Category Archives: Opportunities

Too Much

For almost as long as I can remember I have felt like I am “too much” for most people. Maybe not most people, but many people. A great many people if I’m honest. 

And not the kind of too much that is seen as a good thing. Not like too much money or too much Swiss Chocolate.

I guess maybe I can’t really put my finger on the exact words for how I feel, but over time I keep coming back to those two words. “Too Much.”

Too opinionated.

Too loud.

Too passionate.

Too energetic.

Too type A.

Much too emotional.

Feel much too deeply.

A little too real.

Too honest.

Certainly too many expectations. Way too many expectations.

Too big to fit into that box.

Too small to fit into that one.

Cry too easily.

Too questioning. 

Too needy.

Too energetic.

Too optimistic.

Just. Too. Much.

I remember not very long ago at all really, a good friend of mine told me she overheard a couple of people chatting. She came up behind and beside them. They didn’t see her and maybe wouldn’t recognize her. Nothing bad was said at all. Truly nothing. Not a thing. But when she relayed the conversation she said “I cant quite put my finger on it, but I wanted you to know”. And it was true. Nothing derogatory to speak of at all. But I knew then, just like I knew when I was 8 or 14 or 21 or 34 or 42. I knew that what she was hearing at that moment in their conversation was that they felt just maybe I was “a little too much” at times.

It seems to be this theme in my life in many ways.

I remember at work doing one of those personality tests.  It sorted you into colors. Blue, Green, Orange and Gold.

Even then I remember feeling too blue.

(Blue had nothing to do with depression, it had to do with feelings).

Again.  Just. Too. Much.

But over time though I’ve truly learned to embrace my “too much”. I wouldn’t even necessarily say I argue with the validity of it. It’s a big part of who I am, and as I’ve grown older I’ve felt less need to try and change it or hide it.  My “too much” makes me who I am.

And its funny how sometimes we re-frame things in life through our experiences and as we age through our children. Because lately it occurred to me. 

Maybe it’s never been that I have been too much.

Maybe, its that sometimes others aren’t enough.

And I know that re-reading that it would be the perfect way to end a piece of writing.

It’s a powerful play on words.  

But it also sounds mean and that’s not at all how I intend it.

What I mean is this: maybe it’s not always me that needs to feel like I am “too” anything in this world that likes to put us in boxes … maybe, sometimes, the world could stand to have a little more “too” in it. A little more “much”.

Because sometimes there isn’t “enough” of all of those things I listed above. Maybe some of us have to bring a “little too much” to balance out the “sometimes not enough”.


I think that’s how I’ve learned to look at it.

Or atleast I’m trying.


Sometimes Self Care is Hiding the Last Bagel

I woke up this morning at 5:15 am. Some of you may be thinking “if this post is about self-care this is not a good start”.  

But as a morning person, this actually is one of the best things I do for myself. And it’s nothing I really “do” it’s more who I am – how my internal clock is just built into me.

I’m usually always awake by 5:30 am. In good weather I come downstairs and cuddle up in my Papasan Chair on the deck and read or take photos. It’s alone time. 

But don’t get “alone time” confused with self care. It’s true there is sometimes about half an hour of self care in there – but the rest is this: my mind running non stop with the list of to dos and schedules for the day for all the people in my life (of which I am last on the list).

Today I had a busy day ahead of me – like most of us do ofcourse. It’s June – and in my house that bookends September with a ferociousness that spans the kids, their school, their activities, my work, Craig’s work, and nearly each and every aspect of our life. Time is a precious commodity at the best of times – but it’s a different beast in June and September.

It just is.

So the notion of self care kind of makes me laugh. Like out-loud laugh.

Especially the way our society “sells” the notion of self care. Our culture screams at us from every magazine cover and talk show and best selling book that self care is of utmost importance. But at the same time it is also saying “and THIS is what self care must look like”:

It’s adventures to find yourself – to places none of us can afford (unless you are the author of the book these adventures are written about and just sold 1 million copies).

It’s massages and pedicures and mountain top retreats. 

It’s going to the funky little shop where you can “be seen” buying the “right” candles or oils which are over priced because they are the flavour of the month.

It’s running half marathons and making leisurely suppers from the organic vegetable you have tended to in your own vegetable garden that you take time to weed daily as you practice the simplicity of life.

