Your Perception is Your Reality

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called Wisdom Warrior: My Journey Toward Authenticy wherein I talked about perception, about reframing your mindset.¬†“Perspective is a powerful thing isn‚Äôt it? When you can reframe an experience, you can often change what happens as a result”. ¬†

Have you ever wondered about how you perceive yourself vs. how others perceive you?How you view yourself as being a certain way, but, someone else can see you as the total opposite?

I’ve heard it said that perception is reality, but is it? ¬†Perception may be your reality but is it FACTUAL reality?

Reality is an absolute.  But perception is different from reality, in that everyone has their own perception of the world or situations. Everyone thinks their perception is reality. But in fact, your perception is your perception.  BUT, perception really is everything!

‚ÄúEverything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Douglas Adams

Ok, that was confusing right? ¬†But true, I think. ¬†I have no formal experience in philosophy or psychology, ¬†I’ve just been making some observations as of late because of how someone chose to view me, which I feel is quite different than I am or how I view myself.

This person accused me of being ¬†“selfish”. ¬†Me selfish? ¬†Am I selfish? ¬†I don’t feel that I am … I help whenever possible. ¬†It hurt to hear this, when I feel that I really do try my best to be everything to everyone. ¬†Ok, to be honest – I may do it begrudgingly from time to time but I still do it when push comes to shove. ¬†I usually try to have everyone’s back.

So, I started thinking of the things that I’ve done to “HELP”, to justify this person’s words to me – it hurt to think that someone thought of me like this …

  • I’ve helped by lending ++++ money, ¬†to the point that I am literarily out thousands of $ with no hope of getting some of it back.
  • I’ve carried the financial burden when my then fianc√© was unemployed for a long stretch.
  • I’ve helped my children and family out in sticky situations by co-signing on lease agreements OR lending them my credit card to purchase things (they pay be back, but the point is, I help them cause they don’t have their own cards).
  • I’ve helped my brother through some health issues.
  • I’ve let people stay with us while they were having family issues.
  • I’ve watched peoples dogs when they needed me to.
  • If my friends need anything I help, when possible.
  • I help out colleagues at work with their files, or when management asks to assist on a project etc.
  • I adopted a rescue dog from the shelter.
  • I adopted a sponsor child in Kenya.

I don’t see myself as selfish – but this individual does … so, who’s right and who’s wrong? ¬†Which is factual? ¬†I think based on the facts, I’m not generally a selfish person – but then why does this person? ¬†Is this person’s view of the world tarnished? ¬†Are they projecting that on me?

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The lens through which we view the world, alters our REALITY.  It is ourselves who supply the perceptions and build our beliefs with them. We often don’t realize how our perceptions cloud reality, because they seem like one and the same.

So, I did a bit of digging on perception = projection and found that there was some validity to what I was assuming –¬†you‚Äôre not so much perceiving the external world as you are projecting¬†what you carry inside out onto the world around you. The world is a reflection of your inner thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs. In other words, the outer world is a reflection of what‚Äôs going on inside (Five Basic Assumptions: Perception Is Projection¬†posted on July 17, 2012). B-I-N-G-O!!

‚ÄúChange the way you look at things and the things you look at change.‚ÄĚ

So, I’m not a selfish individual after all. ¬†Maybe this individual is simply projecting the perception of his inner world onto me. ¬†But, it also helped me to realize that we are only seeing the world through our own individual perceptions because that’s all we’re ever really able to do – when there’s a constant reminder that all I’m doing is perceiving the world my way, not the real way, just my way, then I can have empathy for others – there’s a gap between perception and reality (paraphrased from¬†Mind the Gap Between Perception and Reality | Sean Tiffee | TEDxLSCTomball).

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Has anyone else had any experience with others perception of you?


T xo

Mind the Gap Between Perception and Reality | Sean Tiffee

Can we ever know what’s real? Communication scholar Sean Tiffee examines the relationship between perception and reality and questions the intersection between the two. In this talk, he advises us not to mind the gap, but to mine the gap and become a more loving and empathic person.

Opting on Adopting: Our Rescue Dog Ellie

Did you know that each year at least 600,000 dogs are euthanized in Canada,  simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet?

I decided to write this blog as I sat here watching a bit of TV and looked over at Ellie, my 3 year old Great Shepherd (Great Dane/German Shepherd cross). She was rescued 2 years ago from Parkland Humane Society Parkland Humane Society.

Being new to town and a semi-empty nester, I had some free time on my hands and decided that I wanted to volunteer some to the shelter. ¬†I went in to dog-walk one Fall afternoon, much like today. ¬†All of the dogs were excited to see me, running up to me, wagging their tails and jumping up vying for my attention. ¬†But, there was this one dog, in the corner – alone and cowering a bit. ¬†I asked a volunteer who that dog was and why she wasn’t coming up to me as all of the other dogs were. ¬†She explained that that dog was skittish, shy and it took a lot to get her to warm up to you. ¬†She was afraid of men in particular and had been there for almost 7 months. ¬†It was right then and there I decided to adopt THAT ONE – Ellie. ¬†Of course I did! ¬†I seem to be a sucker for the runt of the litter, the project or the one that runs away from me as opposed to runs to me.

