My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Why I love Urban Escape Cafe

I spent a wonderful few hours at the cafe today, which is what inspired this post.

I’ve been going to the Cafe for about two and a half years now. I liked it as soon as I walked in.  And it’s only gotten better.

I go there as often as I can, but sometimes wish I could go more.  I love being there.  I always leave feeling better, no matter how I felt when I got there.

The first time I went there, it was to meet someone to discuss a job.  And as I said, I liked it as soon as I walked in.

I continued going whenever I got the chance.

Fabulous coffee, good food, great atmosphere. What’s not to love?

But it was more than that.

It was the people.

People having conversations with each other.

People sharing a part of their day with people they may have just met.

They have undergone a few changes since I started going there. New owner, new location. But those changes have only helped it become even better.

The new location is perfect. Exposed brick walls. Hardwood floors. It’s warm and inviting. It feels a bit like home.

The food is still delicious.

And most importantly, the coffee is still fabulous!

The people. Oh my goodness, the people.

Juliet, the owner, who is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Truly a beautiful person.

Sara, who works there too. Such a sweetheart.

The regulars: Steve and Cathy, Peter, Jim, Fred, Rick, Peter, Junior. And others I’ve seen there, but don’t remember their names.

We sit around, often sharing a large table, drinking our coffees (or tea or whatever), and talking.  Talking about anything and everything. Sharing stories, comparing notes, making each other laugh.  We pause occasionally to order a refill or get some food, but then continue.  We work on crossword and sudoku puzzles. Occasionally answering messages on our phones or tablets. But always talking.

A seemingly random group of people, who may not have met otherwise, sitting in a coffee shop sharing part of their lives with each other, creating friendships.

And I always, always leave there with a smile on my face and a warm glow in my heart.

This is just one of the reasons why I love Urban Escape Cafe.

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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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Thankful challenge

At the beginning of November, I was challenged to post on my Facebook wall each day something that I’m thankful for.  I took up the challenge, and this is the result.  I hope you enjoy! I hope my post inspires you to be thankful for the blessings in your life.  Note: this is a long post (LOL)


Day 1:

I’m thankful for my wonderful husband. I’m thankful for my friend Jeffrey Zaben who is everything a friend should be and much much more. And I’m thankful for my cats who constantly keep me entertained.

Day 2:

I’m thankful for my brothers. They have always been there for me and I hope they know how much I love them. They are a constant inspiration to me.

I’m thankful for my dad. He’s an amazing man and I love him.

I’m thankful for autumn. It’s my favourite time of year.

Day 3:

I’m thankful for old friends.  I have some I’ve known for 30 years.  They’ve helped me through good times and bad.  And although we no longer live close to each other, they will always be close in my heart.

I’m thankful for the squirrels and blue jays in my neighbourhood who come to my front porch looking for food.  And especially the one I named Alvin because he learned to trust me and take a peanut from my hand.  They put a smile on my face every time I see them.

I’m thankful for the ladies at my local coffee shop.  They always have a smile and kind word for every customer.  And they make really awesome coffee.

Day 4:

I’m thankful that the city and the bus drivers have come to an agreement so there won’t be a bus strike.

I’m thankful for my love of books. It allows me to travel to many different places, times, worlds and meet many different people. If you’re a lover of books like I am, you understand.

I’m thankful for peppermint tea. It helps me feel better when I’m not feeling well.

Day 5:

I’m thankful for my work with Celebrate the Hero.  I’m inspired every day.  Such an amazing organization.

I’m thankful to Nick and Britini for … well, for everything.  They are both amazing people and do an incredible job.  They welcomed me with open arms.  And I learn from them every time I’m with them.  They inspire me to want to do more to make the world a better place.  They make the world a better place just being themselves.

Day 6:

Today I’m thanking a few people who have helped teach me that just because life throws you a few curveballs, doesn’t mean you give up. It means you fight that much harder.

My friend Alan Zaben, who is an incredible inspiration.

My friend Joe, who has an amazing zest for life.

My friend Sean Buckley, who has become like a mentor to me (even though I’m older than he is). He helps keep me motivated when I feel like giving up.

Day 7:

I’m thankful for my cousins. I love the whole crazy bunch of them.  Even though we live miles and miles apart and don’t get to see each other much, they are always in my heart.

I’m thankful for my friend Elizabeth Schillings McLennan for always being there and for know just when I need a laugh (i.e. the maple syrup house)

I’m thankful for my friend and sister-in-law Julie Kontur for just being the wonderful person she is.

Day 8:

I’m thankful for my friend Jaime who is just one of the sweetest people I know and who’s smile lights up every room she enters

I’m thankful for my Aunt Liz who is just a beautiful person inside and out.

I’m thankful for my mom. Even though she isn’t here anymore, I will always be thankful for the things she taught me (or at least tried to teach me). I admit I didn’t always appreciate her when I was going up, but as I got older I realized just how remarkable she was. I love you mom.

Day 9:

I’m thankful to live in my town, my province, my country.  Not that I don’t love where I came from … I do and always will … but this is my home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I’m thankful to have gone through all I have in the last few years.  Every moment has helped me become the person I am today.

I’m thankful I finally listened to the universe when it was telling me I needed to change who and what I was.

Day 10:

I’m thankful for apples, turkey bacon, greek yogurt, broccoli, and other yummy foods that make eating healthy a delight

I’m thankful for the knowledge I’m gained in the last few years on how to eat healthy

I’m thankful for chocolate when I want to indulge in something sweet

Day 11:

I’m thankful for all the men and women (past, present, and future) who serve in our armed forces. They sacrifice a lot to protect us and our freedoms and I will be eternally grateful.

