Christmas conjures up all kinds of nostalgic memories filled with traditions, expectations, wonders and delights. Each year as the frenzy of activities start to take over our calendars, we begin excited with what the season holds for us. We trim branches, deck the halls, trek out to the wilderness or to a tree farm and cut down our tree with coffees in hand while we take photos with our iPhones and post immediately to the world. We bake, and take more photos to post and we buy, (and in January wonder why) we cook, and take more photos to show how we are keeping it all together as we try to make the season bright.
So, what is this season we call Christmas all about anyways?
For me, as a child who grew up in a way-less-than traditional household (that is for another time to share) I can only say my Mom made this time of year very special for all her children. We may not have been sure about the 364 other days of the year, but we knew we would be surprised and delighted on Christmas morning.
The stockings were hung (I don’t think we ever had a chimney) and filled and that is still a tradition I carry on for my family to this day. The turkey was baked and though her trimmings may not have been “magazine worthy”, they were simple and good (with the exception the weird fruit salad she made with fruit cocktail and miracle whip) (my sisters may disagree).
This year is a different year for us.
This may be my first year without my Momma.
What matters to me is the gathering of family, no matter what that looks like.
What matters is the joy of knowing this time is precious.
What matters is loving one another in spite of our differences and idiosyncrasies (we all have them).
What matters is respect and appreciation.
What matters is the reason for this season anyways.
It is for me that Jesus came as a babe as a gift from God so that we may have eternal life.
I know this — my Mom may have Christmas in heaven and I am pretty sure there will be stockings, stuffing, and the sound of angels singing and there will be JOY.
This I know for sure.
So, my wish for each of you is that you step back for the hustle and bustle, and breathe deep of the ones you call family this year.
This is what matters most.
Merry Christmas one and all from my home to yours~
The year, 1981.
The town (oddly Aldergrove, BC)
The reason- a move from California placed us at the right place at the right time for the right reason.
I met Ray in 1981 in high school after moving here from Newark, California.
I came from Football, cheerleaders, pep rallies, school cafeterias that rocked and school dances that were made for young love and ended up in a place called Aldergrove, BC.
I can say I was unimpressed.
I can say I was mad about having to move in the Junior Year of High school (Canadians say 11th grade)
(I say, tennis shoes, you say runners)
Anyways I digress.
I met Ray at school as he drove up in his Volkswagen Bug and he was the best friend I could have ever wanted.
I called him to pick me up for school. I called him when my boyfriend (at the time) broke up with me.
That was a life changing moment.
I always thought to myself…”someone should marry Ray.”
He would be a great husband but I never realized that “someone” would be me until some time later…
Fast forward to 1984 and we were married at the age of 19 (lived on my own since I was 17)
I can say I have never looked back.
I have loved being Ray’s wife and our journey is now heading towards the 30th anniversary of a marriage that was in perfect timing.
You see, at times in life, we cannot see how things will play out.
How can a young girl getting married to the the perfect fit for her at a young age be the perfect ending?
Together, they had three great children and raised them to believe in them selves.
We taught them~
Be kind (mostly)
Be honest. Always.
Be empathetic as life sometimes needs us to understand.
Be your self.
See your future and go for it.
Remember your roots.
Forge your own frontier.
Grow together as a couple (Ray and I always went away often alone)
And along the way we learned that investments in “portfolio’s” can look a lot like investing in lives…
Our investments have given us so much return and we value them (and one another) more than I can express.
So Ray, you’re still the one…
What is your story about love?
I would love to hear it!
See our contest we are running on our Facebook page here!
How to enter:
1) Like ChocolaTas and Tracycakes Bakery Cafe on Facebook!
2) Like & share the photo!
3) Comment and tell us your love story!
Do you follow us on Instagram? Follow us on Instagram for a extra entry in our contest!