Every day for 1 whole month, we went to the shelter and walked Ellie, we tried to get to know her. ¬†I won’t lie – in the beginning it was a chore just to get her to come to me so I could put her on the leash. ¬†But I was persistent … eventually she started recognizing us when we came to the gate and rather than run away – sat and stayed put – she didn’t run up to us, but she didn’t run away – PROGRESS! ¬†¬†We kept the walks to the same location and took the same route so that it was familiar to her and eventually she loosened up. ¬†She loved going to Vermillion Park – splashing in the river and walking down the trails.

The day it came to pick her up from the shelter to take her to her new home she wouldn’t even get into the back of the SUV, we literally had to pick up this 100 lbs beast and put her in. ¬†What had I gotten myself into? ¬†We bought her a kuranda bed because that’s what she used at the shelter and wanted things to be familiar for her, we got her the same toys IMG_0997.jpgshe had there, a cute Burberry print collar and the cutest paw print bowls to make her feel welcomed. ¬†She repaid me the next day by running away from me during our VERY FIRST morning walk! ¬†OMG, I lost my dog the first day I owned her – what kind of owner am I? ¬†I can remember it so clearly, we were coming around the corner to our house and she stopped dead in her tracks – she backed up and pulled – like it was in slo mo I can see her struggling to get out of her collar. ¬†Once she realized she was free she bolted. ¬†I hopped in the SUV and drove around looking for her calling her name – wait – she’d just run away from me – why would I think that she’d run back to me? ¬†I called the shelter to let them know – they were wonderful and reassured me that this wasn’t the first time that newly adopted dog ran away from its home. ¬†I was afraid she’d get hit by a car or worse, a train. ¬†As we continued our search for Ellie, the shelter called – she had run back to the shelter – her home, according to her ūüėĘ.

She was abused by her previous owner for apparently attacking a chicken as a puppy (she lived on a farm), I was told the whole litter was surrendered and Ellie was the last one there because she was far too shy and too big. ¬†She was very reluctant around men, even more so with men with ball caps. ¬†She’d been at the shelter nearly 7 months when were adopted her. ¬†She didn’t do typical dog like things like play fetch or chew on sticks.

Fast forward 2 years – NO REGRETS, NONE! ¬†She’s the sweetest, most gentle, docile dog and she keeps getting better every day. ¬†She’s much more relaxed but is still skittish around certain people. ¬†She still gets scared if you’re carrying something that even remotely resembles a stick. ¬†But, she obeys commands, I can walk her downtown at night time without a leash and she stays right beside me. ¬†She now loves chewing on sticks and she’s mimicked other dogs by playing fetch. ¬†She’s brought so much joy to our lives … I know for a matter of fact, that had we not taken the chance with Ellie- she’d either still be at the shelter or have been euthanized – her odds of being adopted weren’t as good as some more outgoing, small dogs.

If you’re considering adopting a dog in the near future – consider adopting a rescue dog for the following reasons:

  1. You’ll save a life – see stats above!
  2. You’ll get a great dog – most folks surrender their puppies because of family situations – a new baby, a divorce, a move – not because there’s anything wrong with the animal.
  3. It’s less expensive – when I bought my first dog, I had to pay to have him neutered and vaccinated etc, these fees are¬†included in the adoption fee – in Dauphin you pay less for large breed dogs
  4. You save other dogs Р the more dogs who are adopted out of the shelter and into loving homes Рthe more room there is for incoming dogs Рyou are giving more animals a second chance
  5. Because you’ll change a homeless dog’s whole world! ¬†



On Travel: My Japanese Experience

„Āď„āď„Āę„Ā°„ĀĮ - Kon'nichiwa

Welcome to my first blog exclusively on travel. ¬†I love traveling, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Mexico (4x), Cuba, Dominican Republic (5x), Aruba, Las Vegas (4x), NYC (2x), Vancouver Island and many other places – but I’ve yet to have been overseas. ¬†So this was a first!

Life can be so complicated at times can’t it? ¬†My life in particular has been nutty as of late … ¬†but at the spur of the moment, I made a decision – we all have choices and decisions to make each day of our lives¬†in the betterment of ourselves, our lives, our spirituality and for our own personal growth. ¬†So, I decided last minute to go and visit my friends Linda and Mark in Japan! They had moved there just 3 months ago for Mark’s work project with Honda.

