My sons are entering what I like to call full adulthood. They are at the stage where they tackle problems on their own and let their father and me know the outcome. This is great to see, because we have all done the work to prepare them to do this and while they are relatively open with us and seek advice occasionally, more and more they’re trying to involve us less and less. It is a natural progression that is both beautiful and slightly unnerving to witness this carving of paths and shaping of lives and as their mother, I have to accept this aspect of their independence. Their father is far better at it than I am.

I check myself before I convey how I feel about them or when I want to give that boost of confidence they might need. The innate desire as their mother is to go back in time when I would hold them in my arms and tell them how special they are and how proud I am of them and end the pep talk with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek — but we’re not there anymore and those moments are what I refer to as fond foundational memories. I know they have dark moments. We all do. If you are alive you have dark days. In a world with so much failing around us, it’s impossible to avoid dark days when you feel like no matter what you have done right, everything is piling onto you. I am from the generation where we were told that we shouldn’t whine,that no load is too heavy to bear, that we had nothing to complain about and to suck it up. Today, we can go to the extreme if we are not careful and we can fail to teach our youth how to cope. Other times we can disable them by jumping in and disarming them of problems by solving it for them, parent-style. We walk a fine line as parents no matter the age of our children and we have to come up with ways to lift them up without patronizing them or disregarding their ideas and opinions.

Last week, one of my sons was working through an issue and we could tell in the initial phone call, he was upset and was making rash decisions and spoke about giving up on something he has been working so hard to achieve. He had done nothing wrong but the circumstance in which he finds himself is unfortunate and out of his control. All he could do is be his best self within the organization in the midst of the disarray and work on ways to get out and transfer to another that would be a better fit. After listening to what he had to say, we gently reminded him that over the years when we opened the door for him to quit, he never did and that he needed to give himself twenty-four hours to cool down and look at it with fresh eyes and not give in to making rash decisions.

The next day we listened to a much calmer young man who reiterated that he was not a quitter and that he was thinking with a clearer head and planned to take things patiently, day by day and continue to do his best until something better came along. We were happy to hear this but not surprised and it was then I recognized I needed to tell him something I hadn’t outrightly ever said to him or his brother in their teen years and this was the perfect time to tell him why I agreed with his plan. I simply said,

“This plan makes sense to me because of how important you are,” I began. “I hope you know that you are important, son,”

His silence indicated he was waiting for my explanation. I told him that beyond his academics, job and his sport; beyond his importance in our family and his circle of friends; he is important to society. I told him I was aware that he knows he is a good human being and I want him to remember that society, our community and any future community in which he finds himself, needs him. The world society needs humans like him. He is important for the survival of our species and our planet because he is a human who wants to do the right thing and knows how to get things done. He is a human filled with compassion and patience and he is a kind, loving and always-willing-to-help human who spreads happiness and joy. And while we are all flawed, he makes us proud parents because he is the best of us plus all the innate goodness he showed up with nineteen years ago.

I imagined what it would feel like to be told how important I was at a young age. If sometone tells me that now, I believe it because I am a parent, a provider,I provide service to clients, I am knowledgeable and I have the means to teach and to help. But when I was young and had nothing tangible to show in order for me to feel important…man, if someone explained why my mere existence and my actions made me important, hmmph, that would have lifted me up beyond the stars. We need to tell people they are important. We need to let them know that we see the role they play in life and why they are vital to our existence.We need to tell them that they don’t need material possessions or titles to be important because they are one unique and special piece of a much greater jigsaw puzzle that is life and we can’t be whole without them. We need to show them how their very presence on the planet is key to the success of many other people and that everything they are a part of would be worse without them. And while everyone is important, our young people are especially so, because they are the ones to take us into the future — a future, I might add, we have severely tarnished — a future they have to fix. We need them. We need them to cope so that they can survive. We can save their lives if we tell them how important they are…tell all of them, not just the ones who appear vulnerable. Tell them all!

You are important. You are needed. You represent change. You represent hope. You are the best of us and we are here to help however and whenever we can because you are important and the world does not work without you.


A couple weeks ago, plans with my sister changed due to weather and we decided on a rain check. Looking at the overcast sky and the drizzle sprinkling the back deck, I was about to settle for a day indoors when I realized, it was perfectly still. No wind rustled the leaves of the trees. The air was thick and humid, the smell of the rain soaking into the earth, ripe. Feeling the discontemtment with the possibility of an indoor day, I gave into my urge to be outside and on the water. After all, I was on day two and a half of the eighty two hours I had to myself and I wanted to use this time to unleash myself from my usual routine. There was to be no cooking or cleaning up during this time and knowing that this unusually hot weather (no matter how strange) in Canada should not be taken for granted, I didn’t want to spend all my time at home. The confirmation that I had to get out and do something came from my reflection in the mirror while brushing my teeth. I was checking out the mop of curls atop my head (no hair appointments during covid), and looking at the transformation my hair has been undergoing. In my case, dark strands are turning red and over time, red to yellow before settling into a permanent state of white. Unlike my face, my hair isn’t deceiving when it comes to my age and nothing says get out and utilize your time like graying hair. I got in line with a parade of SUV’s at Starbucks and treated myself to a fancy coffee; went back home, changed and threw my paddle board gear and my stuff (wallet, phone, water bottle, comb, towel and a cotton slip-on dress) in the car and headed for the beach. Listening to lyrics being belted out by Amy Lee and other thought inspiring music streaming via Bluetooth, I was really inside my head, watching the road, of course, but thoughts a million miles away. When I have downtime from work and my family I spend a lot of time thinking deeply about my life, the world and my place in it. Like everything else over the years, in moments like these I recognize how much the deep thinking has changed. I remember times of solitude whether I was driving or just sitting on the deck, my thoughts would would classify more as worry or concern …concern over my autistic child’s future, concern for my other child, my husband, my parents, my marriage, my ever changing ways of making a living…it was all based on concern and problem solving. Now, at 54, I’m in the roller coaster carriage going up the last couple not-so-steep inclines of the ride of life and my deep thoughts bring a smile to my face and peace to my soul. This is the we’ve-made-it-through-the-toughest-times incline and it is the one where we get to experience and truly appreciate the things that make us feel love, happiness and gratitude and although everything that goes up must come down and I know there will be loss and sadness to bear, the ride will plateau and eventually come to an end. If it ends with me feeling the way I feel now, then I would have succeeded in truly living.

