Happy Birthday to Me: Lessons I Learned in my 30’s

Six Lit Birthday Candles

So, this is 40 and I could not be happier.  This time last year I feared turning 39, the age that would make me older than my mom at her passing. Subsequently, my dear husband and loved ones surprised me with a fantastic party.  Friends from all over sent well wishes and precious gifts with kindness.

I still have those days of guilt, like why did I get to live when my mom didn’t? Then, I feel extra guilty because that thought it is not fair to my girls. When I got hit with the tests that revealed that I needed a hysterectomy fast, I got very scared. I became wrapped up in getting my household ready while I was in great pain. I avoided my emotional pain through distractions that included making sure my husband knew our youngest’ therapy schedule, amongst other details.


When I woke up in ICU after the surgery, I was filled with exhilaration. My giddiness made the staff think they gave me too much morphine.  At that time I did not know if my journey to good health would be on hold, or be okay. Some days it feels like I have lived 1000 lifetimes. If only I could go back to my 20s to teach myself then what I know now. But, would I have really been the same person today if I did?


The biggest lesson I have learned in my 30’s is to rid my world of the toxic people and the Negative Nellies. I used to sweat when people would not ‘like’ me, or I would try lame attempts to be their friend. What I did not rationalize is why would I want them as friends? “Mean Girls” became Mean Moms. Life is too short to not surround myself with loved ones who see me in the good, and especially important the bad times.

Could Have/Should Have

I used to think that if I knew that I was going to be a new mom in my 30s I would have done things differently. I would have traveled more, saved more money and tried another shot at a career.  If I went through the other door, would I still of had my girls?

Do What I Love Now.

Doing what I love is the sanest and simplest way to be the best me. I began writing when my oldest was just a baby. In between naps, diapers and tantrums, writing became my vice. It did not matter if I was sleep deprived, I felt my creative self being fed constantly.  Writing has evolved to a part-time career that I can do from home.

The last lesson I learned this decade was to trust my instincts.  In my 20’s, I did not listen to my inner voice enough. This decade, I began to fine-tune my gut instinct enough to rely on it. When I steer from it, a roadblock appears. Go figure.

As I enter the Fab 40’s, I am showing more gratitude for today. It is the only one I have.

What have you liked/disliked about a certain age? Any lessons have I missed?

Does Grief Ever Go Away?

photo-17I am frozen mid-step. My eyes are burning in hopes to not be recognized. The bright sun does nothing to warm my heart. I sheepishly look down at my phone as the woman passes, hoping she does not stop. Instinctively I raise a hand to my heart to try to get it started again.

Damn. I feel the tears rise in my eyes as I race to my car. Fumbling my key in the lock, I finally get it as the waterworks open. My heart is on the floor again.

I thought it would get easier as time wore on. What a load of crap.

I see the woman stride over to the entrance to her shop, a store I may never go in again. I hope she did not see me. I could not bear the questions or the idle chitchat that makes grief so hard to swallow. I could not help it. Opening my mouth was not an option.

It has been two weeks since I have seen her and her staff to fill my order. I have no idea if I will be in there again. The pain is too raw.

For the first time in 19 years, our home floors do not have the echo of our four-legged boys. A short while ago, our beloved Indy passed away. IT was the most excruciating task I have ever done as a parent, to deliver the news to our oldest girl that he died. I can still hear him through our walls, whining for breakfast. Or hear the click of his claws on the hardwood, racing to jump on my lap.

A realization answers my question. Every time a loved one passes, it opens up the old wounds. With that, I know I am never going to be grief-free. It is about going one day at a time.

