You can’t control the hand you’re dealt

It really is all in how you play the hand, your attitude as you face adversity, what you choose to focus on.


I believe you lose a lot of peace and joy in life when your focus is on the negative, when you stay and wallow when heartache knocks at your door, when you embrace and thrive off playing the victim.

In fact, I don’t just believe it, I know it’s true.

While compared to some, my life has been anything but challenging. Compared to others it’s not the easiest story to read. If I chose to sit here and list all of the damaging moments, the moments I didn’t think I could survive, the moments I questioned, “why me?”, I am sure I could make some of you, our faithful readers, feel sorry for me in some way or marvel at how strong I must have been to face those challenges.

But, what is the purpose in doing so? Other than to use these moments as examples of survival, there is no purpose. Other than to relate to another human in an intimate way by shedding light on the darkest scars found on my heart, there is no purpose.

While I do believe part of overcoming and rising above the situation presented to you is fully feeling and processing what is happening, I also know the most important part is 100% your attitude. It all boils down to your ability to gain perspective and how capable you are in accepting the situation as it is – as much as it does really suck sometimes.

HUGE difference.

HUGE difference.

If you’re in a constant state of struggle and life just seems to keep handing you the short end of the stick, maybe it’s time to reflect a little. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re causing the extent of the heartache. Maybe you’re drawing negative situations to yourself. Maybe, just maybe, you’re playing the victim a little too well.

Take a pause to reflect on how often you complain or find yourself in a less than desirable mood?

I used to let the silliest things take up rent in my head and space in my heart. I would focus on what was wrong and worry that it was never going to get better, that I would never learn how to deal or manage it, that I would never feel whole again.

And I know first hand that there will always be some aches that never fully disappear,  but you do learn how to take the lesson and make peace in order to find your happy – no matter how different it may look and feel after.

And I think that’s the key. I think that a great deal of peace comes from knowing, innately, that pretty much no matter what you face in life – you will be okay. Trusting completely that there is a greater purpose, that you will always be taken care of, that God has a plan. It really takes a fight to consistently remember that.

But after it’s been practiced, after it’s been applied to the crappy, non life-altering situations that in the grand scheme of things don’t define you, when it does come time for life to throw a big curve ball at you, you might not necessarily be ready for it, but you do have a better chance at dealing with it well, knowing that it’s all so temporary and that in five years, most of our today worries won’t matter so much.

~ Toni


Happiness and histories

I’ve been thinking a lot about history. There have been empires that have risen and fallen in all our years on this planet. Wars raged, places discovered, and countless loves found and lost. We all have our own history as well. We have our own way of looking at things. What we see and what we think is 100% unique to ourselves. And in my opinion, I think that no one remembers that fact.

No one recalls that our moods, our experiences, and everything in our own personal lives, including our own lessons and attitudes, are pushing us through the world. I often forget this point myself and end up thinking that the customers I deal with sometimes, when they are being in no way polite, are just horrible people. The one thing I always forget is that they are probably going through a lot of stuff, and if the most simple things, like a card reader error, can ruin their day, that I shouldn’t be upset at them. I shouldn’t hate them for the one minute I am in contact with them. I should remember to be just a little bit more understanding.

I work at a gas station right now, and see people from so many different lives enter through those two sliding doors into my workplace. Sometimes they are so rude and coarse and rough. Sometimes they are as sweet as honey in your chamomile tea. I am standing behind a register, ringing up your gas purchase, your lottery, your candy, and I am doing my best to smile for you. To make sure that when you come into that particular gas station you have as easy a transaction as possible, while still doing my job. I am pleasant and welcoming for each new customer. I too have a lot going on constantly, and I want them to understand and be polite, like I try to be with them no matter what catastrophe I may be dealing with in my life. However, wanting them to act how I see fit doesn’t ever work, because it all comes down to history.

We interact with people on a daily basis who are trying to move the mountains in their lives, trying to forge a better future, out of their various histories. We are all living in one confined planet. We are all trying to get around! We are all trying to live for us, our families and our friends.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

There is a woman who comes in to get gas. She has two grown children and always wears a smile, even though she has a lot on her plate, with her own business and bills, and yet she still is smiling.

There is a man who can barely walk on rainy days and yet he drives his friends around, because they were there for him and saved him in the war, so he does the driving now. He is in pain probably more than half the time I see him, but he still wears a smile for me.

There is a student who doesn’t know what she wants to do in her life, but she is working towards a degree in economics so she will get a good job and be able to take care of her mom one day, because her mom gave her everything she never got in life. She gets really frustrated because the card reader doesn’t like her card on the first few tries, especially at me when I first met her, but now she smiles because I took my time with her and her card.

There is an angry man who won’t talk or look you in the eye, and if you question him he will scream at you, no matter who is in the store, but get him on his good day and his smile is actually quite nice and his eyes can look quite kind.

There is a little girl whose mom gives her a weekly allowance for doing chores. She saved up the allowance so she could pay for her mom’s gas and two movie tickets, because she wanted to have a mommy-daughter date with her mommy who works too hard. She paid me all in change, but I still smiled and couldn’t stop for the rest of my shift even as I counted all those coins.

The people I see every day have vast, amazing histories and wonderfully complex lives and thoughts. They see me for maybe 10 minutes tops in their entire day or week, and all I can do is try and smile, and to make this one thing in their soon-to-be histories at least pleasant, if not happy.

I just want everyone to be happy and spread the happy. It’s not easy, ever, to let the little, stupid, nagging things go. It is harder than diamonds to actually carry out those three little words in our day-to-day lives: let it go.

Exasperated one morning, after a falling out with someone, I was visiting Joe’s aunts. I was obsessing as I sometimes, okay, usually do, and Aunt Brenda just looked at me and said, “Let it go! Get over it!”

I honestly just started laughing. Because it is so simple. Just let it go. Let go of the stupid little things, let go of the tough bad huge things. Yes, work through it, but when you are out in the world, let it go. Be happy! Smile, even when everyone is bugging the piss out of you!

So yes, even though our histories are long and stretched out, varied and eclectic, we are all together. We all have the hard days and stupid exhausting moments of frustration, especially when someone or something gets under your skin. And everyone has days when nothing, no matter what you try or do, makes things better, but I just want you to remember one thing if that stupid day for you is today: I want, no, need, for you to be happy. Because it is a great, big, beautiful world full of great, big, amazing moments, and this one will pass. You will feel and be completely different tomorrow. We are never the same people in each and every passing moment. Change is inevitable. I want to give you this moment for happiness, your happiness. I want you to let it go, and just delight in the fact that in this moment, you can smile and turn it all around.

Be happy! Keep smiling!Happiness

~ Andreah

Another warrior woman

Right now I do not have internet, so part of my weeks are spent with one of my boyfriend’s aunts to use her internet to update my posts. One day I was updating and uploading a post I wasn’t really happy with. I often find myself not being able to come up with any good ideas to write, and a few days before I was talking to Joe’s Aunt Linda about everything she survived and thrived through in her entire life, and about the many kids she took care of, including Joe. She took care of him from grade 6 on through high school. So I decided to interview her for this blog, as she is a large part of my life in my new town.

She is a warrior. She has survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma, abusive husbands, a brain injury, retinitis pigmentosa (she is going more and more blind, but will never be fully blind), thyroidism, having her gall bladder removed, stage 3 kidney disease, colitis, diabetes, and is a widow twice over.

She is a very modest woman, so getting an actual interview with her was a bit of a challenge. She felt like she just doesn’t have that much to teach others, but I disagree.

I have trouble with staying positive – I feel often like hope is not for me because it gets ripped from me so often – but here is a woman sitting before me in her cozy living room, who has been through so much and survived, and she is the most positive person I have met for a very long time. Finally, she agreed to the interview saying, “Well, it may not turn out, but it never hurts to try!”

I interviewed her for this blog because she is an amazing woman. She is strong and so happy 99% of the time, the other 1% she said “They [my family] call me the greatest bitch in the world.” She has been through hell and back, and she is proud of her title. “I can’t not do what I think is right.”

She is proud that she is a grandma, a mom, and an aunt. “I love all my kids. No matter what!”

I asked her just a few questions, and I loved the responses she gave me. They were exactly like this woman who everyone calls Aunt Linda. She is family to anyone who needs her, and I love hanging out with her when I can.


Me: What is your greatest memory?

Aunt Linda: Having my baby, Allan, and taking care of my other babies, Pam, Mike, Joe and Daiman.

Me: What would you say was your most life-altering moment?

Aunt Linda: Cancer. I had the best doctors at Princess Margaret [Hospital]. And hopefully, this May, I will be officially cancer-free.

Me: How did you keep your strength through all of that?

Aunt Linda: God, my sister Brenda, Dad, all my family. It was a very long road. I had to go through chemo, and I lost all my hair! I loved being bald though. I had a brownish blonde wig, and a red wig, and I noticed people always treat you differently. People were nice when I had the brown one, and ignored me with the red wig! You notice things like that.

Me: How do you still stay positive?

Aunt Linda: You have to! I could be a real mess if I remembered all the bad things, like the bad things with my first husband. I keep love instead. God helps me make the right decisions. I use my gut on some things, but mostly it’s God.

Me: What is your favourite memory with Joe?

Aunt Linda: His birth! I was there! I had my face right down there! Also getting married. He was crawling and running around everywhere! Around my dress, under it, he was just everywhere!

Me: If you could do anything over, what would it be?

Aunt Linda: Nothing. I have a fortune. I have a fortune of family. I don’t care about money.

Me: What do you want more of in your life?

Aunt Linda: Family sticking together. I know it sounds like a book, but that’s what’s really important.

Me: Do you have any advice? Or words of wisdom?

Aunt Linda: If you love each other, you don’t hurt each other. Enjoy even the small moments, even if it is just fleeting. Cancer could have taken me, so that is what I do.


I wanted to share this little bit of this woman with you because we have all had so many different kinds of life experiences, and I am talking about all of the people who read this blog, or who even stumble upon it accidentally. We all come from such different life experiences and different walks of life. All our purposes and drives are so vastly different and uniquely weird. We are all going through life at different speeds, and will have so many different adventures. When I asked my last question about why she thinks it all happened, she simply said “God put me on this earth to learn something, and I will figure that out one day.”

Thank you for reading about this fantastic woman! She has been through so much, and given so much of herself so others can be happy. She cares about her family, and she is definitely a hero. I think I’m collecting them!

~ Andreah