As I drove through the county’s winding road to my destination, I appreciated the gift this region was to me and my family. I have never warmed to the town we settled in after having lived in some of Canada’s most fabulous cities. I have never understood or accepted the cliquish and rather frivolous nature of the people who were born and bred here but I’ve learned to live my life in this small place while keeping the small minded at arm’s length. The county is home to some of the best vineyards in the country and best stretches of beach front, cosy coves, inlets of Lake Ontario. Being from the Caribbean, the Provincial Parks in my area draw me to their shallow clear waters and white sands. It feeds my passion to play in the water and hear the shushing of waves as I’d done in mychildhood, albeit without that briny taste of the ocean so dear to me. This piece of perfect real estate is one of the reasons I am able to continue living here. 

In spite of the grey skies and spotty showers, the colours of the vegetation along the way were vibrant and lush and I could see that there was no turbulance on the water in spite of the rain. The water was flat and almost motionless like a sheet of glass and the beaches were not crowded but they weren’t deserted either. It seemed, like me, people were intent on having their day at the beach in spite of the weather. Some people took shelter from the rain grilling their food under pop up tents or canopies while others were enjoying being in the warm water, being baptised by the rain.

I inflated my board and paddled out into serenity, my oar slicing through the water, the sound of tiny ripples overiding the ambiance of music, people chatting and kids playing. It didn’t matter that the drizzle had turned into a shower. It was peaceful and where I needed to be. Not having much experience as a paddle boarder, the initial tense legs and overly engaged core were now relaxed and I was looking ahead at the scenery and not at the water. I thought about the last seventeen months of this global pandemic and what it had done to the world. I thought of all the suffering and death it caused and while I recognize and acknowledge our privilege and good luck, I thought of what it did to my sons. I thought of how their goals screeched to a halt, shattering everything they were planning to do post high school. My sons are on the brink of independent adulthood and 2020 was supposed to be the year that bore the fruits of their labour. But, instead, like everyone,they had to wait and wait and wait some more. They had to find ways to stay motivated and positive and the toll it took on both their mental well-being was overwhelming, especially for my autistic son. And then came change. Some much needed relief in the form of vaccines. Now fully vaccinated, we can do a bit more. We can gather with a select few and we can be outdoors and we can get a taste of the daily life we took for greanted. Two strokes to the left, two to the right I’d covered a decent distance from my spot on the beach. “We did it,” I thought and a smile came to my face. We made it through the toughest sixteen months of our lifetime; especially my sons, especially Adam. We followed the protocol, we kept our distance from everyone outside our family and we found a way to make the lockdowns worthwhile. Those were the good days. I taught the boys how to cook, their father showed them their way around power tools and home renos, they studied, they trained and we all stayed healthy. And then there were the difficult days, especially for Adam. After all those the days when his inability to communicate what was bothering him resulted in destruction and pain, just like the rest of us, he made it through. One stroke on the right, one on the left, I kept paddling and I felt my shoulders drop and the tightness disappear and in that instant I realized that we’re all okay and everything with everyone I love was as it should be.

The pandemic is not over and it will be a while before we have a handle on Covid 19. There is a lot going on in the world along with Covid 19 and it’s repercussions. The climate has changed and the west of our country is burning, while tornados touch down in South West Ontario and Northern Ontario is on fire too. Greece is burning. Germany is flooding. California is burning again and it is easy to think that our planet is just going to turn to ash one day, but in that moment, as I paddled, I was able to unleash it all and let it go. And I felt it leave me too. You see, I might not be able to change the world, but I can do my part; I can do my best to not add to the problems that plague our world. There is still a lot of good and a lot of beauty to behold and therefore, there is hope in spite of all our problems. 

One stroke to the right, one to the left, over and over and over until I felt like I was floating on a cloud rather than on water. I thought of the love of my life and our love that has deepened over the years and how much more I love him each and every day in ways I never knew existed. Paddle left. Paddle right. Love, like life,has evolved. Love is easy, always available and is uncomplicated at my age. Marriage, like me on my board, floats, bobbing over ripples easily. Marriage, is friendship, comfort and well…its home, welcoming me with open arms everytime and it’s where I want to be. Children are grown and starting their adult lives and we are starting a new chapter together that still includes and cares about our boys, but is mainly focused on us and the time we will spend together until one of us leaves this life.

Like a loud noise, or a flash of lightening, a jet ski’s motor and heavy wake disrupted my peaceful thoughts. My board bobbed and wobbled on the waves and I lost my balance and plunged into the water as did two screaming little girls from a paddle board about 80 metres away. Beginners all, the sudden waves made it difficult to pull ourselves back onto our boards. The more I tried, the more my legs bobbed and kicked the more tangled my leash became in the tall weeds. A strong swimmer, even with a life jacket, I grew tired. I stopped. I took a breath. What was the plan? Looking into the water, I could barely see my foot. Reaching down I tried to remove the velcro ankle cuff. What a bitch that was! Who knew weeds were that thick and strong? Third time was the charm. With my foot free, I tried to mount the board again, but when I pushed my weight onto it, the tail of the board would sink because the leash tethered it so strongly onto the weeds. I was tired. I was done with this shit. I reached up and unhooked the leash from the board and glided towards the shore. I glanced over at the kids whose father had come into the water to detangle their leash from the weeds and bring them to shore. They left their leash behind too but they were safe. I hoisted myself onto the board and lay face up. A big breath released the tiredness and frustration of dealing with the weeds. I was unleashed. I was free. So, I lost a thirty dollar leash. Whatever. It was holding me back. Binding me to disgusting, prickly, slimy, octopus- arm-like weeds. Weighing me down. I remember my cousin Nicole would say, “just free it, Danie. Free it” and I did and everything was so much better. 