Labour Day of the Heart: #IVF

School Supplies

Labour day means so many things to different people. It began as a day off for front-line workers. It merged into the last long weekend of the summer before kids started school. To spend lazy afternoons camping with the kids or having friends over for a BBQ is the norm these days. When I think of kids I think of the birthing day (aka THE Labour Day.) When you become pregnant, the Birthing/Labour day is the finish line. For some women, they just want to start the journey to motherhood.
Back-To-School campaigns can make some people sad. They cry on Labour Day. As kids go back to school, government returns to session. Now that the election is completed, I wonder if the government is considering in adding to the health care policy to include funding for IVF treatments.
Currently, many women transfer multiple embryos during IVF, in hopes that one will grow into a baby. Often, twins, triplets and quads end up with families that were trying to just have one baby. Multiple births can be costly over the lifetime of the children and the mother. There are many maternal health risks and health care challenges for multiples, like lifetime illnesses, disabilities and more.

As it says in this article: it can help all of us as taxpayers.There are many people trying to help moms be moms by supporting the initiative to have IVF publicly funded for them. If you are suffering from infertility, check out the site for information and support.

As I pack up for my own young daughters to get ready for school, I see how Labour Day can be hard for many women wanting to be in my shoes. I hope our province can join the many other places like Quebec and Australia who help families be born.

Do you know anyone who is suffering from infertility and trying to save up for treatments? Are they foregoing many things to help fund it? Please send them here for more information.

Back to School can mean back to Families First in this Province this fall.

Disclosure: I am a valued member of the #IVF4BC blog team. As such, I received compensation, but my opinion on this blog is my own.

From the Archives: My Mama Aha Moment

me and my mom

My eyes drink in the last sentence as I close Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman. I click the nightlight off to make the room dark so my darling husband can keep sleeping. I stare at the ceiling that is illuminated by the clock radio at the foot of the bed.

My heart is racing with a newfound warp speed. Feeling like I could float out of this bed, what I just read clears the dark fog that has enveloped me since my mom died. For the first time since she died I feel like someone truly knows what I went, and am going, through.

Throughout the pages I absorbed other woman’s’ stories of how they learned to live with the pain. What struck me was the message to give myself-the power to accept her passing and allow myself permission to grieve.

After her passing (I was ten), I was not allowed to talk about her because it would upset my dad, sister or grandma. To bury the empty void she left plagued me until now. It is how I have been parenting my young girls; hide the grief until it boils over into my present life. It harmed my soul.

I watch the car lights flicker through the blinds realizing the stories I started writing about missing my mom was opening the floodgates. Every piece I pen allows me to voice the immense grief. It may be the reason why I am so motivated to write. I started to write my mom stories in fear that I will have the same fate as my mom. Now, it fills a lost void that she leaves to this day.

Today marks the twenty-sixth anniversary that I stood in her hospital room and said good-bye.

Tonight is the first time I am grieving unabashedly. I let go to grieve, to wash away the pain so I can be more present for my daughters. They deserve it. I close my eyes but I am not tired. Tears of relief slide down my cheeks. I am feeling like I am a hot air balloon that has been lost and now grounded.

I cry myself into my dreams.

Before the alarm goes off, I am pounced by my three-year-old wanting breakfast. I hug her tight. I hug her tight feeling young and free.

In many ways I am.

Last Happy Picture of Me and My mom

By the Time You Read This…

Hospital Sign

The birds start chirping before I realize that the morning is about to begin. I have no idea how long I have been awake, or if I slept at all. This day has been months, if not years in the making. I do not need to put my glasses on to know it is too early for me to shower. Thank goodness. My heart and head are still trying to process the itinerary for today.

I will be staring at four, pale pastel walls. Either I’ll be having a long nap or waiting to go in the operating room. Right now, I am in limbo to find out if it’s my turn with the cancer card. I’ve avoided it for 39 years now. As I said here in Erica Ehm’s post, I made time for me, so I can be here for my girls. Weeks ago an ultrasound gave concrete proof that my body has been fighting fibroids. More tumours are trying to reside here.

Because of my cancer history the doctors are not waiting to biopsy. My uterus, and possible more parts, has been given their eviction notice. I do see the rational side of the procedure and there will be relief to have it all gone. No more debilitating cycles that has robbed me of time to have fun with my family. I may be 39 years old but, I want my mommy! I want her to tell me all those reassuring ‘mom-isms’. I need her to tell me the magic words, “It will be okay.” I am scared.

