Monday, December 31, 2007

Accomplishments of 2007 -- and next year

Rather than do the usual and think of all the things I didn't get accomplished in my life this year, I think I will think of what I did do this year! Now that sounds more inspiring to me as I greet the new year with new goals in mind. What I did do this year:

1. The most important thing I did this year was buy my first home on my own. It gives my children a sense of security for the first time and a place they know is theirs! That was a big one.
2. I walked a 60 km walk for Breast Cancer Research and raised 2100.00
3. I joined the Y and began working out.
4. I returned to University to finish my last year, and managed to get an A average.
5. I helped a few friends with accommodation, when they were stuck and needed a place to live.
6. I took my children to Florida for a vacation and spent some quality time with them.
7. I learned how to control my frustration with my eldest daughter who does not like going to school and realized that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and understand that she will find something that is meaningful to her.
8. I decided to end an unhealthy relationship, closed the book on it, and moved forward.
9. I put together a workshop, blog and website and have volunteered presenting workshops in shelters, hopefully inspiring or helping others.
10. I quite smoking for more than 2 months.
11. I took inventory of people in my life that were draining my energy and decided to have minimal contact with them, and in doing so found myself with less stress.
12. I rekindled 3 wonderful friendships, with Laura, Adam and Shawn, and in doing so, have motivated myself in many other areas and have also met many more positive people, like Thanou.
13. I maintained important friendships, made calls, wished happy birthdays and helped several people through crisis.
14. I paid for my eldest daughter to take a trip to Italy with her school.
15. I attended at least 5 motivational speaking events and plan to attend more.
16. I donated both time and money to several worthy causes.

Now the goals for 2008 are as follows:

1. to take vacation to Belize in March
2. to quit smoking forever
3. to give up eating cheese for one year -- well not buy any to have in house :)
4. to walk Weekend to End Breast Cancer in September and raise more money than I did this year
5. to send one child in Africa to school for a year
6. to develop bigger and better business and learn how to apply for grants
7. to finish university
8. to take children on another vacation and spend Christmas 2008 on a cruise with them
9. to be open to new opportunities
10. to seek out positive people with high energy

and that is what is in store for the upcoming year! I sense it will be a year with lots of positive changes and one where I see myself being able to complete some of the goals I have been working on and develop new ones.

I love New Years! I always sit home by myself and reflect on the year, the past and the future. It is my own personal celebration. May each and everyone of you have a wonderful new year and may all your dreams come true in 2008!



Friday, December 28, 2007

Time for a new job?

So, I am looking at the YMCA's Website, and see the career section and jobs available postings. The old employment counsellor, Joanne, comes back and has overwhelming temptation to see what is out there. It is a habit I have never quite broken. I am always watching the job market, learning about it and forwarding friends emails of jobs that they are best suited for. I guess you could say it is a hobby of mine.

While I am in the website, I see the perfect job for me. A Job Counsellor........the best news is it is hours I like, and a 5 minute driving distance for me. I look over the qualifications, and don't you know, I have each and every one that they are asking for. I have not applied for any jobs in more than four years. It is scary you know, to think of the option of giving up something that is so familiar, but oh so stable and secure.

I consider it carefully, good benefits, free Y membership, working in an organization that values health, caring, respect, inclusiveness and responsibility. The other benefits of working there are: getting a workout either before or after work, and the commute..... then I think of the most important piece.... this is an INTERNATIONAL organization, which means, international opportunities.

It didn't take me long to write a cover letter, and change the resume, to retract the bus driving skills, and highlight the social work skills. It even felt natural. I am a born social worker. I am here to help others, to help the less fortunate, and spread acceptance. That is my passion.

I also thought of the incident 20 years ago, when I lived in the YWCA. I told a social worker that was working in the shelter that I wanted to do that one day. She laughed at me and said " I don't think so." Wherever you are, thanks for the motivation. I am not sure that is what you intended, but tell me I can't do something and I will just show you that I can. I have worked in 5 shelters now, and I am one of the best counsellors I can think of, not to toot my own horn, but that is where my heart is. I often repeat the old saying,

"If you work at a job you love, you will never work a day in your life"

So today I will apply for the job. I send a prayer with it that if it is the right job for me, don't let the opportunity pass me by.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I wonder what they are doing now....

Today I was a little out of sorts. My employer made an error in the payroll, and hence I did not get a paycheck. I was a little upset, being that it is December 24, 2007 and there are always last minute things to buy at the store for Christmas, or for the one person you forgot or just the milk that has to last for the extra couple of days that the stores are closed. SO I was walking around the house cursing my employer, furious that they had yet again, messed up my pay.

And now I sit here and things are not really so bad when put into perspective. Most of my Christmas shopping is done, both my children and myself have everything that we need. WE have a roof over our heads, a turkey and ham for tomorrow, a few gifts under the tree. More importantly we have each other, we have good health, and we have some sense of stability.