And finally it’s taking the perfect picture of the perfect simplistic day with our lululemon yoga pants on while drinking our Starbucks Coffee. 

(Please follow the instructions above in order to meet the expectations our culture has around self care.)

Isn’t there enough expectations out there in the world we are bombarded with every day?


Ok ok. I get it.

Taking care of yourself is good.

I believe in it. 

But my self care doesn’t come close to these visions that are planted in our society.

My self care mostly looks mostly like this:

Phone a friend at 7:30 am – the worst possible time when both sets of our kids are getting ready for school and we are getting ready for work. But need to connect if only for a few minutes. Talk about “nothing really” but “everything real” … time allotted – 4 minutes.

At lunch grab a friend or go for a walk on my own. No jogging, no taking pics and posting them. Just walking. Pretty much the same place every time. 20 minutes. Race back to work.

In the mornings give my husband a peck on the cheek before we leave for work – try to spend the rest of the day trying to remember which Province he is working in that day, and if he can help out with “kid pick ups” later that evening.

And then there are times when my self care takes a deceitful but hilarious turn like this morning. This morning as I got up, came downstairs to the quiet kitchen and saw that there was only one bagel left – in a household of 4 people.

It was 5:30 am. I wasn’t hungry for the bagel yet. Everyone was asleep. But I knew in two hours I would be. And I also knew that by then that round beautiful bagel would be gobbled up by someone in my loving little family.

So this morning my self care looked something like this: I went over to my kitchen Island, I picked up that last bagel, and I deftly hid it from my children and husband so I could defiantly enjoy having it later in the day. 

Yup. I hid the bagel. What am I? Four years old?

But really, that’s it. Self care a la Karrie-Ann. Not fancy. Not trendy. Not expensive. Sometimes deceitful. 

Whatever works I say!

I guess my point is this: Don’t get caught up in what you think self care is supposed to look like. 

Find the moments. Even if they are fleeting and imperfect and nothing you would ever take a photograph of. Even if they are things you may be embarrassed about! 

Self care isn’t about what others are doing. We do enough comparing don’t we?

It’s about what you are doing – in a way that works for you – when you can do it. 

And yes – maybe sometimes it is the perfect mornings on my verandah taking sunrise photos that I post on Facebook as I get ready to read that self help book I’ve been waiting to dive into.

That’s not wrong. I did that just a few weeks ago.

But it’s also really important to acknowledge that sometimes … sometimes … it’s simply hiding the last bagel. 

And that’s ok too.

And Then I Met Two Girls

Once Upon a Time.  We read those words so often as children, but I can’t say I have had the natural urge to use them in relation to my own life.  They conjure up visions of other worlds and fairytales.  Of times a little larger than life and utterly magical.

But I guess that is to say – I haven’t had the natural urge to use them for my own life … until now.

You see. Once upon a time … there was a place called Banff.

For those of you who have been to Banff you won’t question the validity of me using the much-coined phrase “Once Upon a Time”.  It truly is a natural wonder. And for those of you who have not only been, but have lived there, well, you will not only understand, but you will feel those words in your soul.

When I was 10 years old my parents saved up their money, piled us into a Ford LTD, with a trunk the size of my mudroom, and took us on road trip across Canada.  My father was a bus driver and my mother was a stay at home mom.  We didn’t have a lot of money but my parents were dreamers, and they saved and saved, and they made this 6 week road trip happen for us.  It was the best gift I ever received from them.  I will carry it with me forever.  I know this is where my passion for travelling began – but as I often say, that is another story.

The point of this one, is that one of our many stops across Canada was Banff National Park. While we were there my mom met a young woman from the Maritimes who worked in the town itself.  After chatting with her my Mom turned to me and said, with such conviction, “You can do that Karrie-Ann. When you grow up you can come here for the summers to work too”. I never forgot that. And when my university year ended and summer arrived, I high tailed it to Banff remembering being that little girl whose mother told her “you can”.

I remember getting off the plane in Calgary all those years ago. I knew no one.  As in nobody.  I was 18 years old.  I was 5000 km away from home and I was going to be gone for 3 ½ months. I was with no organized group or on any academic journey. I felt so alone that first day.

And then I met two girls. And that was that.  I wasn’t alone anymore.