I hear the birds starting their morning song. I take a deep from-my-toes cleansing breath, and place my brave face on to kiss my husband good morning. I repeat again and again that everything will be okay as I take my pre-op shower. History will not repeat itself. It cannot.

As I recover from whatever results in today, this site will show a variety of new and archived posts. By the time you read this, .. let’s be real, I will be dreaming of a glass of chardonnay. xo

One of My Favorite Things About Being a Mom #KCT

#KCT 1

My cheeks are burning with heat inside the chill of the arena. I zoom around the corner, waving to my mom as I pull up into a flip. When I land, I feel a sense of great accomplishment. I did it!  I whirl around to see if my mom saw it. Yes! She’s standing up, clapping wildly.

“Mom! Look at me!” I snap out of my reverie as my six-year-old zooms by on her bike. Her determination to ride well so she can let go of the training wheels is written on her bright face. She speeds past me while balancing in the middle, not using her training wheels.  I know I can relate to needing mom’s approval for accomplishments.

I turn and see my four-year-old squealing down the slide. It’s her first year to do this all by herself without one of us helping her up the playground apparatus. With all her challenges and delays, her confidence grows daily.

The playground has been recently updated because of the fundraising efforts of local parents. The old equipment was old and unsafe. As a parent, I am grateful for the new equipment.  Not every community has the opportunity to upgrade, yet so many parks and community centers are in need of update and/or repair.

The Kraft Celebration Tour recognizes the passion and community spirit that brings people together and promotes healthy, active lifestyles from coast to coast.  Since 2009, the Kraft Celebration Tour has helped hundreds of thousands of Canadians in 40 deserving communities with a total of $1 million toward projects such as:

  • Building a skateboard park
  • Upgrading a sports field
  • Improving a boxing facility
  • Renovating a community youth center

Did you have a neighborhood park nearby where you spent time playing with your friends, or a trail on which you loved to walk your dog? Nominate them to win $25,000 to create something new or make something better – oh, and a broadcast with TSN! And nominations are being accepted until June 7th!

To nominate a community, Canadians are asked to submit a short essay and up to five photos explaining why their community deserves to be a part of the Kraft Celebration Tour and how the $25,000 community award will go towards the creation or improvement of a local community space.  The essay should also touch upon how the award would help promote community spirit, a passion for sports, and an active lifestyle.

“Through the Kraft Celebration Tour, we’ve been able to continue our tremendous partnership with Kraft Canada and give back to deserving Canadians across the country,” said Stewart Johnston, President, and TSN.  “For the past four years, the communities that are honoured and the stories that are told by the Kraft Celebration Tour help remind us how fortunate we are to live in such a diverse and beautiful country filled with countless remarkable people.  To be a part of something as special as this program is an honour for all of us at TSN and we can’t wait to head out on the road again.”

On June 30, TSN and RDS will announce the 20 finalists selected by a panel of judges.  Then it’s up to Canada to decide the 10 winning Kraft Celebration Tour stops via 10 weekdays of head-to-head online voting beginning July 8.

Also we’d love for you to check out their Facebook page too

One of my favorite things about being a mom is playing with my kids at the park.  They grow up so fast, sometimes you just have to ditch the dirty dishes. Playtime is so important for the whole family.  Even though my mom died a long time ago, a big part of my childhood memories is hanging out with her in our neighborhood.

Kraft Celebration Tour TSN Eng 4C

Disclosure – I am participating in the Kraft Celebration Tour Blogger Campaign. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.

I am Humbled and Honoured to be Nominated

Top BloggerA few weeks ago after nominations for Vancouver Mom Top Bloggers were sent out, I found out through the grapevine that a few loved ones had sent in my blog for consideration. Well, last week I was short-listed.

I have been given amazing opportunities because of my writing that have been priceless, and have had the privilege in meeting many fabulous people.

With readers like you I feel like I have achieved so much, and can’t wait to see where my proverbial pen takes me next.

