The FEEL GOOD challenge

7 01 2014

As the girls are getting older I’m noticing that their exchanges and more specifically their bickering are becoming more intense.  Honestly, it drives me nuts!  I’m the first to admit that my parenting skills are a continuous work in progress and I have to work hard at remaining calm, open and objective when the girls get into it.

I’m also very curious by nature and tend to ask a lot of questions to myself, my kids and fellow guardians of tomorrow’s visionary leaders:

  • How do we encourage our kids to focus on the good in themselves and others?
  • What do we do to stay positive and keep an affirmative perspective?
  • How do the words we choose serve us?
  • What does it take to remain authentic to ourselves and preserve our integrity?
  • How do we teach our children to do the same?

My husband and I often feel like broken records, as we coach the girls to maintain a positive perspective on life in general and in particularly challenging situations, not just between themselves but others too as they arise.  Focusing on the positive has become an unofficial mantra in our house and we do our best to live it.

After another testy night of what I’ll refer to as catty teasing, I had enough.   As we were driving to TKD practice, and tempers began to flare up in the back seat I decided to launch the girls a challenge.

The Challenge: For one month, the two sisters are to track how often they can make each other feel good! Of course, in the heat of the moment I hadn’t really thought this through and will have to follow up on the results of this little anthropological experiment if the girls buy in.

The parameters were set that the girls had 24 hours to decide whether or not they would take on the challenge (they always have a choice).  Should they accept, they are to confirm with mom and/or dad by telling us how they were going to keep track of the “feel good success rate”.  To make it interesting, I told the girls that the rewards

for both challengers would be revealed within 2 weeks from the start of the challenge (I needed to buy myself sometime to think this through more carefully…).  My ultimate goal is that we all end up winners in this challenge by the shear virtue of consciously noting and sharing when we make each other feel good.  Stay tuned as the FEEL GOOD Challenge continues!


Nurturing Unconditional Kindness

5 12 2013

Nurturing Unconditional Kindness.

Nurturing Unconditional Kindness

5 12 2013


The topic of kindness has been a running theme for me since I started this blog.

How do we nurture kindness in our children?  Can kindness, like love be conditional and unconditional?

My eldest daughter has made a significant life choice recently to adopt a vegetarian life style.  This decision was prompted by her innate love of animals and nature.  I would consider this an act of unconditional kindness – as she has chosen to step out of her comfort zone and give up foods she has enjoyed since she was much younger (good-bye prosciutto, hamburgers, homemade sausages and veal scallopini!) without any expectation of compensation or reward.   Pretty cool!!!

Have you ever noticed however how fear sometimes stops us from giving kindness unconditionally?  Its like we’re giving kindness with a closed hand when:

  • we donate to a charity for the tax receipt that can be used as a claim for income taxes;
  • we help out friends and family in order to make a deposit in the “help” bank that we plan on withdrawing from later;
  • we volunteer for a cause just to get school credits.

What’s with the “Quid Pro Quo” undercurrent in the name of kindness?  True, being unconditionally kind can make us feel vulnerable and being vulnerable takes courage, especially as we get older.  That being the case,  as elders, champions, coaches and guardians, we have a very unique opportunity to re-learn how to be vulnerable and show kindness unconditionally by teaching, observing and simply BEING with our children.

If you ever have the privilege of spending time with a group of children as they play together, notice the dynamics between them and how you feel as you observe.  Recently I experienced immense frustration as I witnessed children being physically aggressive toward each other in the school yard as they were “playing”.  Why were they more inclined to overpower each other physically than play collaboratively?  Why use a closed fist instead of open hands to express themselves?  How do we bring more kindness to the local playground?  Once we acknowledge the sources that continue to desensitize our children to other people’s feelings, in our homes, schools, and the wide, wide world of social media and entertainment, we can also choose to introduce something different.  We have it in us to engage our children in a new conversation in order to nourish unconditional kindness but it takes a village, and the objective needs to be a common one.

So fellow villagers consider:

  • What can you do to show unconditional kindness to yourself today?
  • How can the children in your life bear witness and learn from such an act?


This post is dedicated to the memory of the 14 sacred goddesses whose lives were taken at L’École Polytechnique in Montréal on December 6th, 1989.  Let the brutality of that event serve as a reminder that it is our mutual responsibility to nurture kindness in all our sons and daughters.  Kindness is the oxygen that can rid society of cancerous violence.

Do you want to be a Princess?

8 11 2013

Video courtesy of ABC News – You Can’t Be a Princess!

