The Pumpkin and The House

In my garden grows a pumpkin 
turning orangey gold. 
Along came a little mouse,
so the story's told.
Nibble nibble went the mouse
Till the pumpkin was a house
With two big windows and a door, 
And softest feathers on the floor.
There the mouse lived well I know,
Even when it began to snow. 


Back at It

Last night I hosted my very first workshop at the Whitehouse. If you are unfamiliar with the Whitehouse, it is not the US parliament.  It is a building in the woods up in the hills near Wakefield.  It use to be owned by the church and was a scout camp.  Throughout the years it got neglected until Jay my partner bought it and brought it back to life.  It is on a beautiful lake and is full of light and life.  I have a felting studio in the space and I am ever so grateful. 

Last night's workshop was felting a mouse and a house.  It was fun.  It had been over a year since I hosted a workshop of the like and I must say that I have missed it.  Felting is so easy and a great way to work with your hands while getting to know people from the community.  If you are interested in felting up in the hills stay tuned there is more to come! I hope you are enjoying this glorious fall weather that we have been having.  Cheers.

In the felting studio, notice the bright colours!

Our felted art.  


Beat the Heat

 The heat took it's time getting here and now that it is here, we are loving it.  Yesterday we made refreshing lemonade with stevia. The children loved squeezing out the juice from the lemons. So much that they requested to do it again today.  Our new place is close to McNabb pool which brings great refreshment to our warm bodies.  Look at those happy faces!

We have been loving our new space. It is full of colour and the kids bring much life and laughter to it's walls and decor.  Although the change of moving brought me into a very busy state, I am enjoying settling in and coming back to my old hood :)

We hope life is good for all of you.  Stay cool and keep smiling.

Fundraiser video

Here is a little video I compiled from iMovie.  It is about our fundraiser for the Koh Phayam school in Thailand.  Enjoy.


Yoga School

 On April 7th, 2013 I graduated from the  Rama Lotus Hatha Yoga Teacher Training. We were the class of Oct. 2012- April 2013 and proud of our accomplishment. The graduates celebrated 6 months of hard work.  There was also a sadness to that last day because everyone would miss the community of friends they had formed.  Meeting every 2nd weekend for the last 6 months was a growing experience and we had done it together. 

The very first weekend of the course started with 43 students and 3 teachers sitting in a circle.  We each took a turn voicing our reasons for being there. Every person in the circle had their own reasons for committing 6 months to yoga school. Some wanted to teach and others wanted to learn and grow.  The thread that we all shared was our passion for yoga and how yoga had changed us in some way. 

Yoga school was more than getting an instructors certificate. It was a course in how to live a happy, healthy, sustainable life.  The curriculum taught the physical aspects of yoga like: anatomy, asanas (postures),  pranayama (breath), injury prevention, meditation, the yoga sutras of Pantajali and more.  These teachings coupled with the sharing of our teachers individual experiences and knowledge  gave us a set of tools for us to use in our everyday lives. 

In North America we know yoga as postures to help us stay flexible and healthy.  Although this is true, yoga postures is only one layer of the many layers of this ancient practice.  The peelings of these layers can help us grow in all aspects of who we are: physically, emotionally and spiritually.  This is exactly what we learned in our 200 hour training.  Through our practice, reading, writing and sharing we unveiled the essence of what yoga truly is. As we experienced our weekends in the classroom we spent our week days committing to practicing what we learned.  We brought our yoga off the mat and set forth bringing positive changes to ourselves and to the world around us.  On our return back to the classroom we shared  stories of discovering new parts of ourselves, stories of a better understanding of the people in our lives and our community.  We started shedding the layers that hides our true selves.  Throughout the weeks we built a community of support.  We shared, we laughed and yes we cried.