If you would like to vote for me, click me on the link and vote for Motherless Moments.

Thank you.



If you are in town and want to join in on the party on June 19th, register here.(link)  Use code 2013friend to save $5.00 off of a regular ticket. See you there!

My Instant Interview with Nia Vardalos


I had the opportunity to sit down and read an advanced copy of Nia Vardalos’s book, Instant Mom, before interviewing her about her book, daughter, movies and writing.

Yes, I was both enamored and nervous by the experience of a writer’s, and former foster kid’s dream. I remained as cool as I could until the end of my prepared questionnaire, when she turned the tables on me. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did talking with her.

I loved the book. I am a former foster kid. It really needed to be out there.

Thank you Danielle. I am terrified that it is getting out there. I love meeting kids like you that are living completely fulfilled lives. This stigma has got to be erased now.

Agreed. When did you feel the need to be a mom?

 I have felt that need from the time I got married. It’s a quiet voice that got louder and louder as each attempt was unsuccessful. The analogy of the sound of the fan over your stove that is whirring in your ear and driving you nuts, that you don’t even realize its there until you turn it off. That’s what it was like when I found my daughter.

Before you got married, you told Ian that you wanted to adopt. Why?

It is a strange thing that I have often encountered with parents, who have adopted, that they had said it early on that they were going to adopt. I don’t think it’s some mystical calling.  It’s larger than us, and I knew it from the minute I met my daughter. My first thought was, “ Oh, I found you.”

How has your relationship changed since meeting your daughter?

At the beginning, it was fantastic. She called me Mommy very quickly. Then once she came to live with us, that transition was challenging. So daunting. I realized that this is not a book about adoption; this is a book about how all mothers feel at the beginning. You are so overwhelmed. You’re so afraid.  My mom just very calmly said, “All moms feel this way.” It was so calming. Those little few words made me go-okay. And now, all my daughter and I do is laugh. It’s a great relationship. It’s positive and we are open about her history. I acknowledge her DNA so that she understands that it is a graft that formed for our family. You don’t try to envelop the child in any way that cuts off their past.

If you knew about the fos-adopt route ten years ago, would you have gone through less IVF treatments?

Yes, I would have. I know myself. I am so stubborn that I think that I would have still had to see it through for the knowledge that it brought me. The feeling of just saying,  ‘this is when I am done.’ So I don’t discourage anyone who says, ‘ I am going to do it. I know there are children out there but I want to have my own biological child.’ I say ‘That is your God-given right.’ Don’t try it. Do it. I offer this information as an option. For people who say, ‘No way am I putting my body through IVF.’ Or ‘No way am I doing an adoption, or trying to go overseas.’

When did you have time to write the book while being a mom? Because I know it was done in real time and present tense. Did you write as you went through the experiences, or did you go back?

That is an excellent question. I kept a tiny lined journal.  I would write little moments like not sleeping 20 minutes. Things like that because I wanted to tell her story one day. I thought it would be good for her to know for when did I start to trust you? When did I let you kiss me? Just like with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we would be out at a party and someone would say, ‘ I hear you are a mom now. Where did you get the baby from?  I would say, ‘Actually she’s not a baby, ‘ and I started to tell the story. Within 10 minutes there would be 20 women standing around me weeping. I can’t be the person telling my stories while making people weepy I thought so I started to talk to my agent. She was new at my agency and she said, “Hey, you have become a mom under unconvential means, I think this might be a book. Let’s take it out and see. “ I said, No way.’ I am way to private. And when my daughter started school, I realize in that moment as she was walking away that is such a full circle. So that’s when I decided to get brave and sit down and write. Just compile all the notes. It took me a year. I don’t think I’ve ever cried more, but it was cathartic.

It really showed in the way you presented it. It was like we were having coffee as you told it. Thank you. It made it a very readable story, and emotional too.

I’m glad to hear it. I toyed with making it funny because it is what I’m known for. But I just thought it would do it a disservice to the truth. So, I decided to be honest with my daughter, and just tell her the truth. It’s quite liberating to say, ‘ Hey this happened.’