I am thinking about the homeless people, I wonder what they are doing now. Are they huddled together in the shelter drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows, trying to be happy, even just for a day. Are they drunk on Listerine, or rubbing alcohol, trying to erase memories of a family that has abandoned them and mistakes that they made? Maybe they are in a detox drying out, going through withdrawls, completely unaware that it is Christmas at all. Perhaps a young girl prostituting is standing on the corner downtown Toronto, in the freezing cold, wondering what her parents are doing tonight, and how much she misses Christmas at the farm up north. Somewhere in this city tonight, someone is sleeping in a cardboard box under the Gardiner Expressway and is grateful for the Salvation Army truck that will drop them by a bagged lunch and if theya re lucky some new socks.

The thought of kids running up and down the halls at the women's shelter, and in the early morning running out to tell the front line staff what Santa brought to their room for them, really puts into perspective how UNIMPORTANT it is that my paycheck is late. I will wake in the morning, make the kids breakfast, look at them unwrap their presents and see my youngest scream in delight as she opens her new PSP. It brings me back to holidays in the shelter. It has been along journey, and I really should remember how lucky I am to have made it past that point in my life.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, with hope for a better 2008, no matter where you lay your head tonight.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


The other day someone was mentioning to me that they were lonely. I told them loneliness is foreign to me. I do not know what loneliness is. I like being alone. I like being in the company of myself . Sometimes I can not wait to go to bed to have some quietness and stillness and lay by myself and just be.

I am surrounded by friends, so I never feel "alone". I have hobbies that give me fulfillment and bring me joy. If I ever feel lonely, I just have to pick up the phone or get on the computer and chat to a friend and the feeling disappears. I looked up the meaning of loneliness on wikpedia and this is what I found "Loneliness is an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation."

I told the person the more you learn to love yourself, the less lonely you will be. They did not understand that and said all they needed was a wife or a girlfriend and they would not be lonely. I told them that is not true; you can be in a crowd of people and be lonely or you can be completely alone and be quite content. Loneliness is a state of mind, a way of feeling, I do not think it is contingent on someone else being there to fill an emotional state from within.

I realized that the world is full of lonely people. I find that lonely people tend to isolate themselves from relationships that require emotional exposure. I have felt lonely before, like something was missing, but thankfully for me those moments are few and far between. One of the moments I feel "lonely" is my birthday and Christmas morning. I generally feel lonely because my mother is not there, and it is a feeling of something missing. However, it is brief, and it only lasts a few minutes. It is not a pleasant feeling at all, and I would hate to deal with that on a regular basis.

There are many ways to escape being lonely; However they do require some effort:

keep and maintain personal friendships

make the effort to keep in touch with people regularly

take up a hobby that you like

find people with common interests and surround yourself with them

volunteer ~~ help someone else

These are the ways that I have overcome loneliness, which really is just isolation. If people would learn to connect to others I feel the whole world would be a lot less lonely.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back to the Salvation Army

Today I received an email from the Salvation Army Outreach Worker. I am going back In January to present my Dream Rebuilding Workshop!! I just love doing this kind of work, it brings me to life.

I did a workshop in October and it was wonderful. It was nice to be presenting in a shelter that I used to work in 15 years ago. There are so many memories there, working with my late mother, my first social work job, and all the wonderful people that went through the shelter. I also am reminded of my beautiful co-worker, Lynn Murray who passed away from Breast Cancer. When I worked at the shelter she was the Family Violence Worker When she passed away she was the Director of the Shelter. She was in her late 30's. She was a friendly woman, very pretty, non-judgemental, and always smiling.

When I do my presentations at Family Life Resource Centre, I feel very much at home. Last time I was there I gazed at the garden in the centre of the driveway that was planted in honour of Lynn. I wished I could have been there for the memorial. I will be able to attend this year. I feel a warm presence around me, and know how happy she would be that I have a genuine interest in helping these women and children to escape the life of abuse.

When I was in the room where I was presenting there was a big picture of Lynn on the wall. I felt like she was still there, just smiling at me, nudging me on, and telling me not to be nervous, I was doing a great job.

I look forward to going back to that shelter. I seem to be in my element there. I feel that the women are learning a new way of looking at the future, and by encouraging them to do their best, I also strive to do my best. Please give generously to the Salvation Army during htis holiday season. Do it for all the families in the shelter. They deserve it more than you know.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Christmas Season

Another month ~~ Just flown by. it is crazy how fast time seems to go when you are not paying attention to things. One minute it is September and I am getting ready for the big cancer walk, next thing you know, I am walking down the street watching the snow fall.

I have been cooped up this month with a broken foot. In a way it was a blessing:) I was able to study for my exam and managed to get my first 100% in university. I am not so sure how hard these are to come across, but I can tell you that I am just a little thrilled to know that I can pull it off.