Our summers were endless. They were those summers in between years of school and we were all just discovering who we were going to be in the world.  They were filled with parties and day trips and drama and boys and friendships. All of this set in the most breathtaking place you can imagine – with a backdrop of mountains too numerous to count and rivers and lakes so clear and blue you are entirely sure they can’t be real.

We worked on top of Sulphur Mountain and took a Gondola to work everyday. We worked above the clouds. Literally.  I mean come on.  We were kids from rural Nova Scotia and now we are working in the clouds. Yup.  We had the world by the tail.  And we knew it.  We lived every moment – and I do mean every moment – to the fullest until it overflowed. And when it did overflow we got up the next day and did it again.

There has never been a time in my life that can compare to Banff. It was possibly the only time in my life I ever remember having no real responsibility. My University experience was amazing – but there was still this weight and expectation of achieving something. I enjoyed high school very much, but high school seemed like such a small box we had to fit into. What was so unique about Banff was that there was no box. There were no expectations.  There was just this crazy mish mash of people who all shared a little quest for adventure, a little taste for travel and a shared desire to experience more than what was at our front doorstep.

But like every mish mash of people, there are those who rise to the top. And these two girls … well … they were my cream.

Fast forward 20 years to a weekend at a little cottage in a tiny place on the Amherst Shore of N.S. Fast forward through growing up, and broken hearts, and diplomas and degrees, and adventures, and marriages, and children, and opportunities that make you and challenges that break you.

Because there I was.

This past weekend.

Sitting with those two girls ….. because we will always be “girls” ….. reminiscing and laughing and catching up on decades of full, vibrant lives that have happened since our Banff adventure.

And in a way – to be honest – I thought we would be strangers.

But we talked like we did back then. With an honesty and a caring that happens when you have no choice but to rely on each other because you are so far from home for so long. Back when the world hadn’t taught us to filter our feelings quite so much.  Because when you are 18 it seems that all you have are ‘feelings’.  Feelings and emotions so raw and so overwhelming, bubbling to the surface you feel like you are going to explode.

Yes – there was something about the “realness” and easy-ness to the weekend that surprised me and that I treasured.

Our friendship began before cell phones, Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. Not once during the weekend while we were talking did any of us pull out a device during the conversation and check it.  What a gift that was.  How rare it is now I realize.  There was such respect for each other and conscious listening and sharing – of intimate and real things that had affected our lives over the years.  I couldn’t believe that comfort was still there after so long … after all … we didn’t even know each other as adults.

Being with them again was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

These girls reminded me of when I was fearless and young. They reminded me of a time when we seemed untouchable and invincible. Of a time when nothing seemed impossible and the only logical answer to any question was yes.

And I was reminded how some friendships are born – through necessity that turns into something more.

Banff gave me so many things. It helped me realize that the world can be as small as I want it to be or as big as I want it to be. That saying yes can pay off in ways you couldn’t dream of. It gave me a confidence and courage as a young person. It gave me an appreciation for nature and the beauty that exists in the world. It gave me a place to test my wings.

And it gave me these girls. These girls who I felt so uninhibited and real and safe with. Still. After all these years.

They say you can’t go back. I believe that. I do.  But this past weekend we didn’t go back.  We went to Amherst Shore.  And it was such a gift.

Seaglass and Sandollars … Finding Our “Family Signature”

For as long as I can remember I have been conscious of the fact that creating a great family was not something that just happens.

I think most things in life fall on a spectrum – often dependent upon how much priority, time, effort and perseverance we put into them. We all have a ranging ability to create something great along that spectrum and I think family is no different.

It’s nice and easy to “sit back” and think that “love is enough” and is “what really matters”. Well … for me … as I’ve said before, it’s not enough. Particularly not the “sitting back” part. You see, love is a verb. And verbs require action.

The thing about actions and verbs are this – they don’t always have to be with a Capital A or V. Now I’ll be the first to admit that often times they are in my life. I’m guilty of being a “Go Big or Go Home” kind of girl … but truth be told it’s not the “big” that matters most in that sentence … it’s the “go”.

And it’s funny how we “go” about an activity on a regular basis, never really giving it much conscious thought, until one day, after literally years and years (in my case more than a decade) you sit back and you realize that you have cultivated a number of activities – of traditions – of events – that have shaped who your family is, how you interact together, and what sense of pride you have in each other as a whole.