It was late night, I texted Linda¬†“Hi! How are you? ¬†Saw your pics! ¬†Looks like you guys are having a good vacay with Mark. ¬†I have a few more wks before I have to go back to work. ¬†Up for some company maybe?”¬†Linda and I have been friends since high school at St. Mary’s –¬†initially an all catholic girls high school and then went co-ed in grade 10. ¬†I loved being part of their “porto” group – I was accepted at as a quasi-porto (right Dill?). ¬†The memories of being in high school — of sleeping over at her house and waking up to her mom and tias making Portuguese food (some of my faves – Riss√≥is and¬†col verde) – that’s where my love of Portuguese food started – thank you Rosa! ¬†We lost touch for a number of years mostly because our lives took us in different directions. ¬†I had a baby at 19 and while I cared for her, most of my friends were out and about living average 19 year old lives (which is completely understandable). ¬†We reconnected a few years ago and have been tight since … probably more than ever. ¬†In any event, Linda and Mark said yes and their kids were excited to see me (and I them).

Day 1:

Travel Day
– I flew coach from Pearson International (Toronto) to Narita, which is the furthest airport from 21192631_10155474725600168_1545996121699494346_nTokyo centre, so, if you’re traveling into and/or are staying right in Tokyo, you may want to fly into a closer airport (flying into Narita was the cheapest option for me at $1080.00). ¬†However if not, taking the train into Tokyo Station is very easy ¬†– I managed it solo (you can also take a bus which takes longer than the 53 mins by train). ¬†Most people at the stations speak English. The flight was 12h55 mins, and thankfully the flight wasn’t sold out – so I asked the flight attendant for a row without anyone in it and was able to sprawl out – but I didn’t sleep – I’m not the best of sleepers on flights. ¬†It was smooth and uneventful, hardly any turbulence at all. ¬†The time seemed to fly by (no pun intended) and the next thing I knew I was at Narita on the Narita Express (Nex) to Tokyo Station to meet up with Mark¬†ūüôĆūüŹĽ¬†ūüôĆūüŹĽ¬†– this is gonna be quite an experience!

Mark met me on my platform and we hopped on the train to Masashi-Sakai to their IMG_1382.jpghouse. ¬†They live in Mitaka Osawa, a suburb of Tokyo. I was pretty pumped to see Linda and the kids – these kids are the cutest things I’ve ever seen (other than my own of course). Their house was bigger and more modern than I had expected for Tokyo to be honest. ¬† A 2016¬†United Nations¬†estimate puts the total population Greater Tokyo Area at 38,000,000.¬†It covers an area of approximately 13,500¬†km¬≤. It’s the second largest single metropolitan area in the world, only behind New York City. ¬†So as you can imagine land is limited and at a premium. ¬†Homes are typically small and inside space is tight – their house had an ingenious toilet/sink combo to maximize space (this¬†Japanese toilet only dispenses water in its attached sink when the toilet gets flushed. ¬†You wash your hands and that water goes into the tank to be reused and flushed – brilliant!). They have storage in the floors and in the pulldown attics. What surprised me compared to most typical homes I saw is that they had green space in their yard (i.e. they actually had a side yard with grass).


Day 2:

Mount Fuji (Fujisan)¬†– Jet lag is pretty rough! I’ve never experienced hard core jet lag before, prior to this the biggest time difference was only 3 hours. ¬†My travel day commenced at 7:30 EST and went to bed 2:00 AM Japan time – so I was awake for an insane for 30 hours STRAIGHT! ¬†Unfortunately, my body wanted to wake up after only 4 hours of rest, so, while everyone else – including the kids, were still sleeping – I got up and ate an entire plate of rice and shrimp lol. ¬†When the kids got up we walked up to McDonald’s (yes, McDonald’s!) for a Filet o’ Fish – so sadly I suppose that was my actual first Japanese experience. ¬†What can I say, my body was telling me it was still nighttime – and yes, you can get Filet o’ Fish on the breakfast menu there and yes, ¬†I am aware I’m one of the very few who actually eat them ūüôĄ.

For my first full day in Japan, we decided to hit up Mount Fuji!¬†Mount Fuji is a distinctive feature of the¬†geography of Japan. ¬†Fuji-san is the highest¬†mountain¬†in¬†Japan¬†at 12,389¬†ft.¬†It’s an active volcano which last erupted in abt 1707/08. ¬†She lies about 100 kms south-west of¬†Tokyo. ¬†It was added to the¬†World Heritage List¬†as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013.¬†According to¬†UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”.

We went up to the 5th station, which is at 2,305 metres. Check-in at the base of Fuji called for sunny skies, but it was not so. ¬†The weather on Fuji-san is volatile and changes by the minute. ¬†It can be clear one minute and the clouds can roll in the other minute totally obscuring your view. ¬†The weather Gods were not with us this day, we never saw the summit ūüėʬ†. ¬†It was only 8 degrees celsius.

