20 Reasons for 20 Years of Marriage

Okay guys and gals, the secret to 20 years of marriage is not a simple one. Nor is it something you can survive and thrive through with a quick fix seminar. It isn’t because you are destined to be together, or that the wife is always right. It isn’t something that just happens.


The secret…

Wait for it…


There is no secret. A long lasting marriage is made up of many things and dependent on each individual and couple. It is also dependent on characteristics and traits that are valued and displayed in a relationship. Twenty characteristics that endear my heart to Neil:

  1. Loyalty
  2. Trust
  3. Companionship
  4. Communication
  5. Humility
  6. Understanding
  7. Affectionate
  8. Responsible
  9. Dependable
  10. Cooperative
  11. Helpful
  12. Generous
  13. Active
  14. Sympathetic
  15. Empathetic
  16. Kind
  17. Compassionate
  18. Humorous
  19. Hardworking
  20. Loving

Here are 20 reasons why today, Neil and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage, and I am eternally grateful for a lifelong best friend and husband.


1. Take Risks

Neil took a risk on an Aussie gal he met for a day and a half on a small drinking island in Fiji. She was non-catholic, didn’t Ukrainian dance, and she was a bit of a rebel.

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2. Follow Your Heart

After knowing each other for less than four months, Neil knew he had met the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He proposed.

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3. Snuggle

This Aussie gal had never experienced -30oC, so when we did Neil always snuggled up tight and made sure I was warm.

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4. Try New Things Together

Building a snow shelter and then staying overnight in it wasn’t something on the top of my list. We did it, and once again Neil snuggled up and kept me warm.

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5. Laugh Together

Always remember to laugh.  Neil has such an awesome sense of humor.

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6. Make a Commitment

We shared our vows twice with each other. We made a commitment to love and to hold, through sickness and health, good times and bad. A commitment we have both upheld, value and cherish.

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7. Celebrate Each Other

Celebrate by experiencing things together, not just buying something. Be together. Celebrate each other.

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8. Cheer Each Other On

Whether it’s a birthday, a promotion, an opportunity – always be your partners #1 cheer leader. Neil has always been my #1!

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9. Work Hard for the Life You Desire

We begun our life together in a very small apartment with a futon that acted as our bed and couch, a TV and dining table. We had no vehicle and caught the train to work together every day. We lived there until we saved enough and were able to afford our first house.

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10. Honor Each Others Individual Lives

We have always honored the need for both of us to have independent lives outside of our marriage. Friends, hobbies, trips alone or with others.

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11. Play Full Out

Halloween, theme parties have always been a blast with Neil. We’ve had so much fun over the years and always play full out!

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12. Give Back Together

Generosity brings so many rewards. Finding meaningful charities to support together builds respect, love and humility.




 13. Don’t Take Life too Seriously 

Fun. Play. Goofing around. When we let loose, we let loose, and have a whole ton of fun. Life is so much easier when we don’t take ourselves so seriously all the time.


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14. Everyone Deserves to Dress Up once in a While 

I love it when we dress up for a special occasion or a night out.



15. Discover Together

Discovering and trying new things together is such a beautiful gift of quality time. Neil’s main Language of Love is “Quality Time” and we make sure we do just that.



16. Chill Out

Taking time to just sit back, relax and be is a gift that today’s society doesn’t recognize as much. We love to just hang out and relax.



17. Party Together

Every now and then you need to just let loose and have some fun. There are so many fond memories of us partying together and with friends.



18. Love Your Tribe 

There’s the saying ‘You are who you surround yourself with,” and we are very fortunate to surround ourselves with amazing friends who we adore and cherish spending time with.



19. Support the Same Team

Supporting a team can really be a family affair – just ask the Samis family (sorry private joke), cheering on the same team brings such comradery and enjoyment. GO Flames GO!



20. Family is Everything

Our family is our soul, it’s our gift and our legacy. Being parents together is the most treasured blessing and opportunity to grow. May our love for each other, be passed on to our daughters who in turn will value relationship, value commitment, and value family.






The Power of One

Months ago my doctor uttered the words, ‘they found a lump in your uterus.’ Any words she said after that were lost in fear and dread. Thankfully my sister-in-law and friend Val, both doctors, looked over the report and told me there was nothing to worry about.


Still, I worried. That one word ‘lump’ left so many unanswered questions.


