B is for “Be Better”


Adjective, more desirable, satisfactory, or effective;
more appropriate, advantageous, or well advised
Adverb, more excellently or effectively;
more suitably, appropriately, or usefully

Leave this world a little better than you found it.”
-Robert Baden-Powell 1941, Founder of the Scout Movement

Whenever possible, I usually try to look at life in a positive light. However, there are times when it is difficult to do so and it feels as if there is undoubtedly so much suffering in this world with so much of it beyond our control. One glance at the news and social media, and we are inundated with & exposed to so much negativity. Whatever the issue or subject may be, there is just so many people who are hurting and hurting each other. Unfortunately, the war we wage for health & wellness today is not only physical, there is much of the pain that remains unseen and undetected, sometimes for years or decades. This is not necessarily a post on mental illness, although that is certainly one way it manifests. This is for any of us who see the effects of all this suffering and wish there was a way to change the world, it can also be a reminder when we forget that there are people around us that are hurting. I don’t know about you, but it makes my heart hurt and it makes me wish there was something tangible and valid for me to do.* I believe that if we take stock and look within, there IS something we can all do.

We can be better. Better to ourselves. Better to each other.

These words from Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” comes to mind:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

If we want the world to change, it seems there is no better (pun intended) place to start than within ourselves. There is something to be said about being better to the natural world and our planet, which could be addressed at a later time. But what is most prevalent in my mind, especially lately, is about being better to each other. Most of us only have influence that reaches no further than our immediate family, circle of friends, and local community — if we all try even a few simple things, perhaps that is enough.

Be present – sometimes words are not needed, you just need to be there and be available

My husband and I have this thing that we do: whenever one of us has a bad day or if we have a fight or if we just need some love, we walk up to each other, take off our glasses (this is usually “the signal”), we embrace …and we just hug …for a few minutes. No words are necessary, and there’s no time limit. It lasts for however long it takes both of us to feel connected and grounded. It doesn’t solve anything, it doesn’t give me more energy to tackle the rest of the day, it doesn’t cut my to-do list in half, it doesn’t get rid of the migraine I’d been enduring all day, it doesn’t do anything but make me feel better.

Don’t underestimate the difference your presence can make. Literally being present –not distracted, not multitasking, not half-listening– but 100% present can help make the connection and ground someone who needs it most. It doesn’t solve their problems, it doesn’t make the pain and scars go away, it doesn’t erase their past, it doesn’t vanquish their demons, but it just might make them feel better. Feel loved. Feel less alone. Feel stronger!

Be positive – if you do say something, choose kindness and shine your light

I love the song “Everybody’s got a story” by Amanda Marshall.* It reminds me not to make assumptions about people (which is hard to not do sometimes). That often times what we see is only what people want us to see, only a part of their bigger story. We have no idea what inner demons somebody could be fighting, unless we dig deeper than the image they choose to reveal, dig past the superficial. We all have walls that we put up to protect ourselves, don’t we? And they only come down for people we trust and love. We cannot get past these walls by force, we have to show kindness and understanding, we have to show we are worthy of trust.

We are surrounded by so much negativity, sometimes it’s easy to just fire back, instead of preventing it from spreading. Modern technology is an incredible thing! It can also be a terrible thing. Social media is a monster in itself — its relative anonymity and intangibility can make us brave and brazen, so we post things and say things we may never say or do in person. The danger to this is that we can easily forget there is a person on the receiving end. Conversely, even the simplest authentic kind words can shine a light in somebody’s dark day.

I wanted to send a shout-out to Jo Garfein, Co-Founder/Executive Director of Cancer Gets Lost. CGL channels fandom toward the greater good, raising money for cancer support charities through online & live auctions which features rare and autographed pop culture memorabilia. Jo has adopted the catchphrase #ChooseKindness, encouraging those she encounters to choose kindness when faced with negativity or bullying in their communities and online, whether it be sending messages of positivity and inspiration, or supporting and spreading the word for charities they support. Her twitter feed is a clear indication of the positivity and kindness she implores us to share with each other.

What we do or say affects other people, even if only in a minute way. Contrary to the saying, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words? …well, they can hurt too! We need to consider whether our words will be curses that chip away at someone’s resolve or affirmations that build them up.

Be patient – give the benefit of a doubt and give another chance

When we were younger, it was easy to be kind and good because we looked at the world with innocent eyes. As we get older, it is not so easy because we know people are not always kind or good, sometimes they can be quite the opposite. In our quest to be better, we may be tempted to think that others might take advantage of our newfound kindness, some will refuse us outright, still some others may tell us it is not even worth trying.

So what can WE do? We can still try to be better. We can be polite. We can be forgiving. We can extend a helping hand. We can say “hello” or “good morning”. We can ask “how are you?” or “can I help you?”. We can give the benefit of a doubt. We can be understanding. We can reach out. We can respond. We can be available. We can be spontaneous. We can spend time. We can spend money. We can visit. We can invite. We can make a phone call. We can send a birthday card. We can be positive and spread positivity.


I know from experience how a cloud of darkness can feel like a ton of bricks, and what a difference a little bit of light in our lives can make. We need to remember: for our fire to shine a bright light in the world, there must first be a spark. That spark can be the little things we do, and our perseverance to continue doing these things will fan the flame to shine brighter.



* This is by no means a paper on mental illness (or any illness for that matter); neither does it include opinions of medical professionals (I’ve avoided that on purpose); neither is this an extensive guide. Take it simply as my personal observations and personal goals in approaching this aspect in my particular circle of influence. I know there is more we can do and there are other avenues to affect change, but this is really about how we treat each other. When it comes to mental illness, I hope that this at least brings the discourse at a more positive light (as in “how can I help you?” instead of “what’s wrong with you?”), helps in erasing the stigma, and helps us help each other. The Bell Mental Health initiative supports an extensive range of programs to enhance mental health in every aspect of Canadian life, check it out at Bell Let’s Talk.