We took the scenic route home and drove through the mountain ranges and some of the¬†The Fuji Five Lakes at the northern base of¬†Mount Fuji¬†at about 1000 meters above sea level. ¬†We stopped at Lake Yamanaka¬†(ŚĪĪšł≠śĻĖ) to take in the sunset and breathtaking views of Mr. Fuji, even though she was still partially obstructed by cloud cover.

Day 3: 

Shopping Day – Today was a shopping kind of day. We went to GU – this clothing chain is part of the Uniqlo¬†brand – but cheaper – you‚Äôll often see both stores side by side. ¬†Not much for me there and a little too fashion forward and frumpy for my liking (it would def. be more for the younger generation). We also went to Uniqlo outside of Musashi-Sakai Station since I hadn’t even been to the one in Toronto. ¬† I ended up finding a fab end of season dress for only¬†ÔŅ•995!

Later that day, I was introduced to Tonkatsu for lunch. It’s a Japanese dish which consists of a breaded,¬†deep-fried¬†pork cutlet and is often served with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup. Super yummy!


I accompanied Linda in picking up some groceries at Ito-Yokado. I wanted experience what a Japanese grocery chain looked like, the different food selections and the similarities. ¬†What I found interesting was that¬†Seven-Eleven Japan is held by the¬†Seven & I Holdings Co.¬†We all know 7-11 as our local convenient corner stores, what I did not know is that¬†7-11 is part¬†Japanese and they have FULL grocery stores in Japan. ¬†They also own the Denny’s restaurants as well.


Afterward we went shopping at an awesome second hand store (most of which was¬†% name brand items). ¬†The store had the worst of names “Hard Off”. ¬† At first I thought it was because those who shopped there may have been “hard off” but when I saw a store called Book Off I was thoroughly confused. ¬†Anyway, despite the horrible name I managed to pick up a Burberry scarf & Ralph Lauren pencil skirt as well as a Yukata (a casual summer kimono) and obi for the upcoming Fall Festival later in the week in Shinjuku.

Day 4:  

Shinjuku Р What a great day for a completely unplanned one! Linda and I spent the day exploring near Shinjuku Station.  We went to Shinjuku Goyen National Garden, a gorgeous garden space in the middle of this bustling city.  The garden, which is 58.3 hectares, blends three distinct styles: a French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese traditional. A traditional Japanese tea house can be found within the gardens.  We visited Kyu Goryotei (also referred to as the Taiwan Pavilion) which was built on the occasion of the wedding of the Showa Emperor.

Afterward decided to go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where we went up to the 45th floor north observatory and took in the landscape city views. ¬†Of note, this government building is currently on “high alert” due to the ballistic missiles being launched over Japan and into the Sea of Japan by Kim Jong-un, North Korean Leader who seems to be begging for war¬†. ¬†Despite that, we enjoyed a drink¬†ūü•É¬†and had some good chats.

Lucas and I went for a bike ride in the International Christian College grounds, where I got to ride a traditional Japanese bike. ¬† I have to say, Tokyo has much more green space than I ever thought it would. ¬†Knowing I’m a fan of curried foods, Linda made an excellent dinner of Japanese curry¬†. ¬†Japanese curry is a lot less spicy than Indian curry and is fairly sweet in comparison.

Day 5:

KichijŇćji¬†¬†– Rainy day today¬†‚ėĒÔłŹ. We went into¬†KichijŇćji,¬†a fashionable neighbourhood in Mitaka City in the western suburbs of Tokyo. ¬†It is almost always at the top of surveys of the most desirable places to live in Tokyo. ¬†We checked out where the¬†festival we are going to this weekend is going to be held, shopped a bit, ¬†had lunch at Crown House (a North American locale) and of course had a couple of yummy¬†ūüė謆sangrias¬†. ¬†Cheers to friendship !

Day 6:

SensŇć-ji Temple: My first week here in Japan with the Middlestedt’s is nearly done. Today Linda and I went to Asakusa to visit SensŇć-ji (śĶÖŤćČŚĮļ), the oldest Buddhist Temple in Japan. It is one of¬†Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples. ¬†The legend is that in the year¬†628, two brothers fished a statue of¬†Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, SensŇć-ji¬†was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The¬†temple¬†was completed in 645, making it¬†Tokyo’s oldest temple.

We walked around town taking in the mixture of huge tourist spots and the normalcy of everyday life there. Even though it rained, it didn’t put a damper on this most spectacular of days.


Day 7:

Harujuku:¬†We went down the famous IÁęĻšłčťÄö„āä Takeshita-dŇćri in Harujuku. ¬†We were in search of some Harujuku girls and saw maybe only 2. For lunch I tried a Japanese version of a cheeseburger¬†ūüćĒ¬†combo. ¬†The meat was good but didn’t taste like typical North American burger/beef, it tasted like it had spice to it and almost tasted pork like – but was good, it felt lighter. ¬†The fries tasted very much like home, the combo came with a side of fried chicken and a cheese powder, which I assume was for the fries – it tasted like Kraft Dinner powder. The Pepsi was Pepsi Nex which I found to be super sweet – do we even have this back home?