My doctor tried several gynecologists in the city to no avail. No one could get me in before our move to Malaysia at the end of June. Val recommended a gynecologist in High River, who thankfully got me in.


So this morning off I went for a welcomed long drive in silence and reflection. It wasn’t long before I began noticing things – single things:


One coyote searching for, and stalking prey. How long has it survived by itself?

One tree standing in the middle of a field. How many storms has it weathered and continues to thrive?

One barn crumbling from old age. How many souls has this beautiful structure housed and kept safe?

One tower stood tall and all alone. How many people does it provide communication for?

One house in the middle of nowhere. How many people does it hold safely within?


And then I got to thinking about The Power of One!

When my husband moved to Malaysia at the beginning of the year, we had so many friends say they would check in on the girls and I, invite us for dinners, organize play dates and get togethers, help me out. The reality is, people are absorbed and busy dealing with their own challenges and lives. So the one person I’ve been able to consistently rely on is myself, which has left me tired and weary.


And then, I thought of The Power of One:

One woman who has helped me stay committed to my health and well being, and who held me in her arms yesterday as I released my tears.

One woman who comes once a week and lovingly cleans our home and helps me with laundry – all for less than my previous cleaner charged bi-weekly. Today she even swept out our garage.

One woman who has consistently checked in on me and is looking after my girls this weekend so I can fill up my cup with a weekend away.

One woman who has inspired me to create rituals and who shares her and her boys lives with me and my girls regularly.

One woman who so perfectly timed, invited the girls and I over for dinner, let’s just say the dinner Tina and Darren made Sunday night has left my girls mouth watering for more salmon.

One generous act occurred after three separate requests last week from friends looking for support and freezer meals on behalf of a friend in need. Each I regretfully responded that I was unable to help as I am struggling to feed my own family. One friend of a friend, a woman I barely know offered to make some freezer meals for me – yesterday she dropped off three meals that will come in handy for the rushed days. The meal meant alot, the act of thoughtfulness and generosity meant more.

One puzzle that has provided me with weeks of challenge, sweet solitude and peace.

One bathtub that provides me with relaxation.


As I reflected on these and many more, my soul was overcome with gratitude.


As I drove into High River, I thought of the power of one community. My last visit here was to deliver supplies after the flood. I drove through and saw people still at work rebuilding, homes still boarded up, a town continuing on with resilience and hard work.


When I got into the doctors office I giggled. Staring at me was a table with one foot stirrup out! And then I thought of one very funny lady – Jann Arden – who yesterday I watched as she referred to her privates as her ‘skooch,’ because the gynecologist always asks you to skooch down. I felt lighter already.


Thankfully this one doctor will be able to help with the issues I’ve faced since last November. Surgery at the end of April and reassurance that the lump is nothing to worry about. I didn’t realize how heavily this weighed on me, until I drove home feeling much lighter and more relaxed.


I know I have the power to face these next 100 days with courage and strength. I will do this by continuing to look after me – first and foremost, and doing what needs to be done, with or without anyone else’s help. I also realize that the ‘one person you may be the world’ to – needs to be me.


Side note – or as I affectionately refer to as ‘squirrel’ – my daughter just walked in and asked what I was doing, I told her I was working on a blog post and looked at my phone as the busy evening of driving to and from activities is about to begin and it said 3.33, which I’ve been seeing on a daily basis – the meaning:

It means that is a sign that the angels signify their agreement to your thoughts. It means truth and is a sign of the trinity. Mind, body, and spirit. Three becoming one. Angels love, protect, and surround you and the union is complete. Angels are in your midst.


I will leave you with this:

One song can spark a moment
One flower can wake the dream
One tree can start a forest
One bird can herald spring
One smile begins a friendship
One handclasp lifts a soul
One star can guide a ship at sea
One word can frame the goal
One vote can change a nation
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness
One laugh will conquer gloom
One step must start each journey
One word must start a prayer
One hope will raise our spirits
One touch can show you care
One voice can speak with wisdom
One heart can know what’s true
One life can make a difference
That difference starts with you.
~ Unknown


The Golden Hour – Serenity and Beauty of a Sunrise

There are no sounds, other than a gentle breeze rustling through the leaves on the trees.  The air is cool, and crisp, giving me an opportunity to be grateful for the warm coat, and a reminder to myself to remember to bring gloves.  When I arrive it’s still pitch black, the moon is high in the sky, the silhouette of the mountains, eerie yet beautiful.  No one is around, no cars on the road, it’s just me and nature.