I have had time to catch up with friends and that is something I love doing. I am so lucky that in through the use of Facebook I was able to reconnect to some very old friends who I seemed to lose contact with when I was facing chaos in my life. Now they are back, and it is such a treat to be able to have dinner with them, and go out with them and talk on the phone. I am lucky...... sometimes we really are given a second chance.
I went last night to the Advent Mass. Not sure I believe in all those rules, but I certainly Believe in GOD and SPIRITUALITY. As I listened to the priests words, I heard a deeper meaning...... we are all one. The priest explained what Advent was, first candle was hope, second was faith, third was Joy and fourth was love, in a wreath that is never ending. I thought to myself isn't that what all religions are about really? What is really the difference. I know this can be a touchy subject, but it just seems to me that the bottom line is love one and other. Is it really important that I eat the wafer? And if I eat the wafer and I am not christened Catholic, does that really make me a sinner as my daughter said? NO, I like to think that God would understand and would just be happy that I was at some house of worship, being grateful, and singing praise for all that I have.
SO whatever it is you are celebrating may faith, hope, joy and love be part of your never ending journey :) AND eat a cookie or wafer on your way.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Getting caught up in the Bus- i- ness of it all


it's been a while since I have blogged. It is not a matter of forgetting about it. I have been busy with University, and I am looking forward to finishing my BA for once and all. The end is in sight, and now I jsut have to decide what to do with it, what direction to take next.

I will send that out to the universe to help me with direction. I have been asking for direction for a few weeks now, and the funniest thing happened to me. I was at a wedding shower, and I had to pick out a mystery gift. TO my surprise I received a compass. Everyone laughed at that told me to put it on the dashboard of my car. But I knew the real meaning behind it. Certainly a direction will come forth soon enough.

It is a strange feeling, knowing something is about to emerge, but not really sure what. Entrepreneur keeps coming to mind, and I find that a little scary...........OOOOOOOhhhhhh to give up the day job and risk it all. Now that is Challenge at it's finest.

I best be getting back to business --- that is business 111 and accounting 227. I forgot how much reading there is in University! But I will be back weekly from here on in and plan to do a new website.

thanks for all the support.


Monday, September 10, 2007

The Day After........ The Weekend to End Breast Cancer

It has taken me an entire day to recuperate from the 60 kilometre walk I had this weekend. I knew it would be a life changing experience but never quite realized to what magnitude that meant.

My journey began on the evening of September 7, 2007 as I packed my bags equipped with good walking shoes and socks, shorts , sleeping bag, pain relievers, peppermint cream for my feet, and a couple of nicoderm patches. This is a day I have concentrated on quitting smoking for once and all. I felt like it would have some meaning behind it and did it ever! I learned more on that walk about myself than I have in several years.

As I began walking I suddenly realized that I had 59 kilometres to go. I had a breast cancer rosary around my wrist and I sure used it. Every time I was in pain, I repeated " God give me strength" I would concentrate on all the reasons I was there raising this money, walking this path. I thought about my mother who died, I thought about the pain of the women in radiation, and chemotherapy and I thought of all the lives that have been taken so early by cancer. It is not easy to forget when you see walkers with pictures of their loved ones on their shirt. I saw one teams shirt that said S.O.B's ........... funny those were my mothers initials and every time that group of ladies passed me I felt like my mom was right there beside me, and I am sure she was.

As the first day went on, I found my feet getting tired, my hips starting to ache and cramps in the back of my legs. I carried onward, knowing that I would complete this journey. For so long I have focused on not having good health. REALIZATION!! I have great health. I have two feet that can walk, and strong legs that can carry me. I have strong arms, and I have a strong heart. For so long people have made fun of my feet, because they are always calloused and hard. On Saturday and Sunday I said many thanks to God for giving me those hard feet, because those are feet that do not blister or bleed when walking 60 K. I also saw that this was the REAL start on my journey to improved health. When looking at all the survivors around me, when seeing the people on the side of the street cheering me on, I knew that there was no turning back, no giving up.

I found myself crying several times that day. A tiny bit of it was from pain, but most was from joy. I realized that the gift is truly in giving. Was there anywhere I would rather be at that point in time absolutely not! I was completely in the moment for 2 days. I saw every smiling face, every house that I passed, I looked in windows of retirement homes where I saw old people looking out, and gave them a smile and a wave. I appreciated the feel of the sprinkler on my feet and did not feel strange saying hi to the person on the road beside me and asking them if they were ok, or how they were managing. You could feel the positive energy coming from every direction. Simply incredible is the only way to word it. With every high five a person gave me , sent a little more inspiration through my legs and into my feet. By the late afternoon of Saturday the 8th I had trekked across 34.5 km of Toronto. The last half kilometre that day was the toughest

I slept at camp that night. I was afforded the luxury of a deluxe tent without a tent partner. This meant that I would not have to worry about snoring, nor my infamous tossing and turning during the night. I crawled into my tent exhausted, but totally at peace with myself.

I awoke the following morning to the sound of rain on the roof of the tent. The first thoughts were. " great...... walking in the rain all day." I found I was able to reverse that thinking quite quickly, knowing that I had packed emergency rain gear that was comfortable, and the fact that I would not be sweating in the blistering sun. I was right ....... the day was quite comfortable. I was able to enjoy the change in temperature, and try to ignore my aching feet.

Over the course of the day there were several pit stops ( stops set up for hydration and bathroom facilities) and grab and go's ( where you get energy foods to last you through the next few kilometres. ) I was fully aware that I could not stop for long, my body had reached a point, where any delay or relaxation for too long would result in in seizing up. I just kept plodding along, knowing that the end of the walk was just a few hours away. Yes, only 25 Kilometres to be exact.