Fish Pedicure: We scooted over to Shinjuku by subway so that Lucas and I could have a fish pedicure¬†ūüźü¬†aka Dr. Fish. ¬†I was excited to try this as I had heard so much about it. ¬†We¬†soaked our feet in tanks of hungry Garra rufa fish. ¬†The small, toothless fish gently ate the dead skin and left the healthy skin untouched. ¬†For 1050 Yen, it was worth the experience – but if you’re wanting an actual pedicure – pay for the real thing.

Day 8:

Awesome day:  This was a super awesome jam packed day. We started our day off at the Kichijoji Aki Matsuri (Autumn Festival), which was taking place on September 9 & 10 2017.  I was excited to fully partake and immerse myself into the Japanese culture and along with Linda and Sofia wore a traditional Japanese Yukata.  The main event is the procession of mikoshi, the ornate palanquins which transport the kami on their journeys through the shopping streets of Kichijoji.  In addition to the mikoshi from Musashino Hachimangu, ten others from the district, each with its own team, join in the festivities. Each team has its own unique rhythm and chant. Teams of mikoshi bearers suit up in traditional costume and prepare to march. Bearers take turns carrying the weight of the mikoshi.

Next stop: ¬†Odaiba/ Tokyo Bay –¬†¬†We took the Yurikamome¬†rapid transit train across the Rainbow Bridge to¬†Odaiba¬†(„Ā䌏įŚ†ī) – which is a large¬†island¬†in¬†Tokyo Bay. ¬†Odaiba is ¬†a mixture of¬†major commercial, residential and leisure – it would be fabulous to be able to live in this area, there’s so much going on! We walked along the beach, dipped our feet in the bay, and watched the gorgeous sunset over Tokyo Bay.

They also have a replica of the Statue of Liberty which I found to be odd, given that while we were in Shinjuku Goyen I saw a replica of the Empire State Building and that the Rainbow Bridge bore a striking resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, USA. ¬†Having been to the Statue of Liberty in NYC, this paled in comparison – actually there is no comparison, but, I had a bit more of an appreciation once I understood the reason for it. ¬†The French Statue of Liberty from the¬†√éle aux Cygnes¬†came to¬†Odaiba¬†from April 1998 to May 1999 in commemoration of “The French year in Japan”, because of its popularity, in 2000 a replica of the French Statue of Liberty was erected at the same place.

Staying in Odaiba, we dined at the Aqua City shopping centre (literally there are so many restaurants in all prices ranges in this centre to choose from). ¬†We were looking for an izakaya (a type of informal Japanese¬†gastropub)¬†but we couldn’t find one nearby so we changed our pallets minds and decided to¬†enjoyed the most mouth watering¬†Indian dinner at Mumbai restaurant overlooking Tokyo Bay. ¬†The butter chicken I had was sweeter than I’m accustomed to, but paired nicely with garlic naan, and a glass of sparkling white wine.


From there we headed to Shibuya (right in the heart of Tokyo) to check out the night life, 21371203_10155505770880168_3869120914787479968_n-1the night lights and of course the Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble. ¬†Located¬†in front of the¬†Shibuya Station¬†HachikŇć exit and rumoured to be the busiest intersection in the world (definitely in Japan), Shibuya Crossing, is just as the name eludes to – a giant scramble to get across the intersection before every light change.¬†Hundreds of people ‚Äď and at peak times I’m sure to be over 1000 people ‚Äď cross at a time, coming from all directions!

Day 9:

Sumo!: ¬†Today was all about the sumo wrestling¬†ūü§ľ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ,¬†1000%. What an amazing experience! ¬†Sumo Wrestling is the national sport of Japan and compared with most sports in the world today, sumo originated a heck of a long time ago, about 1,500 years.¬†The rules are simple: the wrestler who first exits the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body besides the soles of his feet loses.¬†A contest usually lasts only a few seconds. ¬†I found it shocking that there are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo, meaning that wrestlers can easily find themselves matched off against someone many times their size.

We attended¬†Kokugikan, the sumo stadium in the¬†Ryogoku¬†district, where tournaments are held. ¬†We attended the 1st day of this particular Fall tournament, each tournament lasts for 15 days. ¬†After a few chŇęhais and high balls¬†Mark and I decided to wager on a few bouts. ¬†Having no knowledge of these Gods of their sport or their records we chose simply based on their pre-match ritual, size and the colour of their mawashi (loin cloth). ¬†I lost 26-15 ūüė•.

