happiness

Sit on Santa’s knee

It was Christmas Party time at the Hall tonight for the first time in years. Some of my best memories are of singing for Santa with my family at the hall. It’s a tradition that has gone on for generations and came back after a 10 year hiatus.

We need our family, our community. It’s essential that we remember that this is what it’s all about – sharing love and laughter

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A success 

My Christmas goal for my little family his year was simple (and yet not simple at all) – we were going to have a fun Christmas. The kids were finally going to be able to look back on a year and say that was a good Christmas. 

The last few years have been filled with so much trauma and stress, both inside our small family and in our larger family. All I wanted was for them to say this was a good Christmas. It’s important they have really good childhood memories to look back on. 

Jacob walked up to me today and said you know mom, this was a real fun Christmas. I had a good time

Success. Happiness. Gratitude. Love. 

And what they will remember isn’t the things they got but the things we did. Those are the memories. 

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A few of my favourite things 

We had another quiet day at home – it’s good for the girl’s concussion and good for the rest of us who are exhausted. 

I celebrated the end of a quiet day with a bit of The Sound of Music with my sister – one of the best Christmas traditions. 

Slowing down and enjoying family time is one of my favourite things about this time of the year. 

The boy and I are just sitting down to watch Austin Powers. Another favorite thing. 

Happiness. 

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The balance of life

Yesterday in the early hours of Christmas morning my godmother passed away. A blessing for her, but painful for those who remain here still holding love for her. Her husband passed away Christmas day almost 40 years ago, and while I’m sure God has some kind of reason for that, it’s difficult and painful for those left behind.

When I was a kid and watched Cinderella I was fascinated by the fairy godmother. To me, she was a totally believable character because aside from her lack of bippty boppity boo, my godmother was magical as well. To have this person in my life who thought I was amazing just because I was me was a pretty fantastic blessing. She was the kind of lady who would show up unexpectedly with pie at our house for tea, she had a grace and elegance that few can equal, and love and kindness in her heart that was a rare gift.

There’s something to losing a loved one on the day spent celebrating the birth of our Saviour that makes me really think about the balance of life and how things are constantly changing. Balance does not mean things stay the same in a comfortable state of consistency. Balance means that things are able to stay together even as life is shifting around us.

When I started seeking happiness almost 2 years ago I thought that I would reach a point where I would just be happy and that would naturally and easily be my default state. I for sure am a much happier person now, but it’s a matter of constantly shifting to balance the changes happening around and inside of me. In the 2 years since I started I have moved 2 thousand miles from Virginia to Alberta, I have lost my dad, I have discovered painful betrayals and begun a divorce, I have had heartbreaking struggles with my kids, I have lost three other (extended) family members. And yet, life is much happier. I know myself better, I am more at peace with who I am, I am more grateful and grounded. A lot of that is because I have fallen back in with my tribe, I have deepened my faith, and I am learning to believe in myself.

People talk about what a bad year 2016 was. For sure for me there was a massive shitstorm of emotion going on, but inside of that I have learned how to dig into the deepest parts of myself and really honour and appreciate who I am, regardless of how others see me. There have been massive losses both personally and globally, but I am so much stronger and more aware of how valuable my life is, how important my time is, and how amazing my tribe is.

My happiness moment… today that is easy. Boxing Day is my favourite day of the year. It was spent in PJs watching movies and then having a second Christmas feast. It was spent with my loved ones being quiet, reflecting, laughing, enjoying, loving.

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Christmas 2016


We had our happy Christmas. Finally. There were ups and downs, and the girl did too much and her headache came back, but even so it was a happy Christmas. 

Our family was together. That’s huge. We had a massive gathering of the tribe at the hall for supper – it has been years since we have all sat together and the family has grown in that time. 

We had a Star Wars morning which was hilarious and fun 


But mostly we celebrated the birth of Christ. Together. As a tribe. With love and laughter and joy. 

We are so incredibly blessed to have the family we have, to live where we do, and to walk safely in the arms of our God. Happiness. 

Merry Christmas everyone. 

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Balance between bliss and pain

I feel like I’m being split between two completely different worlds right now. In one world we are beginning joyous Christmas celebrations. After a few years of crappy Christmases, we have been so looking forward to this year. There’s fresh snow, our family is around, we are having a huge gathering tomorrow to celebrate the birth of Christ. We are home, we are safe, we are loved. In this world there’s joy, happiness, bliss and gratitude.

In my other world, my beloved godmother is dying. Her husband died on Christmas when I was a child,  and now her daughter is loving and caring for her with strength I can’t even begin to fathom. How she gathers the courage to keep loving even knowing what is coming, and that it could happen again to her on Christmas Day, is inspiring and overwhelming. This world is filled with pain, sorrow, grief, and loss. Yet, also strangely in this world is this amazing feeling of gratitude that I have been invited to share so intimately in such a spiritual and personal process.

This is how real life is though isn’t it? Maybe not as big and as polar opposite as what I’m experiencing right now, but life isn’t all happy or all sad. It’s always a combination of both – and often lots of other emotions too.

The price you pay for loving someone is always pain. It takes courage to love because one way or another there is always a goodbye. But the price you pay for not loving at all is so much greater, I will always choose to love my people.

