My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Who Inspires me …

We were having a team building session yesterday at Celebrate the Hero.  We have some new people in the office, so we were going around the room asking each other questions, getting to know each other a little better.

My friend Jessica, asked me a great question — “Who inspires me and why?”

I had to think about that for a minute.  Since I began this journey, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many inspiring people.  So I really had no shortage of people to choose from.

I’m sure I’ve written about inspiring people before.  I’m lucky to have many people in my life who inspire me in different ways —

– My sister-in-law Trish inspires me to be a better cook.

– My friend Nick E. inspires me to be a better writer.

– My friends Karen and Aidan inspire me to become a better runner.

– My friend Liz inspires me to become a better blogger.

– My friend Joe inspires me to get out and enjoy life more.

I could go on and on really.  We all have people in our lives like this, whether we realize it or not, whether we admit it or not, who inspire us.

But to answer Jess’s question, I was thinking about who inspires me most?

I came up with 3 answers …

First would be my best friend Jeff’s dad Alan.  Alan is an amazing man.  He’s warm and kind and funny.  He is going through his second bout of cancer.  In spite of that, or maybe because of that, he has an incredible zest for life.  He takes things in stride.  He doesn’t seem to let things get to him.  When I’m feeling down or out of sorts, I often think of him.  When I’m having a bad day and just want to give up, I think of him.  He inspires me to keep going, no matter what.  I’ve told him before how inspiring he is to me and many other people.  I’m not sure if he realizes just how true that is.  He is someone I’d definitely call a Hero to many!

Next I’d choose my friend Tyler.  I’ve mentioned him in many of my blog posts.  He is a dear friend and a very important part of my journey.  Tyler has this very infectious happy-go-lucky attitude.  To him, every day is the best day ever.  It’s one of my favourite things about him.  You can’t help but be in a good mood when you’re around him.  He inspires me to be a better person.

And last, I’d choose my friend Nick Foley.  Nick is a very remarkable man.  He founded Celebrate the Hero, where I volunteer.  He wants to make the world a better place.  And he works very hard to achieve that.  He’s funny and kind and charming.  He’s a great writer and a fantastic speaker.  And his face lights up and his eyes twinkle when he talks about his daughter.  He has this energy about him that is contagious.  You just want to be around him, want to hear what he has to say.  I’m not sure if he even realizes that, but it’s true.  I always feel better when I talk to him.  And when I’m working in the office, I always come home feeling like I’m on cloud nine.  He makes me want to make the world a better place too.

So there you have it.  Three of the people that inspire me the most.  I could talk about them all day.  They each inspire me in different ways, in ways they may not even realize.

My life is better because they are in it.

The world is a better place with them in it.


So tell me … who inspires you?



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Mission: Offer Support

Originally, when I started writing this post, I was going to talk about how I offer support to those around me.  Whether it be sending them a quick note on facebook, sending them a card, offering to buy us coffee, or just letting them know I’m around if they ever need anything.  I had planned on giving several examples of things I’ve done recently.

But then things changed.

I found myself in need of support.

And my friends rallied.

It was amazing.

I had planned to go away this weekend to visit friends in Arizona.  I was scheduled to fly out Thursday afternoon, May 1st.   My husband is an accountant, and they always have May 1st off, so that’s why I scheduled my flight that day.  It had been raining on and off for a couple of days, but the weather looked pretty good for that afternoon.

We headed to Toronto (the closest airport) in the morning, stopping for coffee and gas along the way.  It had been sprinkling a little when we stopped.  After we got back on the road, it started raining harder.  A few minutes after getting back on the road, my husband lost control of the car.  We began fishtailing.  He tried to regain control, but couldn’t.  We headed into the ditch and rolled.  I took the brunt of the impact because we landed on my side first.  I remember my window shattering.  I had been looking towards my husband, so I did not get hit in the face with the glass.  I had been bracing myself with my hands, so that’s where I got cut.  When we came to a stop, the car was resting on the driver’s side.  Thankfully we were both wearing our seat belts.  I remember my husband screaming through the entire crash.  Once we stopped, I did my best to calm him down.  It happened so quick, yet it felt almost like slow motion.  My cell phone was in my left pocket.  I had my husband grab it so we could call for help.  He was in a shock, I think, and couldn’t figure out how to call out on it. (We have different types of phones — I have an iPhone, he has a Blackberry).  He handed it to me and I called 911.   The lady who answered was really nice.  Her name was Rachel.  I explained what happened and where we were.  She asked a couple of questions as she sent for help for us.  She stayed on the phone with me until they arrived.  We were in between towns, so help came from both.  The police arrived first, followed very quickly by the paramedics and the fire department.