5 Kilometres from the end of the course, we walked past Princess Margaret Hospital. That was the most moving moment I can recall. Tears streamed down my face as the Doctors and Nurses and Survivors lined the road, shaking my hand, patting me on the back, thanking me for walking and for my help. That is the highest I have ever felt in my life. It is very true that the gift is in giving. Those few moments gave me enough strength to reach the finish line.

I have signed up for another year. As I sit here and nurse my blisters and complain about my aching feet and my aching back I am ever so grateful that I have been graced with the body that enables me to walk 60 k. It required some perseverance, some faith and some determination, but, lucky for me I have also be blessed with those gifts. Hats off to all the people that this disease has affected. I do hope that the 17 million we collectively raised will assist in putting an end to it, and in the meantime we can all strive to do our best.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Thoughts from the Shelter

I often think of how content I am by myself. I have been alone now for a nearly 7 years. By alone, I mean not in a romantic, long term relationship. I still have lots of relationships that are wonderful and very fulfilling.

So many people tell me how hard it must be to raise my children on my own. NOT REALLY. I seem to have had support where and when I needed it. I have spent a few years learning to love myself.

I am not sure, to be honest, if a relationship is that important. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have, and then at other times I think that it might get in the way of doing what I need to do for myself. All relationships require work, and compromise, and I am not sure that I am willing to sacrifice my time to put the energy into that right now.

The reason I am blogging about this is I recently read my journal from the months that I lived in the shelter. I was able to clearly define my fears and the top of the list was Being alone. It is ironic how time changes our perception. My biggest fear has now become a choice, and something that I enjoy.

When living in the shelter, I felt very lonely. That loneliness lasted for a few months. I do not have any feelings of loneliness now. I enjoy my privacy and my time with me. Sometimes I make jokes that I am my favourite company to keep. As I write this blog today I am referring back to my notes of February, 2001.

My fears were:
of financial stress
being empty
never meeting people
being unloved
being abandoned
being hurt

My goals at that time were:
to find a stable job
to heal myself
to be independent
to be self sufficient

I must acknowledge that I have accomplished these things. It is amazing if you really focus on something how much you can get accomplished. And it just proves to me that if I can do it, anybody can.


Friday, August 31, 2007

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer

This is my final week before I start a whole new journey. Next weekend I am walking 60 kilometers (36 miles) to raise money for Breast Cancer. The reason I chose to do this is because I believe that I owe it to my sisters out there that are dying everyday from this disease. We never know when our number will be called, and it is nice to know that people are out there trying to make a difference.

Two weekends ago I was doing a tag day. A tag day is when you sell Breast Cancer items to raise the mandatory $2000.00 you need to do this walk. A woman came up to me and she had a scarf covering her head where her hair used to be, and said "thank you for walking for me, I have Breast Cancer, and am currently undergoing radiation." I started to cry on the spot. It made it so worthwhile to be doing this.

This is my first year attempting the walk, and I am getting rather excited for it. SO many people have told me it is a life changing event. On one part of the walk, we stop at The Princess Margaret Hospital (the Cancer Treatment Hospital ) here in Toronto. I can not even begin to imagine how inspired and motivated I will be when I see the patients lined up on the street cheering us on. They are the real heroes!

I will update you all on how this walk affects me personally. Please send me well wishes and cheer me on, if in thought only as I walk the most important walk of my life.

If you would like to Donate to help me reach my $ 2000.00 goal the following link will take you right to my page.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's a great day!

Woke this morning to a note in my email box that everyone is safe in Belize. Thank goodness for that. I am in Florida now, and the weather is hot and wonderful. We arrived last night and I am up early using the Internet in the hotel lobby while the family is still sleeping in the room.

Today I am taking my kids to Universal Studios and I think that I am more excited then they are! I love to see them laughing and smiling. I have one of my best friends Bettina with me, and am meeting another wonderful woman from work, Allyson and her children early this morning.

I just went outside and the weather is hot. Better bring lots of water! Will update next chance I get.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Dean

One of my best friends, Laurie, aka and her partner Paul live on the the island of San Pedro, Belize. I am a little worried as I read the blog and can hear them through their blog entries preparing for the Hurricane that is heading directly toward the island. I know she is prepared, have enough food and water . They have a good safety plan in place, yet I am still a little concerned. I believe that they will be okay and really make the term "weathering the storm" literal for me. If you would like to send positive energy, well wishes and prayers, you can click on her link above. You will also hear the most up to date news of what is happening from someone that is on the island. Laurie and Paul, sending you lots of love and be safe, and know we are all thinking about you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's a busy life

I realize that I have not been blogging nearly as much as I should, but it's a busy life. This month has been one of the fastest months of my life. In 3 short weeks I am about to walk the WEEKEND TO END BREAST CANCER. I made this my personal goal for a number of reasons. The first reason of course being that I want to help women, and help them to detect breast cancer early. In a way though, this is a personal thing for me. I have been a smoker off and on for about 24 year. I thought walking with all those heroes, all those survivors will motivate me to be the best I can. I am looking so forward to this walk. It is 60 Kilometers (36 miles) and takes 2 days to complete. In addition we each have to raise 2000.00, so I have been busy at local grocery stores and liquor stores asking for donations. I am walking this walk alone this year. This is my first time. I want to really be able to focus on the reason I am there, and meditate along the way. Everyone tells me what a life changing experience it is, and I bet it is!

