Have you ever had a day, days or a week when many stresses or challenges all came together? Any one of them on their own can cause anxiety, but when it all happens at once you feel like your world is crashing in. You feel overwhelmed. Different kinds of emotions are all fighting each other – fear, sadness and also anger. Can you handle it? What should you do?

That was me this past weekend. I am not going to go through the actual events and stresses that came together over a period of time to make me realize on Sunday afternoon that I was overwhelmed. Too many things that I simply couldn’t control were all happening too fast and I felt like I was starting to crumble.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am typically a strong person who has it together. I am quite capable of balancing many things at once every day in my life. And I have written extensively about all the puzzle pieces in my life that I work hard to manage every day.

It’s not easy to pursue a career, raise children and run a household, all at the same time. I work every day, both mentally and physically, to keep it together. But this past weekend it was just too much. My regular puzzle pieces weren’t fitting in at all, and yes, I will admit, I fell apart.

It’s a scary feeling to lose control. I felt helpless. I was overwhelmed.

It was just when I was feeling very down that my aunt showed up at my house. This is my Auntie Jo, the very same wonderful lady who inspired me to keep going and keep focusing to have a third child. She is one of the main reasons we are lucky to have our Tiny Miracle, Nessa, in our lives.

Besides giving me the hug I needed, she calmed me down and brought me back from my confused, stressed-out state. She offered helpful advice and reminded me that being overwhelmed is okay and that I would be fine.

My sister, Darcie, showed up soon after. Even though at this point there were seven children running, jumping and of course bum-walking, around my house, the zoo didn’t affect me too much. My sister was also a welcome visitor, bringing me encouragement and helping me stay centred.

By early Sunday evening my house was a mess, the laundry was not clean yet and I barely strung dinner together for everyone. I will admit that I was still overwhelmed as I tidied the toys put the final load of laundry into the machine at 11:00 pm and had a late-night snack and hot shower.

I’m still a bit on edge today, and my issues and challenges are not resolved. I am trying to take the time to sort them out and take each on one by one. That’s much less overwhelming. Life can hand you unwelcome anxieties every day, and I am confident that I will get through mine. Thank you to everyone who has offered advice and support. I am here for you too anytime you are overwhelmed, as a niece, sister, daughter, random relative or friend.

My Greatest Asset is Passion Capital

passion capital

Have you ever walked into a party, a meeting, an event or a conference by yourself and felt nervous, almost afraid, to walk through the door? It’s almost like the feeling that a child has on his or her first day of school. That first step in the door is so hard, but once you are inside and have met a few people you realize there is no reason to worry. You are welcomed, you feel comfortable and you know you are in the right place. This happened to me this week when I attended a conference and came home at the end of the day after learning that my greatest asset is Passion Capital.

I sat in a room all day with like-minded individuals, who are leaders in both Corporate Canada and the non-profit sector. We listened, learned and discussed purpose-led business strategies. The speakers discussed the importance of corporate citizenship and making meaningful connections with customers, employees and the community.

All morning I listened intently, as I nodded my head in agreement. I shook people’s hands and introduced myself as a professional who believes in purposeful communication. Then I heard Paul Alofs give a keynote address after lunch. His topic: passion capital.

Paul described passion capital as the combination of “energy + intensity + sustainability to succeed.” He explained the seven building blocks to achieving passion capital, and #3 affected me deeply: courage.

In order to affect change, any kind of change, we must have courage. It’s not a word I have ever heard before at a meeting, at a conference or any part of my professional life. If I want to dedicate myself to find ways for profit and purpose to meet, I need the courage to bring about change. But I learned that I can’t do that on my own.

If I am to be part of a movement to change Corporate Canada I need to align myself with courageous leaders. These leaders need to step up and speak out in support of purpose. These leaders, as I learned from another speaker, need to be in the business of doing good and not just in business and doing good.

The people I met, the workshops I attended and the speakers I listened to opened my mind to passion capital, and they showed me that it’s my greatest asset. Success in business does not only come from intellectual, financial or human capital. They need passion capital too.

I now know that my greatest asset is passion capital. I think that most people, while they do not know it yet, also possess it. We strive for purpose where we work, where we shop, what we buy and how we raise our children. But if we want to affect change, and I mean real change, we need the courage to take the first step.

Growing Old Gracefully


I am scared to get old. Old age is still years away, but it’s something that’s on my mind quite often. I’m not talking about retirement, grandchildren and winters in Florida. When I think about old age I think about frailty, illness and nursing homes.

Why should someone my age (I don’t hide my age – I’m 40 years old) be concerned about old age? Shouldn’t I take joy in my young family, my career ambitions and great friends? Well of course that’s where I focus most of my attention, and every day I am grateful for the life I feel privileged to lead.

But it’s still there – that nagging reminder that someday I may be old. I grew up in a large close family, and all four of my grandparents played a big role in making me who I am today. My Bubby, who had a heart of gold and kindness and love seemed to emanate from every part of her, died at the age of 72. I was only 19 at the time and was still too young to understand what old age was. My other three grandparents lived to be old, and one of them, my Poppy, is 96 years old.

Poppy has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I was a child and I love him dearly. Poppy has aged gracefully and has overcome tremendous challenges with his health. He is a colon cancer survivor, lives with angina and over the past few years has developed dementia. This is a man who was a practicing Chartered Professional Accountant well into his eighties, golfed and skied for decades and traveled the world.

Baby Matthew playing on the floor with Poppy
Julia loves to have snuggles with Poppy
Nessa loves having lunch with her Poppy

My grandparents always told me they chose to live life to the fullest, and I believe they did. But then they grew old, and I mean the cruel side of old age that included frailty and illness.

Last night, while many members of my family were enjoying a long weekend up at our country home north of Toronto my father got a call that his father (my Poppy) was in an ambulance on his way to the emergency room. I won’t go into the details here and I’m happy to say that Poppy is fine, but I could hear the strain and stress in my father’s voice as he spoke with my grandfather’s caregiver about what was going on. My father and sister jumped in the car and drove back to the city to be at Poppy’s side, advocate for him at the hospital and get him back home safely that night.

My Poppy was a strong and charismatic person throughout his whole life, who loved my grandmother with all his heart every day of their 69-year marriage. He was sharp, confident, smart and successful. And now he is frail and depends on his children and a whole host of dedicated and amazing caregivers for everything.

All I could think about last night, as my father raced to the hospital and my grandfather sat on a stretcher in the emergency room, was how scared I am of old age. I hated the idea of my beloved Poppy sitting alone with chest pains in the emergency room and no longer in a position to advocate for himself. Without the dedicated support of his children, grandchildren and caregivers I don’t know what kind of life my Poppy could lead in his old age. And yes, that scares me.

I hope to grow old gracefully, like my Poppy. I hope that life is kind to me, especially old age. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared.