When love is no longer served

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a soul sister of mine is not having the greatest time in her life. In fact it’s down right shitty for her right now.

With a tendency to absorb the hurt of the hearts I love, my heart is truly aching for her. It aches because I see so many of my own battles faced in her present circumstance and my empathy over flows for her. Her experiences have triggered some reflection of my own path and the relationships I have experienced, outgrown and moved on from. It is a bit easier from the place I am in currently to reflect honestly about each one and the person I was when involved in them. It is easier for me to see now what the root of the pain might be.

Without being too personal or airing details of their life that are not mine to share, the just of it is, needing to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.

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This is a bitter, hard, transforming lesson. It is a lesson that can leave your heart hard if you’re not careful and create barriers around yourself that were not there before. Or, it can soften you through finding the strength to demand the people and energies in your life be good for you, good to you and feed your soul. If you let it, can catapult you into the wisdom of some of the most evolved souls where you won’t settle for less than you really deserve.

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Removing yourself from said proverbial table might need to happen anywhere in your life.

This could mean your job when your joy has been sucked from you and you no longer recognize why you do what you do. This could mean from a family member who refuses to work on the parts of your relationship that are weak and leaves you feeling abandoned more often than not, using words as weapons to lash out on you. This could be the emotionally draining friendship you’ve outgrown completely, yet continue to partake in only because of how long you’ve known each other. Or, it could be the partner who does not wish to look at their own demons in order to play kindly with yours and uses you as a verbal punching bag.

Whatever the case, you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. Or if it never really was and you’re finally waking up to the reality and dynamic of the relationship.

Sadly, no amount of love, effort, compliance, or attention can ever get these people to love you the way you deserve. Some people are just not meant to be in our lives. Some people will never know or learn how to love us and understand us. You could kill yourself going to the ends of the earth trying to show them how incredible you are and how deserving of love you are, and it still won’t change a damn thing. Not one fucking thing. That is the hard, awful, real truth.

You do not have to make excuses for removing these people from your life either. There should be no guilt in cutting ties to those that do more harm than good. Yes, one thousand times yes it is easier said than done. But when you start to pay attention to your energy and who it increases and decreases around, and who leaves you feeling lifted, or drained, you become a little more protective of it. Especially, well hopefully, as you age. When it is apparent that time is fleeting and passing faster and faster, it becomes more precious and you become more selective with who is given the most valuable thing you have to spend.

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Some of these ties you will feel need to be cut with an explanation that is usually more self serving than for the party you are outgrowing. You have things you need to say to them, need them to hear, need them to feel because you do. The cold truth though is that if they really cared, the behaviour or issue would have been addressable. If they cared when you told them that they were causing you harm, they would have loved you enough to work on it with you, or walked away from you recognizing that they did not serve you. The walking away part is usually reserved for a relationship with a base of respect though and you don’t always get that lucky. It is because the biggest act of love is always the truth. The act of showing someone exactly who you are and being aligned with your words in your actions enough that allows the person you love to either accept you fully or choose to walk away. We’re not always this lucky. In fact, it is becoming more and more rare.

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On the other hand, some of these ties need not a single word explanation and you just need to rip off the band aid by shutting the door in silence. This is the most powerful message that you can send, yet is not guaranteed to be received at all. They may not even notice you’re not there anymore. Which, while sad, should also be the loudest response to confirm you were right in your stand.

I think I’ve come to the realization that not everyone deserves to be witness to my life. Not everyone deserves my love and attention. In fact, as I get older I realize that very few really have the right intent in seeking it.

I still battle with this of course. Cutting people out seems heartless and cruel, but vitally necessary. I struggle too in doing so with people I want to believe love me or care about me, the ones I want to believe have my best interest at heart and means me no harm. Mostly people I want to believe are good for me because of how I feel about them. People I absolutely need to learn to get up from and walk away from because love is no longer being served.

But just as I will, she will get there in this lesson too. I have faith in hearts like ours. The ones that learn the hardest way possible, just to make sure the resulting wisdom is good and ingrained into our being so we change a little more each time, being challenged not to shut off our hearts for good.

Soul sister, I innately know that these storms are just here to wash you clean. Have faith in what is to come, keep hope in your heart and stay open, the way you’ve always been.

And most importantly know your soul’s growth depends on this act of getting up from the table when love is no longer being served.

~ Toni

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Get what you need

I don’t always have good days, but since being back they have been more frequent, which is nice.
1My one counselor told me to find something that puts a smile on my face and make it a part of me.
2One of those things for me are inspirational sayings.

They’re little sayings usually on photos that capture your eye, and quotes that can spur you forward.
3Every once in a while I need these little signs to help me and give me an up.
4I do my best, but I feel like it is never good enough.

I feel like it isn’t going to get better.
5But wait, the universe is vast, so vast we literally don’t know what it all is or what makes it all up. We don’t.
6I know I can do this, and these little things and sayings in my life help and give me some form of peace, even if it’s only for a little while.
Inspirational
~ Andreah

The final lap

I realized yesterday that in a few short weeks, I will be entering into the very last year of my 20s.

I was sitting on Julia’s couch, gabbing about the accomplishment of partially teaching Isaac to say my name, my goal before my birthday, when it dawned on me that my deadline was now in terms of weeks, and much sooner than I thought. Julia was quick to point out that it was the last of the 20s, with a big grin.

The end of an era.

A milestone I have long looked forward to, truthfully.

People say that your thirties are totally different. But good different.

I’m pretty pumped about the whole thing. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I kinda do feel a bit like a fine wine, slowly getting better over time.

I feel like this back half of my 20s have felt very…vivid, is the only word I can come up with in attempt to describe it.

The highs and the lows have all felt very vivid.

The balance of life, if you will, but with the good majorly out weighing the bad, thank God.

Michael proposed and we faced some of the tougher challenges of life together in these years – I’m so grateful for our friendship, love and passion for one another because it meant we faced them together and grew even stronger as a team. Go us! Some of those challenges would have been so much harder to face alone, almost unbearable for me.

I’ve been able to take some very negative more recent experiences in my career life, and cling desperately to the feeling I have in my soul that it’s all for a very specific reason. When you’re not listening to the tiny whisper in your soul, life has this funny way of redirecting until we ‘get it’.

I got it.

Well, I haven’t yet. But I know I’m well on my way, and leaps and bounds closer than I was a month ago.

I’m getting it.

I said to a long lost friend the other day that I am not who I was a few years ago because something amazing has a chance of happening when you hit rock bottom and are severely wounded in the process by some of the people that you cared for the most.

I was lucky enough to look around when I hit that proverbial bottom and in doing so realized that I came out clean with the people who truly matter sticking by me through it all.

Now that is a blessing of a bounce if you ask me. To know who is on your team no matter what kind of shitty day you’ll have to face is pretty fabulous.

The part about getting older that I love the most though, is the odd realization of how precious time is.

This will help you make time for the people that are important, that you care about, and give you the reasoning for saying “no” to the ones who just aren’t. The double edge sword of this is coming to the slow realization of who made exactly that decision about us, and determined we just weren’t worth the spending of precious time.

But it’s part of life, of growth, of growing up.

Letting people go is something most people, myself included, have had to face by this stage of life – whether by choice, or even harder, death. It’s the ache of what’s left behind, what almost happened, the words you wish you’d said sooner, the forgiveness you wish you’d given faster, the moments you wished you would have paid more attention to. Some, you never quite get over.

As I stride towards 30, I’m fighting for that balance between a heart that loves as wildly as my beautiful nieces and nephews, as cautiously as my jaded nature needs me to and a soul that always stays a little bit tender with some hope, no matter what.

I’m hoping that my ever increasing love of yoga will help to keep me more mindful, present and most importantly help me to remember to keep breathing – something I’ve been known to have trouble with. I feel like part of my rebuilding process from this latest bump in the road has to largely be attributed to my involvement with my practice.

My favourite breakthrough I’ve had with yoga so far is that my intense desire to be still should be fed.

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Psalm 46:10

Being still allows you to see and hear things that God wants you to know, but are too busy rushing around with daily responsibilities to hear.

It connects you back to your heart, forces you to take a listen. Can often help you to see.

Recently it helped me confront a situation that has been giving me all sorts of heartache without the fear of not being in control of the outcome – my usually crippling downfall.

How completely liberating.

To be totally honest, brazen if you will, with someone and then let go enough to accept whatever may come, doesn’t come naturally to me by any means. But over the past 5 years, I have realized this practice is so important for survival.

Couple that with the understanding that everyone in your life has only a certain amount of love to give you – for some people that means heaps and heaps of love, and for some that means it may leave you struggling to understand why they treat you the way they do. The kicker here is figuring out that you have the opportunity to either accept that love, or walk away from it. You get to truly choose if the way someone shows you love, and how much they are capable of giving, is acceptable to you. I find peace in the knowing it doesn’t reflect on your heart by any means and that often times it has nothing to do with you at all.

Hardest. Lesson. Ever.