Winner will be announced on February 10/2014
For nearly thirty years, I had hoped my mother in-law would love and embrace me. I wished she would tell me I was a good wife to her son and a good mother to her grandchildren. I wanted to hear her tell me what a good job I was doing as a stay-at-home mom.
We’ve all heard the mother-in-law stories. Well, my mother-in-law was one of those mothers-in-law.
She could be negative and harsh at times. Over the years, there were times when her words stung and brought tears to my eyes. Her somewhat abrasive nature was matched by a tender side that only some got to see.
These past few years, our family watched as my mother-in-law struggled with her health and became more and more frail. Last week, she fell and broke her hip.
My husband and son, along with my brother-in-law and nephew, were out of town hunting for 10 days.Since it was a long-planned trip, and we didn’t want to ask them to come home unless it was necessary. So my sister-in-law and I stepped in to make sure Mom was taken care of each and every day. Surprisingly, she didn’t seem to mind this. In fact, she had given her sons her blessing to keep hunting—which, if you knew her, was actually quite profound and a gift.
As we waited for Mom’s surgery, we helped her eat, combed her hair, and washed her face. When surgery day came, we had to face some hard realities concerning the risks. After surgery, it took all day for her to come out of recovery—and that’s when our concern started to grow. Mom’s heart rate was irregular, so they transferred her to the CCU.
For six days, my sister-in-law and I kept her company, brought flowers, food, and visitors and watched from a distance as Mom interacted with all of us, and with the nursing staff (who were phenomenal!).
Instead of being one to complain, Mom was just so gracious and thankful—and she made us laugh out loud once, when she asked a nurse, “Is that guy a Mexican?” (Those of you who don’t know my mother in law won’t get it, but those who did will be laughing alongside us. I wanted to ask her, “Are you German?!”)
In her typical way, Mom picked through her pills and took out the ones she did not “like.” Yet, all the while, she graciously understood she needed the daughters’ help. And she let us help.
In those six days, I learned how to brush dentures and put them back in, and how to comb hair and feed soup to someone lying on her side. I learned how to rub lotion on swollen knees, and massage gnarled, worn out feet that have walked many miles.
There was a strange phenomenon that happened during those days. My mother-in-law asked for a kiss each time I visited—and told me she need four hugs and four kisses a day. After anyone did anything for her, she said, “Thank you.”
She spoke of Dad and how much she missed him, and she cried each time she did so. She asked the nurses whether they had seen him during his own hospital stay two years ago. She spoke of the loss of her grandson Trevor.
She recalled all her visitors and her conversations with each one. She was very aware and coherent. She told me she prayed for each of us, by name, each day, and gave thanks before her meals.
But, for me, the clincher was that each time I was there, she would ask the nurses, “Do you know the restaurant Tracycakes? Have you been there?” And then she would say, “This is my daughter-in-law. She owns it.”
For the first time, perhaps ever, I realized Mom was proud of me! By the time the week was done, she had introduced me countless times as her daughter-in-law who owns Tracycakes. And although I was getting somewhat embarrassed, I will cherish that always.
In her last days, she made sure I knew that she loved me.
Thank you, Mom, for that gift. As you entered heaven, I’m sure there was a great deal of noise as Dad greeted you with open arms and maybe even a dance. You will be missed.
“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
– John 16:22
Taking my business to the next level
Being one of four fortunate business women who were chosen to be a part of the Women President’s Organizations annual conference was nothing short of extraordinary.
Marsha Firestone graciously allowed four Gro Your Biz women in business to join this ever growing and ever incredible conference held this year in Dallas Texas.
I quickly learned that taking my business to the next level while fueling economic growth would take some serious “two –step” on my part as I have lots to learn!
Lynda Applegate gave us an insight to how she linked the know-how with the people with the resources to create business models that can transform how we work, play and learn.