They talked to us through my broken window.  They were trying to figure out how to get us out safely.  Eventually, one of the paramedics opened the back of the car (it’s a Hyundai Tuscon), and crawled in.  They had removed all the stuff from the back, cut the seat belts to get them out of the way, and laid the backseat down.  They were going to try to get my husband out first, but no one could reach the lever to lay his seat back.  So we decided to try to get me out first.  They laid my seat back, cut my seat belt so I could move.  I very carefully moved my legs out and stepped down near my husband.  I carefully stepped over him towards the back.  At that point, he was able to get out of his seat.  After a couple of minutes, I was able to walk out the back of the car, followed shortly by my husband.  Once I stepped out, 2 paramedics grabbed a hold of me to walk me to the ambulance.  I had remained pretty calm the whole time, but once I was out of the car, I lost it.  I’m pretty sure if I had not had those paramedics holding on to me, I would have fallen into the mud.  I walked to the ambulance and climbed in under my own power.  I never looked back at the car.  They started asking me questions, like my name and birth date, and taking my vital signs.  After what seemed like forever, we headed to the hospital.  My husband was in a different ambulance.  I found out later that he too, walked out of the car and to the ambulance under his own power.

Once at the hospital, we were seen quickly by the people in triage and registration.  One of my first thoughts was to call my friend who I was going to see.  I was shaking terribly from the accident.  I called Jeff and after saying that it was me calling, the next thing I said to him was “Don’t Panic!”  I explained we had been in car accident on the way to the airport.  We were at the hospital, but okay.  I said I would call him later when I had more information.

We were at the hospital for a couple of hours.  I had to get a tetanus shot.  My right shoulder and hand were really hurting, so they did x-rays to be safe.   I was covered in mud.  My husband was covered in mud and coffee.  But we were okay.  We walked away from it.  Relatively speaking, it was a minor accident.  We have minor cuts and bruises, me moreso than him.  But we walked away.

We also spoke with the police while we were there.  No other cars were involved, which was good.  We found out that back tires were nearly bald, which is probably why we lost control.  Or at least partly why.  They gave us a copy of the police report.

My husband’s office is only a couple of blocks from the hospital we were at, so after they said we could go, we walked down to his office.  He called the insurance company; I called my travel agent and travel insurance company.  I also messaged my friend to let him know what was going on.  I had thought still trying to make my trip, but in the end, we agreed it was probably best to cancel and rebook for a later date.

After being there for a couple of hours, we called my husband’s best friend.  He explained about the accident, and his best friend left work early to come pick us up.  He was very concerned, but happy to hear we were both okay.

After we got home, I posted on my Facebook that we were okay, but that we had been in an accident.  I gave only a few details.  Almost immediately, I got messages back, expressing concern, asking if were okay, asking if we needed anything.  Some people asked what had happened.  All day messages came in.  Some who had not seen the initial posting, but heard about it later, posted messages on my wall.  One friend offered to stop by the next day with some coffee and to see if I was okay.  The outpouring of love and support from our friends and family was awesome.  Messages and phone calls are still coming in.

That day started with such promise.

Then the unexpected happened.

And then the most wonderful things happened.  Our friends and family may not realize the effect their simple words had, but I’ll never forget.  They took the time to offer their support in our time of need, and I will always be grateful for that.  When we needed them, they were there.  Even from far away, they were there.

I have always tried to be there for my friends whenever they have needed me.  Letting them know I will always be there, no matter what.

And when my husband and I needed them, they were there.  Without question.  With great concern for us.  They were there.

When we needed the support of the police, paramedics, and fire department, they were there within minutes.

When we needed the support of the staff at the hospital, they were there.

My point is this:   We all need support at one time or another.  Always do your best to offer support to others because you never know when you’ll need that support back.

It doesn’t have to be big.  Just a kind word.  Ask how they are.  Offer to stop by for a short visit.  Invite them out for coffee or even just a walk around the neighbourhood.  Let them know you are there for them.