Don’t Look Me up and Down: Look Me in the Eye – a Fit Woman’s Opinion on Non-Verbal Body Shaming

For some time now, we have been witness to wonderful campaigns directed towards the acceptance of all body types, especially, if not solely, the various body types of women. The Dove campaign is to be applauded for giving every woman a chance to champion themselves and identify with an image much like their own on television, the internet, billboards and in magazines.  In a world where you have to look deep beyond the surface to find what is real, it is important for people to see a reflection of themselves in advertising.

On social media the acceptance of self was such a hit that there were even spin off topics borne by the politically correct righteous that made me hold my tongue until now.  Let me elaborate.  As a woman, I feel strongly that every person (men included) should feel good about themselves.  I believe that everyone must have as many (if not more) attributes that they love about themselves than ones they dislike.  I, and some who share my belief, feel that people must have a sense of self worth that allows them to veer away from behaving and or dressing inappropriately to prove to themselves and possibly others, that they are cool, young, sexy, hot, in control or whatever tier of esteem they are trying to attain.  There is something about showing less to ever so coolly reveal that there is so much more to who you are.  There is something to be said for elegance and grace and quiet confidence at every age, size and shape.  But whenever anyone implores others to really reach for something more substantial within themselves, they are criticized by the politically correct others who feel we are “shaming”.  These people like to say if a person (and let’s use women in this example), a woman in her 40’s feels to dress like her 14 year old daughter, who are we to judge her?  If she wants to let her butt cheeks hang out of her shorts or she wants to wear a tight crop-top with leggings, we should applaud her courage. What then do we say about a scantily clad  teen girl at a dance not walking away from a group of boys until each one of them upon her request, makes out with her and her friends?  Is this group of young teen women empowered? Are they controlling their sexuality?  Dictating to the opposite what they want done, when and how?  Is she empowered when she takes to social media and posts revealing photos of herself?  The “selfie” takes on new meaning then, doesn’t it?

Okay. Sure. Maybe I’m a prude. Maybe I am guilty of “shaming” other women but looking in from the outside, I can’t help but wonder what there is to gain when children disassociate themselves from their mother’s attire or demeanour in embarrassment?  What is there to gain when the persona that accompanies the outfit draws the people who want to be a part of the show for a moment, who then walk away speak insults under their breath?   Why do my sons have to be privy to your exposed self in a public place that is not a beach?  Congratulations, Mom for looking “hawt” and sexy at a Minor Level Sporting event.

In the spirit of championing oneself I am going to take my turn to lash back in defence of women like me – active women whose bodies are perfectly imperfect.  We have muscles and are generally strong and in good health.  We are the women who like our sports, our dance, our yoga and whatnot and we play because it’s fun and relaxing and we are okay with a little sweat and okay with our post partum bellies that could, in the right light look like a deflated beach ball.  We are the women who LOVE to eat but stop when we are full.  We eat junk sometimes only without the excuses and we own the consequences and do something about them. We never criticize anyone’s appearance yet so many people have no problem telling us how we are lucky we are to be skinny (when clearly we are not) and have no problem calling us names in jest (in jest my ass) because you are dissatisfied with yourself. We are the women who don’t dress to flaunt, don’t triple coat our faces with makeup yet look beautiful, comfortably wearing what we love and being who we are. So for those of you who talk to us but deep down dislike us, do us a favour – stop trying to shame us with your quick head to toe glances of jealousy.  I have been exposed to that since I was 6 years old.  I have noticed grown-ass adults  – family friends, 4 specific high school teachers of mine and worse, a couple relatives who would stand right in front of me, talking to me doing the head to toe scan sometimes even telling me what they did not like about me or what I was wearing in the poor guise of a joke. And again, I was a child at the time.  It was evident they were not listening to a word I was saying. I knew it at age 6 and I have always known it.  They did not hear one iota of the conversation because they were busy scrutinizing (or like we say in Trinidad, macoing) every aspect of my body , my face, my clothes, my shoes and my hair.  Hating ALL of what they saw because they truly LOVED what they saw and just could not have it, or develop it because it was MINE.

I remember telling my mother I noticed when some people had conversations with others, myself included, they tended to look not at the face when they spoke to you but did what seemed to be several critical, quick glances at a person’s clothing and body and did so quite frequently as they spoke. I asked her why this happened and my champion mother simply said, “Jealousy, baby”.

But, I was a child and I had nothing.  Nothing at all except my childhood, my imagination and myself.  I had what everyone had and in the case of adults, you could say I had even less so why would they be jealous?  Then my mother said to me ever so calmly, “I am sorry people look at you like that.  I know how it feels because I have had that happen to me too. – I think it is really rude.  Perhaps they don’t realize they are doing it, but I think deep down they do know.  I think they did it once, then twice and then it became a rude habit.  That is their problem, not yours.  In your whole life there will be many people who glance at you up and down repeatedly because their parents did it and they unfortunately learned to do it too. They may be smaller than you, bigger than you, older or younger or the same age, They may be wealthier, poorer or of the same income. They may be a different colour or religion than you; they may not. These  people may never look at you in your eyes when they talk to you.  It is an attempt maybe to make you feel self  conscious. In those moments I want you to feel self assured that you are perfectly fine. Just remember that is their jealousy, their lack of confidence and therefore their problem, not yours, ever. You must always draw confidence from those people and never let their glances get you down. Be your comfortable self.”

My mother may not have gone to a fancy university or held a position of power in the world but she has always been powerful to me.  My mother knew her role as a mother.  There was a friendliness about her without her trying to be our friend.  Lines were never crossed by her or us and she injected into us the power to be quietly confident and when we needed to, be boldly so.  Because of my mother, my sister and I have been able to give our children the confidence they need in what is a tougher, more bullied society and dare I say, I think the confidence she gave to us and indirectly to her grandchildren can be considered life saving.  We all hear the stories of the kids who tragically end their lives because they just couldn’t “shake it off” or “get over it” as some people like to say.  There are so many people who just love to dig and dig at you until you start to doubt yourself.  They are annoying and they make life uncomfortable and the best thing you can do is turn it right around and show them that you are not the problem. They are the problem.  They are the ones spending time trying to figure out how to bring you down and in reality it stems from their self dissatisfaction. They say things to make you feel insecure because they are insecure.  They reject your knowledge because they are ignorant. They scoff at your attempt to lead because they are born followers. They mock your talent because they wish they possessed a fraction of it.  They pick on those who have disabilities because the determination and accomplishments of the disabled scare the shit out of them because they have no courage.  They criticize your clothes because they dare not dress like you because they can’t buy your personal cool.  They like to bare it all when they should be covering it up because to wear something decent is to admit they have shortcomings, I suppose.

