Grace, Glory & Love

10670074_10152767021582254_6859924459435006058_nWe shared the same Irish DNA, Dana and I. My grandfather Welch, was her great grandfather…her father, my first cousin. She got the red hair, I got the green eyes.

I remember when she was born…funny that…as I don’t remember many other births of children when I myself was a child…outside of my baby sister’s. I think I remember Dana because of that ginger hair and those curls.

A decade apart in age, by the time she started school, I had left the small island fishing village where both our stories started. Our paths crossed sporadically over the years and then about 8 years ago we reconnected…via Facebook of all things.

I was back living in the North, she in the BC Fraser Valley. We had both started blogging. Dana even landed a contract with the Huffington Post. The blog posts and the woman behind them quickly garnered a large following. I was among them.

980481_344756642315277_3546972887458950953_oI don’t know much about Dana’s life after she left the island, but I know it wasn’t easy…until she met Mike. Her King, she called him. Her, his Queen.

We corresponded back and forth over the years…a few emails, mostly private messages on Facebook….and of course our blogs. Hers was about helping…mine about healing. We laughed about some family things…we cried about others.

I remember when she said she was taking a writing class…I was afraid that she’d lose who she was by ‘conforming’ to someone else’s style…and I told her. She didn’t…it gave her confidence.

Then came the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer….#fuckcancer became her battle cry and those of us on her team circled the wagons and vowed there would be no “you poor thing” emails, messages, or blubbering conversations.

Well right now…I want to burn the fucking wagons, kick the shit of out something…scream into the cold dark night. But I don’t.

Instead I melt into a blubbering mess…sobbing my heart out as I try to find the right words to honour my friend. Dana never considered herself a ‘cancer patient’. Her response was to live each day with “Grace, Glory & Love”.

535447_10151292147247254_1720503241_nShe loved vintage clothes, but not many things got her more excited than a kick ass pair of shoes. I remember her delight when I told her about a pair of bright orange stilettos I had…and what I called them. Now THAT makes me smile.7e14ec3d00463c64d8cf6724c1fc9874

I remember sharing a couple of memories about her mother, Nancy, whom had also died young…and how Dana always planted a new rose bush each year in her memory. I like to imagine the two of them together in a field of roses, or baking bread…hmmmm, another smile.

14448775_10154382213357254_6003122785937245351_nWhen she first shared her diagnosis almost 2 years ago, I told her that while I hadn’t been a major player, I had always been on her team. Nothing would change that.

After I received word of Dana’s passing during the early morning of Christmas Eve…I cried. A lot. Just when I thought I’d cried myself dry of tears….the flood gates would open again. Many of those tears for my own loss, some were for the shortness of Dana’s life….most were for her family; her three children, her three grandchildren…two Princes and a new Princess, and for her King. God, she loved them all fiercely. And I cried for her extended family who have been through so much grief in recent years. My heart felt like it was being torn from my chest…like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t imagine their pain.

Serendipity. Luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for. Fortunate happenstance.

A few days after her death, I was back on my computer, revisiting Dana’s blog at  and reading the posts shared on her Facebook page. When I couldn’t read through the tears anymore, I started just scrolling through my own Facebook page when a post popped up in my news feed about a piece of art that was for sale in a nearby town.

I immediately called the artist and had the piece purchased within minutes of the post. It’s an eight and a half foot high piece of driftwood, painted to look like the Aurora Borealis…or Northern Lights. I call it ‘Dana’ in her honour.

15782630_1852385068306404_1621807652_nStretching and reaching as high as she can….overcoming all the odds, the awkward little tree became a thing of immense beauty. All it took was the right person to find her and bring out her shine…her sparkle…her limitless potential. To love her unconditionally. My ‘Dana’ will hold a place of honour outside at our home. Beneath the warm sunshine of our long summer days and under the moonlight of our cold, dark nights she will continue to reach high and dance with the stars. Like the Aurora, twirling her vintage skirts of green and pink …with perhaps just a whisper of leopard print beneath the folds…to keep it interesting…and unique. Like the Dana for whom she is named. One of a kind. A gift to all of us blessed enough to enter her sphere.

