The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round      


As soon as you read the headline, did you start to sing? Are you humming along right now? Are you singing the first verse…. “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round….” Or are you on another verse already, like “The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep,” or “The doors on the bus go open and shut….”?

Do you feel nostalgic? Memories of childhood? Moments of time spent on a big yellow bus, on a class trip with friends, or on your way to summer camp? During our childhood, most of us spent some time on a bus. Maybe it wasn’t one of those bright big yellow ones. Maybe it was small, or it was a big coach, with big comfy seats. But, I hope that I have you thinking about time on a bus when you were a child.

When children are on a bus, headed to school, a special outing, camp, or anywhere else, they are often rowdy. They sing. Some dance. Others joke around. The moment a group of children climb onto a bus, it’s like a party has begun.

I experienced that this week… with a group of adults. What is it about a bus that transforms mature, professional adults into silly, boisterous children?

I will give you the context. I had a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time last week at a leadership summit with people I work with. We spend hours, days, weeks, months of our lives working side by side. We put out “fires” together, work on projects and solve problems.

But, it’s when we leave the office and spend a few days together that we really get to know each other. The brainstorming sessions are important, as are presentations and workshops. And I’m glad, and very appreciative, that in my role as the Communications Director, I’m invited to participate in these sessions.

However, that’s not what I want to write about. You may be wondering, how is she going to connect a favourite childhood song, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, with a work offsite? It’s all about the bus.

I will ask the question again: Why do we, grown, mature, stuffy adults, quickly become children the moment we step onto a bus? Or a better question is, why not?

Our evening began with the group shaking hands, giving some hugs, as colleagues quickly became friends. We walked down the steps of our hotel, and in front of us was a big white coach bus. The party bus. Or at least it became a party bus when the first person climbed the steps.

One of the organizers tried to count as each person stepped on, and he failed, as no one behaved. It was pouring rain outside, the traffic was terrible, and while we had a short distance to drive from the hotel to the evening activity, it took a long time. No one cared. They were too busy talking, singing and screeching to notice. Even my colleagues in HR. We cracked jokes about our bus driver. Some people teased their friends. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling. And the laughter. Oh, the laughter!

Do you know that feeling when you smile and laugh so much that your face starts to hurt? I can’t even remember half the silliness that went on during this crazy bus ride. Jokes that would never be funny during a meeting at the office were hilarious. Jabs at our boss were received with unctuous cackling. We laughed so hard we cried.

When the evening was over, and we hopped back on the bus to return to the hotel, the silliness returned. The fact that our poor driver had no sense of direction only encouraged the group to be even more immature. Our evening activity could have been a ride on a bus, and I think the group would have been perfectly happy.

And yes, we even sang our favourite song, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round. We continued to sing the following evening, when we once again journeyed across the city on the bus. Everyone dressed up in our fancy adult clothes for a night on the town. But the child in us all came out the moment the wheels on our big white bus began to go round and round. The jokes, the jabs, singing, teasing and a ton of laughter, it all began again.

It was so much fun. Of course our three-day offsite was great, but really, the bus was the best part. It’s like giving a child a big thoughtful gift, like a dollhouse or toy kitchen, and all they want is to play in the box the toy came in. Or you plan a special day in the city, and what your child remembers most is the subway ride downtown.

I hope that the wheels on the bus keep going round and round. That the doors on the bus go open and shut. That the wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish. But most important, I hope that the people on the bus laugh, laugh, laugh, and have fun, fun, fun.

I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Are we all a Little Anxious?


My day-to-day life is very busy. And everyone around me is busy too. It often feels like we never stop. If I take a break, I usually just think about what I should be doing, or what I will be doing next. I’m not very good at emptying my head, living for the moment and just relaxing. And when I do, I sometimes feel guilty, which causes me to be: anxious.

I feel like the word anxious was often taboo until recently. Maybe it’s the COVID-19 pandemic that forced us to think inwardly, maybe society has changed, or maybe something else. For me, I never really thought about it until I couldn’t explain – to myself – why sometimes I am nervous, or I feel overly stressed, or I’m just plain upset.

And I don’t think I’m unique. I’m not talking about crushing anxiety (which I know many people do suffer from). What I’m speaking to here is something more under-the-surface, more subtle, harder to pinpoint. It doesn’t hold me back – in fact sometimes it helps me gain the courage I need to push myself.

But it’s there, every day. It’s the less concrete, but important stuff like, are my children healthy? Are they succeeding? Do my husband and I earn enough money to support the lifestyle we want for our family? Where will I be in 10 years? 25 years?

What really makes me unsettled, speeds up my heart, causes my hands to be unsteady and scares me a bit are the little things. It’s stuff that may stop me in my tracks, and even as I type, I’m a bit embarrassed.

It may be that I have a list of appointments to make, from dentist or pediatrician for the kids to a haircut for me or grooming for my dog, and I’m so busy at work that I won’t have time to actually go to any of these appointments. So I don’t pick up the phone to book anything.

I hate driving. I drive because I have to, not because I like to. Anytime I go anywhere, I plan my route, consider how long it will take me, or before I turn on my car, I pause and take a deep breath.

There are never enough hours in the day. I don’t wish the day away, because it means I may fall behind. How do I please everyone? How do I write that important message for this person, attend a list of meetings and track it all? That meeting is at the same time that I need to pick up my 7-year-old. Can I miss the meeting? Can someone else pick her up? And what am I making for dinner tonight? Do I have the ingredients? Yikes, the kids’ laundry basket is full. Did I sign the kids up for hot lunches next term? Did we move money into the chequing account so the next mortgage payment goes through?  

I could write page after page of questions just like these that swirl around my head every day. It’s only very recently that I realized I, like many other people across the globe, suffer from anxiety. And it made me think, are we all a little anxious?