I’m feeling better and better about this old soul of mine as I prepare to take this next lap around the sun, the final of my 20s. I feel like I am so much closer to where I want to be spiritually, physically and mentally, as a person – the truly important milestones.

I really can’t wait to learn what’s next.

~ Toni

Leaving

We made a huge decision last year. A decision that rocked our home and our family. A decision that had been a long time coming, yet still was impossible to predict.

We decided to stop going to church.

Ben and I both come from a long tradition of attending church services on a regular basis. His grandparents went to the church that his mom and dad both attended, and he attended the same church his entire life. My parents found the church we were attending when I was less than a year old and had been members for my entire life.

Last year, we changed that.

Leaving a church is not something we had ever thought we would do. Ben and I met through the church’s youth group. Ben was a minister and head choir leader. I was crazy involved as an organist, a Sunday School teacher and leader, and a choir member. We decided to live in the city we do because of church, even though when we got married we were looking for work in other cities. We didn’t want to commute to the place where we spent a third of our time. At the height of our involvement, if we weren’t at home or work, we were at church. We LIVED church. And loved it.

We had a community of believers that were living the same life we were, that had the families and the marriages that we wanted, that were the volunteers we strove to be, and were our friends.

And then we had Sophie.

I’m not blaming Sophie, but as you know (or maybe you don’t…) after you have a kid EVERYTHING changes. EVERYTHING. Think of something, anything, in your life. Now, have a kid and it’s CHANGED. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done (as any new parent will confirm). And because I had an undiagnosed round of PPD, it was worse. And my interaction with the church, because it was SOMETHING, changed. But we still held on.

Then we had Lillian. And I broke even more because PPD with a newborn and a toddler looks vastly different than PPD with just a newborn. And in therapy I was told if I wanted to survive, to live, to keep my family together, to keep me together, I would have to take a hard look at our extracurricular activities, or things that we were doing or were involved in that weren’t an absolute necessity, like eating, or bathing, or sleeping. Getting dressed didn’t even make the list, so volunteering in the church, attending church services regularly, being involved were no longer options. So, we stepped back and attended when we could, and weren’t involved anymore.

And then we had Isaac. And all hell broke loose. People say that having three kids is harder than having two, which is harder than having just one, and that going from none to one is by far the biggest change. In our experience, this has all held true. Having three is switching the defense from man-to-man to zone, and being outnumbered all the time, not just when one parent is out of the room. It’s hard and crazy and, now that everyone is sleeping again, awesome. But, there was no way we could pick up where we were in the church, where we were in the community, where we were when we were a family of two, or three, or even four. We were five and church was a really hard thing to maintain.

This was half of our trouble with our church. The other half is a long, complicated story of intimate details I won’t go into. I love lots of people who still go to the church. I respect so many people who go to the church. And I’m not going to use this platform or any other public forum to tear apart such a personal piece of people’s lives. If you have a true relationship with God, and you have found the best place for you to worship, you know what a deep commitment and what an intricate piece of your life it is. This post is not to rip apart what other people have with our old church. It’s to talk about what it was for us.

Our biggest trouble was feeling like there was a lack of support for young families and specifically young mothers. So when the bottom dropped out on our lives, we lost all the connections we had with our faith and with our worship.

I think it’s important here to describe the difference between faith and worship. It’s as different as belief in God and organized religion. There’s God, the perfect being, the One who loves you through everything and anything, and the religions that are man-made, imperfect bodies set upon this earth to help us get closer to Him. The trouble? All of those man-made rules, judgments and complications. For us, our relationship with God was there, through ups and downs, but our ability to worship and to receive support in our relationship with God was destroyed and non-existent. We loved God. He loved us (because that will always be). But we had lost our place in a community of believers. We had lost our connection through worship, which is singing, praising, working and sitting in that community of believers and hearing God’s word.

It hurt. A lot. And it just kept hurting. Until I decided that I needed more.

So I told Ben that. I explained to him that I couldn’t go on not worshiping, but that I couldn’t go back to how we had always worshiped. I told him that I wanted to go church shopping. I told him that I needed to go church shopping. And then I asked him what he thought. And then I started apologizing.

Asking someone to change pieces of their faith or all of their faith, or having someone jump ship on the faith when you have spent your entire lives and relationship believing and worshiping together, in my opinion, can be such a blow. It’s like you had a deal and the other person reneges in the worst, biggest, most awful way ever.

I needed to find a way to worship but I hated that I was asking Ben to give up everything for it.