So while I agree we should all be happy with ourselves, our varied skin tones and shapes and sizes I do not for a moment think that people who have been made to feel shunned and bullied are not guilty of bullying.  They are often adults who have taken the bitterness of the pain they felt and instead of using it for something positive in their lives, they ever so subtly twist it into other people who have done nothing to them personally…except of course showed up looking healthy or tastefully dressed.   I had yet another one of those up and down glances happen to me today, way before I had my morning coffee. I decided right then and there that I was going to write about it once and for all.  I am going to champion myself because I don’t look anyone up and down and scrutinize them and I am tired of having it done to me.  In fact, I have spent many years teaching my boys, especially my autistic son, to look people in the face when they are speaking to them, yet so many people don’t do that to me.  I remember Adam telling me that looking into people’s eyes is too much. Too much information so he looks away so he can focus on what is being said to him yet he has learned to glance at a face in order to illustrate he is engaged with a person.  That is so much work for him, yet he tries so hard to do it because he has figured the value in it and he knows he needs to embrace some of these traits to function in this world.  Meanwhile, people with no sensory processing disorders, people who don’t have to organize anything at all in order to have a conversation give me the up and down scan when they are speaking with me?  To hell with you and your rudeness.  Here’s a news flash on behalf of women and all people who are fit and healthy who try to take care of themselves.  We have reaped what we have sown and if you don’t like it, or have that little zing of envy or hate when you see us because you feel we don’t understand what it is like to be you with your issues – too bad. Champion who you are and own it. This is called life and everybody’s got something…some shit that grabs us by the gut and we have to deal with it.  God knows I was dealt a hand and a frigging half in my life.  Would you up and down scanners preferred if I looked haggard and worn because my life has not been easy?  Would that have made you feel better?  Would you have looked me in the eye then? Perhaps you would have pitied me.  I have never needed pity thanks to my upbringing and I am glad my retaliation to adversity was strength and wellness – of mind, spirit, soul and body.

If you ever had a conversation with me and you’ve looked me up and down (and you damn well know if you do it because you have control of your eyes) please don’t talk to me again if you are going to do that. It’s rude and you are wasting my time and you are making me waste precious breaths and words. Don’t talk to me if you aren’t going to engage or listen.  I’m really okay with that. I’d rather sit quietly alone with my thoughts  for company because I am comfortable with myself. I was taught and I teach my children to look people in the face when speaking to them and I expect the same from others. So all you head to toe scanners out there, know this – the group of us you love to hate in your head because we chose to work at taking the steps to fell healthy and well – we make no apologies for the way we are so enough with looking us up and down and look us in the eye.  What you are doing is distracting, rude and disrespectful and when you do it to me, it only reveals how insecure and vulnerable you are.  Worry less about me and work more on you because you are just as bad as the cretin bully who spat out hurtful words to you.

Couldn’t Come Up With A Title.


As 2016 morphed into 2017, work surged. Busy at work is a good thing but there is also an ugly side to it as well.  An increase in volume means an increase in revenue, an increase in expenditure and in working hours, increased tiredness and shorter fuses.  Add to that raising 2 teenage boys, one a bit more difficult at times than the other, perimenopause, running a household and well, living life.  I thought I had a head start when I made sure we transitioned from the Christmas mode early enough in anticipation of the workload, but really, we all know you just can’t be ahead of the game all the time, especially when you want to be or feel like you have to be.  Very quickly things began to get on my nerves and while I tried to stay even keeled and patient, I was feeling like I just wanted to scrape off everything and everyone close to me. I literally felt like life was clawing and scratching its way all over me and it was overwhelming.

Needless to say when that happens around here, so do some pretty intense and “spirited” arguments followed by most certain tension.  Over the years Tom and I have been very real.  We have a good, strong marriage but certainly not a perfect one but we work at it and have fun with it as well.  I have known people who have said they never argue or fight ( oddly enough one person who has said this to me so many years ago in my living room in Brockville with her cutesie, shitty little smirk comes to mind.  She has since divorced her husband … go figure little Miss goodie Two Shoes Critical ).  Living together and working together has been a skill my husband and I have mostly mastered over the years and I say mostly because there are some damn days when mmmmm boy….OYE!  Alas, we are human.  It’s been better lately and we are getting through the crunch of the workload and we are getting back to the system we are used to but occasionally we both sense that the other is at the edge of tolerance.  We haven’t really made time to do our usual Netflix marathon.  We have been out to lunch but have been too mentally wiped to really talk and of course we are being supportive of Logan as he writes his first high school exams – being available to listen to his presentations, be there to help him if he is stuck with the studying and of course to drive him and Adam to practices and meets and appointments.  Add a dash of Adam’s occasional particular brand of autistic adolescent B.S and you get two people who generally enjoy spending time together, just happy to sit in different rooms and of late, fall asleep long before the other comes to bed.

This self preservation and intentional and mindful increase in patience and tolerance of each other has shown me that working towards building a successful business is draining.  Don’t get me wrong, we earned it, we want it and we are doing it but the lesson here is the same lesson one learns when times are tight and there is not a dollar to spare.  The lesson one learns when the baby has colic and has screamed for 24 hours and you instantly had him off without so much as a thought or even a “hello” to the person who has been grinding it out at work all day.  It is the lesson that teaches you about making an even greater effort to keep the relationship healthy.   You have to make a greater effort to smile, to greet and to listen.  You have to make a greater effort to know when you have to cut into your unwind time, tablet time, computer time or TV time and include that person you fell in love with.  You have dig deep inside yourself and make a great effort to make the time you spend together become time spent together and you have to make a greater effort to leave work at the doorstep.