The circle of life continues to spin. A birth, a death…and in between, life. Dana’s legacy is a reminder to grab that bit between our birth and our death and run with it. To be fearless. To be true to who we each are…to not conform. Adjust that crown…even if it’s a tad tarnished, hold your head high and wear it with pride. Life is short. Buy the damned shoes. And Dana….#fuckcancer. ❤


Photo Credits: Used with permission from Mike O’Dell

Photo of Dana wearing crown of roses by Sarah Sovereign Photography

All other photos of Dana by Mike O’Dell, who ‘saw’ her ❤

Driftwood Art by Natacha Kruger Rewega Paintings

Fun with Dick and Jane

read-think-learn-logo1Sitting in the coolness of my three room schoolhouse that first fall day, I still remember how excited I was…for one thing. I wanted to read more than I wanted to breathe.

It was 1957, and I hadn’t yet turned 5 years old. Given that my birthday was only two weeks after the opening of the school year, I was afforded the opportunity to begin the year at the very young age of 4. I expect my mother was grateful. She had another toddler at home and would have an infant due in early December. With me, the eldest, in school, it gave her some breathing space to prepare for the baby and get more accomplished in her days.

Mrs. Garron, with her movie star looks, and perfectly coiffed blonde curls, passed out our readers, the first of the Dick and Jane series. I felt my heart skip a beat….all of these letters!! Letters that made words!!


Words that made sentences and sentences that made stories!!! Surely, to read must be the most wonderful ability on earth!

I don’t recall my parents reading to me. Nor my grandparents. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in school that I remember anyone reading to me. That is probably about the same time that Kay Kenney entered my life as a Sunday School teacher.

I used to daydream that Mrs. Kenney was my mother…for the sole purpose of having her read to me. She had the most wonderful voice … her enunciation gave life to characters, emotions, and even the elements such as the pitter patter of raindrops.

Words were magical…albeit mystifying. There are certain words that can still make me smile as I recall how I thought their pronunciation nonsensical.


Why, for instance, was island pronounced EYE-land, when clearly, as the 100% on my spelling test clearly demonstrated Is and Land are two separate words, and when joined together should sound the same, except holding hands…ISland? I was four years old and just learning to read, yet I was also just beginning to grasp the complexities of the English language.

To remember certain words, and the correct spelling, my father used various methods to drill them into my head. It was always my father, with his half completed Grade 8 education, that helped me with my homework. Two words in particular that I learned under my father’s tutelage stick out for me. Electric is one. He taught me to spell it in a sing-song cadence: eLeCtRiC….with emphasis on the capitalized letters. The other is February.

I prided myself, and him, on my spelling quizzes and tests, always getting 100%. Until February. Not the month. The word. Febuary. Over and over I practiced as he instructed. I wrote it down, I memorized it and on quiz day, I got it wrong. WHAT???? It can’t be wrong! I insisted. My Daddy had worked with me for two days as it was such a difficult word. ‘Sorry, it’s wrong’ said Mrs Garron through her red painted lips. ‘It’s spelled FebRuary. With two r’s.’

Anger doesn’t begin to describe what I felt toward her in that moment. I stayed quiet the rest of the day and after school I ran home … burst into tears and told my mother…saying unkind things about Mrs Garron. When my mother told me that Mrs Garron was correct I was stunned! How could this have happened?! Suffice it to say, my father felt terrible and took full responsibility for teaching me to spell February incorrectly. I quickly forgave him. Not so my mother and Mrs Garron.

Over the years I have decided that reading truly is the most wonderful ability on earth, for it gives rise to so many others: understanding; compassion; experience; knowledge; courage. I still enjoy reading, although admittedly more for pleasure than for knowledge these days.

learn-to-read-you-will-be-free-forever-300x300My love of reading has passed on to my children whom I read to while they were still in my womb. They are voracious readers, like their mother, often getting lost in a book so deeply the world could end without their knowledge until that last word is devoured. My oldest grandson consumes books at a speed and depth that even I find mystifying. He is 8 and his knowledge of the world around him is astounding. His retention level amazes his parents and teachers. Like his grandmother, he ‘lives’ the book, and often mourns it’s end as he realizes he must bid farewell to it’s characters. But like his grandmother, he will revisit his favourites, time and again in the coming years. Like his Aunt, he reads well beyond his years, but his compression levels make it possible. She read The Grapes of Wrath at his age.

And so, to Mrs Garron, Mrs. Kenney, Mrs Welch, Mrs Hooper…and all of those mentors and teachers that lifted me up from a child of four that tolerated school with one end in mind, I say thank you. My mind, my heart, and life … owe you all a huge debt of gratitude. And on this cold FEBUARY day, I lift up my words to my father and am thankful for his instruction in my life.