There’s nothing on my list above that is unique. What causes me to be anxious is probably not that different from many other working mothers, or just mothers, anyone who has a job or who is just trying to live life. It’s only in the last few months that I have thought deeply about anxiety, and why I – and many others – have it.

The list of daily stresses in my life isn’t going anywhere. I accept that. But I can create coping mechanisms, or find tools to help me try to overcome what makes me anxious.

Surround myself with great people

I’m putting this first because for me it’s the most important. Both in my personal life and professional life, I have people I can lean on. I can laugh with them and cry with them. I don’t have to name them, as you know who you are. A few years ago, someone who I look up to taught me about creating my own Board of Directors for my life. These are people who I can trust, who always have my back. They cheer me when I need cheering, they step in to do the work if that’s what I ask – or don’t ask. But they also tell me like it is – they are brutally honest with me and know what’s best for me. I love my Board of Directors.

Be Active

When I feel anxious, my first reaction is to do nothing. It’s easier to be indecisive, or to sit on the couch, than act. And when I say be active, it’s two-fold:

First of all, I feel better when I pick up the phone and book that haircut or put away that clean basket of laundry. I can let it sit, but it doesn’t go away.

Second, literally be active. I try to exercise every day. It may be just 15 minutes, or maybe it’s a long walk (I love my walks at work with my steps buddy!). I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in, and when I exercise I feel great. I feel those endorphins being released. It’s easy to say, I’ll exercise tomorrow. But I know it’s good for me.

Take a Break

I mean really take a break. I know I should take a lunch break every day, which I rarely do. But what I mean here is to get away from it all once in a while. Take a physical break. Take a mental break. I don’t even have to go anywhere. But I have to walk away from work. I have learned that I am more valuable to my employer when I’m refreshed.

But it’s not just a break from work. It’s a break from everything that makes me anxious. I may grab a day or two here and there, but right now, in the summer, is my time to take that true break I need. It may be time by the lake in the mountains, or sitting under the oak trees in my backyard. Paddle boarding on the smooth lake, picking wild blueberries or reading a great book. It’s what I need to do.

Try Yoga

This one may sound cliché, I know! I learned yoga years ago, as a teenager, and I enjoyed. But I thought nothing of it. I have rediscovered yoga recently, and even just taking a few minutes every day to do the Sun Salutation calms me. I close my eyes, I focus on each yoga pose, and that’s all I do in those moments. It actually clears my head. It doesn’t mean that my list of tasks goes away, but my heartrate slows a bit, my hands don’t shake and I feel confident. Give it a try, it’s worth it.

Write about it

One key thing I have learned about being anxious is that it’s important to accept it, and to talk about it, or in my case, write about it. It’s okay to have anxiety. I really do believe that we are all a little anxious. Don’t keep it to yourself. I have thought about this blog post for a while, that I wanted to write it. But I was anxious to share this with the world. So I put it off.

I finally got enough courage today, on my birthday, while I sit by the lake, in the mountains, with my kids at camp and a few vacation days from work. For just a few days. I haven’t walked away from everything that makes me anxious, but I let myself take that well deserved break.

Pause. Take a deep breath. Try it.


Can One Test Change your Life?


I’ve been sitting on this question for a while now. I have a folder in my “notes” on my phone called Blog Ideas. Months ago, when my son had a rough go on a math test, and he was devastated, I wrote this question in my notes: can one test change your life?

It was one math test. Just one. He’s taken dozens before, and since he’s only in grade 10, I am quite sure he has dozens ahead. His disappointment in himself, in his lack of achievement, upset him – and upset me. And then I was further upset… that I was upset!

The good news is that my son got over the bad test rather quickly, and it motivated him to work hard, do well on the next math test and achieve an excellent grade in the course. But that one test got me thinking.

We are tested all the time. Sometimes it is a formal test, like a math quiz at school, or a formal certification or for a driver’s license. Those tests are, for the most part, straightforward. You get a high grade or mediocre. You pass or fail. There is a concrete outcome following the test.

Since this math test I have started to think more about all the ways we are informally tested, and how these tests affect us as we grow up and progress through life. Is this good or bad? Is it helpful or damaging? Do we benefit, or are we harmed?

In my own personal experience, for the most part, I have thrived in formal tests. Give me a math exam on trigonometry, I aced it. Throw a grammar test at me, for sure I always achieved the highest grade (and anyone who works with me knows that I am a stickler for good grammar!). Ask me to write an essay that asks me to answer the question, “Explain the weather patterns in Northern Canada in the last century,” and I guarantee that I would always have handed in a top-notch piece of work.

But, when I am tested in more informal situations, it’s not so simple. Sometimes I may create unrealistic goals for myself, or those around me expect me to achieve in ways that are extraordinary and beyond my reach. Or maybe there is no test at all, but I am being judged for my choices or my actions. While the end result may not be a pass or fail, there is still an outcome.

Maybe I am thinking too deeply about the word “test.” The word on its own can cause even the calmest person to feel anxious. How many people feel they are tested the first time they meet their partner’s family (or every time they are with their partner’s family!)? Have you ever felt everyone’s eyes were on you when you walked into a party? How about at work? Did you ever walk out of a meeting, after you were bombarded with questions, thinking to yourself… were those genuine questions, or were my colleagues… or gasp, my boss, just testing me?

When it comes to our careers, no doubt, we are tested all the time, often when we don’t even know it. I also think that those around us very often aren’t actively testing us. Your employer doesn’t necessarily start their day thinking, hmmmm, today I’m going to test Sally. Let’s see if she can solve that impossible problem. But you may be asked for advice, or to write a brief, crunch some numbers. And like it or not, someone, or a group of people, are judging you. And that can be stressful!

So, back to my original question: can one test change your life? I realize that life is not about one test. It’s about how we take on the many tests that we face throughout life. Some are rather obvious, like my son’s math test. Or a university entrance exam. Or a job interview.

But most are kind of murky, like your future mother-in-law asking you if you like the chicken she cooked for dinner (note: my mother-in-law is a fabulous cook and I am lucky to have such a close relationship with her!). How about when you are sitting in a meeting at work, with a group of executives, and they ask you what you think of the economic conditions in the province of Alberta (I’ve never actually been asked this, but you get the point).

My son will be tested throughout his life. Sometimes he will come home and show off that top grade, and I know that sometimes he will have that same look of devastation on his face like he did after that ghastly math test. I can just imagine the first time he meets his future in-laws or walks into an interview for a job he desperately wants.

Tests can be terrifying. Sometimes they can be terrible and upsetting. Or they can be wonderful and exhilarating. Most of the time they are just a part of life. And sometimes, yes, they can change your life.

What I learned about Myself this Week

I just had a very busy week. Okay, a very busy few weeks. Maybe I should expand that to a very busy few months. But somehow this past week I craved for a quiet moment to just write, here at Kinetic Motions. It gnawed at me. The busier I was, the more I wanted to go back to my blog, where I can be myself and where I can speak my mind. That’s the first thing I learned about myself this week.

I met a new colleague this week at a post-work evening get together. It’s at small, more intimate settings like this that we can develop professional and personal friendships with the people we work with. As I spoke with this person, we both shared some nuggets about our lives, and when I mentioned my blog, her face lit up. She asked me a question so many of us get all the time – is there anything you are passionate about outside of work? I didn’t hesitate to answer her: writing.

But then I felt embarrassed, as I have this blog, which I established back in 2017, and my last post was from July 12th, 2022 – four months ago. How can I love writing, how can I have a real passion that I ignore?

So here I am, back at my computer, in a quiet corner in my house on a Saturday morning, doing what I love: writing. And as this busy week has drawn to a close, I started to reflect that I learned a lot about myself this week. I had many moments that made me pause, and I’d like to share some of them with you here.

I can’t do it all

While it is very kind that many of my friends, family and definitely my peers, have described me as Superwoman, it’s really not accurate. For sure I am very capable, but I can’t do it all. No one can. If something in my life – work or personal – starts to take much of my time, it must come at the expense of something else.

This was particularly the case this week, when one very urgent and important item took over about 80% of my attention at work. I had to prioritize it, as it affected hundreds, if not thousands of people. But it meant that I had to disappoint many individuals, for whom I am a trusted partner, and for whom without me their work may have been stalled this week. I had to remind myself that sometimes that’s just how it is. Sometimes I can’t do it all.

I need to surround myself with great people

I was invited to participate in a virtual Women in Leadership conference this week through my employer. I wasn’t a speaker or panelist, just a viewer through an online portal. And my luck, this full-day event was also on what was probably my busiest day this week. I knew I couldn’t attend the full day, so I did my best to listen in when I had the chance. And I’m so glad I did.

I took so much away from the sessions I did have a chance to attend, but one in particular will stay with me. The keynote speaker talked about the power of people. Well, she actually spoke about much more than that, but I listened intently to her advice about making sure that we lean on specific people in our lives, to help us grow and succeed.

Each person, she said, was represented by a finger on our hand: the cheerleader (who gives us a thumbs up!), the mentor (who points us in the right direction), the coach, the peer and the friend. This wasn’t earth shattering information, and this speaker is widely known for sharing this. But it was the first time I heard it. And I realized that for me, I am lucky that these different relationships are often connected. Some of my best friends have coached me. My greatest cheerleaders have often been my peers. Mentors throughout my career became my friends.

For me, it’s not about having these five relationships, it’s about surrounding myself with great people, who may, on any given day be my cheerleader, my mentor, my coach, my peer and in many cases, my friend.

I’ve done some cool stuff in my life

Back to that evening when I met my new colleague, I started to think about where I am today and where I’ve been. What I’m doing today, in 2022, is very different from the life I led 10, 20 or 30 years ago. And I’m really happy about that. It helped me realize that when I have a really busy, or tiring, or frustrating day or week, that I have shown myself that my life has been full of twists and turns, often very exciting ones, and that next week will be better.

Thirty years ago – November 1992 – I was in high school (oh my gosh I’m that old!). The Blue Jays had just won the World Series, and it was around this time of year that I had my aha moment In my chemistry class that my true dream was to be a sports journalist. It was also the time I created my crazy cartoon character, Kinetic Man. He was – and is – my “man of action.”

Twenty years ago – November 2002 – I had recently joined Rogers Sportsnet and was quickly promoted to be a member of the Assignment desk. I had also just bought and moved into my first house. And in those ten years since I was in high school, I received an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree in Journalism, and I got married and lived around the world (France, Israel and New York).

Ten years ago – November 2012 – I was working at Sears Canada and had just been promoted to be Director of Corporate Communications and Executive Director of the Sears Canada Charitable Foundation. And in those ten years in between, I had changed jobs twice, I had two children and traveled around the world with my family.

Today is November 12th, 2022, and I am leading Communications at ADP Canada, surrounded by skilled, professional colleagues who have my back. And while the past ten years may not jump out as the most exciting, they have been fulfilling. My third child was born, I continued to travel with my family, I (okay all of us) have lived through a global pandemic, and I started my blog.

So, as I sit here, on a quiet Saturday morning, I can smile as I think about what I learned about myself this week. I have so much I can be proud of, and I am grateful to the people who have cheered, mentored and coached me, and have been my peers and friends. There will be many more busy days and weeks, which I know may bring me down and frustrate me. But as the mother says, in one of my favourite childhood books, there will be “no good, terrible, very bad days…some days are like that. Even in Australia.”

