenic stretch of BC’s Okanagan valley on Canada Day long weekend. It was our first major trip in our new trailer, and we were about two hours away from our destination. For the kids and me, “camping” in our trailer was a wish come true. Ever since we got the trailer a few months earlier, I’d been playing house and setting it up for every conceivable camping comfort and situation.

Except for random mechanical failure, which would leave us stranded on this quiet and scenic stretch of BC’s Okanagan valley.

When Derek and I first felt the lurch and heard something scraping the highway, we knew we were in trouble. When we got out and saw the weight of the trailer resting on the trailer’s tire, he looked at me and said, “The vacation’s over.”

But for no rational reason, I knew it wasn’t over. I felt the peace that came with that faith, and replied “Maybe not.” He looked at me like I was crazy. Admittedly, the current situation dictated we wouldn’t be moving from that spot, but as luck would have it, we were literally blocking the driveway of the Lawrence Cattle and Logging Co. It was the only property for miles around, and it looked welcoming. As we wandered down the driveway, I couldn’t help but smile at the sight of weeping willows and cheerful red Adirondack chairs next to the charming house. This could end well.

The friendly couple who lived there was our age, but with grown children. After assessing our situation, Keith told us our leaf-spring was broken and confirmed we couldn’t drive—or even get towed—anywhere. Long weekend in the BC interior meant that we wouldn’t be able to get a new leaf-spring for several days, but lo and behold, Keith said he could get the trailer into his shop.

Turns out they had a lot of mechanical expertise, owning a logging company. Next thing we knew, he and his eighteen-year old son were welding us a new leaf spring so we could get to our destination and salvage our holiday. Meanwhile Tiana and Chelsea were playing with kittens under the weeping willows and jumping on a trampoline with Keith and Nicky’s niece and nephew. I’m serious: Playing with kittens. Could this be more perfect?

I chatted with Nicky and toured the tip of their ginormous property (they humbly acknowledged they own thousands of acres), and in another hour we were hugging and thanking them profusely. We promised Keith that we would bring the trailer to a proper RV shop prior to driving back home, as he insisted this was a safe but temporary fix; he didn’t feel right with us driving back through the mountain highways without the trailer being “properly” repaired.

What makes this even more of a feel-good story? They didn’t want to accept a penny. Turns out someone had similarly saved their holiday when they had trailer trouble years earlier, and they were happy to pay it forward. Derek had to literally threaten to leave the cash on their shop floor. Their kindness saved our holiday, not to mention countless dollars, and we were happy to thank them with enough money for what Derek called “a NICE dinner out” 🙂

Watching newsfeeds, listening to the horrors of the world, or simply being too busy to notice life’s beauty, we may wonder, Are there still good people in the world? You bet. They’re everywhere. Even on a remote BC highway during a long weekend.

 

Purely Practical Tip:

Stash any or all of these in your car for a tidier ride: Swiffer duster, a small broom, microfibre cloth and lint roller. Duster keeps your dash dust-free, broom brushes off the mats, cloth wipes away smudges on windows, and the lint-roller gets rid of hair, lint, etc. from upholstery. Then it’s easy to tidy car while gas station attendant fills up your car, waiting for your kid when picking them up from school or activities, or you’re stopped waiting in ferry traffic or border line-ups.

 

Join the Conversation

When have you been a lucky recipient (or the giver) of a random act of kindness?

Any favourite songs, movies, or quotes that send this message?