Another wonderful thing happened this week. In the mail I received a few courses that will finish my final year at university!!!! Finally! I am hitting the books again and cracking down. I have come to realize that a degree can be quite important towards my goals of travelling abroad, and will open many more doors for me. In the past I have been someone that started things and then quit right before the success came. I vow not to do that anymore.

Alas! Another blessing came this week! My second speaking engagement was confirmed for October 3, 2007. I started to gather all the supplies I will need to present my DREAM REBUILDING WORKSHOP. I am very motivated to help people change their lives and I think I have come up with a good beginning tool.

I am also getting ready for my family vacation next week. Next week at this time I will be riding some Rollercoaster in Universal Studios with my kids. My kids will be so excited that they can't sleep. See how life changes? It was just about 8 years ago when my ex used to constantly say " Disney" is just a pipe dream. Well this year it is Universal because last year it was Disney!

I will close with my favourite poems. I hope you get as much enjoyment as I do.

THE OPTIMIST CREED By Christian D. Larsen
Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
Make all your friends feel there is something in them.
Look at the sunny side of everything.
Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
Give everyone a smile.
Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
Be too big for worry and too noble for anger

SUCCESS by Ralph Waldo Emerson
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Last night before I went to bed I spent some time listening to someone whine and complain. I said please don't let me be like that. Thank goodness I remembered when I woke up this morning.

I thought about my roommate Bettina, whom I often complain about. Then I thought how grateful I am for her. How good she is to the kids, how helpful she is when we are sick or need something. I decided to call her and let her know how happy I am that she was my friend.

I started thinking to myself, have I shown enough appreciation for my friends? When I arrived at work, I thought about the awesome boss I have. How I get to laugh all day and enjoy myself, and how blessed I truly am to be paid to have the opportunity to work with a man like him. So I thought how can I show my appreciation to him. I decided would be a good idea to go and buy him lunch, since he had no time for a break.

On my way home from work, I thought I would drop in and say hi to another friend, Shawn, who has become increasingly important, and somewhat of a mentor to me in this changing time of my journey and growth. When I got there she had an invitation to her wedding! What a great day! She gave me some great advise on my public speaking engagements, and I am very excited to find out how we fit into each others lives down the road.

Then I came home and spent some time with my eldest daughter. She has turned out to be a wonderful girl. I am very proud of her accomplishments. She is getting excited for our trip to Florida in ten days. I can't wait to ride the rollercoasters with her. I will have to make a mental note to make sure that the cam is working. I am often forgetful about the camera issue.

After that I decided to go to the Y and get some exercise. My friend Laura of 31 years, met me there. She is trying to help me to achieve my fitness goals. While I was there I bumped into another friend, Judy, who is also very inspiring. She is a woman that has many illnesses including, MS, and needs the aid of a walker, and still manages to TEACH yoga. How wonderful is that?

My youngest daughter joined Tae Kwon Do today, and she got her little uniform. I can't remember what they are called, Gees, or something. She looked so cute doing her newly learned moves and stances.

When I got home I had another 2 calls from old friends, and a secret admirer message on my phone, " I know you want to leave me, but I refuse to let you go," were the lyrics that played on the answering machine.

I am very lucky. Sometimes people feel bad that all my family members are deceased. I am not unhappy about that. Sure I miss my mom and dad, but they left me in good hands. I am forever grateful for the wonderful people I am surrounded by.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Peaceful Warrior

Tonight with a few hours on my hands, I went to the local video store and watched a movie I have been meaning to see for months. The Peaceful Warrior, based on the book by Dan Millman is definitely an add on to my favourite films.

I have read all of Dan Millman's books in the past, but needed a refresher course in how to be a warrior. Some of the messages that resonated with me during the film were so powerful that I just had to get out my pen and paper and start jotting down and thought I would share them with you.

Knowledge is knowing something, wisdom is doing it.
You need to take out the trash ( trash is the stuff we store in our minds)
Trash is the only thing keeping you from what matters
Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you can find it
Give up addictions
the first step in being a warrior is knowing that you will not know all things
Everything has a purpose ~~~ even hardships~~~ and it is up to you to find it
There are No Ordinary Moments
Service to others is KEY
A warrior does not give up what he loves
There is no stopping or starting there is just NOW
The journey is what brings the happiness, not the destination.

That last statement is hard to really comprehend fully. I mean, I get it, BUT DO I GET IT?
I will have to work on that concept more. TO remind myself to be happy in the moment, to do what counts in the moment, and not worry so much about the long term, the final goal.

It is a hard hurdle to get over. I seem to always be thinking that when I get something accomplished, when something happens that I will be happy. Rather than being happy right now. Enjoying the film in the moment. Enjoying the warm weather in the moment.

