Vana Belle Hospitality…

For our 20th Anniversary, Philip and I whisked ourselves away to Thailand. To be completely honest, I was a little hesitant at first. I was hesitant because we aren’t those people who need nor do we want to be away from our kids. Actually, travelling with our children has always been something we have loved and enjoyed rather than endured. Neither Philip nor I have ever been ones who have ‘needed to get away from our kids’. I know some parents do who do need the ‘much-needed break’ and that’s okay, it’s just never been us. 

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Inside the Quiet.

Like many people, I have tried over the years to stick to New Year’s resolutions and promises made to myself.

Like most, inevitably I fail a few weeks into the year. Whether it be my bad habits, the desire to shift some unneeded weight, the year I learn a new language or start to paint. The only resolution that I hold onto seems to be the one that promises I won’t do it. Resolutions, for whatever reason, have not worked for me.

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Autism, DownSyndrome, Special Needs. A response to the Ontario Letter

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{Pictures above provide a glimpse into the life of Peter}

In light of the recent and very disturbing letter that was sent to the parents of a boy with Autism (see this Huffington Post Live Story click HERE)I am compelled to share this story with you.

My little brother, Peter, who is not so little now, he is 36 and definitely exceeds my physicality, has DownSyndrome and definitely displays some other characteristics that can be found on the ASD Spectrum. He can be a challenge and throughout his life has most likely upset people, caused them great discomfort and whatever else we {the so called ‘normal’} people have to interpret and manage when our life collides with someone on the spectrum.

Throughout the years, I have written countless stories about my brother and the lessons I have learned from him, the things he has taught me and the way he has lived. Some days, he is our angel and we talk about how he has been sent from God just for us. We talk about how blessed we are to have had the opportunity to walk through life with him and how we wished other people could have a moment of this experience. Then, there are days when we wonder where he came from, why he’s acting a certain way and how do we handle what is happening before our eyes. In these moments, we see the struggle deep within him, his desire to do what we call ‘right’, to act appropriately, to respond how we want him to respond but because of the way he has been created the struggle lies in this this place. These are the times when this gentle giant, this angel who was sent from above needs our care, our love and our acceptance.

I could go on and on about the joy he has brought to our lives and his amazing nature and his deep sense of knowing and understanding that doesn’t translate into school grades or through the written or, at times, even the spoken word. His understanding is deep and his expression of that understanding at times throws the ‘EQ’ balance off the charts.

Today, instead of me writing about his impact on our lives, I have chosen to allow the words of another whom he has touched to bring expression to his being. She’s not a family member but she has been brought into the family through Peter and his love for her and his deep knowing that she is a person to love and to trust. Her name is Lori and outside of our family she is perhaps one of the most influencial people in Peter’s life. I am choosing not to respond in words to the ‘One Pissed Off Mother’ but rather by using the life of another and the experience of another who has chosen to see beyond what she doesn’t understand {in terms of how Peter was created} but has chosen to step over her own insecurities and the ‘unknown’ within Peter and she has found a beautiful relationship that has changed her life. I hope you enjoy her story about Peter.

I have a very special person in my life. He has taught me so many things that have helped me to become a better person. He has made me laugh and cry and practise my skills of tolerance and patience.

Peter has Down Syndrome.

I have known Peter for many years, but it has only been during the past two years that I have developed a relationship with him. What started as a job has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Job coaching is what brought Peter and I together. For a few hours each week, we go to his place of employment and I instruct him on how to do his work. He is such a diligent worker and it does not take long for him to master the tasks assigned to him. Then it is coffee time!

Coffee time is what he looks forward to the most. This is our time to chat about whatever comes to mind. Peter never fails to ask about my husband, my children and my cat. He always asks how my day at work went and never fails to ask how his nephew is, who attends the school where I work.

Peter loves music and will start to dance when he hears it. He doesn’t care where we are or who is watching. His face lights up with the pure joy of it. Peter has taught me to dance like no one is watching. Everyone should try this. It is the most exhilarating feeling!