On that last weekend of yoga school,  it felt unanimous. Everyone expressed how the program had changed them in very profound ways. We started the course sitting in a circle and we ended sitting in a  circle, sharing our experience of learning everything yoga. The words transformative and empowering was used many times.  People felt inspired to create positive change at their work, in their homes, in their community and of course in themselves.  Throughout the course we had built a community of support and a safety net for internal growth.  A community in which we felt safe and free from judgment and received only compassion and understanding.  I can only imagine what the world would be like if we were to deliver this kind of knowledge to high school students. 

I am so happy that I followed my heart and my passion.  The time invested to teaching training was completely worth it. 


New Woman, New Me

 Wow, aren't we lucky to live through all the expressions of mother nature? We are graced with the beauty of fall colours and the descent of big, puffy. winter snow flakes  and when King Winter retired for the season, we get to live through the birthing of seeds into plants.   I, for one love spring and the green sprigs that seem to grow over night.  The insects and the buzz of life that comes forth and the aliveness that springs forward and awakens me. I feel like a new woman with a new lease on life.

This weekend my legs walked through the forest and and my chin was held high in greetings to the sun.  Jay and I welcomed friends to our camp fire, with food in our bellies and hugs of appreciation for our community. We swam in the cold lake and relished the coolness against our warm skin.  We gazed at the stars, twinkling through the night. They are always there, but how easily we forget.  They are magic in their way of reminding us how small we are and how big the universe is.   

We also worked on the white house which is coming along most wonderfully.   All I can feel for  mother nature, my community, and my life is gratitude and a joy for life.  Everyday I must look around, and soak in the world that surrounds me.  Everyday is special as it will never come around again. Everyday I am a little older and little wiser and a little closer to whatever comes after this human experience.  This might sound morbid but alas it is a thought that comes to me as I continue into my 40's.  Everyday, every breath must be appreciated and felt in my entire being. 
I hope you are enjoying the sun rays.  Keep smiling :)


Kub Kars and Cubs

Kub Kars is what being a cub is all about.  A few weeks back we gave each cub a Kub Kar set.  There was a block of wood, 5 wheels, 5 nails and the Kub Kar Rules. Each cub set out to design their block of wood into a car by following the Kub Kar directions with the intention of racing them.  The cubs designed their cars and parents came together with power tools and helping hands to make their designs come to life.               

 The night of the race brought great excitement to the church hall.  Cubs got their Kars weighed to make sure they did not go over the 142 ounces.  We divided the group into 3 weight classes; lightest/ middle weight and heaviest.  

The race track had enough room for 3 kars to race at a time and it was exciting, enjoyable and fun! I truly believe that it's a great experience for kids to make things with their hands.  In our world of everything ready made and accessible it is important to experience that satisfaction of handwork.  The kub kar experience gave exactly that.  It also gave that experience of adult support, encouragement and community. 


My sister and I were two of the 16,000 fans sitting at the Scotia Bank Centre, waiting to see Oprah Winfrey, last Wednesday night.  Like many of you, I grew up with Oprah.  I watched her religiously every day at 16:00.  As I grew through my adolescence into adulthood, Oprah grew from a trashy talk show to an inspirational program that changed many lives.  It had been a long time dream of mine to go to Chicago and visit this icon of a woman.   When my sister called to say that Oprah was coming to Ottawa and we should go together, I jumped on the opportunity. Thanks Mad!
The excitement in the building was palpable.  The girl sitting to my left introduced herself as Lindsay and she was literally crying from excitement The moment finally came when Oprah stepped on that stage and the crowd went crazy.  We jumped to our feet with screams of delight, happiness and joy.  She had not said a word and yet we knew we were in for a good night.   The stage was simple with 2 comfortable chairs, some flowers and her presence.  We sat in the 200s almost directly across from her.  She looked small on the stage in her glittery purple dress but her face glowed on the big screen.  

Here are a few notes that I wrote down while she talked.  It is but a fraction of her message. As she talked she also went through her life experience, showing photos of her growing up and how she became who she is.

Who are you? 
Her answer: You are divine energy, source, light ...

Why are you here?
To reach your highest potential on this earth, your life is your art.