Tomorrow I will see if I can remind myself throughout the day to enjoy the moment. When I laugh to enjoy it. I think that this will take some serious training, but it seems so worth it. Because NOW is all we really have isn't it?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Healthy Living

This healthy living things really is hard work. I have to be mindful of everything I put in my mouth, make time to take care of my body, and squeeze time in for rest so that I have energy. It is a bit of a struggle for me right now. I have far to go, but try to measure the milestones daily. Rather than look at the big picture, this is the one thing I have to just look at small measurable amounts for success.

I noticed today in the class I was attending at the local YMCA, how obese I am right around the middle. It took being mindful, to remind myself, that this is a great body, that it is reliable and gets me where I have to go. I also noticed reminding myself that this body is working for me right now. It was a good experience able to separate the moment of thinking how far I have to go, and focusing on what I have already done. It is nice that my long time friend of 30 years has joined the gym with me. It makes me feel accountable and more motivated to go. I also enjoy spending time with my friends, and this is agood way to get that accomplished.

A silent reminder that things take time, and a little motivational inner dialogue of " you can do it, just keep going!" is helpful as well. Two months ago I had 100 pounds to lose to be a healthy weight. Not be superstar model weight, but something that is strong and solid. I should really commend myself that I am now closer to having only 80 to lose. This is my challenge I work on daily. Send positive thoughts my way as I strive to be a healthy individual living a healthy life.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A freeing feeling

It simply amazes me how many people consider themselves victims. It is one of my challenges, my growing edge, to sympathize with someone that is staying stuck. I realize that we all have our valleys, go through depression, and face difficulties and frustrations. What frustrates me ( thankfully I have learned how to let it go ) is that that is as far as some people can see. They claim, they can't do anything else, or they wish they could, or they should have or the could have, but they didn't. Some people blame others for all their problems, rather than identifying that they problem might be that they refuse to make any changes in their lives.

They blame the jobs, the kids, the parents, the past, the government, even God, but they never realize that they might have some part in the difficulties that are continuing in their lives. At what point does one become responsible for their own actions and choices?

I have argued this point with several people. They know my stories of abuse, of broken bones, surgery, black eyes, degradation and humiliation. I always say that the first time it was his fault, the second time was mine. NOT that I am to blame for abuse. Abuse is wrong. But at some point, I am responsible for my choices and I chose to stay, knowing that what was happening was not healthy and was not right.

I know that might sound kind of hard edged. But after I was hit once, I chose to stay. I can rationalize all the reasons I stayed, I could waste time to justify my staying by emphasizing my personal weaknesses ( ie. wanting to be loved, low self esteem etc) but the BOTTOM LINE IS I STAYED. Not only did I stay for another day or two, I stayed for years!

WE all must all be accountable to ourselves first. We must take the blame for our choices, forgive ourselves and move forward. To continually blame others weakens us. WE need to realize that there was some kind of lesson to come out of it.

For myself I learned a number of things. I learned that I am incredibly strong. I also learned what kind of long term relationship I want. I learned how to identify partners I would run the other way from. I learned that we all have faults. I learned to forgive, not only myself , but those that hurt me. I learned to get up, dust off and start again.

I would not take back those nights spent shaking, awaiting the next blow to the face, but as crazy as it sounds, there was a reason for it. That experience led me to be the person I am today, and I really like myself, and others like me too. Those experiences shaped my life and helped me to define my purpose in life. So although the abuser had no right to violate me like that, I am so blessed to be able to reverse it and see what good came from it. I wish everyone could do the same. It is such a freeing feeling!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


What are my next goals........

I have so many goals........ and I am by nature an impatient person, who is learning slowly how to have patience. Some of my current goals are:
to never have a cigarette again
to be a healthy weight
travel the entire globe
to finish ESL and take a sabbatical from work and move around overseas and teach
to have a successful business (which I am working on)
to make lasting positive changes in the world

I hope I can continue to work towards these things



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Leaving it Behind (life in the shelter)

The day had come . For two weeks I had been packing and planning. It had been difficult. To part with my dog, to find someone to take care of the cat, to change schools for the kids the third time in a year. I didn't have any money, and I was without a job, but I knew I no longer belonged here. It was time to leave this life behind and move forward to bigger and better things.

"I am moving to the shelter," I told people. "Why, isn't there somewhere else you could go?" they would ask. It was not really about finding somewhere else to go. It was about surrendering to the difficulties and trying to re-think things. I suppose if I wanted to I could have borrowed some money off of some people, went and got a job, stayed in a town I did not like, lonely and isolated, and eventually returned to the same destructive relationship I was fleeing from. However, plan A worked for me. I was focused on making a clean break this time. That was to get to a shelter, to utilize all the help I could to get me on my feet. My goals had become quite clear to me, to try to get all my bills in order, to get the kids into counselling and get myself stable enough that I could get out of this cycle I had been living for 10 years.