As I sat on the bench, in Canmore, Alberta on Saturday – I couldn’t help but feel grateful.  The Bugaboos trip had inspired me to be present to this golden hour, a time that as the sun rises over the horizon, light seems to dance and touch it’s surroundings with beauty.  I also reminisced about the other beautiful sunrises I have captured, and how I felt in each one – serenity, inner peace, and grateful to be witness to such beauty.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris App, informed me what time the sun would rise, where it would rise, and even the position of the moon.  I was prepared, and with eager anticipation, awaited the rising sun.

In mid September, sadly my husbands grandmother passed away.  Our family travelled the ten hours to Preeceville, Saskatchewan to celebrate the life of an amazing woman.  I felt her everywhere, in the clouds, the rays of sunshine, the fields, and within me.  As I captured the sunrise on the day of her funeral, I couldn’t help but feel not alone, that she was there – shining her bright beautiful smile upon me.


The following weekend, our family went on our annual camp trip to the Great Canadian Barn Dance, in Hill Spring, Alberta.  The sunrise was the most exquisite sight I’ve been witness to.  The clouds were illuminated in different hues as the sun rose.  There was a stillness, so serene and peaceful, that was only interrupted by the sounds of geese, and ducks landing in the pond.  I then ventured to the other side of the campground to capture the light bouncing on the prairies and mountains.  So breathtakingly beautiful, and peaceful.

Each morning at home in Calgary, my daughters and I always take a moment to watch the sunrise.  We’ve been gifted with some spectacular ones this past couple of weeks.  It gives us the opportunity to be still, pause, and be grateful for the beauty that is right in front of us.

Life has so many gifts for us to experience.  Many of them, free for all to enjoy.  Nature is one of the most exquisite providers of these gifts.  All it takes is to be present, and make the effort to be witness to it, and experience inner peace, and serenity.


6 Steps to Create a New Year You Desire and Deserve

Creating a New Year that you desire and deserve is more than just a New Year’s resolution.  Each year almost 50% of the population commit to a New Year’s resolution.   Of that 50%, only 8% are successful in achieving their goal.  In 2012, the top six resolutions were:

  1. Lose weight.
  2. Get organized.
  3. Spend less, save more.
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest.
  5. Staying fit and healthy.
  6. Learn something exciting.

Personally, I do not make a New Year’s resolution.  Instead, I set the intention for the life I would like to live for the year ahead – a way of BEing versus DOing.  I begin with enjoying time with my daughters in creating our Dream Boards for the year ahead. This year I created something very different to what I have in years gone by.  I allowed my creativity to flow, and created this dream board that speaks to the softer, simpler and more creative side of me.


6 Steps to Create a New Year Your Desire and Deserve

Step 1 – Creating Your Dream Board
Start by connecting to your dreams by asking some thought-provoking questions:

  • If you were living the life you want to live, how would you feel?
  • What is it that you value?
  • What do you want more of in your life?
  • What do you want less of in your life?
  • At the end of 2013, what will make you proud?

Once you have an idea of what you want in 2013, it’s time to allow your creative juices to flow.  Have fun, enjoy this time for you. Go through magazines, photo albums, newspapers and cut out images, words, quotes or anything that speaks to you.

Board: you can use poster board, canvas panels, and/or fabrics.
Medium: you can use paints, markers, pencils, and/or crayons.
All of the above can be picked up inexpensively at a dollar store.

For my dream board I used a primed canvas panel, which I painted with acrylic paint.  I used cuttings from magazines, and rocks. I laid them out on a piece of paper the size of my canvas and then used a hot glue gun to adhere it all to the canvas board.

Step 2 – Breaking it Down

For each of the dreams I have on my board, I break each one down.

A Healthy Balance: for me this is about physical and mental health.  What are the steps I need to do to create this?

  • Exercise three times a week.
  • Eat five healthy meals a day.
  • Meditate daily.
  • Journal and reflect daily.

Memories our Family is Making: this is about spending quality time with my family.

  • Being present.
  • Volunteering at school activities.
  • Adventurous vacations.
  • Create together.

