It just takes 1 child to change the world

Friday, May 30, 2014

I can't believe that Telethon 30 starts tomorrow!!! This little guy isn't so little anymore and continues to be the star of the show! Spencer is 16 now and working at the movie theater....I wonder if he still thinks girls have cooties!

When I left the Foundation back in 2011 I received the most awesome gift. I framed work of art created by Spencer. That piece went with me to Dal and has returned with me to the IWK. I no longer work for the Foundation, but the passion that I have for this organization was really ignited by Spencer and his wonderful mom Rebecca, and for that I am truly grateful.

A lesson we can all learn "In a world where you can be anything...Be yourself"

A True Champion Child

-originally posted June 2010

In 2004, shortly after I had joined the IWK Foundation team and was knee deep in my first Telethon, I had the honour of meeting Spencer MacKay and him mom Rebecca. Spencer wheeled up to me and introduced himself while presenting a donation in the Gallery. We had a few laughs and I was immediately touched by his very special spirit. Spencer has a way of making the world smile. I am serious! This kid can light up a room and bring a smile to the grumpiest of faces. He has such a quick wit and you can’t help but be attracted by his optimism.

In 2005, Spencer was chosen as the IWK’s Champion Child and I got to accompany the family on the Ottawa portion of the Celebrations. During that time, I watched as the other children followed Spencer around and were all drawn to him. Where ever Spencer went, there were at least 5 or 6 others following his lead. Spencer would laugh and make jokes about how he was “da bomb” when I teased him about all the girls who wanted to hang out with him. At the time he was 10 and had just passed the “girls have cooties” stage.

One night, Rebecca and I shared a cup of coffee in my hotel room. Rebecca was in serious need of some girl time and I was intrigued by the incredible strength that she showed every day. She told me about Spencer’s birth and how doctors prepared her and the rest of Spencer’s family for the worst. You see, Spencer was born with a rare form of dwarfism, as well as other health complications. Rebecca was told that he would likely not live past the first three months of his life. Instead of living each day with dread, Rebecca chose to celebrate Spencer’s life. Each and every month she had a birthday party with cake and decorations to celebrate his presence in the world. She never gave up on him and she always encouraged everyone around Spencer to be positive and rejoice his life.

As time passed, Spencer grew stronger, showing that he would have a life beyond the walls of the IWK. After spending 18 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the IWK, Spencer was finally able to go home with his mother and family. While things are not perfect, Spencer continues to persevere against the challenges that he faces with his health. He has undergone many surgeries to help him live a full and active life.

In 2008, Spencer showed up at the IWK Radiothon and bragged that he had something to show me. Without any hesitation he climbed down from his chair, grabbed his walker and strutted across the Parker Reception Room. I was in tears I was so excited! I was thrilled to hear that all day Spencer had been asking his mom when they could come in to show me!

Working at the IWK, I have a lot of opportunities to meet incredible people and amazing kids and some of them grab a hold of your heart and never let go. I think everyone on staff has “a kid”. Spencer is my boy and continues to inspire and amaze me.

A few weeks ago we ran into Spencer at a local restaurant. He begged to take Austin for a ride on his chair. I told him that my boy was still a bit too small to go cruisin’. Spencer looked up at me with a look of concern on his face “I thought I was your boy…” Melt my heart! Of course I quickly explained that he most certainly was my boy and that I adored him and nothing would ever change that. He then said that he didn't mind sharing me with Austin.

In 2010 Spencer was awarded the Premier's Award for Positive Change. He was acknowledged for his advocacy work as a Children's Miracle Network Champion Child for the IWK and also for his 'unofficial ambassadorship' at his school at Park West, where he takes new students under his wing, and his feeding the homeless by participating in Sunday Suppers. The Premier's Power of Positive Change Award was launched September 2008 in recognition of two Nova Scotia high school students who caught the public's attention with a pink t-shirt crusade in support of a bullied student. Every year 10 Nova Scotia students are honoured and it does not surprise me one little bit that Spencer made his way onto this distinguished list!

I know this is a bit of a long post but Spencer deserves some devoted time and space. For the first time ever CMN has selected a Canadian child to be featured in a special story to air on Telethon this weekend. The story will be introduced Dr. Oz and, you guessed it, will star none other than my boy Spencer! Grab a Kleenex and follow this link. I guarantee that spending just 5 minutes with this courageous, amazing kid and his awesome family will forever change your life.

Breast Cancer Badass

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When I participated in Bust A Move back in March, I had the privilege of being on the same team as Patsy MacDonald. Patsy so generously shared her spirit and encouragement throughout the day. Her energy was amazing! She pushed herself hard and if you had never been told her story there was no way anyone would ever guess that she was diagnosed with breast cancer just 3 years ago and is now in remission.

Patsy doesn't like to think of herself as a survivor. She prefers the term "Breast Cancer Badass". And it fits. She has such spunk, who could she be anything but a badass?  If you spent even just 5 minutes with Patsy, it would be very clear that she is not one to allow anything to take control over her spirit and that badass is a much more appropriate title.