Day 12:

I’m thankful for those people who see a need and want to help, who want to be the good in the world and inspire others to be the good as well.

Day 13:

I’m thankful for my friend Tyler, who has helped me in so many ways, taught me more than I thought possible, and is just an all-around good guy.  You rock, dude!

I’m thankful for my friend Nick, who introduced me to a new genre of books to read and who inspires me to be a better writer.

I’m thankful for Facebook which has made it possible for me to stay connected to friends and family far away, and as well as find new friends.

Day 14:

I’m thankful for all those who have helped me believe in myself, who’ve taught me that I can do things I once thought impossible, who’ve helped me become a better version of me.  There are so many in that group, more than I can really say, but I want to mention a few people:

Tyler, who saw something in me that even I didn’t see, who lent me some of his confidence when I had trouble finding my own, and has always believed in me (even when I didn’t believe in myself)

Matt, Amy, Liz, Karen, Aidan, Andreas, Jenn, and everyone else I’ve met through Quinte’s Biggest Loser.  You all accepted me from the beginning, and you have no idea how wonderful that was/is.

Carrie, who has always been there, even when she moved to Ottawa.


Jeff, who has been through it and understands.

Day 15:

I’m thankful for penguins and bunnies because they make me smile

I’m thankful for coffee, because some days things don’t get done without it

I’m thankful for Scooby Doo and the gang for making me happy for 43 years and counting 🙂

Day 16:

I’m thankful for that little voice in my head that convinces me to keep going when I want to give up, that helps guide me to better choices, and reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing

Day 17:

I’m thankful for the NFL. It has provided many many MANY hours of entertainment since I was very young. I always look forward to the fall when football season starts.

And I’m thankful for the Denver Broncos, who have been my favourite team for 28 years and counting, through good times and bad.

And I’m thankful someone had the good sense to convince Peyton Manning to become a Bronco. He’s a great addition to my team 🙂

Day 18:

I’m thankful for the sore muscles I get after a workout because it means I’m working hard!

I’m thankful to have someone to talk to while I’m on the treadmill because it helps make the time go by faster

I’m thankful I can have a nap when I get home from the gym because some days I just need a nap! LOL

Day 19:

I’m thankful I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my plate, and family and friends that love me.

Day 20:

I’m thankful for my beautiful niece Ashlie.  She’s been a joy in my life since the day she was born.  And now she’s all grown up with a wonderful family of her own.  I am so proud of her.  And I’m also thankful for Ashlie’s husband Carlos and their beautiful girls, Isabella and Ariana.  I love them all so much.

Day 21:

I’m thankful for those around me who see the changes in me long before I can see them.

I’m thankful for fun workout clothes.

I’m thankful that I’m at a size where I can buy fun workout clothes.

Day 22:

I’m thankful for my bright pink running shoes because you can’t be unhappy wearing bright pink running shoes (hahaha)

I’m thankful for my inner strength that keeps me going when part of me really wants to give up

I’m thankful for Pinterest for helping me find so much inspiration and motivation!

Day 23:

I’m thankful my parents taught me to cook and I’m thankful I had and still have a passion to learn.

Day 24:

I’m thankful for quiet Sundays when I can do my weekly food prep, curl up with a hot cup of tea, and watch football.

I’m thankful I learned preparing most of my meals and snacks for the week makes keeping track of what I’m eating so much easier, and also keeps me from eating stuff I really shouldn’t.

Day 25:

I’m thankful for the songs on my playlists because sometimes they are exactly what I need to hear.

I’m thankful for moments of solitude when I can just relax and recharge.

I’m thankful I’ve learned to recognize when I need to relax and recharge.

Day 26:

I’m thankful for flowers and soft rain in the spring; the warm summer sun; the changing leaves and crisp air in the fall; and soft billowy snow in the winter.

Day 27:

I’m thankful I discovered at a young age the joy of reading. Sometimes required for school, but more often something I picked for the pure pleasure of reading. I’ve spent many many hours lost in the worlds created by the authors, whether it was the story of love and life during the civil war in Gone with the Wind, the often cruel world of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire, the poetically written stories of Guy Gavriel Kay, solving crimes along with various detectives created by James Patterson, or the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other books I’ve read over the years. From The Velveteen Rabbit to Encyclopedia Brown to Emily of New Moon; from books of poetry to books by Tom Clancy and W.E.B Griffin; from epic adventures like Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time to autobiographies by Bill Clinton and Andre Agassi, and others. With each new book, each new author I discover, my world expands to hold them all. Each book I read leaves a lasting impression on my soul. I’m thankful to every author of every book I’ve ever read for changing my world forever.

Day 28:

Happy Thanksgiving to my American family and friends.  I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with love and laughter.  I wish I was with you today to celebrate.

If I was, I might say something like:

Thank you for the food before us, the family and friends beside us, and the love between us.

I’m truly thankful for each and every one of you.  You are always in my heart.

Day 29:

Today I’m giving a shout-out to one of my favourite blogs.

I’m thankful for my friend Leslee at Her Happy Balance.  I came across her blog early this year and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.  She posts recipes, about her workouts, things she loves, products she reviews, all kinds of things.  Her posts are insightful and funny and relevant and just a joy to read.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I’m thankful I came across her blog.

Day 30:

I’m thankful I took up this daily challenge.  It helped remind just how blessed my life really is.  And it helped me slow down to notice the little things we sometimes take for granted.

I’m thankful for Yesterday, for what it’s taught me; Today, for being here to experience it, and Tomorrow, for the gifts I hope it brings!

Thank you all for indulging me this month with my list about things I’m thankful for


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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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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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