Approximately a dozen years ago my family began, what I call, engaging in our Family Signature. I know that sounds like some dorky made up thing … and well … since I just made it up, and I AM kind of a dork, I guess that would be a fair assessment. But I don’t think it makes it any less true.

A Family Signature is I believe something that identifies you as a “whole”, and gives your family a sense of pride in being together. It is identifying in the same way a signature is, but you are identifying your entire family rather than one person.
Finding your Family’s Signature is not a difficult thing to do. Looking back I realized ours was there for years and years before I even consciously identified it as such.

For 13 years now we have gained such joy in doing something very simple – beachcombing for Seaglass and Sandollars. It is something we have done on a regular basis for literally as long as my children have been alive. We have photos of them growing up doing these activities; and our time together can be measured over the years by both of these things – little feet in the sand, growing bigger and bigger until their imprints are nearly as large as mine; years of searching for the elusive colors, the thickest piece, the perfect curve. I can mark our time together by little hands reaching down for that sand dollar – when they were so little that we used to “plant” them for them – until they got so big they became better at finding them than we are.

These activities are certainly not uniquely ours, but they are the two things that have followed us through the years – the things we have been very purposeful about making happen every single year since they were born, and I believe every year to come.
For those of you who may be still searching for a Family Signature here are a few tips and tricks to help find yours. Family Signatures often:

(1) Are A Purposeful Activity

– I don’t mean purposeful in the way of “Hey kids, we are going off to do our Family Signature activity now … get your shoes on …”. Please. My family have no idea I think of it in this way and would have no idea I coined this phrase. What they know is this: for as long as they have memory, we have been searching for Sandollars and Seaglass. They identify with it as something “we do as a family”. We do it purposefully, and it doesn’t “just happen”. We “make” it happen. They see us value it and we see them value it. Together. Consciously.

(2) Requires Little Skill; or the Skill Level of each Family Member is Equal
– Our family has a number of things we enjoy doing together … but I think the thing that makes a Family Signature different is that everyone enjoys it, and in turn has the ability to do it, equally. For instance, biking has always been a favourite family activity of ours. But my son both enjoys it much more than my daughter does, and is also more skilled at it physically than she is. We certainly don’t drag her along per se, but we all enjoy beachcombing for Seaglass and Sandollars with the same fervour and skill equally (provided I have my prescription contacts in)

(3) Allow for Anticipation and Joy
– You can never underestimate the importance of anticipation. It helps to lengthen the joy brought to the activity and therefore allows that activity to become much more than the time spent actually doing it. It becomes about the conversation and anticipation before it even happens. “I wonder what we will find at this beach? Will someone find a ring top again? Who will find the first piece? Who will find the smallest sandollar? Will there be as many as last time?” When we all know we are going beachcombing we are all waiting with baited breath to find the next treasure and love talking about it with each other.

(4) You Participate All Together & Support Each Other
– Looking for Seaglass and Sandollars is something we never do individually. We always … and I mean always … do it as a family. Some of my favourite moments together have been on those beaches when someone finds something unique and we are all genuinely excited for them. When we find a new piece we are excited to share it with each other – a new color or shape – a unique size or texture – and we rush over to show everyone.

(5) Encourages conversation
– One of the reasons I love this so much is that we are able to talk. We are walking together – and although we may not always be right next to each other there is nothing that impedes a natural conversation that happens between us. No electronic devices, no noise, no friends, no commercialism. Just us and the ocean. Our family of four. And nothing to do but walk and talk and seek.

(6) Does Not Cost Anything, or Very Little
– If I were to take a vote many people would say that our Family’s Signature would be travelling – and a big part of that is true. But I’m very conscious that travelling – even locally – is dependent upon monetary circumstances. I want our family signature to be something we can do no matter what our circumstances may be in the future, or have been in the past. Regardless if we lose our jobs or life throws us a curve ball. I never want to say “we can’t”.

(7) Is Timeless
– Our family is going to change and grow – be it physically, emotionally or literally. What if we move? What if, what if, what if? Your family’s signature should be able to change with you.