Patsy has created a video to show how she took back her body. She opens herself up for all to see and in doing so shares a message that while breast cancer can alter how a woman views her body, there is a way to love your body and it may not look like what even YOU expect it to. Patsy has done something to inspire others and s but she wants to help other women and give back to some of the organizations that helped her and countless others.  Patsy is raising money for the IWK and for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. And she like everything she tackles she's given her self an ambitious goal. She wants to raise $100,000 in just 60 days.

Donate to help a cause that affects us, our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. Watch her story and I guarantee you will want to help and spread the word.

The Forest from the Trees

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's been a year.

A year since the path I was on wasn't clear and I felt lost without a compass to guide me and tell me which way to go.

A year since I was exhausted. I would go to bed and have my sleep interrupted by the littles. When my sleep wasn't interrupted by them, it was broken by constant worry and lists of things that I needed to do or had forgotten to do. My panic attacks came suddenly and unexpectedly. I couldn't breath and the mere thought of certain things immediately overwhelmed me and caused me to be physically ill. "What's for dinner?" shouldn't cause a grown woman to have a full blown panic attack. Every aspect of life blurred together and I couldn't separate perception and reality.

All my professional career I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be an Executive and I was earning my chops to get me there. I was a top performer, I worked hard, long hours and I had a reputation of responsibility and dedication. I earned that.

And then I found myself in some of my darkest days thanks to PPD. I never thought it would happen to me. I knew motherhood would change me but I wasn't prepared for the blues.

I rebounded. Found my way through the weeds to the meadow and enjoyed the sunshine and joy with my family. I found balance and support and was coming through. And then...

I made a mistake.

I thought I wanted to continue on the same path. I thought that I wasn't changed to my core and that being a high level professional was still what I wanted. And I tried to make it happen. I worked hard and long days but I wasn't the same. I denied the anxiety was back and tried to push through. I ignored it and kept along the path, but I had gone off course. I was unhappy and felt unfulfilled. I was lost and only when I could see no light nor a path forward did I admit I needed to look for a map.

I had to change my life. I had to admit I wasn't the person I used to be. I had to be okay with that and accept who I had become. I needed to find what I truly wanted and be authentic to myself. I wanted to be able to focus on being a mom. I needed to focus on being a mom. And I had good friends and family to be my compass and  help me find my path.

My life is not at all what I thought it would be. But then whose is? We never reach our full potential by going back to how we think things should be. Those thoughts and standards keep us from being in the moment, from enjoying the life that is right in front of us, from accepting what is and making the most of it.

My life is better than I ever thought it could be. I have two beautiful children who bring more joy and happiness to my heart than I ever thought it could hold. A husband who stands by me, holds me up and loves me. Family and friends who don't waiver, who let me lean on them, pour more wine, celebrate small victories and share in the happiness.

The journey continues, the path still being discovered, but what is clear is what is important. What lessons I have learned and what I have chosen to do with that knowledge. I don't need a fancy title next to my name to be successful. I am enough without that. I am a work in progress. I treat others how I would hope they would treat me and try to find the positive in every day. I work 8-4 and leave it at the office. I run my own children's clothing design business and am part of an amazing network of creative mompreneurs. I spend my nights and weekends living a life with my family and friends.

My children will learn from my example. I want them to learn to be happy and responsible. To push themselves to succeed but not at the cost of their health or relationships. I'm okay with the plot twist the movie of my life has given's taken a year to be okay with it, and I'm not all that sure I'm there yet, but it has lead me to where I am today and I am grateful for that.

It's not that I took a path that no one else has's that I chose a different path. And to me, that has made all the difference.

Birthday Party Prep

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bunting and hay bales and ponies OH MY!

Only a few weeks until my sweet girl turns 3 and she has asked for a Jessie and Bullseye party...otherwise known as a cowgirl party. I'm looking into a special treat that would officially earn me the title of craziest momma but it would be worth it. And for the record...crazy idea was planted in my head by someone else :)

I've started making the bunting with some western fabrics I had in stock and I've been searching for western party ideas. It's going to be a small party and but I still want it to be memorable. Birthdays are a cause for celebration! And I want our kids to have great memories. When I was 2-3 years old Mom made me this clown cake with a ginormous sucker on it. I loved that cake and I think I had it a few years in a row. And I still remember it...

Speaking of cake...
Is that not awesome?! That is what she wants...who can find me the figures on top? I love the Hostess with the Mostess blog and have been inspired by her Jessie party. Check out her blog. It is awesome.

So for the next couple of weeks decor will be made, cookies will be baked and her cake decorated. Pinterest is once again my friend and so is the crazy creative mind of my friend Nadja of Little Lemonade Stand and Midnight Designs.

I love birthday parties :)

Happy Star Wars Day

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our Lego Master Builder picked this one!

You know you laughed at this!

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