This is What I Needed


There is a view that is burned into my mind that is so clear, so pure and so wonderful. From the first moment I saw this view, over 25 years ago, I knew that it was something special. No matter where I am, I can picture this view, and I feel relaxed. Picturing this view is great, but seeing it, live, is even better. And it’s what I needed this summer.

My life is busy. Very busy. I have a full-time, often very demanding job, a husband, three kids and a dog, a household to run, volunteer commitments and various other obligations. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed at night, I am on the move. My co-workers, my family and sometimes my friends rely on me and lean on me. It’s as though I need to be needed. I often joke that I thrive when I’m busy, or I laugh when I say, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person…. I have always shrugged off offers to help, to take the load off or take a break. Somehow in my mind, I could do it all.

But this past spring it just became too much. No one had to tell me. Nothing significant changed in my life or for anyone around me. I suddenly realized that I was exhausted. I’m always so focused on everyone around me that I forget about myself.

By the time June arrived I felt anxious all the time, and the stress started to get to me. I couldn’t fall asleep at night, I woke often and always felt tired. My workday started before 8 am, while I finished school lunches and hurried my kids out the door. Noon would arrive and I realized I hadn’t yet eaten that day. My daily exercise routine started to disappear. Sometimes I felt forgetful or that I was letting people down around me.

Was I burned out? Maybe? Was it all getting to be too much? Did I need to take a break from the routine, the hustle and bustle of life?

Yes, I needed to. 

With July approaching, I knew I had to take action. While I had some firm plans for the summer (including two kids at overnight camp and a family trip at the end of August), I decided to seize the opportunity and put myself and my needs first: I had to get away.

That’s when the view came into my head. Mountains. Trees. Water. I had to go there. I needed to go there. I wasn’t looking for an escape but rather a chance to slow down. Some Quiet. Fewer demands. And yes, a great view.

It’s almost the middle of July, and I’ve been away from city life for just over two weeks. I am fortunate that I’m able to work fully remotely for a few weeks, and to be surrounded by mountains, trees and water. I am considering what’s best for me, and I have really slowed down. I have noticed a few things while I’m here:

I’m Sleeping Well

When I close my eyes each night I easily and gently fall asleep. And while I do wake up once in a while, it’s rare and I fall back asleep quickly. My bedroom is dark and quiet. The window is open, and the only sound I hear is the wind, or rain. When I wake up in the morning, I feel rested and refreshed.

Work is Less Stressful

I am a communications professional, and I love what I do. My job is never boring, and I feel challenged, fulfilled and often very appreciated. But I had taken on too much, and there weren’t enough hours in the day! With a clearer head, I can focus on my priorities, be clear about my limits and complete tasks. I still start my day early, but I stand up and take breaks, I don’t have to hurry anyone out the door and oh ya, in front of me is a great view.

Time for Me

I’m not on vacation, and I do of course have responsibilities. I’m not sitting here alone, with no one to lean on me. But I am not spending every waking moment planning every minute of my day, worried about falling behind or letting someone else down. Every day I’m giving myself ample time to do something that I love, just for me. Sometimes it’s a walk, or a few minutes checking out the ripening blueberries. When the weather is (hopefully!) warmer, I will head out on the paddle board, or go for a swim.

A few days ago I started to exercise again. Outside. In front of my view. It’s easy to do any stretch when you’re looking at the mountains, trees and water. And as long as it’s not pouring rain outside, I’ll be out there every day to exercise.

The Food Tastes so Good

Some people will laugh when they read this. First of all, I am, for the most part, remembering to eat. And what I mean by that is that I’m not looking at my watch at 12:00 pm, stomach growling and saying, wow I’m hungry. And everything I eat just tastes so good. I will first and foremost give credit to the family around me who are supremely talented chefs. We also share the load of shopping for food, cooking and cleaning, and when this is shared, everything just tastes better. It’s not all falling on me, and I can enjoy being part of it.


I really am feeing refreshed, and there probably are many other reasons why I feel, well, better. I also know that soon I will return home, with many of the same demands of work, family, household and just general things life throws at us. But I am seriously thinking about what I can – and can’t do, in all aspects of my life. I can say no sometimes, and I can ask for help. And I have to make sure I always find time to do things that I love, just for me.

I value every moment here, away from the city and what it throws at me. I also know I am privileged to have the opportunity to be here, to work remotely and to be surrounded by family who care about me. I don’t take any of that for granted. The feeling of burnout is going away, though there are embers still around of some stress. No matter where I am, I have responsibilities which I take very seriously. But that’s okay. When it gets to be a bit too much I just close my eyes and picture that view. Or while I’m here, I will just look up. It’s right in front of me.



Remember what you Learned in Kindergarten


Many years ago I read the best-selling book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Robert Fulghum’s profound thoughts made me laugh and made me think, and it was an easy, sweet read. It was on my mind the last couple of weeks when my youngest child “graduated” from Senior Kindergarten and Moved Up, in a formal ceremony to grade 1. My daughter’s graduation was juxtaposed with a leadership summit that I attended a few days later with many work colleagues.

My daughter’s Kindergarten graduation ceremony was short, but it was life changing for the children. They showed off a set of skills to their parents that many of us have lost in the thirty (or gulp, forty) years since we sat in those tiny chairs with wide smiles. It took me decades to understand this, but Kindergarten is, I believe, the most foundational year of our lives.

It’s a transitional time, when many of us experience our first genuine authority figures, when we learn to balance play with work and develop long-lasting friendships. For many children, it’s when they learn to read and write, add 1 plus 1, see a map of Canada and maybe learn a second language.