My Community: Christmas shopping in Downtown Belleville

This year I’ve been making a conscience effort to support the local shops, restaurants, etc in my town. I’ve been visiting our farmers’ market more often. I’ve been trying new restaurants and coffee shops. I’ve checked out new stores. And I plan to continue to do so. We all need to support local businesses or they will disappear.

So since it’s Christmas time, I decided I would make an extra effort to do some of my shopping locally. So one afternoon I walked downtown to get started. I’ve seen several stores downtown that I’d always wanted to go into, so I decided this would be the perfect time.

First, I stopped in at Sweet Escape Cafe for a candy cane hot chocolate. It was so good and totally hit the spot. It has become one of my favourite places in town.

Next I stopped in Fusion Gifts. It’s actually 3 shops in 1 – Fusion Gifts, Glamour Junkie, and Glass Art Designs. I was cheerfully greeted by the lady behind the counter. I happily walked through the shop admiring the wonderful assortment of items for sale. There was scarves and jewelry, candles, beautiful glass work items, paintings and other items by local artists, and much more. Definitely worth checking out. I made my purchase and continued on.

Next up was That Special Touch. A lovely little shop with clothing and accessories. I chatted with the owner, Darla, as I browsed the selection.

Next I went into a new store called Hello Gorgeous. I’d heard a lot about the store and I was anxious to see what they had. I was greeted by Erin. We happily chatted as I browsed the wonderful selection of clothing and accessories. I was excited to see such beautiful items. I saw several things I would love to get for myself, but I was shopping for others, so I decided to save that for another time. Again, I made my purchase and continued on.

Next door is Richard Davis, a store that sells mainly men’s wear. They have a nice selection of items like shirts, ties, sweaters, and accessories.

I finished my shopping day with a stop at the dollar store. I love dollar stores. You can find stocking stuffers, decorations, craft supplies, pet items, kitchen accessories, and much more.

There are several other stores as well. There is Richelle’s, Pure Honey Boutique, La Maison D’Eva, Pinnacle Music Studio, Roluf’s Travels, Scalliwag Toys, and much more.

There’s a lot more than just shops. There are also several wonderful restaurants and cafés, including Capers, The Old Firehouse, and Cafe E, Bourbon Street Pizza Company. There is also The Empire Theatre, the library, and several other wonderful businesses. Do yourself a favour and check out Downtown Belleville for yourself.

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My community: the 3rd annual Right Fit Santa Run

A few years ago, Ashton Calnan was looking for a way to support a local charity. As a personal trainer and owner of  The Right Fit , she decided organizing a 5k run/walk would be perfect. Because she loves Christmas, she decided to hold it in November and call it The Santa Run. She invites participants to dress in Santa suits, hats, and other festive gear, although it’s not a requirement. This year’s event will be held on November 17th.

The first year, the run had over 100 participants and raised close to $1000 for the firefighters toy drive.
The second year, there was around 60 participants, and over $500 and 120lbs of food was collected for the food bank.
This year, they hope to once again have over 100 people take part and help raise money for the Adopt A Child program.

Asked why she chose the Adopt A Child program to support this year, Ashton said “I read an article in the paper saying how much Adopt A Child was in need of help, and wanted to do something for kids – I thought it would be a perfect fit!”

If you would like to take part in this year’s event, you can contact The Right Fit through email or on their website You can also register the morning of the event.

Participants are asked to meet at The Right Fit studio at 268 Front Street in downtown Belleville. Registration begins at 9:30am; and the race is scheduled to start at 10am. Get there early to make sure you’re registered. The registration fee is $20 or a donation to the Adopt A Child program. The race will start at the footbridge, continue up to Riverside Park, and back. There will refreshments and treats after the race. You are also invited to help decorate their float for the city’s Santa Claus Parade, which will be held later that day.


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Mission: Pay someone a compliment

A couple of weeks ago, the weekly mission for Celebrate the Hero was to pay someone a compliment.  Easy to do really.  With the number of people we encounter every day, it’s easy to say something nice to someone each day.  As connected as most of us are with social media, I decided to take the mission one step further.  Each day, I picked a few people from my friends list on Facebook and posted something nice about them on their wall.   A lot of the people on my facebook live far away, most are family members as well as some old friends.  I don’t get to see them often, although we stay in touch as much as we can.   That’s why I thought this would be a great idea.  These are just a few examples of what I posted.