He has taught me not to be afraid to tell people how I feel about them. Peter is very quick to tell people that he has missed them, that he likes them, that they make him happy, that he loves them. He quite often will tell me that I am beautiful but he will also tell me when he thinks that I need a haircut. He is so open and honest that it is refreshing to have a conversation with him.

He is also very compassionate. When my Mom was ill, he always would inquire about her. When she passed away, he brought me flowers and hugs. Sometimes he will ask me if I think about her and what I am remembering about her.

Occasionally, we have a date night. He will get dressed up and he is the perfect gentleman. He opens doors for me, pulls out my chair, inquires if I am enjoying myself and of course, compliments me on how beautiful I am. For weeks after he will talk about what a good time he had.

Peter has been raised by a very loving and supportive family. I know it is through his family that he has learned his conversation skills, his strong work ethics, his sense of humour and his compassion. I am truly blessed to be able to have Peter and his family in my life. I believe that when we surround ourselves with positive people like Peter and his family, we remain strong, happy and positive ourselves.

Thank you Peter for being my friend!

What Scares You

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Lately, this Eleanor Roosevelt quote has been rolling around in my mind. I am in the midst of change and someone, somewhere said ‘that change is as good as a holiday’. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s correct and may very well research that statement, post the writing of this article… maybe it should be the other way around but not today.

So, as I have been thinking about this season of Change and all things New I decided that I would embrace Eleanor’s words of wisdom and do exactly what she said.

Thus far, I’m happy to report that I have taken risks in business and moved out of my comfort zone. I have done something as simple as tackled a new recipe that kind of scared me – I really wasn’t sure what all the ingredients were. I have embraced the ocean and through the help of my lovely girlfriend, Darlene, I have conquered my fear of ‘what’s below’. That was a big one for me and I can’t tell you how much fun I have had, frolicking freely in the open sea…. well, maybe not totally open since I am typically within 100 meters of the shore. For me, that’s freedom and that was conquering a big fear. Through study and the wise teaching of Beth Moore, I have faced some of the deeper issues in my life that I have tended to ‘sweep under the carpet’. I won’t say it’s been easy but it’s been releasing and a new sense of freedom is worth facing the things I’ve faced.

Today, I did another thing that scared me and I now find myself sitting, almost giddy, thinking about what I’ve done. It’s like a little high with endorphins flying around my body. These may be baby steps but as we all know, baby steps lead us to big steps and big steps coupled with the wisdom learned along the way, give us the strength to climb mountains and believe for even greater things.

Thank You Mrs. Roosevelt for encouraging me to ‘Do It Scared’ and to ‘Repeat’. What will I do tomorrow?

And, as a side note for those who know me well or who have listened to GetRealLive Radio…. I even asked my youngest if she would like to get a kitten. To understand what this means tune in and listen, you’ll soon learn 🙂

Susan xx


Finding Joy After the Grief – One Woman’s Story about Loss

Today, we had the honour of hosting Lauren Chapman-Black on GetRealLive Radio. Lauren shared her story about walking her husband, Chad, through the pain of bowel cancer. Not only did she walk her husband through his battle but on the journey as well, her two young sons. 

After celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Lauren and her husband were dealt a card they didn’t expect. This lovely little family (2 boys then aged 2 & 4) faced the reality of a life without a husband and father. What would that look like? Would he be healed? Could they have the ‘Happy Ever After’ Story?

Listen on Demand as Lauren shares openly and very honestly about how she was able to Find Joy After the Grief.

You can listen to Lauren on GetRealLive Radio here:


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Breast Cancer ~ A Story of Survival

Well friends, in light of the amazing Angelina Jolie story, and her brave decision to under-go double mastectomy, we thought it would be appropriate to have a conversation on GetRealLive Radio about Cancer.