But there are bigger skills my now kindergarten graduate gained this past year, which I hope she will bring with her in every stage of her life, from elementary school to university and throughout her career. They are skills I used last week as I spent time side by side with my colleagues. I was reminded by my 6-year-old daughter and her friends how important these life-long skills are:

Sometimes, just be Quiet and Listen

There are times to speak up and there are times we don’t. If someone kindly asks to be heard, let them. You can be an active participant in a conversation by just listening to the other person. Whether it’s your teacher or your manager, sometimes, be quiet, and listen.

Honesty is always the Best Path

Don’t lie, to anyone, ever. If you made a mistake, own up to it. It’s okay if you can’t tell everyone around you everything, but at least be truthful. If I ask my daughter, who made this mess? She will own up to it. If her class breaks a favourite toy, they let the teacher know. Remember that.

Be generous

My daughter loves to receive gifts, but she and her friends love to give them too. She came home after her graduation with a stack of “gifts” for us that she made throughout the school year. There was art, sculptures, books and other strange items I can’t recognize. She presented each item to us, one by one.

But that’s not all. This past year she reminded me every Friday to give her a few coins for the class Tzedakah box. This is a Hebrew term that comes from the root word, “Tzedek,” or righteous. They learned about the importance of charity and helping those less fortunate than them. The money they collected will be donated to a local charity, as chosen by the children. Generosity goes a long way – towards your family, friends or colleagues, or perfect strangers.

Be a Good Friend

I sent my daughter off to her first day of Kindergarten in September, and she knew a few of the other children. I watched her graduate in June seated beside her best friend and surrounded by many other close friends. When my daughter hesitated when her name was called, her best friend hugged her and urged her to stand up. When she was handed her diploma, every child cheered. And she cheered them too. Whether you are 5, 20, 50 or 80, remember to support your friends, if they need you or not. And give them a hug. They will appreciate it.


Anyone who has met my daughter, in school, at the park, in my house – even on WebEx or Zoom as she photo bombs while I’m in a meeting – they see her smile. You can make a huge impression on someone, or make them feel good, by just smiling. Smiles are truly infectious. If one person in the room starts to smile, they can create a chain reaction. Try it.

Be Assertive

This one is key, and you learn this skill in Kindergarten. Speak up for yourself and be heard. It’s a delicate balance between acquiescent and aggressive, and the best place to learn is Kindergarten. I admit that this is one I continue to work on, and I wish I had practiced more back in Kindergarten. It’s key to getting noticed, to gaining respect and ultimately, career progression. Let people know who you are, what you can do and why you are the best there is. Be bold.

Eat a Morning Snack

My daughter’s class took a 15 minute snack break every day at about 10:00 am. I packed something special for her every day. Sometimes it was a piece of fruit, or cheese, a granola bar, or dare I say it, sometimes a sugary treat. No matter how old you are or what you are doing, we all get the munchies. A vast table of snacks appeared every day at my leadership summit, and our group of 30 professionals jumped on it like a pack of wild animals. Take a break. Have a snack. It’s good for everyone.

Bring out your Creative side

Raise your hand if your parents signed you up for dance, art, piano, drama, singing or some other creative avenue when you were a child. While they knew you probably weren’t going to be a concert level pianist or be the next “Big Thing,” you had the opportunity to gain some artistic skills. The Kindergarten classroom bursts with creativity. The children express themselves with paint, crayons, pastels, and pencils. They sing loudly in music. They role play as Mommies and Daddies, or doctors and nurses. Do they sing off key or draw faces that look more like aliens? Of course they do. But they are proud. Don’t ever forget to be creative. A creative idea is refreshing.

It’s Okay to Cry

During a normal day in Kindergarten, at least one person cries. Your friend took your toy. The teacher didn’t call on you. You piddled in your pants. No reason at all, but you cried anyway. And that’s okay. Just like it’s okay for an adult to cry after a long day. Sometimes the pressures of work, family, friends and the general anxiety of the world around us just become too much. Have a good cry. As I learned from the song in the movie/play, Free to be You and Me – It’s Alright to Cry…. It Might Make you Feel Better.

Like Mr. Fulghum, I could probably write a whole book about this. I’m a proud parent of a Kindergarten graduate, and the foundational skills she learned over the past year astonish me. She learned to be thoughtful, gentle, and caring. She also learned how to share, to be kind and to be independent. Social skills. How to be healthy and active. And so much more. And she reminded me that it’s important to use all those skills every day.

Remember what you learned in Kindergarten. It will bring you success for your whole life.

At the Summit, the View is Beautiful

the view is beautiful

At the summit, the view is beautiful. These words have been in my mind the last few days. They were shared with me last year at work, during a very tough time, when we felt we had to work twice as hard, just to meet the basic needs of our customers, but we knew that the effort was worth it. We often felt that we were climbing a mountain, that just went up and up. Our heads were down, we took step after step, but when we reached the summit and looked at the view, wow, was it ever beautiful.

That’s how I felt this weekend. It has nothing to do with work, my job or my career. In fact, it was quite the opposite: a weekend away. I feel privileged that my husband and I, through our families, have homes we can visit outside the city. We both come from close families, who (usually) love to spend time together. We value the time we spend, often in very close quarters, at our family country homes, secluded from the world.

As I have written a few times, we spend much of our summer at my husband’s family country home in Quebec. The property was bought by his grandparents in the 1940’s, and the house was built in 1949 (with renovations over the years). For the last few decades, the home is only used in the summer months and must be opened in the spring and closed in the fall. I had my first chance this year to be part of the official opening of the home for the season.

Just getting to the house was a challenge.

I have traveled very little over the past two plus years. I had a quick getaway to Quebec City in November 2021, but other than that I have mainly stuck close to home in Toronto or to a family country home. So, when we booked a flight to Ottawa, to get part way by air to our destination in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec, we didn’t see an issue. Boy were we wrong!