So we talked and talked and I cried, and we talked and talked, and I apologized and cried some more, and we decided – we’d go shopping. We’d keep an open mind. We’d look for the support that we so desperately needed. And we’d attempt to find a church that would work for our little family, not necessarily one that worked for the generations of church-goers before us.

We have found a church and a community that gives us the opportunity to worship in a completely different, yet sacred way. We have found a church that is giving us support that our former church just couldn’t muster. We have found a place to sing and praise and stand in a community of believers again where it doesn’t hurt quite so much.

It still hurts. It hurt over Thanksgiving when we weren’t in our old congregation with the altar laden with harvest and the singing being incredible and feeling of gratitude overwhelming us. It hurt over Christmas when we didn’t go to church on Christmas morning because there are no services in our new church. It hurts every time I see a minister get up to serve and I know that for Ben, if we stay in this new place, that it will never happen for him again, whereas he had that opportunity in our former church. It hurts when I think about all of the people that we have left behind, people who loved us and helped us get started as a couple and as a family, people who baptized our babies and loved them like their own. It hurts.

But.

It doesn’t hurt as much as nothing or as returning to old habits that don’t work for our family anymore.

And it feels lovely to be sitting at the feet of God again, praying in a community again, loving other believers again. It feels good. And it feels like there’s hope. It’s hope-full. It’s promise-filled. And for now, for today, it’s working for us.

I never in a million years thought that we would leave our church. I watched other people leave and I didn’t understand it, I worried for them and their souls, I shook my head in disbelief.

And now we are in a place of such flux, of leaving and of looking, of trying to find a way to stay and being resigned to look elsewhere, and all I know now is that God loves us. He’s there, like always, like forever. And we have found a way for today to worship with others like us.

~ Julia

Welcome, 2015

Ah, 2015.

Welcome. I’ve been waiting for you.

First and foremost, waiting for you to watch my baby sister plan her wedding and become a wife.

Waiting on you to help determine my next steps in my career path and even make some surprising changes.

Waiting for you to give me opportunity to reflect on the mixed bag that was 2014, with some very intense highs and very dark, lingering lows.

But mostly, waiting for you to see what adventures you have prepared for us, unbeknownst to our planning and projecting human natures.

In the name of honesty, the end of 2014 wasn’t exactly my favourite. In fact, if I am being completely open with our readers, the last quarter of 2014 can SUCK IT.

Man. That felt good.

For 2015, I personally have begun to mull over some goals – resolutions, if you must.

Not so much things that I will resolve to change about myself such as kicking a bad habit, but a little more of an ideal of what I would like to focus on to get the most out of this beautiful New Year we have been gifted:

1. Setting clearer, more specific intentions. At the beginning of every yoga practice, we are asked to set an intention for that session. As opposed to setting long-term goals, these are supposed to be your short-term focus of what you most want from that session, the benefit you are personally seeking when you step onto your mat. They can be as simple as wanting to be quiet for an hour, more physically specific such focusing on mastering my breathing, or even seeking a deeper spiritual need to be met like letting go of something heavy on your heart. Sometimes I am very successful in setting and meeting my intentions at the mat. But sometimes, and lately more often than I would like to admit, I’ve been struggling with setting clear intentions while settling into savasana.

As my practice is still in its infancy, I’ve granted myself a lot of patience with my growth; however, I’ve come to the conclusion that adopting the same practice of setting my intentions at the beginning of class to the beginning of my day might be the key to me being more successful when I do reach the mat. And in turn, I’m sure it won’t harm me to have a clear intent for the day for which to boomerang myself back to when the world gets to be too much.

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2. Practice self-forgiveness…sooner. I have a hard time letting go of my own mistakes. I’m quick to accept an apology and hope for the best the next time around from those that I love when a wrongdoing is experienced, and even those that I don’t necessarily love receive it sooner than I tend to allow myself. I’m a bit of a martyr in this way and will torture myself relentlessly when I screw up with someone I care for. But it’s come to my attention that I have to cut myself a break too and realize that I am just as, if not more, human than anyone and the furthest from perfect you can imagine. Self-forgiveness is required for survival, but more importantly it’s required for growth and true fulfillment in life.

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3. Focus in faith. My relationship with God has, for the most part, been a good one. Even when man-made religious parameters and beliefs failed me, I have yet to lose complete faith in the love God has for me. As with any good human-tainted relationship, there of course have been times of doubt, times I’ve struggled with understanding and times I’ve wondered if he’s still with me at all. Human thoughts from my very human mind. This year, I hope to explore and experience more in my faith and my relationship with the Father. I hope to build in my trust and commitment to Him and grow more in the image He desires of me.