We celebrated Christmas Eve at the candlelight ceremony at church with my (ex? how does that work? They’re still family) mother in law and sister in law. That was a happiness moment, it’s one of my favourite parts of Christmas. The extremely hot firemen that came in after the alarm was pulled, well that was just a Christmas Happiness Bonus.

Merry Christmas Eve.

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Dig deep… then dig deeper

I’ve had some pretty challenging days in 2016, some pretty crappy ones, and some ones that have just about kicked my butt. Today was the first day in the 5 years that I’ve been crawling my way towards a better life that I felt like just giving up and going to bed…. for days.

I lost the big present I bought for the boy, I’ve searched the whole house tying to find it – it’s gone. My girl had a catastrophic meltdown about some of the memories she stores about Mr. X yelling at and scaring her, I had to hold her while she cried out her pain. The dog got sick and vomited all over the house.

This was the point where I just wanted to give up. I have been so determined to make sure this is a good Christmas for the kids, a fun season for us. All that along with my frustration with recent divorce issues, the concussion, the broken arm, and other crap was just enough. I was totally overwhelmed and had nothing left to give. In fact, I said that. I’m done, I have nothing left, I just want to go to bed.

And because God is hilarious, about 5 minutes later I get a message that my beloved godmother is getting ready to transition to the next life.

So, a choice had to be made. Go to bed and cry (really wanted to), or go to the hospital and see her, see her daughter – who have been family to me my whole life.

I decided to go.

As soon as I got in the shower all the lights went out – power gone. We were having a massive snow storm and the highway was a mess, maybe it was a blessing I was slowed down.

I stopped and got in my pjs and cried again, really angry with God this time.

Power comes back on, back in the shower, and I soon head out on the road.

There’s something about a crisis that brings one to the most raw, authentic part of one’s being. We were like that. My godmother slept and her daughter and I sat and talked. We shared really deep things, and we talked about the most superficial of things. We really got to know each other in a way that we never have before. There is a blessing in that.

I left this evening and headed to a cousin’s place for the end of a family Christmas party. I still got a few good visits in, ate some good food, and had a few laughs. On the way home we chased some cows in a line down the road. Jacob said Santa may have reindeer in front of him, but I’d rather have these cows, On Hamburger, On Steak, On Roast!!!! Man I love that kid.

We need a tribe. I know I say it all the time, but we do. We can’t do any of this alone. We aren’t made to. My happiness moment is knowing that with the good times and the sad ones we have this amazing group of people in our lives.

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She’s smiling

Today brings a day when my girl seems so much more like herself. It’s been a long 10ish days as she’s been dealing with this concussion. It’s fantastic to see smiles and sparkle come back to that face.

I wrapped Christmas presents finally, and she sat under the tree and shook and inspected them. She’s in that tween phase where sometimes she’s super cool and other times she’s still a little kid. I love that Christmas brings out more of the little kid.

We’ve had a rough couple of Christmases (rough couple of years to be honest), but this year I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got a big gathering of the tribe, we’ve got so much to be thankful for, we are safe, we are home, we can celebrate the birth of Christ with our loved ones. That is happiness.

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healing from the concussion

It’s a long road for this poor girl and her concussion. I’ve been so impressed though at how well she seems to know what is best for her body, and how she’s honouring that. As the child who never wants to be left out of anything, and the one who is always trying to get us outside to play, it’s been interesting to watch how she is just wanting to rest. She seems very aware of what she needs and how to best look after herself. She has mentioned that she does not want to do anything that turns her brain on, and has been pretty content to just lie around in the dark or, lately as she’s been feeling a bit better, get up and draw or paint quietly.

My awesome massage therapist also does cranial sacral therapy, and he mentioned that often there was some success seen with healing concussions from this work. He shuffled things around for us and got Jenna an appointment today. She was a little anxious about going – she’s never even had a regular massage and didn’t know what to expect – but went because I kept telling her how awesome it was going to be.

It was awesome for her. She said it felt like it took a bunch of pressure and stress off of her brain. She’s been smiling and although quiet, much more like my regular Jenna than the quiet, pained girl of the past 10 days.

I am so grateful for the community of healers who have surrounded my family. The support and resources are amazing and it humbles me that we are blessed in this way. It brings gratitude and great happiness. Extra happiness as I am finally starting to have hope that my girl will be well enough to enjoy the Christmas season – her favourite time of the year.

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Jingle bells

Today I took the boy and my niece into the mall for some last minute shopping. I wasn’t looking forward to it this close to Christmas, but I was pleasantly surprised. Got a fantastic parking spot (underground so we didn’t even need coats), and although the mall was packed everyone seemed happy. It was so nice to see so many smiling faces out in preparation for the Christmas season.

The three of us laughed so hard. I find it such an honour that they include me in their craziness – old and uncool as I am. They’re such great kids and I honestly truly enjoy their company.

Because Jacob always has to win the funny award, he did this at one of the stores (he’s got a poop emoji obsession):

On the way home we listened to Christmas Carols, and when Jingle Bells came on the three of us sang as loudly, badly, and happily as was humanly possible. A happiness moment.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. I’m really looking forward to this one. The tribe together, so much love to share, a celebration of Christ’s birth.

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