A Phone Call from a 13-year-old Boy that Changes Your Day

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Maya Angelou


Today was one of those days where you are reminded of how important it is to simply be. And by that, I mean fully yourself and engaged in the present. Too much of life is spent chasing what is to come or what could have been and we miss the moments that are right in front of us.

Why did today stand out for me? Allow me to provide a little framework for you. We have been living in Australia for the past five years. Previous to that, we were in Canada (five years) and lived on a street called Whispering Water Bend in Elbow Valley. Many of you have heard me talk about our community and how much we loved living there. We had many friends in that neighbourhood and people who became more like family than friends. The community was designed to allow free flow connectivity which meant none of us had fences around our property. At first, this was a bit daunting, knowing that everyone (if they wanted) could have a bird’s eye view into your home and much of your life. After a while, it became so natural that we didn’t even realise how connected we were.

Between us and the next row of houses, there was a small dip and a little incline up to the houses and the house just to the right of ours was our friends the T’s. They were a young family with two gorgeous boys who were part of the neighbourhood pack. They were probably the youngest of the bunch although their eldest and Ella were the same age. They were the cutest French Canadian boys with their blonde hair, sweet accents and robust personalities.

N (as I refer to him), the eldest of the brothers who, as I mentioned, was the same age as Ella was 3 or 4 when we first moved into the neighbourhood and 9 when we moved out. N loved my cooking and he especially loved my Saturday morning pancakes and most Saturday he could be found on our deck peeking through the window hoping for someone to be up and gently knocking in an effort to come in and join us for what I learned, from his mum, was usually his second breakfast. We always made sure there were extra pancakes for our little visitor and he warmed my heart every time I saw him at the door. It didn’t matter what season either. It could be -25 and there his sweet face was, knocking at the glass door.

Today as I sat about my work day my phone rang and up came a number from Canada. At first, I wasn’t going to answer, thinking it was probably some telemarketer but curiosity got the best of me. I answered and all I heard was, ‘Hello, Miss Susan, it’s N.’ My heart melted and I was immediately transported back to my kitchen bench on Whispering Water Bend with this sweet boy knocking at my door.

We had the best chat. He told me about his school and how much he likes Grade 7. He told me that his little brother, H, was ranked #2 in B.C. for tennis. He told me about his swimming, rugby and every other sport he was in. We had the most incredible conversation and I was so happy to hear this sweet, confident, articulate boy on the other end of the phone. He told me he had been scrolling through my Instagram photos and missed me so wanted to call me. He asked if he could call again on the weekend and talk to Ella and chat with us more regularly. To which I replied, ‘of course, we would love it.’

Now I know I sound like I’m 85 right now but his call made me reflect on life and the quote from Maya Angelou above. N probably doesn’t remember many of the conversations or chats we had when he was little but he must have remembered how we made him feel in our home. He was welcomed, he was cherished and he was loved. And today, through our short conversation before his swimming lesson that was prompted by my Instagram account, he paid that forward in such a rich way. The words we exchanged were simple updates about life and what he was doing but the bigger thing that happened, he made me feel wonderful. He reminded me of how much being present to presence matters.

I think I needed that reminder today. I’ve been busy and almost too busy to even take the call from the unknown Canadian number. Imagine what I would have missed had I ignored the call of presence.

Thank you, N.

The Beauty of Broken Women

WomenAre broken women the new black? Have the tables finally turned on the demands of perfectionism for women? After all, isn’t perfectionism the thin veil we hide behind that keeps us safe from people seeing the real us? Is perfectionism actually the wet blanket that keeps us safe because we fear that the world or people won’t really like us or like what they see….. because, in all honesty, the perfectionist doesn’t like herself?

If that’s the case then why has the myth of superwoman and the craziness of perfect overridden who we really are? Have we allowed this? Did we get sucked into a narrative that caused us to deny the truth of who we are or where we are in life? Have we denied the fragmentation of our lives so much that we’ve limped through in an effort to be who others needed us to be? Have we, in fact, denied ourselves?  Aren’t we all broken in some way, shape or form? I know I’ve lived through brokenness. Through broken dreams, broken heart, and pain that has run deep at times.

I love the words so eloquently crafted in Brene Brown’s ‘Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted‘ it resonates with me. In my book that is coming out in December (published by Broadstreet Publishing) I share stories of women who have been broken and have found that resilience is their strength to carry on.

I’m posing this question (to whoever reads this) for a number of reasons.

1) because I believe wholeheartedly that we need to live free of shame and guilt and out of the shadows of our pain that have kept us hidden.

2) I’m seeing brokenness everywhere and it’s like there is this gravitational pull towards it. People are finding their voice in and through others who are choosing to be real.

3) We are all tired of fake. It’s old. It’s a killer and it’s exhausting.

4) If we are always focussing on the future or what’s next, we are being robbed of the truth of today. That message is telling us to ignore what’s real today and just look to the future for healing and goodness. All the good stuff seems to be somewhere else and the awkward, uncomfortable and painful are dismissed.