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4. Become and stay flexible. While both a lofty physical goal as well as an internal one, I desire to work on and improve upon my flexibility. Flexibility with my need to control what I can. Flexibility in my hand-stands, back bends and splits. Flexibility when things don’t go as planned. Flexibility all around. For my sanity, my self-improvement and for my body, heart and soul as they age. Flexibility in my ways, my opinions, and my beliefs. Flexibility in my needs, wants and desires. Flexibility in the way I stay active and fit. Flexibility.

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I hope whatever goals, dreams, desires or resolutions you have for this calendar year of 2015, you above all are kept safe, find joy, feel love and grow more than ever.

~ Toni

Craving silence

I have to chuckle at the irony of my choice in topic for this post as it seems there has been a lot of silence from me lately here on the blog.

I refuse to complain and wallow, so I will not rehash the current, lasting WAY longer than I wished difficult patch I have hit in life. I will get through, as I always do.

Missing my blogging outlet got me thinking of the other fundamental activity that I have so dearly missed – silence.

Or rather, the act of sitting, reveling and centering myself in silence.

Tews Falls, Ontario

Tews Falls, Ontario

Some people wrestle with it, just can’t stop themselves from filling the gaps, the blanks, the pauses. They crave the noise, the distractions, the interruptions. It is as though they struggle with a subconscious fear of facing the quiet. I find that as I grow, mature and evolve, this is where I have began to thrive. I’ve realized there is a certain level of self-awareness that comes from being able to be absolutely still, quiet, in the moment, right where you are, without worrying about finding something to keep busy or become consumed by.

Being at peace with the quiet is even more rewarding when you are able to do so with another person. I had a hyper aware moment of this recently – driving down the 401, returning from a trip to Windsor, I could not help but note just how at ease I was with the silence between myself and my travel companion. I did not for one minute of that almost three hour trek home worry about what to say next to make the moments seem full, or feel the pressure to entertain someone else with banter. It was just them and me, the whir of the tires on the pavement and the shared love of the albums rolling through the iPod set on shuffle.

The trick that my generation – well the majority of North Americans in general, really – just cannot get right is that the quiet is where the fullness is found. The stillness is where the relief is found. Much like the rest in a piece of music that hits you at just the right moment, the pauses hold the golden moments.

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It has been easy for me to notice the  importance of silence recently. With my insane-o schedule, overwhelming, constant connection through technology, constantly being on and stress levels through the roof, the ache and nostalgia for the quiet has been sneaking up on me and getting stronger as these weeks carry and continue to pile on. The desire to spend time alone, or at least to enjoy simplistic moments together with those I consciously choose to spend my limited time with, has only gotten stronger.

It has recently had me forcing Michael to get in the car and drive over an hour to Grimsby so I could sit in silence at the edge of the escarpment for an hour. It has recently had me sounding like my father, complaining of the noise of the world blaring through the ‘idiot box’ when Michael instinctively flicks it on a minute after he walks in the door, while I have been home for over two hours alone, taking in the silence. It has recently had me crawling out of my skin, itching for my centre, wishing the warmer weather hadn’t gone so quickly, taking the beauty of the summer and fall with it.

Grimsby, Ontario overlooking Lake Ontario

Grimsby, Ontario overlooking Lake Ontario

I find I am better able to work through problems that are plaguing me when I am able to turn off, shut down and disconnect. I don’t even necessarily have to spend a moment thinking about the issue directly, and when I return to the somewhat unsettling state of modern ‘reality’ I am better prepared to deal with the conundrum because I took pause. I am better prepared to take on the every day hustle and bustle with a little more patience than normal.

I guess you could count this practice as a form of meditation, a time to spend with just myself. My desire to unplug I feel can only be explained by my rural upbringing, however it could also be chalked up to my ever growing distaste for our society’s ever so “evolved” lifestyle – limiting the time we spend completing and participating in the truly important things in life, and maximizing the time we spend at the office, or on our devices or staring at the TV. Even as I write this now, Michael is plugged into his iPhone, playing a game, with the television on in the background while I am curled up with a dog on my lap and laptop on my dog, trying to get this post out, before I a) lose the idea all together or b) get caught with my proverbial blog post-pants around my ankles and not have anything written come Tuesday morning.

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As the incredibly talented (read: sexy), incredibly enlightened (read: great voice), incredibly wise (read: very handsome) Tim McGraw once crooned, “what I wouldn’t give for a slow down, don’t ya know?