One of the things she said that struck home with me was , “ Never lose your gut instinct” which resounded with me as I often listen to that and what impacted me most is our ability to use this “instinct” which is so very different from our male counterparts.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Keys
When I think about the future and all the potential of not only myself but all women (and yes, even some men!) I am awestruck and enthusiastically want to take a two- step bogie to get to where I believe I can go!
The photo, above depicts the relentless pursuit of opportunity without regard for resources currently controlled and this is how I see myself today courageously embarking on growing my business with the support of the Gro Your Biz members and also the WPO Members.
Community gives me the courage to do so.
I attended a session titled Heart, Head and Hand: The science of persuasive communication and learned that I already do much of what was taught naturally as I share my “story” and have been known to be a “good listener”. This session just reaffirmed what I already do naturally but was re-framed for me in a way of “offering a little gift of myself to my listener” and looking for the “gift” they would give me in communication.
By speaking from the heart, we connect in a real and meaningful way to our listener, whether that is a client, an employee, our friend or family member. It connects them to me.
Our Keynote address speaker, Marshall Goldsmith spoke on “What got you here won’t get you there” and shared effective strategies on how to develop myself to the next level and taught me to understand why the challenges that come with increased success are crucial to the success of my company. Some take home thoughts would be:
Find REAL Meaning.
Be fully engaged
Build positive relationships
Set clear goals
Make progress toward goal achievement
Our real values are what we do, not what we say.
The real clincher was the thought of what my 95 year old self would say to me today?
Would “she” give me personal advice or professional advice? Most likely both, and today I will set my course and work backwards from the 95 year old me and listen to what ”she” would say.
In the evening, there is a reception honoring the 50 fastest growing women owned/led companies and we arrive to a room full of 800 formally dressed women who are honoring the 50 women who have accomplished that and it is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
My heart was stirred to keep “two-stepping” my way towards my business goals.
Some “Lessons I learned along the way” from Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole can be summed up in this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson : “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Some insights include what she learned from her father who said, “Doing for others is just the rent you pay for time on this earth.”As I ponder these quotes, “everyone has a right to SOAR” and also, “Remember to lift others as you climb!” I can learn that while I am busy setting goals and achieving them I need to be mindful of those I need to take along with me on the climb. It takes a team to do what I do, and it is not all about me.
I found this seminar to be the most inspiring as I was reminded of what we, as woman can do in the future and have done in the past, such as the Women’s Rights and Anti Slavery Activist, Sojourner Truth who changed a nation by ensuring women’s rights to vote and fought for equality for all. The story goes something like this:
“The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows and she ended with this statement that echoes throughout the course of history, ““Den dat little man in back dar, he say women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wan’t a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?” Rolling thunder couldn’t have stilled that crowd, as did those deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with out-stretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her voice still louder, she repeated, “Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin’ to do wid Him.”
Harriet Tubman who was an American bondwoman who escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She led hundreds to freedom in the North as the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses organized for that purpose.
Her words spoke to me “I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”– Harriet Tubman
These kinds of women are the kind that shows up each and every year at the WPO annual conferences and each one has a story to tell. Each women present has gone where no “woman” has gone before and left a trail for us to follow. Each woman shares from her heart her successes and failures and as we do so we free ourselves as women to be who we are. I listened to one woman share her struggles at home and with tears in her eyes speak of leaving her three teenage children with her husband and how she could only come to one day of the seminar as the family structure required so much of her and how she wondered if she was appreciated. I encouraged her and told her that indeed she was and one day, they would say “Thanks Mom”. I listened to some women share their current struggles and how the finances were a going concern for the business. I listened to laughter and shared many times with these amazing women who shared from the heart. I felt pain for one woman in particular who had just gone through a horrendous event and I understood what it meant to be a woman. I learned that women are capable and we have the propensity to care for one another in a way that men cannot and that is what makes us special and unique in business and we should not try to be like men, but fully embrace all we are and use our gifts to make this world better, one women, one moment, one meeting at a time and that is what I learned as I journeyed along the way doing the two step in Texas with women in the WPO.