Day 10:  

Relaxation day, spent some time watching some docs and Gilmore Girls. Felt a cold coming on, nooooooooo!!!!

Day 11:

Is it ever hard to calm your mind, especially when you feel your getting sick!?!?!  On the morning of my departure from the most respectful, quiet and kind culture, Linda and I spent the morning being trained by a traditional Japanese Monk on the art of Zazen meditation.  Zen meditation is a very simple method of meditation, where the correct posture is imperative, most of our session focussed mainly on the importance of posture.  Zazen is practiced sitting on a zafu (a thick and round cushion). The purpose of this cushion is to elevate the hips, thus forcing the knees to be firmly rooted to the floor Рthis is very important. This way, your Zazen will be a lot more stable and comfortable.

Zazen is like water in a glass. Leave the water to sit quietly and soon the dirt will sink down.– Taisen Deshimaru

In Zen, the eyes are kept open during meditation. This prevents the you from daydreaming or becoming drowsy, this was a change for me as I have always mediated with my eyes closed.  Your hands are held in the Hokkaijoin (circle with fingers and thumbs barely touching). There are two reasons for this hand position, the Monk explained.  First, the shape of the hands harmonizes our minds. Secondly, if your mind starts to wonder elsewhere else, the shape of this oval becomes distorted and you can correct yourself (realign your posture and your mind).  The bell wrung 3x and we commenced zazen, after 14 mins zasen meditation was completed. Typically is lasts 40 mins, but since we were beginners and we required a tutorial Рhe recommended 14 mins to start.  To do this in a traditional Buddhist temple was a memory of a lifetime.

After my most enjoyable, peaceful morning of meditation – I was off to Shinjuku to catch my Nex train back to Narita airport to commence my 12 hour journey back to Canada.

On departure from Narita, I did however, catch a gorgeous sunset view of Mount Fuji ….


A most heartfelt thank you to my gracious hosts Linda and Mark (and the kids) for opening your home and your hearts to me during this most unreal experience! ¬†I look forward to returning next year …. I’m already thinking of next places to visit on my return — Nagano, Hiroshima, Okinawa, Nagasaki???

Have any of you been to Japan? ¬†Where are some places you’d recommend for my next journey?

„Āĺ„ĀüŤŅĎ„ĀĄ„ĀÜ„Ā°„Āę„Āäšľö„ĀĄ„Āó„Āĺ„Āó„āá„ĀÜ - Mata chikaiuchini o ai shimashou

(see you soon)

T xo



Styx – Mr. Roboto (Relaid Audio)

Wisdom Warrior: My Journey Toward Authenticity

I consider myself more of a spiritual person than a religious one. I meditate, chant and listen to Hindi mantras/vedas, started to re-practice Yoga, believe in Om Namah Shivaya (ŗ•ź ŗ§®ŗ§ģŗ§É ŗ§∂ŗ§Ņŗ§Ķŗ§ĺŗ§Į) which literally translates to ‚ÄúI honour the divinity that dwells within me, I bow to Shiva, my true identity‚ÄĚ – I believe in it so much so that I had it tattooed on my left hip as a constant reminder to myself to be genuine and true to my authentic self.¬† I believe in the ‚ÄúUniverse‚ÄĚ as much as I believe in God.¬†I pray, and attend church on occasion (I was baptized Roman Catholic).¬† I believe in doing what calms and heals the soul.¬† I am one that believes in the power of positive thinking, the law of attraction, and in serendipity.¬† BUT, I am also a person who believes that things don‚Äôt fall into your lap and that you are the creator of your own destiny – you can shape your life by being cognizant of certain factors, understanding your blueprint and that it is necessary to reshape your mindset.

I have another tattoo – on my right ribcage – a quatrain from a poem by Edgar Guest called Myself. ¬†I love this poem because he talks about wanting to be his authentic self. ¬†About looking in the mirror and liking who he sees and that his conscience is clear when he lays his head down at night. ¬†I’ve bolded the portion that is tattooed on my ribs.


I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
a lot of secrets about myself
and fool myself as I come and go
into thinking no one else will ever know
the kind of person I really am,
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know that
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know, 
I never can fool myself and so, 
whatever happens I want to be 
self respecting and conscience free.

I have yet another tattoo on the nape of my neck, that simply says “Let me be myself” with a red rose. I chose the red rose because it¬†is an unmistakable expression of love (self love).¬†This is actually a sentence from a song called “Let Me Be Myself” by one of my favourite bands, 3 Doors Down.

The lyrics go ….

I guess I just got lost
Being someone else.
I tried to kill the pain,
But nothing ever helped.
I left myself behind,
Somewhere along the way
Hoping to come back around
To find myself someday
Lately I’m so tired of waiting for you
To say that it’s OK.
Tell me please
Would you one time just let me be myself
So I can shine
With my own light.
Let me be myself.
Would you let me be myself?