~Toni

*Update: Since the writing of this post my prayers have been answered and what I am trusting to be the new and correct direction for me has been revealed, allowing for plenty of stillness and silence.  I’ll fill you in more in the coming weeks; however, in the meantime, if you’re looking for someone to complete some freelance marketing work, I’m your girl! Contact me here via the comments and I will be sure to email you shortly. ~ Toni

Society, you’re a crazy breed

I apologize now.

I need to rant.

This past weekend, I helped a few of my fellow human beings, stuck in situations that could easily ruin anyone’s day. While strangers to me, these people were still people and helping them in their situations did not feel like a heroic task by any means. Remember, kindness is free.

A little kindness goes a long way

A little kindness goes a long way

Early Friday morning, I stopped at the gas station in my neighbourhood to fill up my truck and put air in the tires of my bike as I was headed off to ride the trails with my girlfriend, Chantelle.

Roughly taking about 10 minutes to fill my tank, I noticed an older woman standing beside her vehicle at the air pump, next to a few pieces of luggage, her face wrought with worry. Upon further analysis of the situation, I noticed a man with his arms struggling with the spare tire near the undercarriage of the vehicle. After filling my tank and paying for my fuel, I pulled up beside them, jumped out of my truck and did what I thought any of the other 10-15 people that had been in and out of the station would have. I asked them if they needed some help.

I will forever have a hard time forgetting the thankfulness and relief on that woman’s face. Helping her brother release the stuck spare, he looked at me sheepishly and admitted that he had never changed a tire before. Luckily, I had.

I easily showed him how to adjust his jack and remove the lug nuts, but when it came time to remove the tire, it wouldn’t budge and I didn’t want to shake the SUV off the jack. I looked around for some assistance and noticed two men sitting in their work truck, watching me. They had been fueling their truck at the same time as I had and sat their watching me wrestling with this stubborn flat. Annoyed, I smiled shortly and waved them over to help. Quickly realizing how ridiculous they looked, they came over and helped me complete the tire change.

While they finished up I got to talking with Maria – we found some common ground in nationality, she apologized profusely for the chips in my day-old manicure, thanked me repeatedly and chatted about their situation and her brother’s four hour journey ahead. And then she broke my heart as she confessed she had tried to get a few people’s attention before I came over and gripped me in a thankful hug.

What happened to our society? Are we really too busy and too important to notice a fellow human in distress, requiring a simple helping hand? It hurts my heart that my actions were the exception and not the standard.

I carried on with my day’s planned activities – tackling 24kms of trail with Chantelle, running errands in the afternoon, Maria’s thankfulness never far from my thoughts and the worry for our world weighing on my heart.

The following morning, after a pretty ridiculous and amazing morning spent in a sun rise hike of laughter with three of my favourite ladies (which I will share with you next week!) I drove my mister to work as my truck was in service for the day and I needed his wheels. On my trek home I took notice of a 90’s Saturn sedan on the side of the 401, four ways flashing, no driver to be seen. She appeared in the horizon about up 5 km further down the highway and all I could think was, that’s a long way to walk on the side of the highway any day, let alone a busy mid-morning on a Saturday.

I weighed the risks, slowed my speed, put on my four-ways, ensured I was safely pulled over, and waited as the kind-faced woman approached the window. She kept her distance at first, as she explained she had ran out of gas and was unable to use her CAA membership because the card was in her husbands name and he wasn’t with her. I asked her if she wanted a ride. Again, my desire to help taking her by surprise, she introduced herself as Kathy and climbed in the passenger seat.

She thanked me after we reached the gas station, assuming our interaction over and gathered her purse. I quickly corrected her, offering to wait and drive her back to make sure her car started. Her face lit up with a smile as she accepted, located a jerrycan, and returned to the car. Our ride back to her car was filled with conversation about our shared Sarnia connection, her girlfriend from younger years that shared my name and dark features, where she was headed and the cottages she manages in Wasaga. She thanked me a thousand times and each time I reiterated that if it was me, I would have hoped someone would have stopped to offer to help. If it was someone I loved and I couldn’t be there to help, I would hope someone would be kind enough to help them.

The point is that yes, we all have things to do, people to love that we already know, and jobs to fulfill. Yes, it is easier to pass by a situation than help, but our communities could be so much more fulfilling with a little faith in human kind and the return of a little kindness.

~ Toni

ps. Kathy left me this little token of thanks in the door when I dropped her off at her vehicle and I didn’t notice until I pulled in the driveway. Seriously brought the biggest smile to my face. Thank you, Kathy ❤

Winner no matter what!

Winner no matter what!

Guest post – Blessed

To celebrate our 50th post, we asked our mom to write a guest blog. Thank you so much for reading with us this far! We can’t wait for the next 50. And to our Mommita – we LOVE you!

