Wasn’t that a party 

We celebrated my uncle’s 80th birthday today with a huge party at the Hall. This guy has always been a bonus dad for me (I call him uncle-dad) and a bonus grandpa for my kids. He’s pretty cool.

It was a wonderful afternoon spent visiting with the community – friends and family – lots of people I haven’t seen in ages. And the Hall looked amazing, just like it is supposed to look with an old-time feel.

As someone who spent years floating as part of  a lost little pod of people in various places, I can’t express properly what it means to be part of this community, to know that we have this place where we are from, where we belong. Everyone has a family of some sort, but our family is really pretty unique – both in size and in the way it functions.

It is a deep kind of happiness, one that I carry with me all the time. An extra happiness was celebrating the birthday of one of my favourite people – I have always looked up to and admired this guy – I am really lucky that he’s my uncle.


Another trip around the sun

Today is my birthday. Two years ago I started this happiness journey with 44 days of happiness. The life I was living was completely different from the one I have today. We were living in SW Virginia, I was so unhappy, scared, alone, fearful, anxious, and lost. I decided to start looking for something every single day that made me happy and since I was turning 44 I would do it for 44 days.

When I started it was really difficult. Some days the only thing that I could find that made me happy was seeing the heron on my morning walk. There was not a lot of joy in my life and I had to work really hard to find any kind of sunshine. After the 44 days I felt a lot better, but knew I had much more work to do to get to where I wanted to be. So, I kept up with my happiness seeking – looking for a moment of happiness in each and every day.

The last two years have seen huge changes in my life both externally and internally. The kids and I have come home, we are safely and happily living back in the middle of our tribe. We still have struggles, but we have a grounding that I could never manage to create before. It may be a slow pace, but I feel us all moving ahead on this journey of healing and discovering.

Every year I have set an intention for the upcoming year. For 46 my intention is to believe – to have faith and trust that what I am doing is the right thing, to listen to God to know that I am on the right path, to believe in myself.

Also to remember that I gave all of my fucks away in 2016 and that I no longer have any more fucks to give. I am not going to spend hours stressing over things that could happen, things that are happening, things that have happened. I’m just going to let it be (and if you know me in real life and are laughing hysterically right now – remember this is an intention. I am a work in progress).

My happiness moment today: I had supper with my kids and my mom which was special and I treasure that. I don’t mean that lightly, after 10 years of being away to spend my birthday supper in grandma’s kitchen with my family is a big freaking deal.  After, as we were munching on our cupcakes, we shared memories of my childhood and of the kids’ childhood. We seem to have broken into this space where they want to talk about happy childhood memories and that brings me a lot of pleasure. For a long time no one wanted to talk about anything from the past, I’m glad that we can bring back some of the happy times. It’s also the best day of the year to be on Facebook and I was humbled and flattered by all the friends who sent me well wishes. I am a very blessed person.


Celebrate every child 

A couple of months ago I mentioned I’d had this divine inspiration and was working on a project. In order to see my dream come to life I needed some support and backing and now I have it –  it’s becoming a reality. 

At the end of September I was in a sad heart place and took myself to church. When I walked in the church I was grabbed onto by a lady who told me about a spiritual gifts session that was starting and she said I should join it. I was feeling kind of lost spiritually and wasn’t sure of my gifts or value I headed to the group, knowing that God had sent this lady my way. 

I loved it. I’m still part of the group and it’s one of my highlights of the week 

At the end of the session I had this idea come to me. Actually it came from God via my friend Maggie in Boston. She helps at a local homeless shelter where they provide birthday parties for the children who are staying there. I realized that there are likely kids in Cochrane who for various reasons aren’t having birthday parties. And I strongly feel that every child deserves to be celebrated. 

So, the church has agreed to support me in my quest to make Celebrate Every Child come to life. We are going to have one party a month for a local child, and celebrate them!!

I’m so excited and so happy that this is all coming together so easily. It really was an answer to my prayer – I talked to the right person at the right church and they see the value in my vision. 

Happiness is best when shared. This is a very deeply felt happiness moment for me. 


High tea at Banff Springs

We had high tea at the Banff Springs Hotel today to celebrate my niece turning 6 and my daughter turning 12 (today and on Monday respectively). It was a girls only event including the birthday girls, my sister, and our mom. We don’t have girl days often enough – and this one was pretty elegant. 

The difference between 6 and 12

When we were kids our family vacationed a lot on Vancouver Island, and we have many fond memories attached to high tea (and clotted cream). It was fun for us three adults to step back in time a little and reminisce about teas past. 

And fun to share our traditions with the next generation. The girls loved having a fancy tea party 

Her face when she was told she could eat 

She gets it from her mom 

It was a really special day, and one that I will treasure in my memory bank forever. Those family bonds, our sisterhood, it’s pure happiness and there’s so much gratitude in that. 


We remember and we celebrate 

The day began with a very thoughtful happiness moment. Even in my most tree hugging, pacifist loving, free spirited moments of life I have always realized I have the freedom to choose those beliefs because of the men and women who sacrificed everything so that we could live in this amazing country. 