(8) Have a sense of Simple-ness and at the same time Special-ness
– It’s the “doing”, not the “size” of the doing. And it shouldn’t be something we do everyday – otherwise it becomes routine and loses that sense of being special and unique. I know our family is not the only family to go hunting for Seaglass and Sandollars. We love talking to others on the beaches who are doing the same thing that we meet over the years and sharing our finds. At the same time when my kiddos go to other peoples homes it’s not something they see around “everywhere” they go, and it’s not something “everyone” has been doing since they were born. We feel a sense of specialness about it, and I think that’s important.

(9) Offers Something Tangible
– I don’t think this is necessary. Come on … let’s be real … none of this is necessary. It’s all me talking! But I will admit I love that our family has Seaglass or Sandollars in seven different rooms in our home. I love that we all look at them throughout the year and are reminded of the times we spent together, the years we spent together. I love that we pick up pieces and say “remember when”. I love that we are taking the time to display them differently and I love that we take special care not to break them and treat them as if they matter. I think even pictures can provide this – taking photos of your family’s signature and framing them around the house. Anything that can provide a sense of memory and pride about what your family chooses to do together – just you. Which leads me to my last tip.

(10) Are Selfish
– Although we have certainly been with others beachcombing – friends and family – most of the time we are in a position that we are just the four of us. We rarely call up a friend and say “let’s go hunting for seaglass” … it is something we hold special just for us.
– Secondly, although I self identify camping or playing cards & board games as a Family Signature for us as well, the fact is that we are so very often camping or playing games “with others” – with hoards of family or friends – not just the four of us. This has gotten more so as the years have gone on. And in order for me to feel that sense of pride and that sense of belonging, I need it to be something where the four of us … and just the four of us … carve out special time together – with no other influences. Where we can engage each other in a meaningful way. Our world is so full of other people … this … this time … needs to be just us.

I can think of many families that have their own Family Signature but may not recognize it as such. I see families who travel around to all the fireworks shows in the area (I LOVE this!), families who hike to waterfalls together, families who take in local sports games together, who go fishing together in their boat and who go to their cottage together. Families who collect rocks together, or who create all kinds of art together, or who run together. I know one family who chooses a different charity each year and “give back” together throughout the year with different activities they organize.

These families may not all identify these things as their Family Signature, but I would be willing to bet if asked, they are activities that their families take pride in and are purposeful about. They are activities that have grown with their families over the years, and are activities that they “make” happen.

And I know so many of you are sitting reading this going “Karrie-Ann. For crying out loud. I barely have time to brush my own hair in the morning let alone give any thought to something called a Family Signature. Enough already.”

And I get it. I get that feeling. I live that feeling so many days. But when you break it down, this post isn’t about its title, or its tips and tricks. It’s about being conscious about making time for your family – real time. And doing so in an active way with something your family can take pride in doing together – just the core of you. It’s about not allowing ourselves to get 100% caught up in running around in different directions with sports and activities or social media or all of the other people in your world. It’s about taking a little bit of time to be purposeful with the people who matter most in your life.

So I’ll leave you with this.

What is your Family Signature? What has followed your family over the years? What can mark your family’s time together? Do you have one? I’m willing to bet you do.

And if you don’t … it’s never too late to find … no scratch that … to “make” … one happen.

Five Things That are Wrong with the Sentence “I Just Want to be Happy”. And Fifteen Things I’d Rather Be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those six little words lately. And what I have to say this week isn’t going to be popular and is probably nothing more than me indulging a pet peeve I’ve had as of late. But I think the great thing about a blog is that I get to have a place for my random thoughts … and yes – even my pet peeves that no one else may agree with. So here follows the five things I think is wrong with those six words “I just want to be happy”.

(1) First is the word “just”. The word “just” drives me around the bend and back. I think it should be stricken from the English language … at least stricken from being used in this way. I don’t want to be “just” anything. The word minimizes all else that comes after it. I hear it ALL the time when conversing with women, especially in context of motherhood. “I’m just a Mom”. I used to say it all the time when I stayed at home with the kids. Let’s drop the just already! And don’t say “I JUST want to be happy” If you want to be happy shout it from the rooftops! I WANT TO BE HAPPY! And if you aren’t a fan of rooftops please please please at least don’t crawl under a chair and say it. Because when you add the word ‘just’ that is exactly what you are doing. You are minimizing what you want. You don’t need to “justify” wanting to be happy. You really don’t.