So, we chose to talk to one of the most courageous survivors we know. A woman who, at the tender age of 39, discovered something that just wasn’t normal and thus her journey began. A young mother of two who should have been planning a fabulous 40th birthday celebration, but rather found herself filling out forms and ticking boxes, preparing for the unknown that was before her.

Our guest, Diane Christoffel, joined us today and spoke openly and honestly about her journey, her fears, the challenges and what today looks like for her. Listen in and hear as she talks about staring death in the face and choosing life, hear how she walked her children through the story of a mother with cancer and how she made sure they kept living, whilst wondering if she would do the same. Hear her talk about her husband and his tender love and care for her and how her Faith played such a huge part as she listened to the wisdom of her Doctors. Diane’s story is one of courage, fear and survival. She is a Cancer survivor. What does today look like for this survivor…. you’ll love hearing the cheeky joy as she laughs her way through her new battle, night sweats and hormone changes.

This is a definite must listen. Download it, play it whilst you workout, drive to work or pick up the kids, whilst making dinner, whatever the case may be just make sure you listen! Enjoy..

Susan & Nicole

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PrayingforPaisley- Support Here

Okay friends GetRealLive is practicing what we preach and we are doing what we can to help…. Our friends David and Katie Ewing are believing for their newborn daughter, Paisley Mae… They have been told she won’t thrive but we are believing something different and today we are asking for your help…….

Here’s a bit of their story…

David and Katie Ewing have had their first baby and her name is Paisley Mae. Paisley is fighting for her life and at only 7 weeks she has already impacted people around the globe. To learn more about her follow #prayingforpaisley on Twitter & Instagram. We are all standing and believing for this little girl and this amazing family to overcome what Doctors have said is impossible.

We have launched a campaign in efforts to help this family.  We want to see this family thrive in every way possible so we are asking you to give. Give to help cover costs associated with having a child in a NIC unit plus all the other stuff that gets added on….. We are hoping to raise $25,000 so whatever you can give is greatly appreciated….

What Impact will your giving have? You will help with the practical costs and needs that are involved with a young family who thought they would take their baby girl home but have found themselves day-in-day-out standing by a bedside believing that she will come home with them. As you can imagine the cost, not only financial but emotional, etc., is huge!

You can also help by taking a photo of Paisley’s name written on your hand and following the hashtag #prayingforpaisley. Together, we can make a difference in this little girls life… She has already impacted all of us!

To support please click here INDIGOGO/PRAYINGFORPAISLEY

Listen to GetRealLive with Susan and Scott on Blog Talk Radio

Moksha Yoga Hosts ChangetheAge 30 Day Challenge Starting Nov 5th!

Alright People!! It’s time to put into action all that we learned at ChangetheAge on October 11th! Moksha Yoga gave everyone in the audience ONE FREE Month at Moksha Yoga and now it is time for us all to use it!!

Starting Monday November 5th, Moksha Yoga South and West are hosting the ChangetheAge 30 day challenge. This is a great chance for everyone to launch into this as a community and support. GetRealLive wants to follow the stories, experiences the challenges and discover the victories as together we ChangetheAge!!

Not only will your reward be your own personal health, but for all those who complete the challenge you will automatically receive 5 free visits! In addition, to those who cross that finish line you will be entered to win a 3 Month Pass!!

So grab your yoga mat, bring your water bottle and get ready to sweat!! For more on what you need to bring to class click here! Moksha runs several classes so just pick what works for your schedule. It is all about making it work into your daily routine.

Also, when you register please show your ChangetheAge card or let Moksha know that you are part of this movement so you don’t miss out on your chance to win.

Email us at to let us know you are participating so we can journey with you!!

Come on Calgary…let’s inspire each other.

Stay Motivated to Fight Temptations….

