The Biggest Responsibility of a Parent

Here in Canada, we just celebrated Thanksgiving.  Status updates of thankfulness flooded my facebook news feed. Posts about family, love, and happiness were abundant. I spent a wonderful week-end with my family.  All the people I met while out and about in preparation for a week-end of food and family were full of joy. The spirit of Thanksgiving had touched everyone I crossed paths with.

It was rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies…at least for a little while. Until the week after Thanksgiving came and I could only wonder if there was a full moon.

Some angry dude cut me off in traffic.

A message of hate popped up within a group supporting Children’s hopes and dreams. To be honest my first thought was “You sir, are an ass hat.” I tried to reply with tact in the face of such hatred and ignorance.

My facebook feed of thanksgiving was replaced with a handful of rants and complaints.  Not many, but just enough to make me want to shut down my account in annoyance. I have so much to be thankful for…we all do. The freedom of expression and of speech, a warm house to live in, and food in my belly. The fact I’ve struggled with my weight all these years is a clear indicator of just how lucky I have been to have a fridge stocked with more food than I need.

My daughter came home in tears because a girl in school called her fat. Again.

I could list more examples, but it doesn’t matter. You get the point.

As I was wondering what is wrong with people, a thought came to mind “Who are these people’s parents? How is it they don’t know how to treat others with respect?”  The answer to this question, and the responsibility for this issue flooded my heart. I realized that I hold the key to the solution.

Because I AM A PARENT.

One thing I’ve learned through raising three kids, is that they are born pure of heart. They learn their behaviour based on their environment.  Kids are giving, loyal, loving, and accepting.  They play hard, dream big, and love with no limits.

We as parents have a responsibility my friends.  Among the many responsibilities we shoulder, above all we need to teach our children to be kind, patient, loving, and giving. We need to show them how to put the needs of others before our own, to help our neighbours, our friends, our family, and yes…even strangers too.

As I was deep in thought, I challenged myself with these questions: Am I the example my children need of a person who shows others love and kindness?  Are they learning these important lessons at home?  It’s not enough for me to explain kindness to my kids, I need to show my children through my actions.

Actions speak volumes, and repetition of action breeds habit. Acts of kindness will be engrained within them like rings on a tree. It’s effortless because it becomes who they are as people. Given the environment of generosity and selflessness, little people with big hearts mature into grown ups with giving hearts.

I wanted to share this with you today not to imply that you aren’t raising your kids right, but rather to encourage you to show love to others in ways that your children will replicate. Our children are watching us.

I am humbled by today’s revelation, and I will put these thoughts into actions to make sure that I am an example of kindness that my children desperately need to in turn show kindness and acceptance to others.

I may not be able to change the world, but I can affect the way my three amazing children view this world. I can teach them to give and in turn they will make this beautiful world a better place not just for themselves, but for those around them who need their support and love.

It’s not enough to be kind to those we love. Anyone can do that.

To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind, and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days.
Thomas Dekker 

From my thankful heart to yours,


One Year Later

One year ago, I published this post:

What I didn’t know then, was that that post would be the wake up call I needed for change and authenticity to start a new year. I started 2011 with a weight on my shoulders that I immediately felt melt away after I dropped the mask I was wearing for much of the previous year. I felt free to be myself, there is no greater feeling than to just let it all go.

And now one year later, I look back on the past year with a smile and a grateful heart. Our family went through a lot in 2011, but we grew closer because of it. My love and respect for my Dad grew like I didn’t know possible.

With a new year, there is always that feeling of starting fresh. I want to take a moment before moving on to 2012 to revisit some of the things I learned in 2011.

~We are all struggling with some area in our lives to some degree…whether it’s personal or it’s professional…some just hide it a little better. Life has it’s share of failure and defeat. The important part is learning from it, and picking yourself up a little smarter and a little stronger.

~It makes a difference if you start your day off with gratitude.

~An act of kindness towards a stranger, a friend, or a family member can change the course of their day…and as an added bonus it will change the course of your day as well.

~There is beauty in the break down.

~Laughter cures a lot! So do exactly what it is that brings the laughter out. Laugh everyday. Every single day.

~Tell the people you love that you love them. Don’t wait. Tell them now and often.

~Be honest with your friendships, and cherish them. They are valuable. If you find there is a toxic friendship in your life, it’s OK to take a step back. Friendships aren’t supposed to be filled with guilt. If you are kind, loyal, and accepting…you deserve the same respect in return. Not every friendship has to be a close friendship, there are all levels of friendships in life, and they are all important to find balance.

~Enjoy the simple joys in life. A great meal out with someone you love, a phone call with a friend you miss, an afternoon with family, a night playing cards, an afternoon tobogganing with kids.  You will smile more. You will laugh more. Life is meant to be fun. If it’s not fun, make some fun.

Note: now that you’ve seen some cute kid’s tobogganing, may I draw your attention to how adults look when they toboggan….

Where was I…

~If you work from home, get ready in the morning just as if you were heading into work away from home. You will feel better. I spent one year working from home in my PJ’s. I think you could hear the dishevelled in my voice had you called me.

~Eat healthy, drink lots of water, go for a walk/a run/a bike ride. It’s unbelievable how much that improves your health and your over-all well-being. Your body was designed to work that way! Be good to yourself.

~If you hear a song you love and you feel like dancing. Then dance. It’s fun.

~Be exactly who you are, because you will attract like-minded friends. Life is just better when you surround yourself with a whole lot of love (and it’s lots of fun too).

~If you don’t like something about your life, guess what…you can change it. Or you can at least change how you react to the negative circumstances surrounding your life. A cup half-full is half-full.

~Balance is key: in all you do, strive for balance.

~You can’t change anyone else…you can only change yourself, continuing to evolve and grow as life does. Work on you. Don’t worry about anyone else.

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

~Life is FILLED with people who can teach you something. Listen. Resist the urge to talk…simply listen and your life will change as those lessons (they are gifts) from others sink in.

~We all have different belief systems. Respect other’s beliefs and values. They are as sacred to them as yours are to you.

~It’s rude to text when someone is talking to you. It just is. I’ve been guilty of this! I’ve realized when I’m on the other end of it that it’s just not polite, it sends a message that you are not important enough to look in the eye.  Drop the phone, make eye contact and engage in conversation. 🙂

~The things you fear most in life are the very challenges you should face. I’m not outgoing, and I have to force myself to meet new people and forget the fact I’m socially awkward. If I wouldn’t have taken the steps to meet new people, or if they wouldn’t have taken the steps…I would have missed out on some incredible friendships and experiences.  (Hope: I’m so glad that I forced myself to go to your workshops…the hours leading up to the workshop, my stomach was in knots because I didn’t believe in myself as a photographer…even though I was going to learn. I was so close to not going because of my own insecurities. And look what I would have missed out on!)

~Give your best to your guests.

~Say thank you.

That’s about all I can think of! I know I rambled! Thank you for reading my thoughts, and I am so thankful for each and every person that visits my blog and takes the time to comment.  May 2012 be filled with a ridiculous amount of love and laughter within your life!

From my heart to yours,

I welcome 2012 with open arms and a thankful heart