Keep redefining yourself.

Are you living your purpose? 

To know your calling you have to be still.

Who are you? Have you really thought about it?

I am a whisper in the breath of god.

I aspire to be my connection to source the Same force that made the stars, the sun, the stars, the moon...

You become what you believe.

You are a spiritual being having a human experience.

Do  unto others as you would have them do unto you.

3 laws of motion: for every action there is a reaction.

The energy that you are putting out comes back to you.

Work on being whole.

Gratitude is the one single truth to change the negative from the positive.

I was most impressed by her standing there for 2 hours just talking to us as though we were her long time friends.  She is funny, inspirational and just like us a human walking this Earth figuring things out. 

Yes, I loved seeing Oprah, I loved her message but most of all I loved being there with my sister.  As we left the premisses one of us said something and we burst out into our sister laugh.  We laughed so hard that my stomach hurt.   I love my sister and I love our belly laughs.  Thanks Mad, I love you!


Snow Shoe

 I spent the weekend up in the Gatineau Hills.  It was time well spent.  Hatha Yoga Teacher Training finished 2 weeks ago, so this was my first weekend free in 6 months.   Life is changing at a drastic pace these days.  We are moving and that in itself has a lot of little details that go along with it.  There is another little change that I am not ready to let out of the bag, just yet. 

 While in the hills I took the time to relax.  I hung out with Jay, worked on the whitehouse and today we went for a 3 1/2 hour snow shoe. Yes, snow shoe.  There is still so much snow here.  Although it is melting fast there is still a lot of it.  It was so great to be surrounded by trees again and feel the healing effect that they have on my spirit.   Hikes in the woods are therapeutic and is a big part of keeping my sanity. 

When is the last time you went out for a hike in the woods? 



“Happiness is your birth right” – Yogi Bajhan

There is something that we all have in common, worldwide.  This common thread is our wish for happiness and satisfaction in our lives.  Of course we have already have moments of this light in our lives. It arrives in the birth of a child and in the finding of new love.  It arrives in watching the joy of children at play. It is felt after a shopping spree, attending a yoga class, after a great achievement, after drinking that coffee and in so many other forms.   Of course these moments arrive, settles in for a while and soon fades into shades of dissatisfaction and unease. 

This is the nature of life outside our centre, it is always in movement, transforming from one thing to the other, it is the ebb and flow and the order of things.  But there is a possibility of a state of steady happiness and that space is not found outside of us, but within.  Within every one of us there is a well of happiness that is forever present, bubbling with delight.  This nectar of joy can be attained with a meditative practice.   You must sit in concentrated relaxation, reach through the spaces in thought, through the spaces in the cells and there and only there will you find your centre of steadiness.   Once you journey there you will notice a sense of contentment and satisfaction.  You will be able to observe the comings and going of your emotions and the order of life without getting caught in the snags of happy and unhappy.
Once you dedicate time to your meditation practice you will notice that your become less reactive to the world around you.  Anger, frustration, stress, fears, and the runnings of the mind will become less dominant and an underlying sense of well-being will ensue.  With regular sittings you will be able to notice the play of life arise and you will let them play out and stay in a space of peace and contentment. In this way you will find a state of happiness and contentment. In Sanskrit we call it Santosa.

Meditation is like a seed that needs light and water to spring forward into new life.  In meditation one can see the breath as the water that feeds the mind into relaxation and the attention brought to the practice as the light that takes away the dark shadows of the mind.  Once the shadows are removed contentment is unveiled and all is as it should be.  But take note as the plant takes time to bare fruit the meditator must be patient with the flowering of his mind.

There are many forms of meditation; vipassana, transcendental, mantras etc… Below you will find a simple breath meditation that you can use to begin your journey into the mind.  Before you begin set a space aside that is clutter free, a space that you can return to everyday at the same time.  Meditation is a great way to start your day but you will find the best time for you with your schedule.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Even 10 minutes a day can make a difference.  With discipline you will notice that it is your practice that helps sustain you during your day.