We have a good but busy year ahead of us.  The tension is there but we have a better awareness of it, I feel.  I’d like to get back to being mushed together on the couch watching some TV series and I’d like us to be in bed at the same time, falling asleep at the same time and waking up late and staying in bed chatting about our random heavy duty topics without having to jump out of bed and get a head start on the workday.  I hope our lunches and dinners out can be free of the distraction of these initial busy first months or that these months will fly by and we can re-connect over a meal the way we usually do.

At least, though we …he… has taken a step toward that in the form of the grand gesture of us going to New York for my 50th birthday.  He has never been and I love going there and I am looking forward to sharing this experience with him.  I hope when we are there we let go of everything for the four days and I hope that time away from our usual environment will allow us to experience that familiar feeling we both love about marriage – the feeling of being “at home” when you are with the person you love. We are lucky, Tom and me.  We have had a hell of a ride on the fastest of roller coasters. Anyone who knows post-baby Daniella, will tell you I am no longer a willing coaster rider but on the life ride with Tom, in this marriage, in this crazy world with these two humans we are trying to raise to be good men, I have always felt safe with him.  As much as I may question or doubt, I can honestly say, he has always stuck to his word when he says everything will be alright.  He makes things right. He makes them better and he makes bad experiences fade into the past.  We have loved passionately, fought passionately, been worried, afraid,  hopeful  and happy on this life ride.  We have seen dark times and the brightest days and his optimism and my perseverance have complimented each other in a way that is demonstrated by the characteristics of our sons.  In some bizarre way, we work and well… we fit.  And as maddening as we can be to each other, and as polar opposite as we are there, is no one I would rather love, kiss, hug, lay beside, work with, sigh at, roll my eyes at and be frustrated with. I was reminded of that this week when I heard that my friend’s husband passed away and just this second when Tom told me one of his radio bosses (not much older than we are) also passed.  I have seen my clients go through it and I have seen my mother deal with it and I can see how painful, frightening and unfair it is to have the person you love leave you behind.  Life is so unpredictable and can change in the blink of an eye.  I hope for the retirement brochure image.  You know. that idyllic scene of two people travelling and exploring a new phase of life in their more mature years.  I yearn for it, pray for it, though I know it is only 50% up to us to get there as the other 50% is pure fate. I also fear not getting to experience it because I want it so badly.

So, tomorrow is another busy day.  He is booked solid with appointments and I will divide my time between getting my office into work space condition, touching base with a few clients about some projects on the go and going through and responding to our e-mails.  We will be working as a unit in the most separate of ways, ploughing through this next month, coming up for air when we get to the Big Apple. This is our life.  It’s not perfect and it is not always fair and it is not always all shits and giggles but I think it’s pretty great, even when it sucks because I’d rather it suck with my three men than without them.  Whether you are in a state of bliss, state of despair or in some kind of weird funk like me, I wish you peace and I wish you the good sense to always reflect on what you have and what you stand to lose.  ( Of course, if your situation is utterly shite and you need to move on, please do, because this is not about putting up or being content to settle with a terrible person or situation no matter what  – let’s be clear on that).  Here’s to clarity, to ploughing through tough times to get to the better times and here’s to time well spent with those well loved.

Four Months to Fifty: Looking Back on Summer – for Me, Smart Continues to be Sexy.

goofy-us     He is a joker 99% of the time, making all kinds of weird faces but I think I have a handsome dude.  I mean that’s what starts it, right?  You like the way a person looks according to your taste and then you keep looking at them, taking them in  – their gestures, their smile and then you get to know them and if you are lucky, really know them before you decide you want to spend your life with them.  I think love has a lot to do with using your head as you follow your heart.  It is a combination of so many things including luck and intuition with a little dash of abandon.   In addition to the way he looks, what I fell crazy in love with was his mind.  We have had, and continue to have, the most fascinating conversations and at times wonderfully solid, prove-our-point intense arguments, usually in bed on a Sunday morning, through the time we walk the dog to the last bite of breakfast. When Adam and Logan got old enough to grab a bowl of cereal and head to the TV and eventually morph into late sleeping teenagers, our Sunday morning conversations became more frequent.

We talk about the strangest things sometimes – random things that usually start with me blurting out questions about stuff that just flies into my mind.  There have been conversations about the Hadron Collider, politics; audio; every genre of music, architecture; athletes; history; Einstein, Dalton and Darwin; why plaid was ever a concept, modern medicine; parenting and finances. We’ve talked about people, clothing and cars; art in all its forms; movies; growing up in Trinidad and why our avocados are also called zabocas and why they are so much bigger than the ones in California and Mexico.  We’ve talked about growing up in Canada, the TV shows that were unique to where we grew up and the ones we watched along with the rest of the world.  Of course we talk about our children, our parents and siblings and what we hope the future will bring.  We talk about sports and food and the places we hope we are fortunate to see together and what the other should do, if the day we are to become a single unit, comes sooner than we would like it to.  I would like to think every couple talks and have healthy arguments like we do – that every couple finds their spouse interesting after the first 5, 10, 15 years and beyond. Do we get fed up with the stuff of family life? Of course, we do. That’s to be expected because it can really wear you down but you can’t let it grind you down.  If I had to pick two things to tell people getting married it would be these –

If you have a fight, and I mean a good old all out, drag down, spit-out-hurtful-crap kinda fight…stop and take a moment to remember why you fell in love in the first place.  You should be able to find the answer and realize that it is greater and more powerful than what caused you to fight in the first place. (if it isn’t, then of course, you have a decision to make)


Never let tension drag on. Talk about how you feel no matter how long it takes even into the wee hours of the morning…talk it out and apologize if you are wrong.  Umm … I have to throw in one more …must be the Trini in me …

Definitely have make up sex.  Have lots of sex … you are married after all.  Keep it spicy. Keep it fun. Keep it alive.  Make your partner feel special because they are because they have chosen to put up with you and most likely one, two or more children!  Marriage is hard work man … may as well have all kinds of fun.