It’s been a few weeks now that my attention is drawn to how we continue to cultivate and nurture stereotypes between boys and girls even in my very own enlightened and progressive society.  For those readers who have daughters, have you ever stopped to take notice of some of the overt and subliminal messages we send to our girls?  There are so many platitudes we typically and dare I say irresponsibly use:

  • You are so cute!
  • What a sweet heart!
  • How adorable are you?
  • What a pretty princess!

Of course rarely are such statements made with ill intent, whether it be from family members, friends or folks we meet at the grocery store.  Regardless of the intent though, I believe such statements do reinforce stereotypes that detract from the essence of the person that is the child.  When we make superficial comments based on outward appearances are we noticing how smart, bright, strategic, creative, innovative, energetic, strong, or fast our girls are?

What about our boys?  If our girls are considered pretty princesses are boys handsome princes by default?   Not really, it seems that we hold a whole bunch of other stereotypes for them in the name of “boys will be boys!”   When was the last time you heard someone acknowledge a boy for his calm, gentle, artistic, or stylish nature?

I tend to live my life based on the belief that all people are equal and interestingly the Universe of late seems to want to prove me wrong!  Noticing how prevalent many gender stereotypes still are, even in the immediate surroundings of my evolved community, has created a direct challenge to my belief in equality.

I was struck by an observation my daughter made recently when reading a text for homework.  The text was in French and used the masculine context, which my daughter picked up on and questioned – why the reference to men and not women?  “Pourquoi ça dit avant l’apparition de l’homme et pas la femme?” Hmmm, why indeed! I was conflicted in searching for an appropriate response.  Was there no other text that could have conveyed the same information in a gender neutral way?

Following this interesting exchange with my daughter, I heard about a new game this week that was being played at a local elementary school.  In this game, young boys were enjoying themselves by taking female classmates “hostage”, lining them up against the schoolyard fence and running into them.  The matter was addressed but how does one explain how this can be happening in places where there are focused campaigns, programs and communications on anti-bullying?

Personally, as a girl growing up, I have generally felt encouraged to be myself.  I also had strong female role models to draw from and never really considered myself a feminist.  Now with two daughters of my own, I feel very protective of their freedom, their rights.  I wanted to stand up and cheer the mom whom I overheard telling her daughter after someone declared how cute she is, “remember what I say, it’s not how cute you are but how smart!”  As the future unfolds however, will this same empowering mom be able to guarantee that her daughter won’t be passed up for a job opportunity because she is either pregnant or on maternity leave; even if she is the smartest, and most qualified candidate?!

Gender stereotypes have the insidious power to shape the beliefs we form of ourselves and subsequently influence our behaviour and our interactions.  As parents we can inspire our children to live stereotype free by having the courage to stare our own labels in the eye and choose something different.  In taking a breathe, consider….

  • What adjectives do you typically use to describe boys or girls when you are speaking to them?
  • How do you define yourself as a man or a woman?
  • When were you encouraged to be yourSELF? How did it feel?
  • What will you do to encourage others to be themselves?

We all have the capacity to look beyond the braids, ponytails and baseball caps to see the real person beyond our own stereotypical filters, if we choose to.  Given that we also know that we become what we believe ourselves to be makes us accountable as parents to connect with our truth and be wise in the messages we communicate to our children and ourselves.  So my challenge is to build on my belief in equality by focusing on cultivating a more kind, good, generous, smart, bright, strategic, creative, innovative, energetic, WORLD through the children I encounter.  What’s yours?

The blessing is in the breaking!

23 09 2013

I recently heard this quote from bishop T.D. Jakes and it really struck me.  Having hit a breaking point a few months ago I didn’t quite see the blessing at the time and am still keenly aware of the feeling of despair, fear and hopelessness that threatened to swallow me as I stand in a very different space today.  As parents we can all relate to times when we survived a point of breaking in our lives; a broken heart, a broken promise, a broken dream, broken trust, etc. and most of us would not be where we are without having pulled through the tough times.  We have learned that we are stronger than we believed ourselves to be and this as a result of being faced with tough challenges that caught us off-guard.

How do we teach our children to find the blessing in the breaking?

I know that if I dawn the “Mommy fix-it” cap, when my children are broken or on the verge of breaking, what I want to teach is likely to back fire.  I did not get through pain and grief by having someone fix it for me.   I got through by accepting the pain, by sitting in it long enough to decide when it was enough!  Yet, suffice it to say, my perspective gets a little skewed at times when my kids are the one’s struggling with a situation, hurt or faced with adversity.  When it comes to my children, I momentarily forget that somehow, some people seem to land on their feet even through the most trying circumstances and some of them even flourish!  All I want is to take away their pain or prevent the breaking from happening in the first place – and then I wake up 🙂

I know that for me to teach my children to find the blessings in the breaking I have to challenge my own beliefs of my children’s intrinsic ability to survive and flourish in the eye of the storm.

