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Life starts with what you believe

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Falling In Love is Easy, but Staying In Love is Something Very Healthy

It’s my parents 55th anniversary today.  Not only have they enjoyed the years together (well most of the time anyway….smile), but research shows that their commitment to one another has given them greater health and a better lifestyle for their children and grandchildren as well!

mom and dad

Wedding Day, April 16th, 1960.

‘The pursuit of health has become a cultural phenomenon. Diet, exercise, supplements, relaxation and medications have all been touted as the way to achieve health. It’s surprising, then, that one of the most powerful predictors of health and well-being remains largely ignored by the health and wellness community. For the last 35 years, family sociologists contributed to compelling research suggesting married people enjoy significantly greater health than the unmarried.’ (1)

Dad, the 2nd born child in a family of five children, left home at 15 years old to start his career, with a grade 8 education.  Due to his strong work ethic and exceptional carpentry skills, he progressed from laborer to foreman to Manager of Campus Development at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to the owner of his own residential construction business.  My mom was born on a subsistence farm in northern Saskatchewan.  Being the 8th child of 15, she also learned the importance of commitment to hard work.  They eventually met and married in Calgary, at 19 years old.  Four daughters and one (adoptive) son, 10 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, a battle with breast cancer, facing the heart-breaking tragedy of a family murder/suicide, vacations around the world, and the purchase of 73 vehicles later……they arrived at today!

It hasn’t been easy, but their loyalty to one another, for better or for worse, has offered them and their family, these tremendous health benefits.


Slalom skiing together on their 65th birthdays!

Physical Health – The emotional support offered within a loving relationship helps couples to stay healthy and recover from illness faster.  It is thought that this occurs because couples have a vested interest in one another which causes  them to encourage (that’s a nice way of saying ‘nag’) each other to take better care of themselves.  As well, mental health studies have shown that ‘married people have significantly lower rates of severe depression and at least half the likelihood of developing any psychiatric disorder then never-married, cohabiting and divorced people.’ (2)

Happiness – ‘In a new research paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, he (Professor Helliwell) and colleague Shawn Grover conclude not only that marriage does make people happier, but that being married to your best friend makes you extra happy.'(3)

Longer Life – “Virtually every study of mortality and marital status shows the unmarried of both sexes have higher death rates, whether by accident, disease, or self-inflicted wounds, and this is found in every country that maintains accurate health statistics.”(4)

Family Health Benefits – The health benefits to families raised in loving parental relationships are incredible.  ‘Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to be physically or sexually abused, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit delinquent behaviors, have a decreased risk of divorcing when they get married, are less likely to become pregnant/impregnate someone as a teenager, and are less likely to be raised in poverty.’ (5)  Grandchildren also greatly benefit from the long life, health and happiness of their grandparents. ‘Besides modelling what constitutes a ‘normal’ relationship, grandparents provide children with a sense of safety and protection, a link to their cultural heritage and family history and a companion in play and exploration.’ (6)


Celebrating my daughters wedding last summer.

I’m very thankful for my family heritage, the many adventures in fishing, camping, water sports, card games (of which my mom never loses), and all the love and support of my wonderful parents!  I’m not sure I truly realize the half of what their commitment to each other has meant to me and my family.  Congratulations mom and dad!

(1) http://www.focusonthefamily.com/about_us/focus-findings/marriage/health-benefits-of-marriage.aspx

(2) Lee Robins and Darrel Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in America: The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (New York: Free Press, 1991), 64, 334.

(3) The Globe and Mail, Jan 15, 2015 ‘Who is The Happiest of Them All?’

(4) Jonathan Gardner and Andrew Oswald, “How Is Mortality Affected by Money, Marriage and Stress?” Journal of Health Economics 23 (2004): 1181-1207.

(5) “Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” Bradford Wilcox, Institute for American Values, http://www.americanvalues.org/html/r-wmm.html

(6) Article ‘Bonding with Grandparents’ Mary Gavin, M.D.

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I’ve Been A Mom for 25 Years

I have no idea where the time has gone but this is a milestone worthy of reflection.  Thankfully, after 25 years in my role as mom, I’ve learned a couple of things (mostly by trial-and error) that is making my journey with my-now-adult children so very enjoyable.

momMy kids are not mine to own.  In my role as a parent, I can listen to my kids, encourage and sometimes advise them (if asked), but I do not own them.  Their life and the choices they make are their own.  Evidently, they choose things that I didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t.  But that doesn’t mean their choice is wrong.

For example, I never really imagined that my kids would choose to live hours and hours away from me……by airplane.  I always thought we’d be close, have Sunday dinners together and my grand-kids would come to ‘Gamma and Gumpa’s’ house for a sleep over every Friday night!  These days, reality is checking my flawed imagination and the only thing I can do is accept the truth that my kids are not mine to own.

Seeing life from my kids perspective.  A sobering moment, a few short weeks after I became a first time mom, altered the way I view things forever.

My eldest daughter was a colicky baby.  She cried 14 hours a day for the first 6 weeks of life which made me cry just as much!  What a pair!  I remember one day being so frustrated and exhausted.  I had fed her, bathed her, changed her diaper, rocked her, held her and nothing would stop the crying.  Looking straight into her face, I scolded her ‘I’m so mad at you i could just pinch you!’  I’ll never forget the hurt in her eyes.  At that moment I realized my perspective was only from my fatigue and my frustration.  But what about her?  Only weeks earlier she was in a place of warmth and safety, where food was plentiful and comfort was at a premium; to a place of noise, cold and uncertainty.  I suddenly realized how insecure she must feel.  Seeing life from her vulnerable perspective, gave me new compassion and patience which has helped me in moments of parenting-frustration ever since.

When my daughters attempted to balance new independence and boundaries during the toddler years, I asked myself, what’s going on inside that is causing them to act out?  What comfort do they need from me?

As teenagers, when peer-expectations warred against their understanding of value and worth…..I questioned my daughters’ fears and considered how i could boost their confidence as their primary advocate and cheerleader?

And now as they wade through the pressures of adult decision-making in a culture of ‘me and mine’……I wonder what thoughts of inadequacy they are fighting?  How can I assure them of their potential, while acknowledging their need to own the process?

Loving what my kids love.   When my girls were young, they did what we did, went where we went and were immersed in our activities.  But now, as they build their own lives, I want to re-prioritize mine.  To be involved in their lives, i can no longer expect them to simply do what I’m doing.  So, I’m learning to love what they love.

The ultimate of friendship, (which is stage we are now in with our adult children) is to develop an interest in what the other is interested in.   Over time I’ve come to appreciate track and field, electronic dance music, clean cooking, sales cycles and how to build a team!  (Sorry girls, as much as I’m trying to develop a love for puppies, it’s not working!)   My newest ‘learn’ is to embrace a whole new family as a result of my daughters’ love for new her in-laws!

Being a mom for 25 years has changed me!  Heaven only knows what growth will come into my life if one day some little person calls me ‘Gamma’.