But as usual, I digress.  Back to Tom and his mind.  As creative as he is, and as avid a reader, Tom enjoys everything numeric.  He speaks the language of numbers fluently and loves that with numbers there is always a conclusion, a definitive answer and to him, that makes sense.  Numbers don’t scare or confuse him and after a neurofeedback test we all did, it seems that numbers keep him quite calm and happy.  This ability is what makes the difference in the way we run our business and when you sit with him, you see how his plans to save, grow and protect your income make sense.  Sometimes, if you find numbers as fascinating as he does, the meeting becomes more of an interesting conversation between two similar people and next thing you know, you realize you are fond of the same music, games – the list can go on. However, if you really, really, really are not numerically inclined, but you know you need help and you are open minded and you find yourself meeting with him, you also have the opportunity to sit with me, the translator.  I help intimidating jargon that tends to pop up seem more friendly and together Tom and I will make the numbers relatable and user friendly to you so you can leave our office with a sound personalized plan that makes sense.  It’s a win/win situation …plus we have a giant jar of Skittles in the office.

This past June, Tom was asked to speak at our company’s Congress.  It is a 2 day forum where business ideas and strategies are discussed and we come together as a region to share our thoughts and learn from each other.  Tom’s topic was about getting your Financial business up and running.  He titled it ” Breaking Ground – Tips and Strategies for your First Five Years of Business”.   Adam was busy finishing up the last week of his Grade 10 year but Logan was able to join us as he was on a field trip in Toronto (close to where Congress was being held) to wind up his Grade 8 graduation year at Elementary School.  I think it is important for children to understand what their parents do and and how their work impacts people’s lives.  I think it is important for them to know just how it is parents manage to keep a roof above everyone’s heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table and I think it is an important part of their education and I want my children to also understand the importance of giving a family member support by their mere presence.

Tom and I knew by 2003, it was time for us to get out of Radio and Television.  The industry is not what it used to be and with the internet being as powerful as it is, the industry will continue to have a hard time engaging the current younger generation and future generations.  Salaries shrank, many jobs became redundant and the job (whatever was left of it) owned you and each month the hours you put in were not reflected in your pay slip.   The lack of creativity and shift to reality television that literally airs everyone’s dirty laundry on international TV is another example of the drastic change in the business and we knew in order be a part of something we were proud of and in order to continue to provide for our children the way we want to, address Adam’s needs and to retire the way we hope to, we had to make the shift to a different career. With my banking background and his flare for numbers and interest in economics, Finance made sense and though we still dabble in creative writing and voice work as paid hobbies, we have never looked back.

One of the beautiful things about training for a career in Broadcasting, is the ability to speak in front of a crowd.  We each are capable of doing that without boring people to tears (let’s face it, even if you love it, numbers is a pretty dry topic). To Broadcasting, we attribute our ability to make our presentations interactive and entertaining and our effective use humor –  a skill we are developing in both Logan and yes, Adam as we have helped him come out of his shell and deliver speeches to his elementary class back in the day, about topics he loves.  Tom’s workshop at Congress was divided into two sessions and each time the room was filled. Blessed with one of those unique, richly textured broadcasting voices that makes you want to listen to him, he was engaging right away and as such, no one was distracted by their phones or whispering to their colleague beside them.  He spoke about his first year in the business and how important it is to develop a strong foundation in the early months of advising.  He spoke about how to look beyond what you read in a person’s portfolio and looking for ways to help clients, save them money, what were the right questions to ask in a review and how to really listen to your client and how to find out about their changing needs and goals.  He spoke about why he attributed the success of his first two years to the methods he used and segued into his difficult third year, which to be honest, was mostly because he had to put parenting ahead of work more than usual that year because our Adam not only had to deal with autism but puberty as well.  He then moved on to the following years and what he did to right the business ship while helping me keep the family vessel and Adam on track and he said something I will never forget.  He said,

” If anyone should have failed in this business, it should have been me.  The odds were always against me because I don’t have the easiest of families because of Adam’s autism. We had very little respite in place for Adam at the time and we have always had to keep life as normal as possible for Logan with all that we have to do for his brother.  When we decided to start on this new career path, to help me get started, we took the plunge and had Daniella leave her part time job to come work with me.  There was no steady spousal salary the family could rely on and we had very little savings we could tap into.  In our family, we tend to jump in and swim because sinking is not an option. There are no great excuses for not trying or not performing.  As humans, there are many traps that we create for ourselves that we can fall into and use as excuses for failure if we allow ourselves to do so.  I knew all I had to do was work, serve my clients in the best way that I could and just keep going.  If I had a bad day, I gave myself some time to take a break and have that bad day but the next day I would re-group and get right back at it again because three people at home were relying on me.  If you do right by your clients, if you do everything in their best interest, if you are honest and fair and if you have a good support system, you can be successful at this job and anything you put your mind to,”

The last part of his presentation was centred around financial planning for an overlooked group – families with children with special needs.  He explained how to use the tools we have as advisors in the most effective ways for these families and how to use them so that families can be tax smart.  He spoke about wills, probate, special needs assistance grants and by the way everyone was taking photos of his power point and writing notes, I realized they were learning something new…something that had been right under their noses the whole time but they just did not see it.  He was showing managers and “big wigs” how to do it right and looking at this realization on Logan’s face, I could not be more proud.  Tom was also teaching his son, how to teach other people.  He was showing him how to share his knowledge and showing him how to deliver his ideas in a strong, dynamic and effective way … humph… it was quite the effective “take your kid to work day” session and Logan was honored and proud to be a part of it.

I am quite an internally emotional person.  I am not a crier, in fact I come off sometimes as cold and sometimes a little unfeeling as I don’t always show outward emotion and when I speak, I can sometimes be quite blunt and honest but Tom is the only person who can make me tear up by the videos he creates.  He ended the session with a couple videos one of which featured Adam to bring home his point.  Now throughout the presentation, he had video clips from movies, he had images and clips of various people and situations, that allowed him to prove his point in a light visual way in between his statistics, tables and charts.  The videos, which I had seen many times while he was preparing for the presentation came on the screen and they simply showed the value of the life of a person with special needs and why helping their families continue to give them the enriched lives they deserve was so important, and why in our business compassion has to be the first ingredient.