This is a spot in the whitehouse
Come into a seated position either sitting cross legged, on a chair or if this is not possible lying down. It is important that you are comfortable. If a cross-legged position brings your knees way up past your hips, sit on a cushion.  If you are sitting in a chair make sure that it has good back support so that you are not slouched.  If sitting up is not accessible to you, lie on your back. Wherever you are in whatever position, close your eyes.  Bring your attention to the sensations in your body; the legs, the torso, the arms, and the feelings or emotions that come up. In this way, practice allowing the sensations to be exactly what they are sensations, nothing more, nothing less.  Remember that the meditative mind poses no judgment on things and situations.  It sees things for what they are and is in acceptance what that is. 

Begin to relax the body; relax the jaw, the facial features, the shoulders and start noticing each inhale and exhale. Notice everything about the breath, the expansion of the lungs as they inflate, the letting go of the exhale as they deflate. Notice the air as it passes through the nostrils, the pause between the inhale and exhale.  Be creative in the different ways you can explore the observance of the breath.   The mind will interrupt, distract and irritate you and  this is normal. When you recognize that you have stepped away from the breath come back to it over and over again.  Observe the experience of the breath with the body and the playing of the mind.  With regular practice you will lengthen the space between thought and develop the ability to observe the playings of your life without getting caught up in the dramas and you will stay steady in a state of peace contentment and happiness!

“Only a silent mind can look within.  Only a silent mind can hear the silence, the happiness that is always bubbling there.  It is so subtle that with the noise of the mind you cannot hear it.” – Osho
Before I sign off I want to tell you that our for rent sign is down. We are 95% sure that we have found a place!!! Yeah!


For Rent

Here it is. I told myself that I would not start thinking about our move until our return to Thailand.  Now as life would have it, we have travelled across the globe and back and it's that time.  I have been obsessively looking on Kijiji and Craig's list for that perfect space for us to live.  There is lots out there and competition is fierce and prices vary from affordable to crazy expensive.   Ideally we want to stay in the Little Italy neighbourhood and keeping our eyes, ears and minds open.  They say that moving is one of the 3 major stresses along with death and divorce.  I am having to move me, my two kids and my business so it is a little stressful. Although, I must admit that my yoga practice is keeping me in check.   The stress levels aren't that high yet and we still have 3 months.  So here is my journey for the next few months; finding a place, packing, moving and settling in.  I am a creature of change so all of this has an element of excitement :)  Please keep your eyes and ears open for rental properties in the Italy and Hintonburg area.  Thanks!!!


We've made it back through 12 times zones from beautiful, hot Thailand to cold, snowy Ottawa, Canada.   The return back to the west is always a little strange, like a dream.  Traveling changes you in some way.  It is subtle but it's there.  This time I come back  feeling more relaxed and inspired. I come back feeling inspired by a deep experience with my children.  There is such a change in Zoe and Owen.  The children that accompanied me to Thailand are not the same children who flew back with me.  They feel lighter, funnier, more mature and grown up.  They get along better and are more appreciative of life in Canada.  Although I know this will fade with time.  I am appreciating every moment.

On Friday morning we woke up at 3 am with jet lag.  We were at Jay's house in the woods.  It was there that Owen took his first hot shower in one month.  He walked out of the bathroom with tussled, wet hair and a big grin on his face and proclaimed: "I love Canada".   Later in the morning around 9am (it felt like a day had already passed) we returned to our home and daycare was in full swing.  Both Zoe and Owen were so happy to see our daycare friends. 

Any doubts I had before about pulling my kids out of school for 1 month has dissolved. Our tour to Thailand was worth every moment and the learning continues even that we have returned.  They really know what appreciation is now.

Our last days in Thailand were spent in Bangkok...