I took the kids to a Remembrance Day ceremony in Cochrane this morning. They have always been very powerful for me and it felt good to share that with the kids.  I love our country so much and I am so grateful that we are back home in Canada. 

This evening we celebrated my brother in law’s birthday. Because he’s so much fun and a great sport, he totally made Jacob’s evening by dressing up in his gift – a matching chewbacca onesie. What a pair they were running around the house roaring. We laughed so hard tonight – this is such a big part of why I’m so grateful I have the family that I do. This close knit tribe of people is something to be treasured and celebrated. Happy, happy, happiness. 


Cake with my mom

Today is my mom’s birthday – being home is still fresh enough that I am so grateful for the fact that we get to be here and celebrate these events with our loved ones. There’s still that weird hole in our celebrations where Dad is supposed to be, but we come together all the same.

We had a family supper that was enhanced with the presence of my niece and nephew. They have been life long friends with my kids and when the four of them get together it’s hilarious chaos. It made the party that much better listening to their strange brand of humour.

I have spent the day thinking about what my mom has given me over the years. She has always shown me constant love and support –  I grew up knowing unconditional love because of how my parents loved us. I knew that no matter what I did or how I behaved they loved me because of who I was. The older I get the more I understand what a rare gift that is. When times get tough, my mom is always one of the first people to come forward and offer to help – no matter what it takes. I have watched her dig deeper than I would have ever thought possible to help out her loved ones. It makes me want to give that same gift to my tribe. There is something magical about knowing that someone has your back all the time – forever – no matter what. She’s also funny as hell.

My happiness moment – gathered around the dinner table – laughing – loving – being together – celebrating my mom.


250 party 

Tonight we went to a family birthday party – called the 250 party because the ages of the three men being celebrated adds up to 250 years. 

I was thinking this evening  how lucky we are that we have such amazing men in our family. My whole family is such a blessing and I would be lost without my tribe. It was a fun happiness moment  of celebrating birthdays and laughing and just being in the fold of the family. 


Buns and Yorkshire Pudding 

Today was my uncle’s birthday. He’s one of my favourite people in the world, and has always been a second dad to me. 

They had a big birthday supper for him followed by a showing of Forsaken which was filmed out at the movie site. Very cool. 

My happiness moment was standing in the kitchen with my cousins laughing and eating. We had plates piled high with fresh buns and Yorkshire pudding filled with gravy. We’d gobble it all down, complain about how fat we were getting, laugh, head back for seconds, then laugh some more. 

To be with these people who I am so close to, who have known me forever, and whose company I enjoy so much is a great joy in my life.  


At the long table

The kids and I spent may years where it was just the three of us sitting at our little round table. Those lonely years spent away have made us all the more appreciative of our family and the shared times that we have now that we are back among our tribe.

Today we spent time with my relatives from the “east side” of town. My cousin’s granddaughter was in a skating competition and it was my aunt’s birthday, and the kids and I joined them in the celebration. I had forgotten how much I enjoy watching figure skating, it’s so beautiful and graceful. We went for lunch to celebrate my aunt’s birthday and there were enough of us (15) that we were seated at a huge, long table at the back of the room. I have so missed family meals that involve sitting at a long table full of laughter and conversation. I feel like in the last year we have been well absorbed back into that lifestyle. We got to do it again tonight at my mom’s place with my sister and family (only 8 of us this time though).

My happiness moment today was catching up with my cousins and aunt and uncle. One of the great things about family is that they always know who you are even during the times when you are apart. It has been such a blessing to reconnect with this tribe.

A bonus happiness moment came yesterday when Gretchen Rubin made a comment on my blog post about happiness done Ayurveda style which I had put on her Facebook page. That post really brought back into focus for me how important it is to keep on doing what I am doing. I can feel all the good vibes coming back to me.


Kid-knees and whoopee cushions 

Tonight we celebrated the February birthdays in the family – my nephew (today) and my sister (tomorrow). After having missed years of these family celebrations I am continuously thankful that we are here now to participate. Having this extended family around us is so incredibly important in helping guide us and give us that sense of grounding and support 

While the entire evening of the family gathering together was my happiness moment, I had a couple of events stick out as especially funny ones. 

The first happened as I was reading a book with my niece about the different parts of your body. We were on the heart page which she was convinced was the kidney. Once she realized it was not (after her mommy confirmed that for her, because she’s still at the age where mommy knows best) we continued searching until we found it. Once we were on the correct kidney page, my niece put her bent  leg up towards me, pointed and said see auntie Melissa? Here’s my kid-knee. Priceless

Next, I walked in the room to find my nephew (who turned two today) jumping up and down on the whoopie cushion yelling fart fart fart over and over. 

There’s nothing like kids to being unexpected and delightful laughter. What a blessing that we have all these cousins around to enjoy. 

In a sentimental moment, I heard my uncle playing with my nephew, and the noises my uncle was making were exactly the sounds my dad made. For a minute I stopped and my heart thought dad was here. But my uncle is like another dad to me – in fact we call uncle dad – and it was so fitting that the laughter and joy were coming from those two.