When I got the shelter and was greeted by the staff it was like walking into a home where I felt loved and cared for. Supportive housing means just that. It was just what I needed this time to make the everlasting changes. They told me all the rules that I would have to obide by. I understood, to manage a house with 20 women, you have to have some kind of organization. They told me there was no rush for me to move out of there. They saw that I was putting forth 100% effort, doing all I could, looking for jobs, attending courts, getting in touch with creditors and trying to get life in order. All the things I had neglected while I was busy living in chaos, now had to be taken care of. The fact that I did not have to pay for shelter freed up some space for me to focus on getting everything else done without the worries of housing on top of that.

In those short three months I got more accomplished than I did in my entire life. It was great to be with women that were in the same boat you were. They helped me through the valleys and celebrated my triumphs, such as getting an apartment, getting a job, winning in court or just getting a new resume. The counsellors were wonderful. I recall a beautiful female housing worker who used to sit with me in the early am everyday, when I told her of my life. I used to think she was so beautiful on the outside, but now I realize it was just her inside shining through to the outside. She sat with me in the smoking lounge every shift because none of the other residents were up. Her words will always be very inspiring and motivating, and they helped me to feel like a real person. She said, " I am not allowed to be your friend when you leave here (it's a conflict of interest), but I would like you to know, that if I was able to be your friend you are the kind of person I would like know." This was very validating for my own self worth and esteem. I will forever be grateful to this counsellor who was able to let her guard down long enough to be human and acknowledge the humanness in me. I did not feel like it was "us" and "them".

My life in the shelter is one I will forever be grateful for. I met some wonderful people who resided with me and are my friends to this day, and I met some wonderful counsellors and aftercare workers who really helped me through the tough times. Together I was able to problem solve and get where I am today, and that is someone that is very content with her life, and very independent.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gratitude in the morning and at night

Today somebody sent me an email about gratitude and asked if I had been grateful today?

What a relief to realize that I had been grateful several times over the day, starting with my drive to work, which I thoroughly enjoy. At 6 am when the roadways are quiet and I see the sun coming up in the east, I am grateful that I am alive. Today I looked at it's pinkish, yellowish colour, and I was grateful for the morning. I was grateful for the wonderful boss I have been blessed to work with and the safe roads I drive on. I was thinking how grateful I am that I have not had nicotine cravings in two days, and that is truly a blessing!

I thought about my two children, and how lucky I am that I have them, that they are healthy and happy. Simple things such as my car that works ( it might make some weird noises) but it gets me to where I have to go, being able to breathe, to eat, to walk, are things that we need to be grateful for. I try to remind myself of these things on the way to work daily.

i have found that the more grateful I am, the more I am blessed with. I am not sure if it is more that flows my way, because of energy and the Universal Laws of Attraction, or just the simple fact that I am more focused on good things happening and so the negative things seem to be minimized. Whatever it is I am grateful that I have been able to train my mind relatively well, to be thankful for what I have, to look forward to good things coming my way, and to meet each morning with a smile.

Sure I complain, but when I catch myself I try to override it with a positive. When I complain I find it drains me of good energy, so I try to correct it if I can, or make a joke of it. I am sure that I could never complete a gratitude book, it would just go on and on and on. I believe that alot of our success depends on whether we see the glass half empty or the glass half full, and am I ever lucky I see it as half full.

Off I go to bed to count my many blessings and hope that you will all take a moment to remember at least a few things to be thankful for at the end of the day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


It is a known fact that for centuries women have been second class citizens. They have had to fight as early as the last century for rights to education, rights to vote, and rights to earn a living. We know that we live in a male dominant society. We have had time to vent our frustrations about being inferior. That's what the 60's 70's 80's and 90's were for. Today it is 2007. WE do not have time to direct out energy anymore to male bashing or blaming.

Women have incredible strength, as shown in the latter part of the last century and into this new millennium. WE have careers, care for families, run single headed and independent households and a list that is endless. It is time for us to put our strength together and unite. WE do not have to fight for equal rights anymore, we just have to ensure that we see ourselves as equal.

By continuing to blame others for suffering, we forfeit our own personal power, continue in victim role, continue putting people before ourselves and relinquish our ability to embrace our own power and strength. If we put that energy into helping one and other, we will be much further ahead, then continuing to look to others, primarily men, to solve our problems.

When we learn to value ourselves, to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, to love our body, have self-worth and feel value, we will see that we have much more power then we ever thought we would. Once we no longer fall victim to society, to behaving as a proper woman, to looking at magazines and media for the clothes we should be wearing, the hairstyle we should be getting, and the body we should have, we will be in a better position to demand respect. By following these simple, but most difficult tasks we will not be victim ever again for one simple reason........ we will not tolerate it.

First signs of degradation, humiliation, control, manipulation or threats will send us running in another direction. Hopefully they will send us into the path of other women who feel the same way, and we can unite our power.........

As Helen Reddy once realized in her song.........