Daring to Dream


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot  of my life’s journey thus far. Perhaps it’s the time of year…a new year…or my age…the weather…upcoming life changes…or a combination of everything.

At 61, I sometimes just stop, caught by my reflection in the mirror; somedays wondering if I’m really 61; other days questioning if I’m really only 61. You see, it’s all about perspective…and as John Denver sang, some days are diamonds, some days are stone. But from where I sit, right here, right now, every single day is a blessing.

When I was growing up in a little fishing village on Brier Island,  plunked right between the mighty Bay of Fundy, St Mary’s Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, never once did I doubt I’d be successful…in every societal relevant sense of the word. My mother has told me more times than I can count, for as far back as I can remember, how I thought I was better than everyone else. I remember her judgemental tone, the words, feeling like they’d taken physical form, stinging and striking my heart as they venomously slipped through her pinched lips.


I know now her words were a result of her own pain from never realizing her own dreams…but I didn’t know as a child, a teenager, a young mother, or a middle aged woman. But I know now. You must be careful of that…don’t allow someone with smashed dreams to smash yours….it takes courage, but you mustn’t allow it to happen.

Certainly I had never felt better than anyone else….in fact quite the opposite, but I knew in my heart that I was meant for more than what that little village could offer.


There have been times over the years, where when watching a movie, I’ll think…or say aloud…”Why did they do that?” to which my sweetheart responds, “Because it was in the script”….ahhhhhh, yes. The script.

I am, as I said, where I thought I’d be, but I didn’t read the script….. or Listen[4] to the clues.

Who knew how many plot twists and turns my life would take to bring me here? Not me! The end result…to this point…. has been the same; it’s just that it didn’t unfold exactly as I’d imagined.


Let me explain.

I always knew I would marry and have a son and a daughter. In fact, when I was pregnant with each child, so sure was I of their gender, a boy and girl respectively, I didn’t even pick out names for the other. People thought me mad, but I just knew. What I didn’t know was that I’d be married three times and have six children…two by choice biologically and four by choice through marriage. Yes….that’s right…three marriages! Sometimes it takes some of us a bit longer to get it right, but I never gave up on marriage.

I also always knew that I would go into business…of some sort. When I was young, I always fancied my role in business to be that of an international corporate lawyer….which by the way, is still percolating on the back burner. What I didn’t know was that I would own, or co-own, five …all very different…. business. I also didn’t know it would take me until the age of 43 to get over the failure of the first, and start another, and then another, and finally two more.

I always knew that I would earn a comfortable living. Me. Not the person I was married too. What I didn’t know was how,  but in three of those businesses, with my husband as my partner and we did it together. The hard way.

I always knew I’d be happy and content. What I didn’t know was how many times I’d be unhappy; how many times I’d feel defeated; alone; deep unexplainable pain; rage; loss; and betrayal. I also didn’t know how many times I’d fall, but I always knew  I’d get back up.

I didn’t know I would feel the loss and heartbreak of miscarriage. I never dreamt I’d feel the heartache of a marriage breakdown or the sting of betrayal and divorce. I couldn’t comprehend the palpable physical and spiritual pain that the death of those I  loved could bring. I had no idea the embarrassment and worthlessness I would feel to have a business fail. I never saw the day coming where I’d be rolling pennies and scrubbing other people’s toilets to put food on my table. But I did.

I always knew I was a survivor. What I didn’t know was how all of these things that knocked me down, were the very things that forced me up…in fact raised me up…pushed me up; through the pain, the embarrassment, the heartache, the anger, the sorrow; to stand on higher ground, above it all to claim my life on MY terms. To help me understand what it takes to put one foot ahead of the other; to hold my head high; to feel pride in my accomplishments yes, but more so in my own strength and courage. But mostly to appreciate, and give thanks every single day of my life for all that I have: the family, the warm home, the good food, the security, the love, and the happiness.

2351_127956260014_5222_nWe all need validation. The problem is that we look to other people rather than looking inside our own selves. Become your own validation. We can’t change other’s perceptions of us, so in order to find peace, truth and joy, we need to change our own perceptions of ourselves. Bare witness to your own life.  Live your truth without excuses, but do no harm.


I’m not delusional. I know there will be more challenges ahead. There will be moments of darkness but I also know I’ll be ready. I’ve had a lot of practice. I’m far from finished on my journey, but now, after sixty one years, I just have better tools in my backpack as I continue the hike.