My tears were ones of pride and joy and out of much admiration for him in BOTH of his sessions because Tom does things for the right reasons ALWAYS.  He was put on this earth to help people and even though in our situation, we need help ourselves, he always gives and gives and gives  – of himself, his money and his time.  What was even better was that Logan (who is so much like him) got to see this and got to see that nice guys do finish first … it may take some time but it DOES happen.

Tom got a standing ovation after both sessions.  There were lines of advisors wanting to express their gratitude and shake his hand.  There were advisors wanting to know more, asking for his business card, wanting a copy of the presentation etc., so Logan and I had to go to work dealing with that.  As I think about each moment in those two presentations, my heart gets so full.  I was never looking for a husband.  I never pictured the white dress or walking down the aisle. I had dated a couple nice guys before Tom and a couple bozos and I had gotten to a self comfort where I was happy to just be. I was capable of taking care of myself and was interested to see how my life would play out.  I would say sometimes I am not an easy person to figure out or be with.  I have my ideas and opinions and I am proud of who I am and I don’t bend easily so I never thought I would find anyone who would be a great partner, soul mate or husband … but here he is and there he was in a damn fine black suit, “awesoming” all over the place delivering what he knew, quite eloquently in an entertaining and informative way with passion, humor and his great laugh. He was talking about work but he made it human and he made the clients human and he made his peers care and while doing all that, his math was impeccable and the numbers made sense and I could have had him right then and there he was so smart and so damn sexy!

Now, as I drift into the coolness of fall, sip my chai and reflect on the summer and its special moments, I smile at the thought of my math geek and the complete package that he is to me.


He tries to make us happy every day.  If there is a problem, we can count on him to fix it and if we need a dose of fun, he will provide it.

cropped-509773400071.jpg   He loves life, he loves his parents, his brother and sister,  he loves their family, loves my family, he loves our boys and he loves me.   cheers-after-vows      tom-and-daniella-ready-for-10-morelast-resort-dinner

He honors the vows we recited in front of twenty-two people nineteen years ago on one beach and the vows we renewed nine years ago, on another.

My 10 year renewal vows to Tom

My 10 year renewal vows to Tom

Toms 10 year vows to me

Tom’s 10 year vows to me

He can give me a potato chip and make me feel like a queen and the only way I know how to honor him is to put my thoughts into words especially for his sons to read. No one is perfect (my God, I am hopelessly flawed) but we can learn how to treat each other like we are the perfect beings we were created to be.

Every so often, we get an opportunity to take in the essence of someone we love, or someone we call friend.  I like to think of those moments as golden moments because it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and lose sight of what is special about a person.  And this past summer, the last one in my forties, Logan and I were given one of those golden moments.  It was wonderful to “see” Tom again and know how very important, and kind and good and loving he is.  In marriage you get to see the struggles and the little annoyances often.  They add up and piggy back on the responsibilities of adult life and they spill over in a big sloppy mess onto the relationship and if you are not careful, they cover up the golden moments, those precious lifelines that keep couples in contact with each other at a deeper and more significant level.   Watching my widowed mother over the past 8 years, I am more aware of the importance and power of the golden moments because in a month, a day, an hour or a second a person can be out of your life forever and wouldn’t it be tragic if we never took the time to see them for who they were, to see what made you love them or to not take the time to tell them what they meant to you and that you just simply loved them no matter what.  My mother and father appreciated and loved each other and as my sister and I got older and moved on, it was apparent that their love and friendship knitted them even closer together.  On the 17th of this month (October) they would have been married 52 years and I know there is not a day she doesn’t wish he was here.  I know one day Tom or I will find ourselves alone and like my mother, we will survive because like her there will be no regret about not doing what we should have done for each other or not saying the right things to each other.

Who knew this lone wolf would ever have gone down this path of partnership and love with someone who makes the hard times bearable and the good times, spectacular?  Marriage is hard, grueling work. Two people from completely different families and backgrounds come together and are supposed to find a way to co-exist for years sometimes even bringing children into the mix. At first glance it is a scale that tilts heavily on the side of failure but we are more sophisticated animals than those in the wild (at least we are supposed to be) and we are responsible for communicating and compromising and being honest and fair and nurturing and most of all loving, so … we persist and some of us fail and maybe some of us try again and sometimes it takes some of us to hit the third or fourth time before it becomes a charm.  I remember when I first took Adam to Trinidad, my uncle Kit looked at me, smiled and shook his head and said,

“My goodness, look who’s married with a child.  What a thing!”

My family knows me well but I am glad I turned out to be somewhat of a surprise. Surprised myself too but I am ever so grateful things unfolded the way they did, for richer or poorer, sickness and health, till death do us part, Tom James, right?

I am yours; you are mine. It is as it should be.

(“Elephant shoe“)


Two Years to Fifty: A Reminder from the Love of My Life about “MO”

With my husband’s consent, I am posting this to share just one of the many reasons why I am so blessed to have him by my side.  We have an extremely unique life and it has more than it’s fair share of hurdles and sometimes I can only see the hurdles and I become blind to the beauty of the simplest of things.  

In a marriage or in any relationship or friendship, each person has to bring something, sometimes ever so small yet ever so significant to the other’s life and Tom has always been able to subtly and easily remind me of how much joy a single moment, image or sound can fill our souls.  He has always maintained that his goal as a man, a father and husband was happiness for us, for his family, friends and everyone really.  It is a good goal. A solid and sensible goal that reminds me that at the end of the day happiness, contentment and love are all that really matter.  So here are my husband’s words which I appreciate more and more as I grow older with him.  It touched me, brought a tear to my eye and flooded my heart with joy and I hope you take away something good from it as well.



  Heaven help me, I’m about to get ‘deep’ on Facebook. If I were still in radio I’d probably do a ‘bit’ on how stupid that is. I’ve been watching videos on youtube tonight and honestly…I like doing that. I love the internet, and modern times. How it allows us to go get something that comes to mind, almost instantly. I can spend HOURS doing that if I’m in the right mood.