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
Oh, yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

Friday, July 20, 2007

When you love yourself enough

I have discovered that when you love yourself enough, you wouldn't allow anyone else to love you less than you do. All of the people that have taken advantage of you, or have not appreciated you, or have not valued your contribution to their lives soon become much more unimportant than they ever were before. There are people that you once would run for, over-extend yourself for, just to seek their approval, or to have their love. Once you love yourself enough you begin to value yourself. You become clear on how you are treated and how you expect those around you to respect you. The running stops and the decision to love yourself enough sets in. When you love yourself enough you will never be walked on or run over again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Getting ready for the launch

Tonight I went and picked up magazines for my Dream ReBuilding Workshops. It was nice hearing encouraging words from an old friend that reinforced my thoughts when he said" you are on the right path." What was also interesting was hearing him speak of how far I have come. Yet, it still seems I have so far to go. I have to remind myself to pat myself on the back and see the ground I have gained in the past couple of years. There are so many exciting things to do. I am so busy right now, thinking how Direct Abundance will flourish, and thinking of all the things I wish to accomplish, how I might be able to help and be of service to others, It is important that I don't distract myself elsewhere. I am thrilled with the development of the new website, as well as preparing for the workshop on August 15, 2007 at Nellie's Shelter, Toronto, Ontario. I can't wait to meet with the women and get their feedback. Well I had better go and work on my next lesson plan, just wanted to share where I am right now. Peace, Joanne

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Asking for Help

We have been taught not to ask for help. In this society that we live in self-reliance has been stressed over and over again. In school we are taught not to disturb others, and to work independently. At work socialization is frowned upon. In society asking others for help is often looked upon as a weakness.

However, there is a time to ask for help, and to ask for as much as you need. It is all to common for people in difficult positions to ask for a little help, just enough to get by, but not enough to make things easier. When you are fleeing an abusive situation, or living on the street, it is time to put pride aside, and don't set limits on how much you can receive from others.

There will come a time when you can repay others, or that you will assist, and while you are struggling you need to gain all the strength you can, and generally this comes in the form of outside help. Needing help could mean going to a food bank so you have enough to keep the electrical bill paid, writing a letter to a summer camp for your kids to get a subsidized spot, moving into a shelter or getting Employment Insurance or Welfare to help you pay for a course, so be it.

Despite what we have been taught, people love to help. The opportunity to assist us may meet important needs another has. It may give that person a sense of being useful. It might help them to become a better person, and to feel good about themselves.

If you are ready to make serious changes in your life, ALWAYS ask for help. In the end, you will end up more grateful to those that helped you and they will be happy to have assisted you in your changes.

Just like the song says " I get by with a little help from my friends."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Introduction

Hi. The first thing I would like to tell you my name is Joanne O’Brien. I am a 38 year old single mother and live with my two wonderful daughters, and have been on my own since 2001.

I am presently working for the TTC, and have my own on-line business. In the past 6 years I have been travelling, taking courses, upgrading my formal education, self-development, Reiki, Yoga, Meditation, and purchased a condo for my children and myself.

I am developing workshops that I will facilitate in Shelters across Ontario, Canada. Primarily I will begin with Women's Shelters, but would like to expand that vision, to include several types of shelters and support groups. My intention is to publish a book with the personal writings of people in shelters, their challenges, their triumphs and their experiences.

I will also give you some background information on myself.

I lived in shelters off and on over a 13 year period.

In 1987, I lived at Youth Without Shelter, Toronto, Ontario
In 1988, I lived at the YWCA in Kitchener, Ontario.
In 1989, 1986 and 2000 I lived in Interim Place, Mississauga, Ontario.
And I was on Welfare several times

An interesting component is that I have also worked in several shelters as a Counsellor and Housing Worker. I was also a Case Manager Welfare Worker for Ontario Works.

The shelters I have been employed with are:

Family Life Resource Centre, Brampton, Ontario
Amelie House, Toronto, Ontario
Mary’s Home, Toronto, Ontario
Esprit Place, Parry Sound, Ontario

So as you can see, I am very familiar with the Shelter system and some of the difficulties people might be facing, in addition to and more importantly some of the strange emotions and turmoil they are challenged with.

Six years ago I

· Owed more than 100, 000.00
· I was unemployed
· I was living in a shelter with my 2 children
· My Bank Account balance was -1300.00
· I had just served a week in jail while awaiting a bail hearing

On more than one occasion I thought how am I going to get through all this muck?

Some of the emotions that people residing in shelters experience are:

· Fear
· Confusion
· Failure and Inadequacy
· Helplessness and feeling very alone

And I want to tell you that the empty feeling and feeling very anxious and unable to concentrate or make decisions are NORMAL.

Residents in shelters are in SURVIVAL MODE. And you need to be in that place to survive just as the term indicates.

I want you to sincerely know that there is hope, and that I can honestly say I am so glad that those feelings are a lifetime ago for me, and I am very confident that I will never have to use my SURVIVAL skills again.

So the reason I am here blogging is to assist you in meeting your personal and professional goals, to give you a little insight about what you can do on the long road ahead. It will not be easy, but I take it the life you have lead up until now has not been easy either. I can tell you that making a change in your life will require you to break old habits, change your thinking patterns, possibly moving, and opening new doors. There will be times along that journey that you feel like giving up, and there are other times when you feel so complete and successful that you could just scream. The support you need is out there, the things that you need are out there, but the biggest step in the road and indicator of your success will begin with you and making a decision that it is time to move forward in your life.