I have traveled around the world, on my own and with my family. I have faced a few delays and inconvenient situations, but I never thought my husband and I would have to face the kind of climb that we did on Friday evening.

Turn on the news or just ask a friend about the nightmares of travel lately, and I’m sure you will get an earful. Long lines. Crowded terminals. Well, we didn’t face that at all. We chose Toronto’s downtown, Island Airport, as it was small and typically quieter and calmer.


I should have known we were in for a long night when I got a notification from Air Canada early Friday afternoon that said our flight, “has a revised time due to Aircraft technical issues and is now departing at 19:55” (instead of 19:20).

The next notification delayed departure to 20:15, and the next, received after we had checked in and sat at the gate, was for a 20:50 departure. The delay was annoying but not too terrible, as we enjoyed the quiet and relaxed environment of the downtown airport But I had a bad feeling that the delays would continue and maybe a cancelation.


I was right. Moments later we got a revised departure of 21:45, and then the flight was outright canceled because of “ground handling constraints.” I have no idea what this is or the other reasons we had been given (all different) for the delays throughout the evening.

At this point it was about 8:00 pm, we were still sitting in downtown, and we were frustrated. So, we were offered a flight, same night, from Toronto’s other, larger airport (the giant and wild one), that would depart just after midnight. We took it and grabbed a taxi. Across the city we traveled, and we checked in, dropped our one piece of luggage off, swiftly moved through security and to our gate (note to travelers: Pearson airport is empty and quiet on Friday nights!

We had a few hours to sit and wait for our flight, and at 11:40 pm, moments before we thought we’d be boarding our flight: notification of a delay. I read what looked like a menu of reasons for that delay (including customs and immigration, which made no sense for a plane coming in from Winnipeg), and our revised departure time would be 1:00 am. The plane finally took off at 1:20 am, and we landed in Ottawa just after 2:00 am.

Lost Luggage

But my story doesn’t end here. As I stood, semi-comatose, in the arrivals area and watched the luggage carousel go in circles (it was rather mesmerising), I knew my bag wasn’t there. I will note, my one checked bag had quite the mix of stuff in it, including my daughter’s Barbie “Malibu” house and my old espresso maker, both important items that are needed to keep me sane this summer. My personal items and clothing for the weekend were in my carry-on.

So, back in line we went, and told the kindly Air Canada agent that our large, bright blue duffle bag, full of a random mix of strange items, clearly didn’t make the long trip with us. At this point it was 2:30 am, I was exhausted and a bit punchy and short on patience. We were assured our bag would arrive (we gave him our address in Quebec), and took a taxi to my husband’s uncle’s home in Ottawa, where we stayed for the night.

Have I ever written that I’m not the nicest person when I don’t get enough sleep? Maybe another day. Anyway, after a short night’s sleep, a strong coffee and some errands, we drove over the Ottawa River on Saturday afternoon and arrived at our destination  Throughout the drive, as we traveled along a divided two-lane highway, then past many farms and started the climb into the mountains, I kept saying to myself, at the summit, the view is beautiful. The higher we climbed, past towering evergreen trees and bright blue lakes, my anticipation was building.

As we turned into our driveway, the scene that was etched into my head came alive in front of me. I got out of the car, and I knew that I had arrived at the summit. And I have to say, the view was beautiful! Nine hours to travel to Ottawa. No luggage. Total exhaustion. But my gosh, the view in front of me reminded me that there is extraordinary beauty in this world. Sometimes you have to work twice as hard to get there. The climb may be rough, and you may consider turning around and headed back down the mountain. But my advice: keep climbing. Why? Because at the summit, the view is beautiful.

P.S.: Our giant royal blue duffle bag was delivered here late Saturday night (really Sunday morning) at 1:30 am. And the water container on my expresso maker was cracked and broken. We have filed a complaint to Air Canada for the delays, cancelation, lost luggage and broken contents. I am looking forward to the airline’s response.

The view is beautiful
Oh indeed, the view is beautiful

Cakes by Mommy

Cakes by Mommy

I would consider myself to be a rather creative person. I have bold ideas, and storytelling is central to who I am. I guess the best way to describe me is that I THINK creatively. I bring my out-of-the-box, put a square peg in a round hole kind of thinking to everything I do in life, from my job to raising my kids. I’m the first to admit that I can’t do it all. But what I can do, well, I have some fun.

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. So, let me begin here by saying that in much of my life I’m not a big planner. I do love to plan family trips, and I have a solid grocery list going each week, but when it comes to family social activities I would give myself a failing grade. However, bring on one of my children’s birthdays, and I show up!

With the global pandemic my birthday parties had to go on hiatus, much to my daughter’s disappointment. But this year, the parties were back. And the planning began. Luckily for me, my husband David seems to wake up as well when our kids’ birthdays come along. He booked the bouncy castle for our backyard and I covered the invites, food and activities. Nothing too crazy. For me, it’s all about my child and her friends. And ya, some fun for me too!

At the centre of every one of my children’s birthdays, since my son turned one years ago, is the homemade birthday cake. Or what I like to call the Cakes by Mommy. I think about what is of interest to my child at that particular moment, and then I bake and decorate a cake on the theme. Some important notes on my Cakes by Mommy:

  • They are 100% made from scratch in my kitchen.
  • I decorate them all by myself, and no, my cakes don’t look like a professional ever laid eyes on them.
  • Some people may wonder if the child possibly decorated the cake.
  • My Cakes by Mommy taste great!
  • My Cakes by Mommy look like they were made with love.
Cakes by Mommy
The first one I ever made when my son turned 1
Cakes by Mommy
Percy from Thomas the Tank Engine
Cakes by Mommy
Cakes by Mommy

I’m posting photos of various cakes that I have made throughout this post. Each one is unique, and in each case I had a wonderful time baking and decorating. I will add that I also had a meltdown at some point in the process, because my buttercream icing melted or my layers fell apart or that the cake didn’t look at all like it did in my head hours before.

