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 🙂

A Journey Within

A Journey WithinIt’s been so long since I’ve written, I forgot my WordPress password! If you’re reading this wondering where I’ve been, I took a break. A long break. I write when I feel inspired. When I feel I have a message to share. The messages come from a place deeper than my own heart. Through this blog, you have joined me on my spiritual journey. For the last while, I’ve been struggling to put into words what’s been going on within.

Normally easily excitable in good stress and in bad, I am now less excitable and filled with a quiet peace. It’s not always a happy peace, but it is a peace no less. Normally positive with a belief of “everyone is doing the best they can even when it seems wrong to others”, I find myself questioning these very beliefs. How is it that when I look around I see genuinely good people being hurt or misguided by people who don’t seem to be “doing the best they can” or even doing what they surely know to be right. I stopped reading. I stopped writing. I took a little hiatus from my social life. Even kept social media to a bare minimum. I needed to explore my beliefs listening only to the messages within my own heart. I haven’t yet decided whether this shift in thinking feels better or not, but it often somehow feels more real, like a truth.

I believe that positivity plays a key role in our perceptions, and that our perceptions shape our world. Our unique perceptions allow us to see our lives as a beautiful journey even through the challenges we inevitably face. Perceptions can also allow us to see our lives as one hot hopeless mess. It’s not about seeing the world through rose colored glasses, positivity simply helps us to see life through a more beautiful lens.

I believe that most people have good hearts and genuinely do the best they can with what they know. Even when it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world. I call this being led by the light. People who live their lives being led by compassion, connectivity, and purpose. As there are people who are led by light, there are also those who are easily driven by darkness. People who are driven by vengeance, anger, and fear. I believe that as perception is a matter of choice, so is the manner in which we choose to be led. It is not a matter of being created this way or that. It is a choice we are given every single moment of every single day.  We choose whether the decisions we make allow us to be driven by darkness or led by light.

I’ve shed more tears than I care to share struggling to figure out why bad things happen to good people. Why life seems so unfair sometimes. I don’t have the answers, I likely never will. All I have is my own heart and the gift to make my own decisions. I choose to be led by the light. I choose to believe that when “bad” things happen, somewhere within it is a lesson we must learn. One that will help us along our journey somehow, someway, one day. I continue to believe that life is intricately organized chaos. The people we meet, the challenges we face, the places we end up, there is an explicit reason for all of it.

During my break from reading, writing, and socializing,  I also took an unexpected break from dreaming. This wasn’t a choice, I still can’t explain it. I’m not sure if it stems from a fear of success or failure after all that has transpired with my book. (For those of you who don’t know,  it is due to a series of unfortunate events that  I no longer have a publisher, I will not be compensated for any online sales, and all the money I put into being published is gone. If I wish to sell my book once my copies are gone, I will need to come up with another chunk of cash in order to find a new publisher. OUCH! it still hurts!) For now, and for the last while, I have been committed to each day rather than to my dreams of the future. It’s not nearly as exciting most of the time, but I must admit, it’s been surprising and I might be falling in love with it. I am open to opportunities that present themselves. I am taking on small projects that I wouldn’t have had time for while living in my dream bubble.

Thank you, readers for providing me with a space to express myself and thank you for being my silent partner on this journey of self discovery. It’s not always a beautiful journey with chirping birds, sunshine and songs, sometimes it’s more like pain. Sometimes, it’s somewhere right in the middle. Writing allows me to share a piece of my deepest self . It requires a raw vulnerability which pushes me just far enough outside my comfort zone to grow.  I wish I could take you inside my heart just once to feel what I feel when I reach out to you, and you reach back to me. I fully embrace your awesomeness 🙂

You may also enjoy My Faith Unveiled , Did God Overestimate Me, 10 Lessons I Learned From Debra Poneman

Keep Calm and Stop The Nonsense

stopBullying has become a hot topic among youth. Everyone’s talking about it, every child has experienced it in one form or another. If they haven’t bullied or been bullied, they’ve certainly witnessed it. As adults we jump to protect our children. We are all over the schools about dealing with any bullying problem our children may experience. But what about Adult Bullying? Why haven’t we talked about that? How come we have yet to open that can of worms? Haven’t we all experienced it in one form or another? I, myself, have experienced the wrath of another; manipulating, lying to be hurtful, the ridiculous rumors. The only thing harder than going through it myself is watching someone I love being treated that way.  I have witnessed marital bullying, workplace bullying, even parental bullying. It’s an issue worthy of discussion.

I’m not a fan of conflict, I run at the first sign of confrontation or aggression. I can’t stand people not getting along. One day, I will share my whole story however, I’m not going to get into my personal experience at this time out of respect for HER privacy – go figure! What I will share is what I’ve learned along this long and bumpy road in the hopes that those of you out there who find yourselves in a similar situation may find some shred of peace or understanding.

How it started and why it started are answers I am all too familiar with. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to walk away and never look back. Unfortunately, I’m too stubborn to give up that easily. Walking away to escape her wrath would have meant walking out on 2 people in my life I love dearly and that wasn’t going to happen. I am as determined as I am stubborn and I was determined to find resolution.