5) Pain and brokenness isn’t a bad thing that needs to be ignored or swept under the carpet.

If we look at some of the strong influential voices right now they have all stood up and bravely spoken out about their truth, their pain and their brokenness; Brene Brown, Glennon Melton Doyle, Jen Hatmaker, Diana Butler Bass, Anne Lamont, Lisa Gungor, Jaime Wright (just to name a few). This is something I’ve done in my book, I did my best to weave my own story throughout the stories of countless women that I interviewed across the globe. It’s a work that I’m super excited to share although fully anticipating a vulnerability hangover….. but guess what? That’s okay and I won’t be alone.

I was talking to someone the other day about the book, which by the way is called, ‘You are More’ and I said that I feel like it’s going to be another opportunity for people to EXHALE. I, on the other hand, will be holding my breath until I hear from some of you who read it :).

Consider some of the recent popular shows on TV: The Handmaid’s Tale. We are fascinated by the insanity of the show. Gilead is a totalitarian society ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property. Apparently, this was written based on aspects taken from certain countries which is the craziness of it all. Viewers are equally captivated and absolutely freaked out about the fact that ‘it could be’ and rather than ‘praise be’ they are saying, ‘what the actual’? Through this show, we watch Offred played by Elizabeth Moss become more and more broken and it’s her that we relate to. Her pain is real. Her lived experience painfully close to home for many whether it be through rape, control or loss of identity. Her facial expressions alone allow us to process our own pain as her character lives through hers.

What about Big Little Lies? A cast of A-list actresses (Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz) play incredible characters. Immaculately dressed suburban mothers, successful husbands, stunning children and incredible homes. They are seemingly living lives of envy yet beneath the sheen and gloss there are rumours, fractured relationships between couples, parents and children and friendships. Characters endure domestic violence, there is the addiction to drugs, alcohol and careers. Pain is riddled through the storyline and again, viewers are captivated because finally, we are getting a glimpse into reality.

Life isn’t perfect, we don’t live in a world void of pain, sadness, rejection. Yes, tomorrow is another day and maybe the best is yet to come but for most, today is all that can be dealt with and thankfully we are finally in a place where we are saying enough is enough. Let me process, let me feel this and let me walk through it at my own speed because (as you’ll hear me say in my book) when the truth is out, we can walk through anything. Let’s stop with the shame and blame game and let’s give ourselves and everyone else permission to be whether that be broken, fractured or put back together and putting one foot in front of the other.

Let’s put on our pom poms and cheer each other on one step at a time and accept that it’s okay not to be okay.

Lastly, interested in making a change in your life? Applications are now open for the GetRealLive Retreat and we would love to host you. Spots are limited so apply now and be with us.

The Message of the Table

A number of years ago my parents made the big decision to move from our farm and family home into our small, very quaint town. As many of you know, a move like this is huge. With well over 30 years, 4 children plus countless family members and friends who have created memories in the home and on the property, it was a big task. Read More

Why we need to love ourselves crazy

LoveI recently watched the new Amy Schumer movie ‘I Feel Pretty‘, and all I can say is if you haven’t watched it yet. GO. It’s hilarious and has such a good girl power message to it. Grab your girlfriends and your daughters and see it. That’s what I did, and I promise you will laugh. I haven’t laughed so hard in a movie since watching ‘Why Him‘ another hilarious movie but not one I’d recommend for a girls night out with your friends and daughters. But, if your movie filter is a little broken, then it’s another movie you might want to watch if you need a crazy belly laugh.

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How I told my family to F*!# Off, and I’m still a great Mum

familyIt’s true. I did it.

I always thought I would hold it together. I’d never be one of ‘those mums’. But I guess I underestimated the power of perimenopausal hormones and the sheer frustration of modern life. Who knew I could stoop so low and tell the ones I love more than anyone else on this planet to ‘f*#* off’?

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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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Princess Cruise for a Day

I am heading off on a three-day cruise next week without the company of my family. Instead I am travelling with a friend of mine that I have known my entire life! We are celebrating our birthday on the cruise as we share the same day. For those interested, you’ll see some of our adventures on social media (Instagram & Facebook) because like any good social media girl, I’ve bought the deluxe drink package + wifi!!!! Disconnected yet a little connected.

For now, allow me to take you on a trip back through time to the first cruise experience we had as a family. It was a massive joint family endeavour; the five of us, my sisters family and her three kids, my brothers family and his four kids and my mum… Enjoy!

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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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Social Media, Teens and the Judgement We Pass

Social Media

Social Media… it’s a jungle out there.

Firstly, let me say that I have been guilty of what I’m about to write. Why am I writing and exposing myself and possibly many of you who are reading? I’m writing because we need to address ‘Social Media, Teens and the Judgement We Pass’. We are raising teenagers and I’ve had a gut full of the harmful chatter. It’s time to say something.

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