Tonight…it’s music.

I’ve spent a LONG time…a quarter century…in the music field. I’ve been on radio stations ranging from hard-rock to Christian. Yep, you read that right, and I had a great time there. And I SO appreciate that history and everyone and everything that went along with that entire journey. Which has led to a realization that I think I already had, but just couldn’t really focus on enough to present.

One of the MOST important things in life begins with the letters “MO”…and it’s not ‘money’. It’s ‘moments’. Truly great moments are what we all hang on to more than ANYTHING else.

I remember when I was 21, and sitting on a wooden bench next to Daniella when she told me she had feelings for me, and that was something I had been carefully hoping for, and working towards for MONTHS. I’m married to her to this day, love her as much as I did then, possibly more, despite the obstacles life has thrown our way and that’s fantastic…because they’re all ‘moments’.

I remember when my first son, Adam, was born. He cried and cried in the delivery room…and I walked up to him in his bassinet and quietly said “Hello Adam” and he immediately stopped crying, and opened his eyes. Even though he couldn’t see through the dark black eyes it was obvious he was searching for the voice he’d heard so many times while he was in his mother’s belly. GREAT moment.

I remember when my second son, Logan, was born, and he came out blue, and not breathing. Daniella looked at me and asked “is he all right? He’s not crying” with a panic in her voice that matched the panic in my heart that I wish NO-ONE ever experience. All I could do was be strong for her and say “let them work, he’s going to be okay”. He cried soon after and the ‘resuscitation team’ started betting on how big they thought he was. He was 10lbs 2 oz if you need to know. He is a great son…couldn’t be more proud. Some fathers of sons would say “if you have daughters, watch out for my son”…I say watch FOR my son…because he’s going to be an excellent man…the kind you HOPE your daughters find. And if he reads this, he’s going to complain to me about that…but he’ll grow into it. Another moment.

I have been SO lucky and SO blessed to have already had SO MANY moments. I hope you have too.

I love moments.

When it comes to music, my time in the field has given me a very large quantity of respect and admiration for some. Peter Gabriel is probably my favourite, but there are many others. I remember working at 1050 CHUM in my early days. I was 19. Working at an ‘oldies’ station. At first I was bored…wasn’t my thing. But the more I listened something clicked. I gained HUGE respect for these artists…because they didn’t have the crutch of digital, or even mutli-track systems that allowed them to ‘redo’ or ‘perfect’ this or that. When it came to oldies music, if the song was good, it was because the BAND was GOOD. The song you heard was the band all in a room, when someone hit the record button and said “go”. They HAD to sound like that. Listen to the Spencer Davis Group singing “I’m a Man” and tell me that isn’t some seriously good music.

So here now, is one of my favourite things that I will watch over and over again.

This…is Led Zeppelin. And this clip is FULL of moments.

I’m not even a huge fan of Zeppelin…honestly. I like their stuff, sure…but I’m not a ‘zed-head’.

But I love this. I can watch this over and over and still get caught up in the emotion of it.

Here are the surviving members of the original band…who were GIANTS of the world. Back in the day just sucking the LIFE out of life. Center stage, in front of the biggest crowds who LOVED their music. This is 40 years later. Watch the original members, how old they are, and how they still, to THIS DAY, are attached to this music. You can see it in Robert Plants eyes. You can see it in Jimmy Page’s smile. You can also see the reverence that Heart pays to them. They’re performing the hell out of this song, but even while doing that, it’s almost like they have to EARN it, and they KNOW that…and, despite their OWN success, hope to measure up to the task. And you can see the emotion of Jason Bonham, the son of the original drummer, John Bonham, as he honours his fathers work. You can see the respect of SO MANY of the biggest people we know today in this ‘moment’.

I love that. That’s how you know you’ve ‘won’ at life.

I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I do…and I hope you take the time to think of some of your moments too. We all have them. They’re great to go back to again, and again.

My apologies for how long this is, and I completely suspect you’ve either skimmed through this, or bailed out when you saw the “continue reading” part in my status…but if you’ve stuck around…hey!…another ‘moment’.


Thank you Tom for allowing me to share this as well. Thank you for your positive and easy going disposition.  Thank you for choosing to be a part of this roller coaster ride that is our life. I love you and I thank you for loving me. ~ Daniella

Two Years to 50 – Preface

Two Years to 50

As this golden age approaches, I feel happy and excited for a chapter of my life, that I feel is going to be the best one. I feel like my years before were years in training for the ones that are yet to come – the years I believe to be the reward for all the navigation, adjusting and re-starting because of the surprising turn life took 13 years ago. I believe the answer to the meaning of this journey thus far will reveal itself in the years that are ahead of me and I welcome my older years with open arms.

I have been doing a lot of self observation – looking at myself in relation to what is going on around me in the place where I live, the people I interact with , my role in my family , my work and my vocation. I have been noticing the change in the way I do things, see things and deal with people and how comfortable I am with my choices and actions. It takes a long time to grow into an experienced, mature woman and I’ve had my hard knocks along the way. I regret nothing that has happened because every single thing has had its purpose in my life and has helped me define who I am and who I want to continue to be.

My youth was amazing with all the bonuses that accompany that phase of life, yet I feel because I know more now, I have never felt healthier, happier, stronger, more organized, more patient, confident, calmer, more beautiful or sexier than I do now. I understand now everything my mother and her friends have told me about getting older. I feel the way they feel and I get why there is that aura of serenity and that beautiful mature woman glow they possess. In my head, I sometimes look at life like it is a video game where the older I become I level up to a stage of life that is even better than the one before. The way I feel and think, the choices I make and the way I love is on a new level – a higher level, better than before and as I excitedly anticipate this new chapter of my life, I am going to use it as the avenue for my thoughts about my life on my 2 year journey to 50.

While this writing journey is for me, I am happy to share my thoughts with you.  Writing is a hobby of mine that brings me great comfort and joy.  You may read it if you wish, comment on it or not and while my intent is not to persuade you to my way of thinking, I would be happy to hear your thoughts on your own journey ~ Daniella