Finding the Gifts in Juvenile Arthritis

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Juvenile Arthritis is a pain in the ass joints. My son CJ was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when he was 9 years old. The diagnosis took my husband and I by surprise though it shouldn’t have…Arthritis is a prominent disease in both our families. The thing is, when we think of Arthritis we tend to think of it as exclusive to adults. People don’t talk much about Arthritis affecting our children. CJ complained a lot about pain. Mostly when he was asked to do something like take out the garbage (!!) We thought he suffered from a case of laziness. But it was natural for him  to complain only when he was asked to do something…when his joints caused him discomfort, he would sit down with his legs up and watch TV or play video games to give his legs a rest. Otherwise he was out climbing trees, riding his bike, jumping on the trampoline, or getting his chores done. The Doctors believe the pain had probably been there since birth, so the pain he felt was “normal” for him.  He never questioned it. He knew that when he was sore, he was tired and it helped to rest and so that’s exactly what he did, naturally. We only ever really needed to ask him to do something when he was ‘having a lazy day’ on the couch.

CJ had been training in Taekwondo since he was 7 years old – 2 years before his diagnosis. He loved it. He was determined that one day he would earn his Black Belt. Although the Arthritis did rear it’s ugly head a few times during practices and he missed his first tournament due to a flare up, he didn’t allow it to slow him down. He learned the true meaning of perseverance, and indomitable spirit.

CJ had always been thoughtful and compassionate of people and animals. Suffering the pain of Arthritis as the flare ups worsened actually made him even more so. He was driven and moved to “help people who couldn’t move their arms or their legs”. When we came across the Walk To Fight Arthritis, he was so determined to help that he took off down the road knocking on doors trying to raise funds. He ended up doing much more than that!

As people opened their doors to him, he shared with them his story which prompted many to share theirs as well. I will never forget the excitement in his voice as he threw open the door saying “Mom! I met more people who have Arthritis! I didn’t meet anyone my age with it, but lots of old people! And I raised a lot of money! Someone even gave me $20!” He raised $1800 that year and he only had 9 days to do it. People were so generous and CJ found a sense of connection with others in sharing his story.

Every year CJ sets a goal to beat last years donations. Last year he achieved that goal. CJ also sets a goal to keep moving toward his Black Belt.

In December 2013, CJ tested for his Black Belt. Part of the testing was to write an essay of his choosing. CJ’s wrote about Taekwondo and Arthritis. He wrote about the obstacles and the challenges he faced on his journey to becoming a Black Belt. He also wrote about the gifts that he has found in Arthritis – He knows who his true friends are. He has become more compassionate and caring toward others. He feels a sense of accomplishment contributing in the community. He has learned that by being himself and sharing his story, he has achieved what many adults do not; authenticity. He has learned to live by the tenets of Taekwondo in every day life; Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit.

On September 15th 2013, CJ was presented with The Ontario Youth Award for his efforts with The Arthritis Society. This is the first time this prestigious award has been presented to someone in the Ottawa area. On December 7th 2013, CJ earned his Black Belt and although it is considered a great honor to be tested by a Master in Taekwondo, the Master singled CJ out telling him the honor was HIS to have been a part of CJ’s journey in Taekwondo because he emanates the essence of Taekwondo in the Dojan as well as out in the community.

When life presents you with a challenge, learn from it, find the gift in it, and kick it’s  joint ass 🙂

If you are interested in helping CJ reach this years goal please visit his donation page here

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Living Your Best Life – Part 3

If you are waiting for your ideal life to materialize, it’s time that you realize your life is waiting for you!

Here’s where change happens! This week we are going to take the first step to living life on your terms.

What are you hoping to take from the “Living Your Best Life” series? My best life starts with you…I love blogging, I love putting together the videos. My passion is helping you discover yours. My reward is sharing in your journey so please keep in touch. I would love to hear from you 🙂

Embrace your awesomeness!!

Living Your Best Life – Part 2

We’ve finally fully completed and uploaded Part 2 of Living Your Best Life! I hope you are as excited about this little adventure as we are 🙂

“Living Your Best Life” doesn’t have to feel like some grand gesture or mission impossible. It’s simply about living every day on purpose – making each day significant. Sometimes even putting it that way can sound a little daunting. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be.

Through a series of videos, I would like to take this journey with you – from surviving each day to fully enjoying each day, going from content to being genuinely happy.

“Life’s Journey is surely not to arrive safely at the grave in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting WooHoo! What a ride!”

Here’s to making every day count! Please keep in touch, if something in these videos has struck a cord with you or you notice changes in your life as you take this journey with us, we want to hear about it!