On one friend’s wall I wrote:

You are one of the friendliest people I know

On another’s, I wrote:

I admire your determination

On yet another, I wrote:

You are a great inspiration

On my brother’s wall, I wrote:

You’ve always been a very creative person.  I’ve always admired that about you.

On another one, I wrote:

You have a great smile

I even took to twitter to post to some of the people I follow there, and even some of my favourite celebrities.  One tweet I sent was favourited by the celebrity I sent it to.  That really made my day!

One friend asked what brought on the compliment I posted to him.  So I explained about the mission.  They thought it was pretty cool.  A few people even posted compliments back to me.

I didn’t do it to get a compliment back.  I just wanted to let them know I was thinking about them.  And I hoped it might make their day a little brighter.  I know it did mine.


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My community – Belleville’s Farmers’ Market

One of the best things about my community (and just about any community for that matter) is our local farmers’ market.  Located in downtown Belleville, behind City Hall, the farmers market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, all year long.

I love to buy local whenever I can, and the farmers’ market is the perfect place for it.  But it’s not just fruits and veggies.  You can get local maple syrup and honey, homemade jams and jellies, organic cereals and granolas, meats, and even crafts items, just to name a few.







When the weather is nice, I love to walk down with my reuseable shopping bags to see what I can find.  Sometimes I have an idea what I want, sometimes I wait to see what looks good when I get there.  On a recent trip, I bought honeycrisp apples and red peppers from one stand; some apple cinnamon granola from another; a peanut butter granola bar from another; and some challah bread and whole wheat rolls from yet another.


What could be better than getting fresh in-season fruits and vegetables, and in the process, helping local farmers?  Or getting locally made maple syrup?  You should check out the farmers market for yourself.  You might be surprised at what you’ll find.


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Mission: Post-it

Each week, my friends over at Celebrate the Hero put out weekly missions for people to do to help make the world a better place.   This week’s mission is:

“Post- it!
On a Post-it note or small piece of paper, write a positive message and leave it for someone else to find. It can be anything you find inspirational, or moving. Lyrics to a song, a quote, a poem, an excerpt from a book, or even just a compliment! All you have to do is write it out and put it in a place where someone will find it. This could be a library book, left on your desk for the next student, put it into someone’s locker, stuck to a vending machine, pay phone, around the food court at the mall, or cafeteria at school! You never know what’s going on in someone’s life and sometimes the smallest gestures can mean the most.”

So I’ve been going around this week leaving little notes in different places — the gym, the bus, the bus station, a park bench, the coffee shop.  It’s been fun thinking of things to write.  As I left each note, I took a picture of it with my phone.  Here are a few I’ve left:











It brings a smile to my face wondering what the people who have found my little notes thought about them.  I hope they brought a smile to their face too.  I hope my notes made their day better.  It did mine.


My community – Sweet Escape Cafe

Have you ever walked into a place and immediately felt comfortable? That’s how I felt the first time I walked into Sweet Escape Cafe, located in downtown Belleville. I had seen it many times, but never seemed to have the chance to stop in. I always seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere else. But a few weeks ago, I finally got my chance when a friend suggested we meet there for coffee. I got there early and was taken with the place as soon as I walked in. It’s casual and charming and beckons you to sit down and relax for a while. And while doing so, you can enjoy a great cup of coffee, a sweet treat, or even breakfast or lunch. The staff always greets you with a smile and a kind word. As you look around, you can see flyers and notices for local events. They even have poetry nights. A local shop promoting local happenings, gotta love it.

I usually stop in the morning on my way to the gym, but the other day I stopped in the afternoon on my way home. I was struck by the eclectic mix of customers. Everyone seemed to be happily mingling together. I placed my order, which on this day was pumpkin spice hot chocolate and a turkey bacon club wrap, and found a seat. I just sat there, watching and listening and taking it all in. Many seemed to be regulars, as they said a quick Hi to someone or stopped to have a brief conversation. I watched as groups of people, who seemingly had nothing in common, happily sat together and chatted away. A young man sat quietly playing his guitar and no one seemed to mind. As I sat watching and listening, he came over to me and asked if he could sit by me and play. I said “yes, please do.” He sat and played, and we chatted between songs. He played several songs for me. He did seem to be playing just for me. When he finished and got up to leave, he introduced himself to me and shook my hand. I introduced myself back and thanked him for playing, telling him he was very good. And then he said “thanks for smiling while I played.” That little comment made my entire week. I sat a little longer, then made my way home. And as I left, I got the feeling I was leaving friends. What a great feeling that is. What a great place this is. Belleville is lucky to have a place like Sweet Escape. You should check it out for yourself.