So consider:

  •  What beliefs are you holding about your child’s ability to cope with adversity?
  • How do you feel when your child comes home broken on the inside from an incident that happened in the school yard?
  •  What is the conversation you have with yourself when your child is distraught over a conflict with a good friend?
  • What is moving inside of you when you observe the hurt and disappointment in your children due to a misunderstanding between siblings? 

Rather than brace against the inevitable breaks that will cross our paths as we live our lives, as a family that practices Tae Kwon Do, we are learning to push through the barriers we face and stay open to the blessings of obstacles overcome.  So remember parents, the moments to share are the one’s when we were down and out and rose again.  The toughest and ugliest situations we faced were the one’s that transformed us from the inside out, those very situations that we can now pull from as a testament of what we are capable of overcoming.  So naturally our kids can do the same! 

Thank you T.D. Jakes!

TKD Exam 26 Apr 13 005

The Working Mom – moving from “GO” to “flow…”

9 08 2013

As I look ahead to almost a full forty years on this magnificent planet, I’m noticing significant changes in how I choose to BE.  Having lived the majority of my life on the “GO” dial, I know what busy is, and learned to be very comfortable there.  I was raised to value independence, hard work, and sacrifice for family.  Earning the respect and approval of others was a very strong motivator for me.  For years I told myself that my self-worth came from how practical I was in the volume of my accomplishments and how well I achieved what I set out to do – depth and meaning were secondary considerations.

I got my first part-time job at the age of 16 and have not looked back since.  Every time I made a career change it was to improve on either the salary or working conditions or both.  Only once I was in my twenties, did I begin making career choices to align more to who I was and what I enjoyed and even then I was still primarily driven by the values I held from an early age – I was still on “GO”.

The values began to slowly shift once I gave birth to the girls and it became harder to be on “GO” all the time, not that I would have admitted it to anyone, least of all myself.   I wore my values like a life jacket in a turbulent ocean; they were what I knew to stay alive.  I wasn’t looking for land or a coast guard; as long as I had my life jacket on I knew I could stay afloat.  I didn’t understand what Oprah meant by, “You can have it all.  Just not all at once.”

They say wisdom comes with age and in my thirties I am wisening to the realization that staying afloat is not enough.  I am learning, primarily from my children, that “GO” will not cut it, and I’m not as good a multi-tasker as I thought I was, and prided myself to be.  I’m noticing that the hopes and dreams I envision for the girls are contrary to how I am living my life.

So I have decided to press the pause button. Now as I look ahead to welcoming my forty years of wisdom I am focusing my energy on “flow” and reclaiming mySelf.  Next steps, model what it is to be in “flow” with my life and be grateful for the blessings of every life lesson that has brought me to here.

If I can do that for me, we all get to smile about it! How cool is that for a working mom moving from GO to flow?!

Happy Father’s Day

16 06 2013

Today is Father’s Day in North America and a bittersweet day for me.  My heart swells as I see friends and family posting pictures and sending wishes in honour of their Super hero dads on Facebook.  It’s been a little over 2 years since his smile physically left us and the memories are still so vivid…

  • Remembering him shaving as he used to get ready for work in the morning.
  • Listening for his car to pull in on Saturday evenings in the summer, knowing he’d be starting up the barbeque soon for dinner.
  • The myriad of household projects that never ended, rewiring cables, cleaning out the garage, filtering the wine, fixing the snow blower, putting together another shelf, trimming the shrubs…
  • Watching him with his stack of bills and receipts in front of the computer balancing the week on his spreadsheet, week after week.
  • The fun he used to have watching wrestling.
  • How he would bring home the Saturday edition of the Gazette when I was collecting the comic book inserts.
  • Bike riding on Gouin.
  • Lipton soup and hotdogs.
  • Kicking around the soccer ball at the park with the neighbors.
  • The Myrtle Beach vacation.
  • The aroma of Sambuca in his coffee.

Watching my girls share this special day with their dad made me think that one day they’ll also be reciting memories they have accumulated of their superhero, his quirks , his habits and above all how he made them feel.  A bittersweet day indeed.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100


Enjoy this touching post from a fellow blogger who shares his views of fatherhood, which may strike a familiar cord for some:

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