Embrace Your Awesome Self 🙂

Gifts From The Heart

This year I tried something different for Christmas. Everyone felt the need to work a tighter budget than usual. This provided an opportunity to get creative. It was important to me that everyone’s gifts were personal, memorable, and heartfelt. There are 3 gifts I was exceptionally proud of. I couldn’t wait for them to be unwrapped and received. I’d like to share these gifts with you.

For my sister, I wanted to gift her with a reminder of just how awesome she truly is. I purchased a beautiful, deep, white cup from the dollar store and wrote all over it with a black Sharpie. I wrote things that would make her laugh, things that would touch her heart, I wrote about the things that make her so perfectly her. Then I baked it at 350 for half an hour. I let it cool and filled it with kisses.

She loved it 🙂

My husband chose my sister-in-law in our gift exchange draw. We came up with two great gift ideas for her. She loves outdoorsy decor. Curtis cut a tree branch the size of coasters. He sanded them down, varnished them, and Voila! We had a beautiful set of wooden coasters!

She also had suffered a loss, there was someone she loved dearly who was spending their Christmas in Heaven. I tracked down a picture of her loved one, printed it on tissue paper and glued it to a candle. It was beautiful but missing something. I placed the candle into a vase and filled the bottom of that vase with episome salts. To add a little bling, I added small shiny Christmas ornaments into the vase. Nothing overpowering. Simplicity was key. I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. 

And I couldn’t have been happier with the result. She loved it. It touched her heart ❤

“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more…” Dr Seuss

 

Welcome to our Winter Wonderland!

Every year my husband turns our backyard into a Winter Wonderland. A place where people get lost in the beauty of winter. A little winter paradise. At least that’s how it feels for me 🙂 Allow me to take you on a little tour…

Our home is surrounded by trees. Our backyard is a miniature forest. The ground slopes from one side to the other. This makes a near perfect sliding hill. Because of it’s length, it’s a great ride – not too short, not too long. The trail on one side was made to wind a bit so the walk up is perfect. Walking up a steep hill is a chore. This walk feels more like a stroll. At night, the length of the hill is lit up with Christmas lights. It’s enchanting….there’s no other word. At the top of the hill, there are benches surrounding a fire pit. When you sit on the benches, you feel the warmth of fire, bask in the beauty of the snow, and all you can hear is children laughing and shouting as they slide. All you can hear is the sound of kids being kids.

A short stroll from the bottom of the hill is where you would find my husbands work shed. Inside the shed is a wood stove that is always just a little too warm and at the same time just right on a cold winter’s night. Hot chocolate, warm pot luck meals, cookies, and sweets are often found there too. Let us not forget the music!

This is the place we like to spend our winter evenings. This is the place where memories are created. It is the place where I feel most at home because there is no “real world” out there. It is a place that is so easy to lose myself in. Everyone loses their sense of time. Everyone is a kid on the hill.

There is no where else in the world I’d rather be than right there, with my friends, my family, all the children, and our dog, River.

I don’t know that my husband knows exactly what it is he creates or how much it really means to me. I know he knows it makes me happy 🙂

Here’s to another season of memories 🙂 May your winter be filled with love, laughter, good friends and good times 🙂

Shedding Light Into The Darkness

FreedomI think it’s safe to say that at least most of us suffer bouts of self-doubt and levels of depression from time to time and we all have our own ways of dealing with it when it hits. Some of us become angry and take it out on the world, some of us become withdrawn and hide from everyone in our lives. No matter who you are, no matter how you handle it, the truth is it sucks for all of us.

Depression, self-consciousness, whatever name you choose to give it, is the result of indecisiveness and lack of commitment caused by poor self-judgement. Think about it…every time you’ve found yourself in this downward spiral, you’ve doubted yourself. You’ve cut yourself short and beat yourself up in one way or another. Truth feels right, you feel bad because you are lying to yourself. And when you ‘speak’ to yourself this way, it becomes very hard to make decisions and / or commit to anything. Pay attention to this next time that dark cloud starts to hover. What is it you are telling yourself in your time of need?

It’s not your job to judge yourself. You were created with exact divine precision. You are impeccable, exquisite, and unique. You were created exactly as you are for good reason. You and you alone have the ability to carry out your Divine Plan. What you may perceive as your greatest fault, may in fact be your greatest gift. Consider this; It is those we called “bossy” in grade school who became the greatest managers and “the nicest girl in town” would probably make a mighty lousy choice for a lawyer. Every so-called flaw is a gift when you take the time to look at it in the right light. You truly are Divine. A perfect creation.

Life has a way of throwing some pretty nasty blows our way and even then, what we may perceive as a disaster may in fact be a gift. How many times have you had your heart broken and thought you would never be able to go on? When you look back years, or even months later, you find yourself thanking your lucky stars that relationship didn’t work out!