I’ve had this tattoo for about 5/6 years now – spiritually this song to me is simply saying – LET. ME. BE. ME. ¬†This tattoo was part of a big personal growth journey into authenticity for me. ¬†It was also my subtle way of telling a certain few (they have no idea who they are) – that I got lost but am no longer.

I have yet another tattoo on the other side of my ribs which simply states AMBITION Рno explanation required Р a desire and determination to achieve success.

My point in explaining most of my tattoos is to share with you my personal journey – I try to talk the talk and walk the walk (I’m not perfect at it and I falter from time to time, but as is said life’s a journey not a destination). ¬†I’m a walking billboard for personal positivity.

I have three top WISDOM WARRIORS as I call them, to whom I listen every day, whose words inspire, motivate and encourage me to be greater, better, stronger and a truer more authentic version of myself.  These three (in alphabetical order) are:

  1. Tony Robbins
  2. Robin Sharma
  3. Eric Thomas

Robin Sharma

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 8.37.10 PM4 years ago, I had the immense pleasure of seeing the first of my idols speak at a Canadian National conference I attended in Edmonton.¬† Robin Sharma is most well known for his international best selling book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.¬† Robin’s runaway bestseller The Leader Who Had No Title was the #1 Business book on¬† But, the book that got me started and hooked on this leadership guru and personal mastery was his book DISCOVER¬†YOUR DESTINY WITH THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI – THE 7 STAGES OF SELF-AWAKENING, a pathway to self-awakening that will help you to live your greatest life and claim the happiness, prosperity and inner peace that you deserve. This book is my go to book – it is highlighted, dog eared and has tear marks all over it – I read and re-read certain passages over and over again to keep reminding myself to live a life that is successful to ME and not as defined by anyone else.¬† It is a must read and should be added to your personal development library.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from that book … it was hard to narrow them down to just these few:

-You are far greater than you have ever dreamed of being. And no matter what you are experiencing in your life right now, trust that all is good and unfolding in your best interests. It may not look pretty, but it is exactly what you need to learn for you to grow into the person you have been destined to become. Everything occurring in your life has been perfectly orchestrated to inspire your maximal evolution as a human being and bring you into your true power. Learn from life and allow it to take you where you are meant to go‚ÄĒit has your highest interests in mind

– We have morphed into people who behave selfishly, fearfully and hurtfully. This behaviour is not a reflection of our essential nature but is, instead, a reflection of the wounds we have suffered as we have left the innocence to which we were born and traveled along the journey of our days. Only people in pain can do painful things. Only people who have been hurt can hurt others. Only people with closed hearts are able to act in less than loving ways.

РOften, your lessons will not come easily. Suffering has always been a vehicle for deep spiritual growth. Those who have endured great suffering are generally the ones who evolve into great beings. 

РBut we grow most from our greatest challenges. I’ve realized that these experiences were sent to help me clean up my act and me to move through my weakness. Life’s biggest hurts are, in truth, glorious opportunities for personal growth, positive transformation and reclaiming the authentic power you’ve lost as you left the perfection of infancy and walked into the world. Embrace them for the gifts they are.

Here is  free link to Discovery Your Destiny PDF

And a link to his audio Book:¬† The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari –¬†

Tony Robbins

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 8.40.28 PMThis past Wednesday (August 9 2017) I was able to cross yet another item off of my bucket list.  For 3.5 hours I listened, absorbed and tried my best to retain every nugget of wisdom that Tony Robbins’ threw at us Р his incredible energy and monumental life/coaching skills.  It was most certainly a dream come true and one of the most inspirational, motivating experiences of my life.

If there are any of you who have not yet heard of this larger than life man, let me fill you in a wee bit Рhis work has touched the lives of top people such as Aerosmith, Green Day, Usher, Pitbull, Andre Agassi and President Clinton to name a few. Billionaire business leaders seek his advice as well; casino magnate Steve Wynn and founder Marc Benioff are among those who call on him for coaching.

His shortest seminars are typically 50 hours in duration, but, in a small fraction of that time, he was able to transcend his most important life coaching skills to understanding our own personal mastery.

He makes no secret that he had a rough childhood.  This resonated with me.

“If my mom had been the mother I thought I wanted, I wouldn’t be as driven; I wouldn’t be as hungry,” he said. “I wouldn’t have suffered, so I probably wouldn’t have cared about other people’s suffering as much as I do. And it made me obsessed with wanting to understand people and help create change.”

FullSizeRender 3


The essence of his 3.5 hours with the 15,000 of us focussed on the core decisions we make at each point in our lives, how we choose to view them and what we do about them Р see pic of hand (lol РI forgot my notepad).

1) What are we choosing to FOCUS on?

2) What MEANING are we assigning to it?

3) And now that you know that, what are you going to DO about it?