Step 3 – Accountability

Sit down with your family and/or friends and talk to them about your intentions for 2013.  How do you see them fitting into your plans, and ask them for support in helping you stick to your goals.  It’s always a benefit to have an accountability partner – someone you can check in with on a regular basis to hold you accountable and help you stay true to your intentions and goals.

Step 4 – Plan for Setbacks

Life has a way of throwing hurdles and challenges at you.  Often, when this happens, the first thing to falter are your goals or intentions.  Recognize situations or circumstances that may get in your way.  Plan for them, prepare for them.  And always, give yourself grace when life does get in the way.  As soon as you can, step back on course.  Ensure you have a support team – click HERE for a template of an Emotional Health Plan.

Step 5 – Check In

Be sure to check in on your intentions and goals daily.  Have your dream board located in a visible spot that you can see every day. Look at it, visualize your intentions as real and already happening.

Step 6 – Celebrate

On a regular basis, celebrate your intentions that have come to fruition, including your daily intentions.  The simplest way of doing this is by writing in a gratitude journal.  Each night, reflect on what you are grateful for.  Celebrate larger goals in a way that honours you and encourages you to keep going.


My Wish for You in 2013

May you be present to the ones you love – beginning with self.
May you be surrounded with joy and love.
May you be open to all the possibilities ahead of and within you.
May you be blessed with healthy choices.
Happy New Year everyone.


Healing the Past: Shame, Abandonment and Rejection

I was 17 years old, walking to the clinic all alone.  Filled with shame,and feeling abandoned.  Why is he not here with me? He doesn’t care! Seriously, how can work be more important than this? Thoughts streamed through my mind on the brisk 30 minute walk. As I entered the clinic, embarrassment took hold, I wanted to hide, and escape this unbelievable predicament I was in.


We had been dating for three years, living together for a couple of months in a converted garage at the back of his parents house.  I was madly and blindly in love, with a guy who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with.  We had a tight-knit group of friends that loved to party, go out and dance the night away. We lived and breathed our friends, and having fun.  We were also reckless.


When the pregnancy test came back positive, my heart sank.  This can’t be happening, not now, I’m too young.  He didn’t want it, said I was reckless, and that it was all my fault.


So there I was, at the clinic, all alone.  Yes, the awful word that I have been so filled with shame about, for far too long – abortion.  It was terrible, I felt the life being sucked out of me and an emptiness take over.  After the procedure, I walked to the recovery room. No one there to hold me, no one there who cared.  I felt completely and utterly alone.  Walking back home was the longest stretch I’ve ever had to endure.  Hatred for myself filling my soul, anger at him for not being there.


Later, I was to find out the shocking truth.  While I was all alone, ending a life, going through the unthinkable, he was out to lunch with my best friend.  All our friends knew, all but myself and my best friends boyfriend.  We were the only ones left in the dark.  “We tried to tell you.”  “Didn’t you see the signs?”  “What about all the times they were both unable to come out with us?”  Even his parents knew. For almost a year they had been seeing each other in secret.  Lies, deception and cheating.


What I know now, is the impact this one event has had on my life.  Fear of abandonment, rejection, jealousy, trust issues, are all stemmed from this experience.  And why wouldn’t it?  This past couple of months I have worked through this pain, allowing myself to heal, giving myself permission to forgive them and more importantly myself. Numerous times I have taken my being now, to the young, naive and vulnerable 17 year old girl then.  Holding her hand, letting her know that she’s okay and she’s not alone.  Letting her know that she is loved, and that she didn’t do anything to deserve that.  Yes, it’s been a painful process, re-visiting such a painful memory, something that affected me more than I had ever imagined.


What I know now, is to find peace I needed to heal the past, the young me then, and now – for she lives within me.  Interestingly enough, as I’ve worked on healing this pain, I have found a greater sense of stillness, an inner-peace and knowing.


I wish to say a heartfelt thank you to Mark Wolynn and Dr Bruce Hoffman.  Mark, the 15 minutes you and Shannon spent with me opened the doors to accepting, healing and understanding the past.  Dr Hoffman, in one-and-a-half hours, you gave me more insight than you can ever imagine.  My dear friend and Registered Psychologist, Gemma Stone, the gift was both ways. Kari Dunlop, your loving, quiet, gentle pushes are exactly the gifts I needed.  Paula Onysko, your Sparkle Circle created the final piece of peace for me.  Thank YOU.


And thank you Debbie Ford, your book Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence has been like a bible throughout this process.

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