Lead us not into temptation!! Isn’t that the prayer we should be praying especially as the holidays approach!! Not only will be tempted by all the  yummy treats, but also to stay inside during those cold winter months. However, in order to maintain your fitness and health goals we need to keep our goals clearly defined and in front of us. Inconvenience can be overcome by preparation and planning ahead. Keep moving to see the pounds keep coming off. Keep motivated to experience what you have already made so many sacrifices for. As you move, so do the pounds.

New research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds that aerobic exercise can actually dampen your desire for the excess things you crave—and not only fast food but also money and material things!

Researchers asked volunteers to run on a treadmill or remain inactive for 30 minutes. Then, everyone played a game in which they had to press buttons to gain—or avoid losing—money. The results: The brain area that controls rewards (like the want for cash) was much more active in those who stayed sedentary than those who worked out

Why is this? It’s all thanks to a neurotransmitter called dopamine that spikes when you’re anticipating a reward. When you exercise the brain is experiences more shots of  dopamine—causing an effect to last for several hours. Since the levels are already peaking in your brain, the dopamine spikes from a reward are blunted post-sweat session, making you less likely to crave them.

So when the temptation hits, get your butt in gear and start moving! Hit the gym, go for a walk or take a bike ride. Activate your body and get the dopamine flowing. It doesn’t cost you anything and the payback is very rewarding.



ChangetheAge Movement Launches with Live Event!

October 11th 2012 was the launch of ChangetheAge Social Health Movement in Calgary Canada. GetRealLive is all about connecting, educating and entertaining people. The message is simple; Your Greatest Asset is YOU!  In Canada, statitiscs prove that 9 million Canadians are diabetic or prediabetic, Heart and Stroke is the #1 killer amongst woman; even above breast cancer. With education and applied knowledge, GetRealLive believes we can ChangetheAge!

We compiled a team of Experts who brought incredible, life transforming information on the night. Through the Live Radio Show and website these experts will continue to bring forth information that will educate Canadians and beyond to live a more holistic, healthy life. These include Naturopathic Doctors and Nutritionists, Arnel and Andrea Beaubrun, Microbiologist and Skin Scientist Marie Bertrand and Fitness Coach Alex Mohtadi.

Moksha Yoga is also all about ChangetheAge!! Everyone at the event received a FREE MONTH at Moksha. This studio will be hosting the ChangetheAge month starting November 5th. You are welcome to start your journey when suits you, but we want to encourage everyone to collectively do this together starting November 5th where we can support and share with each other together!

ChangetheAge is about two things; changing your biological change by cohesively dealing with your food, fitness and skin. It is also about changing the social age, by providing knowledge to individuals to transforms the state of their health within their homes, families, communities and workplaces.

After an electrifying night on October 11th, the future is in your hands! Your journey can begin and GetRealLive wants to be a part of it. If you are interested in sharing your personal journey we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at as your story just may be the inspiration someone else needs to hear.

For those who attended the event, you can access all the experts with incentive and discount by using your ChangetheAge card. For those who did not attend the event, you can access your own ChangetheAge Card by clicking here. Through the Experts, they will be able to assess the specifics needs of every individual and set you on the road to success!

GetRealLive was also proud to highlight and support the Heart and Stroke Foundation through this event. Bracelets were created to raise funds for this incredible organization and if you missed out, you can send your support by clicking here! Susan shared the powerful and touching story of the day she lost her father to heart failure. Tears were flowing and the message of ChangetheAge hit home for so many.

We also want to thank our sponsors and businesses who were generous in their donations towards the night. Thank you to Sparkling Hill which gave one lucky winner a 7 Night Spa Package valued at over $2700!!   MyPakage Undewear gave 100 pairs of undies ensuring that every man went home more comfortable! People also went home winning prizes from Nespresso, Hotel Arts, Raw Bar, Good Earth at Aspen Landing,Moksha Yoga, Skin Science and Skinceuticals. Thanks to Jugo Juice who also gave to all participants of the night!

ChangetheAge is just beginning! Join us November 5th for our ChangetheAge month with Moksha Yoga and keep up to date for more to come!


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