As I anxiously await each new submission to the blog, I realized something: I crave connection with my babies every day. Even as they live their lives, I still want and need to be a part of their lives. After all, I am a mom and will always be. Oh, I have added a few titles to my repertoire, Grammie being my most favorite of new additions next to girlfriend. Before this blog there were days when I had no connection with them either by phone, chat, email, text or Facebook updates. Those days I felt almost empty; something was missing. You see, my greatest accomplishment and joy are my four babies. Just thinking about them makes me cry with joy and pride. When my girls asked me to write for the blog, I responded, “You know I am going to cry,” to which Julia and Toni immediately responded, “I know,” and, true to form, I did.

I love being their mom and always have. I never doubted that I would be proud of each of them, that I would be there for them, that I would do whatever was needed to help them, guide them or rescue them. As I see what lives in their hearts, I see the girls I know, love and adore. I am blessed!

The ladies, back in the day

The ladies, back in the day (L to R: Toni, Mom, Andreah, Jacqui, Julia)

My girls, each in their own way, were my strength as I ventured to take the most challenging of steps in my life to be me again, a woman, a single woman. They were my cheering section, along with their men and the many friends, Dianne and Paula to just name a few, and family. With each step I took, from renovating the house in preparation to sell, to moving to a new town, they were there. It was hard for me to find the courage I needed. I was scared – let’s face it, I had been a part of a couple for 28 years. I had never done this before, be just me. But I am absolutely sure that it was even harder for my girls to see me venture out, dating (we call it shopping for shoes), harder for them to start a new life without the two parents they loved not be in one place.

Oh, what had I done? How have I failed them? What kind of example am I to end my marriage? This was all I could think as I watched each of them struggle to find the balance in all this. It broke my heart to see the impact on each. When I expressed this to Julia so many moons ago, she said something to me that has stuck: you have shown us that it is okay to say enough, it is okay to say this is not good for me and move on. I hear my OH so wise daughter each time I make a change in my life.

Don’t get me wrong – if I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing about our life as a family. I loved my life, loved being his wife, rallied in the title that will be mine forever- Mommy, Mom, Mommita – joyful in what was “our family” no matter how flawed it was, it was ours. Through all the trials and joys, that is where we grew, where the bond as women began. Without all those experiences we would not be who we are today – strong, independent and dependent, loving, giving and, yes, emotional women.

A wise man once said to me that if you put God in your life and seek His favour first, all things are possible. He was right. Through many prayers, I found an amazing man who I loved and lost. I was lead to an amazing job that I did not apply for but got that I love and still have today. The many of the lessons in my life have shown me that it is okay to be just me, that no matter what society says I should have done, I did my very best. I am not perfect, but that is okay too. Over time and putting God first in my morning prayers and pleadings through the tough moments, I have found a new love that makes me joyful and filled with laughter. With that love comes new joy and even more family to love. I wake up every morning in love with my man, in love with our families, so happy to be me. I am blessed as only God can bless me, with a life that is worth living with no regrets!

~ Christine (a.k.a. Mom)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Mama is always studying

Among the sisterhood, we have noticed quite the trend with our mama.

We hear about it when we want to plan a family event, set a wedding date, or need her help with something. It’s not something that is necessarily new; however it is something that has caught our attention, is becoming more frequent, and makes me incredibly proud of her.

Mama is always studying!

Known to some of you as Christine, our mom has always been an amazing example of a strong-willed, smart, determined and independent woman.

Growing up, I remember Mom worked hard to maintain a household, raise her daughters right (and in turn, deal with all of our sass), and support our entrepreneurial father any way she could with the family business. Helping our dad run their own company was not always the easiest task – she functioned as a Jill of all trades by balancing the books, completing payroll, managing HR, being the receptionist and overall customer service provider. While she had originally completed her college diploma as a Medical Office Assistant, she has always been a natural with numbers and has dedicated the majority of her professional life to accounting.

When our family experienced a tragedy that caused our parents to have to make the difficult decision of closing down the family business, my non-papered, well-trained accounting mother had to figure out what she wanted to do to help support our family. While she had years of experience to back her applications, she lacked the education to back her know-how. As God always provides for us at just the right time, Mom soon landed a temp job, which turned into a 15-year stint with a local church head office in the accounting department.

Being the incredibly hard worker she is, Mama quickly established herself in a role that would allow her the chance to do something she has always wanted to – go back to school and complete her CGA designation.