Cakes by Mommy
Lego Alien Invasion
Cakes by Mommy
Lego blocks
Cakes by Mommy
8 for Eight

What I’m trying to say is that this past weekend, as I cleaned up my backyard, washed many dishes and went to bed exhausted, I realized how much I enjoyed putting together the birthday party, especially planning and making the cake. And for a moment I said to myself, did I miss an opportunity to start my own small business? Should I have changed my career years ago and opened my own business – Cakes by Mommy?

Cakes by Mommy
Cakes by Mommy
Boots from Dora the Explorer
Cakes by Mommy
Frozen snow flake

The thought quickly passed when I realized that what I love is making my OWN children’s parties and cakes, and that really, if I created a website that boasted party themes of “all you can bounce in a giant castle” or “tea party for 7-year-old girls” or “reptiles and furry things” that I would have a meltdown every week. I did have a second take on the cake idea though. Most people like to buy their child’s birthday cake. But imagine buying a cake from me and passing it off as your own? I mean really. My cakes really look homemade. You buy the $60 cake from me and tell all your family and friends that you slogged away in the kitchen all night and produced THIS. No one would ever know.

Cakes by Mommy
Frozen Castle

Joking aside, as I moved on from my Cakes by Mommy reverie, I started to think more deeply about the “what if.” I think we all experience it sometimes. No matter how much we like our job, or our career in general, our employer or the people we work with, everyone asks that question, should I be doing something else? Have I followed down the right career path? Is it too late to pivot now?

I think it’s healthy to think about this and explore opportunities, even if they’re crazy like hosting some stranger’s child’s birthday party as a business model. I don’t actually want to start a business doing parties or baking cakes, but I admit I sometimes ask myself if I should have ever left sports media, or is the corporate world the place for me? Is my job taking over my life, or is it, maybe, a great choice that I made and it’s what I should be doing with my life?

It’s kind of crazy that making a Barbie doll ballroom dress birthday cake made me think about the idea of Cakes by Mommy again. The idea for this business was gone as fast as it came into my head, but for sure it left a lasting impression with me. It opened my eyes to what I’m capable of. Even if I’m not the best at something, even if it’s a bit far-fetched to imagine starting my own small business, I do know I can probably do anything. No matter what I do, and what I will continue to do every day at work, is be creative.

Oh, and if anyone does want a homemade Cakes by Mommy, let me know. I promise, it will stay just between us!

Let’s Celebrate a Brilliant Woman Today: Marla Richler


This post is co-written by three people. I collaborated with my siblings, Neil Richler and Darcie Richler, as we celebrate the most special woman in our lives, our mother, Marla Richler.

Whoever said ‘it’s the journey, not the destination” probably never retired. From what we hear, retirement is quite the destination!  

Today, our amazing mother Marla Richler (AKA Marla Gomberg to her work colleagues) is retiring after nearly 50 years in the social work field. She achieved a Master’s degree from McGill University by the time she was 22 and devoted the first ten years of her career to children in the Montreal school system then to youth at the Ontario Official Guardian’s Office. Marla spent the last 35 years working as a clinical social worker at a GTA hospital and covered everything from the ER, surgery, the ICU, palliative care, rehab, medicine and her true passion of geriatric medicine (and probably a lot more than that). 

Our mother has been on the front line, in the trenches.  She has fearlessly worked with the vulnerable, the marginalized, the weak, the frail and the very sick.  Her heart has ALWAYS been in the right place and her brain is always set to  “GO GO GO”.   You want something done?  Call Marla. You want it done with high energy and total positivity?  Definitely call her!

Even when we were young, our mom never stopped working.  Our dad had a very demanding and intense career and travelled often.  Somehow, Marla managed to do it all.  Never was she late for carpool, after school activities, dance recitals, etc.  Our food was home cooked with love and she endlessly pushed us all to achieve great things.

And her work. It was her real baby (well except for maybe her dogs!!).  Anyone lucky enough to be supported by our mom knows just how lucky they are.  Over the years our family connected with countless people who Marla had cared for during their time of need.  Patients and their families became beloved people in her life, often regularly following up with her for many years to come.   Our mom TRULY cared about each and every person who was in her charge.  And let us tell you, clinical social work isn’t for the faint of heart. Our mom was a rock, often a shoulder to lean on or cry on, for people during their difficult times.  She advocated and fought for her patients, all the while offering kindness and respect to everyone she encountered.

Over the years, we had the opportunity to get to know many of her colleagues well.  From doctors to nurses, to orderlies and other social workers, we learned that our mom was a true superhero.  Doctors would call her at home to follow up on a patient, knowing that they would be better off calling at night with important information instead of waiting until the next day.  Those who know our mom understand the kind of devotion that she has maintained with her work.

And, let us not forget, her mentorship.  Over the years our mom has mentored and supported too many social workers and students to name.  She LOVED this.  It would take hours of her unpaid time, but she passionately guided and helped the newcomers to the office become the talented professionals that they are today.  In particular, our mom has always been incredibly protective of the young women who have entered the workforce.  Her love for the “younger generation” was endless.  Helping other women find a balance between work and home and everything in between was something she cared about deeply.  To this day, she has colleagues who are in constant need of her support.  She offers it with a complete and open heart.  

If it isn’t obvious enough yet, we are very, very proud of her!  To add, this is the second pandemic that she has worked through.  Her experience with SARS, though very scary, was invaluable on this round.  

As we celebrate our mother and all her incredible achievements,  there is another side to today as well.  Our mother is retiring today because she felt had to. She believed she didn’t have a choice. 