Bangkok is a concrete jungle with sky scrapers rising through smog filled air.  It is dirty, smelly and traffic is jam packed with tuk tuk, mopeds, taxis, food carts, pedestrians, and more.  The exhaust from these vehicles is suffocating, the smells from whatever is rotting is nauseating, the heat is exhausting and yet Bangkok holds it's charm. It has great shopping malls for those shoppers, like Zoe.  It is a happening place with many people going in different directions.  The subway, sky train and buses are jam packed.  It's incredible that families raise their young in this polluted city.


We arrived on the night train.  The train cars ran along it's tracks and  arrived on the outskirts of the city just as the sun was rising.  We sat by the window watching the early stirrings of life in Bangkok.We saw old falling down shacks held together by a mix and match variety of wooden and steel planks.   Mangy dogs loitering the streets scoping for food,. Fruit vendors filling up their carts with freshly cut pineapple, rose apples and mangoes.  Children in school uniforms walking, books in hand ready for a day of learning.  In contrast sky scrapers loomed in the sky and behind their closed windows their early mornings stirrings were hidden from our view.  Small streams of water ran parallel to our the moving train,  laced with floating oil, and plastic bottles


Bangkok is Bangkok and I am always fascinated by the differences in which people can live.  As I glimpsed onto the life of others who had less than me I did not feel bad or pity for the people living in shacks. That would only be diminishing their life experience.  Suffering is relative and it touches all of us whether we live in a big mansion or a small little shack.  Fatigue, sadness, sorrow,  and loss runs through all of our lives as do  moments of happiness, joy, enthusiasm and ease.  It is how we move through these dualities that signifies our state of contentment with life.

Thailand is a buddhist country  and the buddha taught the four noble truths.  Number one: Life means suffering. Number Two: The origin of suffering is attachment (desire).  Number Three: The cessation of suffering is attainable.  Number Four: The path to the cessation of suffering.  If you with to go deeper into the four noble truths you and can click here. 

That is the end of my travel writing for now.  We have been back for almost 3 weeks.   Although every day brings farther away from our adventure the memories of Zoe and Owen discovering so many firsts will be forever etched in my heart.  We will do some kind of adventure again in the next few years, stay tuned.



Magical Day

This morning we woke up with a purpose.  It was our day to deliver sports uniforms, shoes, socks, pencils and etc. to the school.   We put on our team shirts which were donated by Festival Promotions. The t-shirts were so cute with a beaver holding a   Canadian flag and an Elephant holding a Thai flag.  Under the two country’s totems was written Friendship.   I love wearing team shirts.   They give the feeling of being in it together, bring unity and team spirit and we sure had a lot of it!  The kids put Canada maple leaf tattoos on their cheeks and we represented our country well. 

A little aside to say, that we were accompanied by Nikki and her two children Grant and Julia.  Nikki and I met 10 years ago while teaching English in Suratthani Thailand.  Throughout the years we had lost touch but coincidently have found ourselves once again on Thai soil.  I am so enjoying the rekindling of our friendship.  Her children are also great companions for Zoe and Owen.

We arrived at the school and it was hot, hot, hot!  It was the hottest I have felt on this trip and that is saying a lot because there have been some really hot moments.   It was so hot that I had the impression of melting like the wicked witch of the west when Dorothy threw the pail of water on her; `melting, melting, melting!`. 

The grand moment had arrived, the moment we had been working towards.   While in Canada we pooled money from our friends.  Some people contributed to the fundraised by purchasing Funky Mama CDs and other people donated up to $200 towards the Burmese children in the Koh Phayam School.  Jay and I felt a great responsibility in representing our friend’s generosity.  We gathered in Phillippe’s classroom with the older children and the headmaster of the school. 

In Thailand a person shows respect by waiing.  Waiing is putting your hands in prayer pose up to your chest and bowing to a person.  The hand position depends on the age of the person you are waiing to. For example, if the person is younger than you, you wai with the prayer pose at the chest, same age you wai at your chin, someone older than you at the level of your nose and a monk at the level of your forehead.