In the beginning I was patient. I honestly believed it would eventually just die off. It didn’t. Throughout the years, it only went briefly into remission every now and again, it never stopped completely. If it wasn’t me being put through the ringer, someone I loved usually was. I sought answers in books, with counselors, through prayer, and in spirituality. I even traveled to study with spiritual leaders hoping someone, somewhere would have an answer. Somebody, somewhere would teach me whatever I needed to know or provide me with whatever healing I needed to take back control over my world. Somebody, somewhere would know the secret to living a peaceful life where madness didn’t exist.  I just needed to find that someone.

What I learned was that the healing had to come from me. I first learned to love myself exactly as I am, all my faults, failures, qualities, and shortcomings. I learned to find the gift in difficult situations and find the light in those who projected darkness. I learned to forgive – turns out there is a ton of helpful information out there about forgiving people in your past, but not so much on forgiving people in your present – that one I had to figure out for myself. What I learned about forgiveness is that forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget. It means to learn from the experience to better be prepared for the future. I learned of the importance of setting and sticking to boundaries. I learned to accept what is. I learned not to waste energy trying to figure out how to change things/people you can’t change. I even learned to send loving thoughts her way (which I do every day), some days are harder than others. I’m not going to lie. Some days sending that love is simply saying “Thanks for experience. I’m a better person for it.”

It’s taken me almost 2 decades to learn the lessons I have, 2 decades of hard core seeking. I was so determined to make that destructive relationship work that I put more time and attention into it than I did any other relationship in my life. Including my relationships with my husband and my children. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do the same.

I was fortunate enough to learn and grow through the experience, some people don’t. What about children who are repeatedly told by one parent they are not loved and cared for by their other parent? How hurtful is that? How is that hurt undone? Is that hurt ever truly reversible? What about the significant other who habitually tells their partner they are unworthy of respect? Is that ever truly reversible? How about the adult siblings who consistently go out of their way to make another sibling feel like they don’t count for anything? Reversible? Adult children who make their parents feel that no one cares? Reversible?  How often do people need to be told they are unworthy of love and respect before they start to believe it themselves? Newsflash! As human beings we are hard enough on ourselves. We don’t need any help from anybody else to feel crappy every now and then.

One of the things I learned that usually helps to ground me when things get particularly bad is the knowledge that how people treat others is a direct reflection of how they feel inside. It is not possible for someone to continually make others feel bad unless they feel horrible inside themselves. If someone is repeatedly trying to make you feel worthless, they surely feel truly worthless themselves.

Bullying doesn’t only come pint sized. This is a subject that needs to be addressed, discussed, and squashed.

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 – 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 ❤

Letters From Heaven Love Mom xo – The First Letter

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 ❤

Heart Painter

My Dear Child,

I want you to know that your life has made a remarkable difference in mine.

You’ve touched my life in ways that I can’t explain. I’ve learned more from you than I’ve learned from anyone or anything else in this world. You are a true gift.

Make no mistake; I am not the only one who feels this way. I’m proud to say I’ve seen you touch many people’s lives in many different ways and you’ve been doing it since the day you were born.

I am honored to call you my child.

Always by your side,

Love Mom xo

Where it all began: The Making of A Book That Broke My Heart

Creating a New Normal

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We really are creatures of habit, aren’t we? Life passes so quickly and doesn’t it sometimes feel like one day runs into the next? Before you know it, a year has gone by and you’re still doing the same old dance? Before you know it you’re wondering why your life still looks the same as it did 10 years ago. What happened to your plan for change? We wake up and follow the morning routine. We follow another general routine for the day, another at night, and repeat. Even for a girl like me who has anxiety with schedules and routines, my days are basically the same.

In my mind, I can see my perfect world. I am aware of the general steps to get me where I want to go, and yet more often than not I fall short of attaining this beautiful world. I stay secure in my comfort zone, even though it’s not my hearts desire to do so. Those who are close to me laugh sometimes when they hear me speak this way. In their eyes I am regularly putting myself out there, trying and testing new things. I’m always chasing dreams; new ones, old ones, it doesn’t much matter as long as I’m chasing something. What they don’t realize is that this is my comfort zone. I don’t like routine and schedule. I find excitement and comfort in always living in a world just outside my reach. I find comfort in new ideas and new ventures. I have been working very hard the last few months to step outside of my comfort zone by sticking to my goals until they are attained. Dedication. Perseverance. ohhh butterfly Focus.

Changing our life is achieved in large part by making simple changes to the pattern of our days. That’s where it all begins – with the arduous task of changing our habits. I’m not talking 360 shifts here, often big changes are the result of small shifts. Think about it; change made in a morning routine can result in change throughout the day. If our day routine is changes, every day changes along with it. You can re-design your life by creating a new normal.

Change your habits, change your life

Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. Believe you are worthy.

Embrace your awesomeness!

Pamela Tourigny

Brand Management, Story Telling, Marketing

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THECOLORMAGE

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The Juicing Nomads

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde

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