Role Models

T Box

What is a role model?  What is a good role model?  That second question is really the one that I find myself thinking about.  Most likely by now, you have heard about Miley Cyrus’s ‘performance’ and costume and the MTV Video Awards.  As much as I am not shocked by her lack of clothes and suggestive ‘dancing’, I am disappointed.  I realize that this is a young woman who is obviously trying to express herself, find herself and break away from her Hannah Montana and Disney persona.  I also realize that this is a free world and she can do whatever she wants to as long as she does not break any laws.

I do, however, have a problem with the fact that Miley is showing a complete disregard for her role in the media as a role model.  There are many young girls that have purchased her t-shirts, bed sheets, back packs etc… that are now looking to her to show them how to act and what to “wear next”.  Like it or not, she is a role model.  This is sad.  So, too, is it sad that Justin Bieber is a role model as well.  For a seemingly “nice, unaffected Canadian boy”, he too has disappointed me.  What is wrong with these kids?  I realize that money and fame has skewed their views of what is appropriate behavior and what is not.  However, I think that they do need to “grow up” and realize that they are being watched and followed by millions of young, impressionable kids, tweens and teens.  They should some responsibility for their positions in society; show some humility and some class.

I have two young girls and I fear what and who will be popular when they are in that stage of growing up.  Will the person they idolize be a star that turns into a drug addict? Who knows!

All I can do is try to expose my girls to other kinds of role models and let them try to emulate those whom I think set good examples of what to do in life.

I am not naïve enough to think that I am going to a) stop them from falling in love with the next Justin Bieber or b) not have them watch television or see a magazine with a scantily clad Miley on it.  I do know that I will do what is within my control to balance these with exposure for them to people I think are good role models:  their aggressive, kick-butt, kick-boxing instructor Auntie Trisha, their positive and business saavy Auntie Andrea, their creative and kind cousin Haylee, their generous, thoughtful and stylish Grandma Dianne, their supportive and loving Baba Joanne, their ambitious and talented Auntie Dani, their entertaining and fun-loving Auntie Moe, their smart and athletic cousin Jaimee and their strong and funny Great-Grandma Joyce.

All of these women in my girls’ lives are positive role models in their own ways.  They are all beautiful physically, but they are also beautiful inside – which is what makes them good role models.  They are all strong, smart women that have integrity and lead by example.  These are the women that I want my kids to look up to.  I hope that my plan to have them spend more time with them, and less watching those other “role models” like Justin and Miley, will develop them into becoming good role models to others down the road.

Canada Games


This being the second week of the Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec, I find myself reminiscing about all of my fond memories I have from my experiences being a member of Team Manitoba.

I was fortunate to been able to attend two Canada Winter Games – in 1991 and 1995 – for synchronized swimming.  Now that I am typing this I realize that this was now over 20 years ago (boy does time fly).  The first time I went to Canada Games in 1991 I was a grade 10 student.  One of my favorite memories of this trip to PEI was when my teammates thought it would be funny to announce in the Team Toba newsletter that I had a crush on a fellow Team Toba hockey player.  Needless to say, at 15 years old, I was beyond mortified.  Luckily this was not my only memory of the trip!

The pep rallies before and during the Games were amazing.  I was so proud to be a part of Team Manitoba.  The energy amongst all of the teams was contagious.  I was also very fortunate to have a coach that was a believer in actually “seeing” the city where we were competing.  My long-time coach, Jennifer Land, ensured that we saw the sights including the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ house, the extremely windy ocean and the famous “Cows” store while out shopping.

The actual competition part of the Games was also very memorable.  Even though we didn’t win a medal, I felt like we really did a great job and had a fantastic performance.

The second time I went to the Canada Winter Games, I was a “veteran” team member.  Having been to the Games once before, I knew what to expect.  Canada Games is completely different than any other competition within sport.  It is almost like a “mini-Olympics” in the fact that it has all other sports competing at the same time.  During these Games, I was able to attend a number of the other sporting events other than my own.  I was proud to be able to cheer on my “teammates” within our Team Toba family.

Again at these Games in 1995, I didn’t win a medal.  I was happy with how I performed but the greatest part of this entire competition was the experience.  It was something I will never forget.  My 12 years of training allowed me to go to many different cities in Canada to compete.  Unfortunately many of these trips are now a blur in my memory as I saw the competition location, the hotel and the airport.  The Canada Games was a chance for me to be a part of a larger athletic, sportsmanship-centred team.  I am truly grateful for these experiences and hope that the athletes currently at the Canada Games enjoy the same positive experiences.

Calgary Clean Up


On Friday, June 21, 2013 I woke up to images of absolute horror and shock of the devastation that had occurred so quickly in Calgary. A city I called home for well over a decade was now under water. The downtown streets were washed away of the vibrancy and hustle-bustle, the homes and businesses of my old neighbourhood were washed away. The sadness and fear of the unknown of the people of Calgary and southern Alberta filled my heart with sadness and my eyes with tears. The panic and worry I had for my family and friends was overwhelming – are they okay, will they get through this, and do they need me right now by their sides. Water is a very powerful force, and largely unknown until we see devastation like we did only five days ago.