Mama began chipping away at her courses in 2005 and being witness to her dedication and drive is incredible. Regardless of the hiccups and setbacks she has had to overcome to continue in her pursuit, she has never second guessed her desire to reach her goal. Watching her push through some of her life’s biggest struggles and continue with her education is what inspired me to decide on a college diploma and apply for school.

mama and me date night

Mama and me date night

We often hear, “I can’t come for long, I have to study” from her when our über busy and event-filled family gets together. We chide her, and may jokingly roll our eyes when we hear it, but I think it’s safe to say that we all smile with pride at the thought of her driving hard toward her goals and being so close to watching her complete her diploma and then degree. I will most definitely be a mess of tears watching her walk at both of these occasions.

She wrote her insane-o External Auditing exam yesterday afternoon – I know she nailed it, but I’m sure she’s eagerly anticipating her results. As she told me the other day, “It’s a lot of work, but I see the light and it’s a good one.”

Mama – you are a super star in this sisterhood’s eyes.

~ Toni

Meant to be

Do you believe in fate?

Or do you believe that when things fall into place, it’s simply happenstance, coincidence, or serendipity?

I fully believe that things not only happen for a reason, but that the timing is always perfect.

I don’t believe that it’s fate and obviously I’m anti-coincidence. I’m a firm believer that God ensures things happen when they’re supposed to. 

This is not always an easy thing to do.

It’s hard for people who don’t believe in a higher power to accept that there’s something bigger guiding things from above, or below, or over there. It’s tricky to hang on and have faith when everything is falling apart and nothing feels like it’s going to work out. And for people who are very logical and want everything rooted in something tangible, this idea is impossible. It can not and does not exist.

But for me, it’s what’s true.

Examples of this, of God’s hand working hard for me, have made themselves apparent very recently.

The first one is pretty easy to see why I would believe that God is making sure myself and my family are being cared for.

One of the sisters, Toni, lost her job in November. This in and of itself is not a great moment. In fact, some would argue that this is a crappy circumstance, and God is certainly not behind it or if He is, He’s a meanie. She’s not a millionairess (yet) and she needs her job. But, shortly after losing her job, my baby Isaac got sick. He was so sick that he had to be hospitalized for three days. My husband, Ben, had already used up all of his vacation time, so taking time off work would have been unpaid time. Toni was able to step in and be me for those few days, taking care of my home while I was taking care of Isaac in the hospital. That was divine intervention.

She still doesn’t have a job, which again might be construed as even jerkier, but in truth she’s saving me by helping me every day with my babies while I recover from postpartum depression again. It’s not great for her bank account, but the love I’m receiving is priceless.

The second example is a bit more convoluted, and the naysayers (such a biblical word) and doubters (another one!) would argue that this is complete nonsense, but bear with me.

My friend Jill is a superb Tupperware lady. Through Tupperware, she met a fabulous travel agent guru, Emily. Emily goes to church with an incredible woman named Laura, who runs her own Stampin’ Up business. Jill and I both know Paula, another awesome woman, and she asked Laura to put on a card-making party for her (so. much. fun.).

The night of that party, which happened two Christmases ago, was nothing out of the ordinary. When you’re a woman of a certain age, direct sellers target their parties directly at you. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, you are drawn to the idea of getting out of the house simply for the the potential of adult conversation.

But that night, I felt as though Laura was a kindred spirit to me. Have you heard of this idea? A kindred spirit? The best example that I can think of is Anne Shirley and Diana in Anne of Green Gables.

They are people just like you, whose heart beats like yours and whose outlook matches yours and when you look at each other you think, “I get her (or him)”. That happened for me and Laura that night. We are kindred spirits.

Fast forward more crafting opportunities, more conversations that proved we were in fact kindred spirits, and it’s today. Today I am broken. Today, my brain needs love and care and rest and help. And today I’m enrolled in a bible study with Laura. She invited me and it’s two hours in the middle of the week at her church where I get to sit and think and be with God and ponder Him.

Last week we studied Psalm 3, which is all about the strength and protection and help of God. Verses 3 and 4 really stuck out for me:

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.

Now, you might say that of course we liked each other since we both go to church and of course it would be natural that Laura would invite me to a bible study. Of course.

But it’s so much bigger than that. It’s the perfect storm of circumstance, created and curated by the big guy in the sky that made it so that I could go and sit in a room full of women and pray with my kindred spirit Laura when my heart would be hurting. It’s got Him all over it.

So as we plod along, day by day, keep your eyes open for moments of fate or kismet, or serendipity or God. Because even the smallest ones can lead to the biggest comfort.

Or maybe it’s all just coincidence.

~ Julia