Jay presented our gifts to the headmaster and the children waied with a “Kapkoon ma Ka” and “cap” (thank you).  In Thailand men/boys say “cap” at the end of a sentence and women/ girls say “ka”.   There is a lot of cultural etiquette and I love it.  I think it is great that the Thai’ show respect to their elders.  It seems like in our society this is slipping away.

I can relate this point of the experience with the saying: “sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination that matters.”  In other words the gathering of funds, flying over here, meeting the teachers, and purchasing the goods was the most exciting part of the project and giving it was anticlimactic.  As Philippe has told us the Thai’s do not show appreciation with great fanfare as it is not part of their culture.   The anticlimax aside it did feel great to give with no other purpose but for the sake of giving.  The whole project was fun and a great success.

After the giving of our gifts we went outside and to set up the soccer nets.  I feel the need to mention that it was hot! I am always worried that the children are not getting enough water. It is so easy to get dehydrated when the heat evaporates water in seconds.   It seems like you lose as much as you consume.   Setting up the nets was not easy. Once the students were finished eating they met us outside for a soccer game.   They did well and it was great to see Zoe, Owen and Grant playing with the Thai kids.  Soccer is a big thing in Thailand and they showed great skill in manoeuvring that ball around. 

The older kids played soccer while the younger kids hung out at the table in the shade with Nikki, Julia and I, I had brought a bottle of bubbles and got busy blowing and enjoyed watching the children respond as they ran trying to catch and pop them.  As the bubble blowing was going on I was noticing a boy and a girl getting into each other’s space.  He held a plastic bottle and was bonking her over the head with it.  She was raising her leg up in the air akin to a Muay Thai Boxing kick. The only teacher in the school yard stood in the soccer field and did not notice the battle.  In my very limited Thai I asked them to stop but they pretended that I was not there.   Although I was feeling like they should not be behaving this way, it occurred to me that this game might be something perfectly acceptable here.   In Canadian school yards children are stopped from hitting and fighting. We monitor our children to keep them in check and make sure they keep in line.  Here in Thailand maybe they do not hover over their children as much.   Eventually the “poochai”  (boy) hit the girl hard enough to make her cry.  I looked at Nikki and said: “In Canada he would get a time out for that!”  Here in Thailand the girl cried for a while when finally the teacher noticed, said a few words to the boy, comforted the girl briefly and went on his merry way.  I love noticing cultural differences, it is a reminder that there are different ways of doing things and that one is not better than the other. It is only different. 

Zoe came out of the heat from the soccer game and joined us in the shade. We’d brought a pack of Canadian flag tattoos and soon she had a swarm of children around her waiting to be tattooed.  She did a great job handling the swarm of children waiting their turn.   By then Grant came around and they were learning some Thai words and asking the children: “You tee nai, ka? “  This means:   “Where do you want your tattoo?”  Pretty soon the bell rang indicating the end of their lunch break.  It was an enriching experience to be able to interact with the local Thai children.   Although, they received things that they needed I feel like we are the ones that left with the biggest gift. 


Back at our huts we had lunch and did our homework.  The end of the afternoon came around and Zoe, Owen and Grant found themselves playing on the beach.  Julia slept on a nearby chair while Nikki and I read.  Aow Yai beach is one of those beaches where the tide goes far out before it comes back in.  It varies from being extremely wavy to somewhat calm with only a few ripples.  Today as they played the tide was slowly making its way back up the beach.  They built water pools for the crabs that they caught.  They called it their crabitat.  There was great excitement when they explained to us that one of the water holes was a birthing center and that some babies crabs were recently born.   As the afternoon wore on the sun slowly made it’s slow descent from the blue sky and into the horizon. It was the most magnificent view with colours of fire lighting up the sky.  The orange and yellow backdrop made for a beautiful painting. The sun rays cast the children as mere silhouettes on the beach.  It was magic to watch them running, playing and laughing. The only word that can describe it would be: magical.   

It truly was the perfect end to the perfect day.