Do you have any advice for moms who want to write their own story? Or other mother writers who want to start a blog or book or something?

Yes, I do say this all the time when I teach screenwriting.’ Don’t look at the whole, just look at it one word at a time. If you set up trying to write a screenplay or a book, it’s so overwhelming you might stop.’ It would be like saying I’m going to run a marathon; as opposed to I’m going to walk around the block.

It’s almost like a scene.

Exactly! It’s like a scene at a time. It’s actually how I wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I took all the stories and put them together into one story at a time, then threaded them together in the span of the year.

That is great advice.

Yes it’s simple, and I do think that women are natural storytellers. I think that we are all communicators. We have the ability to write, way more than we think we can.

What is the take-away for potential parents to know about the fos-adopt programs? The resources at the back of the book are great.

Sometimes people think you have to be heroic to do something, to take on more than you can handle. That’s why I wanted to talk about the parents I have met.

Everything that is offered to you I think should come to all parents.

A reader, Kathy, asks, “What do you think is the difference between growing up in Winnipeg and raising your daughter in LA?”

It’s a very big difference, and that’s why we are so strict with toys, treats and things like that. We are appalled by the entitled attitude of a lot of Los Angeles people. I remember being in Neiman Marcus in the children’s department. My daughter was in the corner playing with the display that they have set up, probably wrecking it. A woman was returning an item and didn’t have a receipt, she was reaming out the clerk in front of her own nine-year-old daughter. It was so disgusting to me that this was happening, I had to step in.’ I just have to say this is a terrible life lesson that you are teaching your daughter right now. Please, can you watch your language?’ The customer huffed out of there. By the way, I have that pepper spray on my keychain I always carry around. The shop clerk looked down and saw that and said ‘ Can I borrow that?’

I worked in retail for over 15 years. I would have loved more customers like you.

Well thank you. It’s the Winnipeg, and for me, it’s the Canadian way. We are taught manners. The whole time I was growing up I never heard my mother tell anybody off. She always dealt with situations with diplomacy.

 Love of your mom, that’s what got me. Yes, my mom died when I was 10. Anytime I hear daughters appreciate moms, especially when you become a mom, just makes my heart swell.  She is such an amazing mom, grandma to your girl.

Thank you. The Core, my group of friends, surrounds me; we all have that appreciation of our parents. Recently, they told me, “Tell your friends, thanks for spending time with the old fogies.’ Mom, you are fascinating. We love having you around. We have such appreciation, every day, especially at this age. Every day with our parents is a gift.

Question from Twitter. You may have already seen the tweet.

Anthony Field from The Wiggles would like to know, “ Do you know how good My Big Fat Greek Wedding is?”

Wait a minute; Anthony from The Wiggles, and I Retweteed that?


Oh my, I love it! Oh, I am so excited. Ok. First of all, love The Wiggles.

They are amazing. We got to meet them.

So tell him, the appreciation and admiration is mutual. Do you know how great The Wiggles are?

I will!

I know I have to wrap up as time is moving on. I would like to get personal. A few years ago when you joined Twitter, you and I chatted a few times. I sent my children’s book to you for your daughter called, Harley.

That’s it Danielle. I knew it. I knew it was you! I love your book. Ok. Now, I remember.

I still have the kind thank you note that you wrote me back. You hand wrote a note. How cool are you?

How cool are you to send me your book. Yes, I remember everything. Wow, that’s a blur of time too.

I wanted to write it for my kids. I did not care for a publisher to change anything, so we did it our way.

Which I loved, I think I said that. I think I referenced your book to somebody who was talking about doing a blog with pictures, and I said someone sent me a book with pictures of her cat for her kid. This is crazy. I have it. It’s still in my daughter’s room. We have it. We love it.

I am blushing.

I am so glad we reconnected.

Me too.

See my review of her book. Buy her book here.

Thank you Nia and Harper Collins for the book and this opportunity.