As I watched the news, social media, friends texting images and video of the destruction, I was in shock. The streets looked like fast-paced rivers, the Saddledome was full of water, and the beloved Stampede grounds completely immersed in dirty water. It was horrifying from here – I can’t imagine the reality of it all. But in this state of despair I knew that if one city could ban together and get through this with guts and determination, it would be Calgary. And this blog is not to rehash the terror but rather to commend a few gems of Calgary.

My dear friend Suzanne is always the one to give when she has nothing left. I have more admiration for this woman that you could begin to imagine. Her role with CBC had her truly delving into the Calgary community like no other. Setting up a massive emergency evacuation centre, keeping the southern Alberta people apprised on what is happening in their region, ensuring the people she comes into contact with get a smile and a hug because they really need it right now. All the while with her own toddler at home needing his mommy too – but this mommy needed to be a caregiver to thousands over the last few days. And she did it with love in her heart, pride in her soul and energy that will take her straight to the gates of heaven one day. So first to Suzanne – thank you for being you.

Secondly, my Winnipeg partner in crime who moved back to Calgary only two short days before the flood. Talk about some rough timing! As Tina luckily avoided the flood at her own home, she dived in to help those in need in communities across southern Alberta. From the moment she realized there were people in need, Tina used her zest for life and undying energy to help rally the troops across her social media channels. Planning everything from cleaning crews to food and water drives to fundraisers – all within a matter of hours. She strapped on her boots, got dirty when she needed to and cried because she had to. This is what the city of Calgary is all about…people partnering up and getting stronger when they’ve been kicked down. Calgary will bounce back because of the sense of community and people like Tina.

Lastly I have to mention my ‘dad #2’ Mike, an ER doctor in a smaller town outside of Calgary. When no other doctors were available, and people couldn’t get to the hospital from the other side of the river, this man and his team made a make-shift hospital! It was like a scene out of MASH for goodness sake! And I can almost hear Mike telling this story in future years – ‘you just do what needs to be done when people are in need’. Because THAT is the kind of man Mike is. He is solid and loyal and ever-so loving. He takes care of those around him, loves those close to him, and always ensures the right thing is being done in situations like this. He is a saint on earth and I’m lucky to have him in my life.

There are so many stories of people helping each other out in southern Alberta right now. With Mayor Nenshi doing an absolute incredible job leading the city to safety and strength – we can all learn something about leadership from this vivacious human being. One thing is for certain that I have learned from all of this (yes, I am the eternal optimist so the silver lining is always there) – I feel really lucky to have the people I have in my life. Suzie, Tina, Mike – you are all blessings to my heart. I know that no matter what happens in my life, as long as I have people like you in it, everything will always be just fine. So thank you and bless your hearts.

And to the people of Calgary and southern Alberta – from coast to coast we are here for you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Your strength and determination are admirable. Keep helping each other. Cry when you need to. Laugh when you can. It will all be okay.

My Dad

Fit Older Man

My Dad is a super hero.  No I am not 5 years old and no, my dad is not actually Batman or Spiderman.  However, he is super and he is my personal hero.

My Dad was my inspiration for my physically fit lifestyle.  Way before I was born, he became a fitness fanatic.  At 76 years young, he still is today.

He loves to tell stories of the “Y” days when he did dips with over 125 pounds strapped to his body.  Or the time he did 10,000 sit-ups causing his back to bleed because he was challenged.

Then there was the time he was in the gym and two pro-wrestlers, that were about 6’ 9” tall and 310 pounds, were doing bench press when my Dad, then 172 lbs. and 5’7” asked if he could work in with them.  They scoffed thinking that my Dad, a man a fraction of their size, would be able to keep up with them and their weight they were using.  They started off at 220 pounds and my Dad did that weight with them.  They added more and more weight until they ended off this exercise at 280 pounds and again, he kept up.   The wrestlers couldn’t believe it.  They had assumed my dad would be finished too.  My Dad however, feeling no pain, added another 40 pounds to the total as if to say “I’ll show you”.  This is a snapshot of the type of man my Dad is.

He believes in not judging a book by its cover and not to let appearances fool you.  Just because you aren’t a big strapping man, doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with the best of them.  He believes in the underdog, the little guy.  He started from nothing and put himself through school and became a dentist.   He never gave up, on anything.  He has that same expectation for us, his children.  He only missed 3 days of work in 47 years of practicing dentistry.  He believes in hard work, dedication and giving 100% in everything you do.  He has passed on these qualities to his kids through his own behavior and an abundance of incredible stories such as the “wrestler” one above.

To add to his qualities, he is the most family focused man I have ever met.  Once he had children, he wanted to spend as much time as he could with us.  As fitness was also a priority, he slowly acquired equipment to build a gym in our basement.  Rather than going to the gym after working until 6, he came home, had dinner with us as a family, helped us with homework, and spent “time” with us.  He saved his workouts until after we had gone to bed.

For all of these reasons, he is my hero and inspires me to not only be fit, but to find balance in life with a strong focus on family.