(2) Second, to me when I hear those six little words what I really hear is someone apologizing for the fact that they want to be happy. Enough with the apologizing. Let’s ‘own’ our words. Let’s say what we mean and let’s do it with passion and purpose. Period. If you want to be happy try this on for size … how about “I’m going to create a life that makes me happy.” There’s certainly no apologizing or justifying in that phrase. In fact to me it sounds like someone who knows what they want and is going to do everything in their power to make it happen. I know it seems small … but sometimes the words we say and the way we say them mean a lot.

(3) Thirdly, the sentence –at least used in the context of a goal – “I just want to be happy” sets one up for failure. Happiness is an emotion. It is not a state of being or a consciousness. Emotions ebb and flow – they are not constant, and nor should we expect them to be. Life – even a great life – is not going to always be happy. It’s ludicrous to believe that. Our life goals should be grand and encompassing and something to work towards – yes! But even if they are far reaching they should still be attainable. I personally do not believe a constant state of happiness is realistic or attainable. And although I believe the best lessons come from failure, setting yourself up for failure is a whole different ball game.

(4) Fourthly, a number of years ago I learned a little trick when it came to consciously thinking about what I “want” out of life. I started ‘needing’ this little gem of a trick when I became a mother. I started ‘practicing’ it when my kiddos started getting out of those toddler years. And I have since ‘conditioned’ myself so well to it – and have begun to value myself enough now – that I find I no longer need to use it.

In relation to the sentence “I just want to be happy” it has to do with the words “I want”.

As women and as mothers we don’t give enough time and conscious thought to what it is we actually want for ourselves and from our lives. BUT when it comes time to answer that same question for our children we all of a sudden have endless answers for what we want for them and their lives. What they deserve and what we want for their futures.

So finally I started thinking about myself and my wants and my needs in the same context. As mothers most of us have an innate tendency to put our own needs on the back burner. “I just want to be happy” is a perfect example. Or “I don’t need anything – I’m happy. I’m happy taking care of the kids and raising them in the world and putting in my hours at work and coming home to clean and and and and …”.

So the next time you ask yourself “what do I want?”, if you are a parent, think about how much you want for your children – and then start applying it to yourself. I’m pretty sure you want more for them than to “Just be happy”. So if you want more for them … remember to want more for yourself too. “I just want to be happy” may “just” not be enough.

Which leads me to my final issue with this sentence …. and it’s a big one … one which many people will disagree with me about.

(5)  At what point did being happy become overrated? Because that’s what the concept is to me … over-rated. I just want to be happy. Really? That’s our goal in life? To be happy? I know the current “in” concept is supposed to be “keep it simple – happiness is key” but come on – we must all aspire to be more than just happy don’t we?

It seems we all walk around in life giving lip service to this all encompassing idea of being happy. And I guess if that satisfies your needs then that’s great. To each their own. But it doesn’t me.

If we are being honest I personally want sooo much MORE for myself than happiness. Happiness is but one emotion. One singular, somewhat mediocre, emotion, in such an array of emotions that I wish to experience and characteristics I want to aspire to.

What has happened to the English language? At what point did we succumb to being content with being so in descript. Happy? That’s the best we can do? If my goal in life is to be happy I am going to be very disappointed because I would be missing out on all of the other amazing feelings and characteristics that don’t always accompany happiness.

What about wanting to be Blissful, Peaceful, Passionate, Curious, Strong, Gregarious, Courageous, Contented, Bold, Purposeful, Hilarious, Thoughtful, Adventurous, Spirited, Loved?

Frankly, you can keep your happy.

Instead THESE are the adjectives, emotions and qualities I want to build my life around. THESE are the words I want to keep in the forefront of my mind when living my life – when setting my goals, when making my decisions about how I will spend my time. THESE are the rich, full, dimensional words I want to work towards. It may take me awhile to get there. Happy is an easy fall back – but I’m working on it … because I deserve, I want, and I aspire, for more from this life.

So I’ll ‘see’ your happy … and ‘raise’ you … a hell of a lot more.

Pass the Duct Tape Please

I was wasting time on Pinterest this week and read the following quote:

“Kid, You’ll Move Mountains!”

It doesn’t look particularly striking, stuck here in Times New Roman font in the middle of a random sentence really does it? I guess it looked better on Pinterest. Everything looks better on Pinterest.