*Here is an interesting article I found while browsing the quote by Robert Baden-Powell (although he is not directly referenced): “On Leaving the World Better Than How I Found It” by Chris Castiglione, which also has some great take-aways

***Some of the lyrics of Amanda Marshall’s “Everybody’s got a story”
So you can see my bra, underneath my shirt,
Watch the wind, underneath my skirt,
But that ain’t the picture it’s just a part,
Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.

See my eyes, don’t see what I see.
Touch my tongue, don’t know what tastes good to me.
It’s the human condition that keeps up apart,
Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.

Now who can read the mind of the red-headed girl next door,
Or the taxi driver who just dropped you off,
Or the, or the classmate that you ignore.

Don’t assume everything on the surface is what you see,
‘Cause that classmate just lost her mother,
And that taxi driver’s got a Ph-d.

I’m so tired of the fear
That weighs us down with wrong assumptions
A broken heart’s a natural function

So dig deep,
Deeper than the image that you see,
Lift up, feel, and let your true self breathe,
Show the world the beauty underneath


A is for Adventure!


Noun, an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity;
a daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my 5-year old son, it’s that children love adventure! Children love to learn new things, to do something different that they’ve never done before, to discover something they never knew about before. If they don’t have it on hand or around them, then they make it up from their imagination as they go along. If you spend even ten minutes with children, you will see this adventurous spirit at work and it’s a lot of FUN! I’d like to think we all inherently have that spirit in us when we were younger, but as we grow older that spirit starts to take a backseat to make room for the busy-ness of life.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”
-Hellen Keller

I’m not sure about you, but when I think of adventure, I almost automatically think it requires travel. When someone tells you they just had an adventure, doesn’t it just seem like being on the other side of the world is a given?

My sister recently came back from a trip to Peru. She visited Machu Picchu and climbed Rainbow Mountain. Wow! Right? How I wish I could do something like that! An adventure like this takes a LOT of research, planning, and a fair bit of courage. If funds and babysitting were of no consequence, I would travel all the time. But most of us are in the urban lifestyle (albeit somewhat begrudgingly), working eight hours a day, five days a week so vacationing away are usually limited to a week or two a year. And lets face it, a seven or fourteen day trip does not an adventurer make. Neither can we all climb mountains year round (If you can and do, that’s awesome). However, there is still a chance to build an adventurous spirit within the confines of the daily grind. It’s just a matter of finding it for the other three-hundred and fifty-eight days of the year.

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure”
-William Feather

If you ask my son what adventure is, he would probably tell you: it’s taking the toll highway (dubbed “new way”) instead of the regular highway, sleeping over at a friend’s house for the first time, going to summer camp even though it’s in the exact same room he’s been in for JK all year, trying a new type of cookie (last week was strawberry creme, this week it’s blueberry with flax), or going anywhere in the car with daddy (he ducks at bridges and raises his arms down hills).

What is adventure for YOU? What excites you? What experience feels daring & remarkable to you?

Taking the example of a child, perhaps doing something new or different may take the same adventurous spirit as climbing a mountain. Choosing to do the things that would make you think twice, the kind of stuff that challenges you and changes you, has the potential to transform you and make you grow as a person. It could be as simple as going to that restaurant you always pass by on your way to work but have never tried. Or picking a movie or book you already know (read: assume) you won’t like. Perhaps it’s as profound as talking to & befriending a person with a point of view or lifestyle that you don’t understand and seek to understand them. Or as exhilarating as going zip lining because you’re terrified of heights!

Imagine cultivating this adventurous spirit year round? So that when you’re faced with a mountain, you can choose to dive down head first and say to yourself, “Dude, I GOT THIS!”



Just for a spot of fun, here’s my “daring adventure” last summer (AAHH!!)… and YES, I was and still am afraid of heights.

This is the zipline tour with Ziptrek Ecotours in Mont Tremblant, Quebec

Here is my goofball of a husband whooping down the mountain, meanwhile I am just holding on for dear life…

BUT I still did it, and I’m so glad I did. It’s one of our fondest memories from that trip.


Joy is…

JOYisLIFE_logoWhat better way to kick off a new chapter in life than by doing one thing new, like start a new blog.

In 2013, as a new mom, I created a blog as a way to share my enthusiasm and bewilderment for the journey of motherhood, of seeing this new life from the very beginning and looking forward to the many years to come. It was a way to share the many different things we discover as new mothers, the ups & the downs, all the firsts, the late nights, the seemingly never-ending pile of diapers and laundry, the doubts and insecurities, the weirdest things we end up searching on Google or posting on social media, hearing mama for the first time, and so on… all the things which, altogether, really made being a mom a joy!

Being a new mom of twins and now a family of five(!), I felt the pull to write about something more, and yet something still attuned to my namesake. Something that would apply not only to motherhood, but could also encompass how we view & deal with the different aspects of life, regardless if we have kids or not.

My previous page the “Joyismom” blog (joyismom.wordpress.com) focused on motherhood and the joys to be found in it. This new blog broadens that spectrum and explores that, not only motherhood, but life can truly be a joy.

Joy that may not always have to do with the expression on your face, but may sometimes have to do with the expression in your heart.

I’m sure this is not easy, especially during hard times or busy times, but I have faith that it will be well worth the effort. The adventure of a lifetime!