Over the last decade, our mom has felt drained and pushed around by the leadership at the hospital.  As someone who showed up to each work day with her best possible attitude, she felt incredibly depleted by the workplace politics and power trips. One would think that this exhaustion would come from the years of hard work, but in fact, her patients bring her joy, and helping them energizes her.

While we are disappointed that her clinical career, that spanned almost 50 years, is concluding this way, we know it will come as a great relief to our mom to not have so much stress at this point in her life.  

We are sharing this information with our mom’s permission.  She was ok with us doing so because she cares. Maybe someone will read this and see the compassionate place that it is coming from.  So many individuals have retired in recent months and years feeling the same way.  And there are many others who are too scared to speak out.

The workplace that our mother entered in 1985 was clearly ahead of its time, with strong and capable leadership and good people steering the ship.  Colleagues looked after each other and operated in a caring environment that encouraged and supported team work. There was little or no drama and tight bonds were formed that have lasted to today. There was no room for immature behaviour or pettiness.  We are sad to say that it seems that today’s leadership in the current organization has a lot of work to do to maintain a basic level of respect and integrity.  The pandemic threw this observation into technicolour.  It was very clear to us that our level headed and hard working mom did not feel safe working there anymore.  At 70, she was not willing to risk her health to be working in person (factoring in everything currently going on in the world), knowing the potential for danger. Our mom has worked because she wanted to, not because she had to.  Thankfully she was in a position where she could have an easier time making this decision.

Even with that said, today is still a day to celebrate.  A career like this one had a lot more ups than downs.  And yet, our mom still has passion in her.  She is not ready to stop and actually retire. She has decided to set up her own, private practice to support patients and their families who need expertise with aging and later life transitions.  And yes, we will continue to brag about her.

Mom, you truly led by example.  We absorbed so much of your goodness over the years just by watching you in action.  You taught us to open our eyes fully and help when we can.  Your WAZE is always set to the high road, which is probably why you got as far as you did.  

Wishing you a giant mazel tov.  May we all continue to learn from you and be blessed with such long and fulfilling careers.  May others still get to benefit from your great wisdom and compassion for years to come.  May you find the balance between offering that support and doing every single thing that you love.  We are so lucky to have you. 

I Took the Plunge


I took the first step. My toe touched the water. Then one foot was immersed. Wow, that’s cold. Okay, keep going, I said to myself. The second foot went in. And I stopped. It was boiling hot outside, and I felt cooler with just my feet lapping the water. But I had to go on. I took a few steps in to the lake, until first my knees were covered then my thighs. I looked around at the deep lake beyond and knew I had to go on. It was cold. Very cold. I don’t like cold water. But I was determined to go further. I had to take the plunge – all the way in.

This is not some vivid dream I had this summer or a parable out of some book of legends. This was me, last week, as I stood on the water’s edge, by the lake, in the mountains, right here in Canada.

For most of this summer, okay most summers, I’m happy to sit on the sidelines, relaxed on a lounger, and watch others swim and splash in the lake. I don’t love cold water, but really that’s not the reason I avoid it. For me, and I am going to throw it out there – for many people – it’s easier to sit and watch, to let someone else do it, to stay away from risk, to keep the status quo. I could describe it ten other ways. Basically, it’s harder to take the plunge and go in the water than to stay on the shore.

Back to my first steps into the lake last week. I had been thinking about taking the plunge for a while. I sit at a desk all day working, and I spend most of my evening in the kitchen. It bothered me that I wasn’t very active, and I watched many people around me find time every day to cycle, run, hike, and yes, swim. I had to do something about that. I had to act.

I waited for a hot day, and into the lake I stepped. Slowly. One foot in front of the other. I kept thinking to myself, what am I doing? Am I crazy? It’s freezing! There are better ways to be active. I almost turned around many times. I stood in the lake, submerged to my waist, for a long time. Finally, I gained my composure, and yes, I took the plunge.

I went in. It was freezing cold. I screamed. I cursed. Then I calmed down, and I swam. I kept moving, and it was exhilarating. After a few minutes the cold didn’t bother me. I kept swimming, all the way to the raft that lives a short distance from our dock. I was out of breath and took a break when I reached the raft. Wow, I was out of shape. I gained some strength, turned around, and I swam back to our dock.

I emerged from the water triumphant. I did it! And I felt great. That moment of exhilaration, when I took the plunge, was very meaningful. It made me pause and think about who I am, what I do, and the choices I make. And it made me want to swim again!

Since that moment, I have taken the plunge, into the lake, for a swim, every day. My confidence builds every day (as I close my rings on my iWatch too!). But that moment, the first dip in the lake, has pushed me to take the plunge to do more than just take a swim in cold water. It made me realize that it’s hard to accomplish anything if I’m just sitting there, on the sidelines. Yes, it’s easy to be stagnant, to relax on a comfy chair and live with the status quo. But is that what I really want?

Clearly, the answer is no. This plunge into the lake helped me raise up my voice, assertively, and take steps towards some life goals and career goals, How can I take on more responsibility, do the work I want to do, or work with the people I want to work with, if I don’t take the plunge and tell people how I feel and what I want? I’m not a shy person, but when it comes to my personal growth, I admit, I am often quiet and reserved. It’s not that I always put others ahead of myself, but I’m hesitant, even anxious sometimes, to act.

If I’m comfortable, I stay put. Sometimes that’s okay, but my plunge into the lake reminded me that I need to take a cold refreshing swim more often. It’s worth it. How will I know until I try it? I tried it. I took the plunge. Into the lake. Into my work, and my life. And I’m loving it. I encourage everyone to take a plunge of some kind. It’s worth it.

I started to paddle board too every day, with my dog!