But regardless, it really hit me. It’s the end of the school year and I’m watching all of these extraordinary kiddos put another year behind them. Some dressing up for proms and semi-formals, getting report cards and graduating from all different levels of schools – elementary through to college. They are growing up so fast.

I’m reading these four little words and I’m thinking to myself, ‘I wish I could duct tape this quote to every kiddo in my life and sign it “Love Karrie-Ann”.

I can’t wait to see what they all will become in life. Where they will go. How they will change the world. What their passion with be. I can see glimpses of that now in so many of them. But will they follow it? Will they find the courage? What will that ‘x’ factor be that encourages them to keep pursuing their dreams? What will that ‘y’ factor be that holds them back? What, and who, will influence them, make them more confident, be more resilient? What will help them move those mountains? One thing is for sure … it won’t be one big thing … it will be a lot of little things.

It’s so easy to wonder these things about our ‘own’ kiddos isn’t it? I think mothers spend 92% of their time pondering these questions and searching for the answers for their families.

And it’s so natural to say this phrase to our ‘own’ children isn’t it? Personally I’m pretty sure I have not only duct-taped this saying to Megan and Mark, but have done so in such a fashion that there is no white-space left for them to peek their little eyes out thru. “KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!!” “Ya ya Mom. We know, we know. Enough with the mountain thing already. You believe in us – we got it. Pass the potatoes please.”

But I sit and wonder this morning how good of a job I am doing at conveying this to other kiddos in my life? Other kiddos who I care so much for and who are going to do remarkable things in this world. I want THEM to know how much I see in them, how much I believe in them. I want to be part of that ‘x’ factor in THEIR lives … because I think to make it in this life it takes so many more people to believe in us than the people who share our DNA … so many more than the people who are “supposed to”… whose job it is.

I don’t necessarily think we do this very well in western society – be supportive in both a vocal and purposeful way with other people’s children. Particularly in situations where it is not “required”. If we are in a profession or volunteer opportunity, such as a teacher or a coach, where it is expected of us – and that affords us that direct opportunity as part of our “work” – then yes, I would argue we often are.

But most of us are not in those situations. Most of us are trudging along through life doing the best we can to take care of our own. It is of course human nature. Instinct. And sometimes it’s all we can give just to do that. Take care of our own. Life is, after all, exhausting as a parent!

But you know what? It doesn’t take much. It doesn’t have to take much to go outside our own family circle. And I want to put that into practice more. Because I think it’s the little things that count – the seemingly little things in life that are the ‘x’ factors. And also – the things that happen now. Now as they are in elementary school. As they are in middle school. As they are in high school. This is the foundation. The small kindnesses that we are both purposeful and vocal about. – showing them – telling them – they have incredible gifts, characteristics and talent that are so uniquely “them”.

“Kid, You’ll Move Mountains!”

Because I tell you … I can’t wait to see if they will! I can’t wait to see if Ricky becomes a successful entrepreneur opening up his own custom repair shop. Or if Jane becomes a chef running her own restaurant. Or if George becomes a film producer. I can SEE it in them all plain as day. Their dreams, their potential. Even though it’s not well defined yet, it’s sitting there – right at the surface. Waiting.

I hope some small acts I’ve done in the past – and some acts I will make sure I do in the future – can be some small drop in that incredible swell of a river their parents and caregivers have created to help them sail along to their dreams. A hug, a kind word, time spent purposefully together, a home they feel comfortable coming to, an inside joke, a card I’ve written for them, an invitation to do something unexpected and fun, a surprise token to show I’m thinking of them. I hope these things have and will make a difference. I know my kiddos have been lucky enough to have a couple of key people in their lives who have made a difference for them. People who have specifically taken an interest in what they have accomplished, or what they are passionate about. Who have gone out of their way to ask them about their life in a meaningful way and engage them in a way that says “you matter”.

Do they all see it’s not just their parents or blood relatives or teachers or coaches who believe in them? That there are in fact dozens of people rooting for them and their dreams?

I hope so.

I hope I can be a drop in that water – in that swell their parents have spent so much time creating. I want to work harder to be – with real and thoughtful actions – however small they may seem.

But for now – for this morning – I have some other work to do.

Time to line them all up. And pass the duct tape please.