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My community – Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I first met her in July 2012 when I did my first 5k race. It was her race, the one she organizes in memory of her son.

Karen, a transplant from England, met her husband Craig while visiting the area in 2003. After going back and forth for a few years, she finally moved to Belleville in 2010 when she was pregnant with her son, Reece. Reece was born July 20, 2010, on her daughter Daisy’s 3rd birthday. Almost immediately, they noticed something was wrong. Reece seemed to have very low muscle tone, he was sort of “floppy”. After several tests and waiting more than a month, the results finally came in — Reece had Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA. Karen and her family had never heard of it before. SMA is caused by a genetic defect, and is the most common genetic cause of infant death. There is currently no cure for it. Reece was just 7 weeks old when he passed away. After her son’s diagnosis, Karen and her husband were both tested and it was discovered that both are carriers of the gene, although neither has the disease. It is estimated that approximately 1-in-40 people is a carrier of the gene; and approximately 1-in-6000 babies is born with the disease. And yet, it is not very well known. You can visit to get more information. I, personally, had never heard of it until I met Karen.

After Reece’s death, Karen felt like she needed to do something. Something to bring awareness to the disease. Something to help raise money. Karen is an avid runner, so it seemed natural to her to organize a race. She decided to hold it in July, around Reece’s birthday, each year. She got in touch with The Running Room, who helped her with the organization of it. The monies raised are divided equally between the pediatric ward of Belleville General Hospital, and Families of SMA Canada. In the three years the race has been run, nearly $12,000 has been raised. The first year of the race, there was 44 racers; this year, it’s third, there was 73. She plans on organizing the race for years to come, and hopes it will continue to grow.

I met Karen at the second race. It was my very first race ever. When I heard her story, I was amazed. We’ve become good friends since then. When I was given the task to find the good things in our community, my first thought was Karen. Karen has taken something very sad and very personal, and is turning it into something positive.  If you would like more information on SMA or the Run for Reece, you can contact Karen at


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To nourish my soul

As I move along in my journey to become a healthier person, I’ve come to realize my soul needs as much attention as my body. Off and on over the years I’ve thought about volunteering somewhere, giving back to my community. And I’ve done things here and there, but nothing really major. A couple of weeks ago, something inside told me the time is now, that I needed to find something that I can put my heart into and nourish my soul.

So I considered a few different options, and although they are great organizations, nothing jumped out and said this was the one. Then I remembered Celebrate The Hero. I was introduced to the organization last year, and even blogged about them. I love what they are trying to do, what they are doing. So I sent Nick an email asking if they needed volunteers. I didn’t know what I could do for them exactly, I just knew I wanted to help. Nick and I arranged to chat over coffee. I was very nervous, but excited. We had a great meeting. And I’m thrilled to say we will be working together! I will be doing a number of things, helping get done what needs to be done, but the one thing I’m most enthusiastic about is writing a blog. It’s not just that I’ll be writing, it’s what I will be writing about that has me so fired up: I will be looking for good people, events, organizations, businesses in my community and writing about them. How awesome is that!!

As I explained to Nick, I stopped reading the newspaper and watching the news for the most part because I got tired of reading/hearing so much bad news and not enough good news. I know there is good in the world. Good things happen every day. We just don’t get to hear about it as much. I want to change that.

And that’s why I’m so excited about my work with Celebrate the Hero. I want to celebrate my community. I want to bring attention to those who are doing good. I want to promote organizations, events, and people that are making our world a better place. I want to show the world there is a lot of good things happening if you just open your eyes.

So if you live in my area and you know of something good you think I should write about, please let me know.  I’m open to all ideas.

And if you aren’t in my area, look around for the good in your community and spread the word.

Be part of the good.  Be part of the change you want to see in the world.


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