Whatever your purpose, whatever your destiny, there is a power greater than you working for your greater good. It is only through these eyes that you will see your perfection. It is only through this plan that you will see the flawless organization of the divine chaos that we call “Life”.

Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Forgiveness

Featuring artwork by The Heart Painter and Nicole Cote

Featuring artwork by The Heart Painter and Nicole Cote

Dearest Love,

Forgiveness is one of life’s most difficult lessons. Unfortunately, it also happens to be a lesson you will probably continue learning throughout your entire life.

I’ve struggled with this lesson for a long time. This is what I’ve learned about forgiveness; forgiveness isn’t about forgetting. It doesn’t even have to be about reconciling. Forgiveness is simply letting go of your hurt, your anger or your resentment toward another. Forgiveness sets you free.

Holding on to bitterness and resentment may eventually result in dis-ease. You owe it to yourself and those you love to forgive. Don’t get discouraged. This lesson takes a lot of practice. Once you get the hang of it, you will feel your soul smile. You have my word.

Keep in mind that sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself.

You make my soul smile.

Love Mom xo

Tomorrow, June 26th 2013 is the official launch date for Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo, Anyone who orders the book that day from Amazon.com will also receive a list of downloadable gifts offered to you from transformational leaders Shawne Duperon, Teresa Degrosbois, Debra Poneman, Susan Heim, Shayla Logan, Temba Spirit, and Heather Cournoyer. For more information and a list of gifts offered, or to place your order please visit the Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo website.

Thank you so much for sharing in this journey with me. As readers, you are the reason that I continue to write. ❤ Love, Sandy

Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Dealing With Difficult People

Featuring artwork by Nicole Cote and The Heart Painter

Dear Angel,

Remember this: “Those who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.” Dan Millman said that, not me.

Everyone on this earth has to deal with difficult people. When you are faced with this challenge, try to remember that every single human being wants the same three things; love, happiness, and a sense of purpose.

In every moment, every one of us does the best we can with the knowledge we have. Some people do things because they honestly don’t know any better. Sometimes it’s easy to give into greed, jealously, or selfishness.

Supporting and encouraging you from Heaven,

Love Mom xo

See also Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Life is an Obstacle Course, Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Embrace Your Uniqueness, Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – The First Letter, and The Making of a Book That Broke My Heart.

On June 26th, Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo will celebrate it’s official launch. Anyone who orders the book that day from Amazon.com will also receive a list of downloadable gifts offered to you from transformational leaders Shawne Duperon, Teresa Degrosbois, Debra Poneman, Susan Heim, Shayla Logan, Temba Spirit, and Heather Cournoyer.

In honor of this most exciting event, I will be sharing with you a letter from Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo every day from now until then. If what you read touches your heart, I encourage you to please share it with others ❤

Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Life is an Obstacle Course

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Artwork done my Nicole Cote and The Heart Painter

My Darling,

Life is an obstacle course. It is completely unpredictable and not always kind.

Obstacles and failures are necessary for our growth. Without them, we could never truly appreciate our achievements. Try to understand that every failure, every disaster, is simply a stepping stone to your ultimate achievements.

Watching over you always,

Love Mom xo

Be sure to check out Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Embrace Your Uniqueness, Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – The First Letter, and The Making of a Book That Broke My Heart.

On June 26th, Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo will celebrate it’s official launch. Anyone who orders the book that day from Amazon.com will also receive a list of downloadable gifts offered to you from transformational leaders Shawne Duperon, Teresa Degrosbois, Debra Poneman, Susan Heim, Shayla Logan, Temba Spirit, and Heather Cournoyer.

In honor of this most exciting event, I will be sharing with you a letter from Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo every day from now until then. If what you read touches your heart, I encourage you to please share it with others ❤

Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – Embrace Your Uniqueness

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Featuring art by The Heart Painter and Nicole Cote

Dear Love,

You were born with special qualities and traits. It’s so important to love and accept every part of yourself as a valuable contribution to what makes you so wonderfully you. No one else can be you better than you can!

You were born exactly the way you are to learn the lessons and achieve the miracles that only you can.

Embrace your uniqueness!

Loving you just as you are, forever.

Love Mom xo

On June 26th, Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo will celebrate it’s official launch. Anyone who orders the book that day from Amazon.com will also receive a list of downloadable gifts offered to you from transformational leaders Shawne Duperon, Teresa Degrosbois, Debra Poneman, Susan Heim, Shayla Logan, Temba Spirit, and Heather Cournoyer.

In honor of this most exciting event, I will be sharing with you a letter from Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo every day from now until then. If what you read touches your heart, I encourage you to please share it with others ❤

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