Instead of trying to put my own spin on this and totally ruining what he is trying to convey I’m going to borrow this from Tony’s site (Tony, please don’t be mad) because I feel it is that important …

“Is this the end of something wonderful or the beginning of something unpleasant? Are you being punished for your failure or rewarded for your success? The minute you decide to focus on something, you assign it a meaning and infuse it with feeling. How you define an event produces emotion and determines your inner feeling state going forward. The meaning you assign to any event, interaction or outcome defines the emotional tone of your experience and the feelings you generate throughout your life. Meaning equals emotion and emotion equals life. The meaning you give your experiences will always change how you feel ‚ÄĒ and the emotion you feel always becomes the quality of your life. Our memories are actually anchors to feeling states, images, sounds and sensations ‚ÄĒ all of these aspects rely on the meaning we give to them” –¬†Tony Robbins

Get it? ¬†Perspective is a powerful thing isn’t it? When you can reframe an experience, you can often change what happens as a result.

Eric Thomas

Last but certainly not least on my list is Eric Thomas (a.k.a ET). ¬†He is a¬†preacher and motivational speaker – this guy definitely has a different and unique way to inspire and connect with his HIGH energy messages! His voice is strong, loud and passionate!¬† It resonates so that you can‚Äôt help but believe that what he says is fact!¬† Go get what you want – period!¬† No excuses! ¬† One of his most known quotes is¬†‚ÄúWhen you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you‚Äėll be successful.‚ÄĚ ¬†ET is the epitome of hustle, drive, determination, and success.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 1.00.16 AMScreen Shot 2017-08-12 at 1.01.50 AM

To wrap up these three spiritual bucketlist items – I am making plans seeing ET in Washington, DC on September 2 2017. ¬†Hopefully I can make that work ūü§ěūüŹĽ

Check out -> NO EXCUSES РMotivational Video РEric Thomas РMUST WATCH Р

To end, let me ask you this – are your patterns helping or harming you?


T xo

Alanis Morissette – Thank U (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Kingston Penitentiary: Canada’s Alcatraz – MY TOUR

Tours through Kingston Penitentiary offer a unique opportunity to go behind the walls of Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum security prison. Its doors closed in 2013. And now offers guided tours which provide an up-close look at this historical building which predates Canadian confederation.

The first time we went to Kingston in 2013, the Pen was still operating as a maximum security prison.


After some 182 years, I finally got to take a semi-private tour of the formidable Kingston Penitentiary, once home to some of Canada’s worst criminals.

Canada’s Penitentiary Museum

I decided to tour Canada’s Penitentiary Museum located directly across from Kingston Pen. ¬†I was happy that I did as the museum¬†explains the history of Kingston Penitentiary and other correctional centres using displays that incorporate artifacts, photographs, equipment, and replicas. The museum also houses most of the institution’s historical records as well as those of other Canadian penitentiaries, and provides the only penitentiary research service in Canada.

The museum is located in “Cedarhedge”, the former Warden’s residence of Kingston Penitentiary that was constructed between 1870 and 1873.

“The box” — the notorious upright coffin in which inmates were sealed for hours at a time as punishment. ¬†Imagine being confined to this coffin like form of punishment for up to 9 hours?

Below are typical “shivs” or “shanks” which are frequently found in prisons. ¬†These items are illegally manufactured¬†by¬†inmates using materials found in trade shops. ¬†I am not going to lie, I was a bit impressed with their ingenuity.


Shivs and Shanks collected from Millhaven Maximum Security over a 4 year period!

Corporal Punishment


I hate to say it, but this was a creatively brilliant escape.

Mugshot chair from Stoneybrook Institution in Winnipeg, MB.  Mug Shots were first introduced in 1906.  Inmates would place the back of their heads again the round ball.  This was necessary for a usable photo to be taken, given it took longer in those days as the camera exposure was quite long.

Kingston Penitentiary

Kingston Penitentiary (known as KP or Kingston Pen) is a former maximum security prison located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, between King Street West and Lake Ontario.

For nearly 180 years, Canada’s most vicious called Kingston Penitentiary home.

There were killers, thieves, rapists and drug dealers, and headline-grabbing names, such as The Scarborough Rapist and murderer Paul Bernardo, former colonel Russell Williams, Clifford Olson, the child-killing ‚ÄúBeast of British Columbia”, Wayne Boden:¬†The ‚ÄúVampire Rapist‚ÄĚ, Tim Buck:¬†The general secretary of the Communist Party of Canada was convicted of Communist agitation in 1931.¬†Edwin Boyd:¬†The Toronto bank robber and folk hero was jailed in the 1950s. His story inspired the 2011 movie ‚ÄúCitizen Gangster.‚ÄĚ ¬†Thousands served here. The youngest? An 8-year-old 19th-century bread thief.

KP was constructed in 1833‚Äď34. ¬†It opened its doors on June 1, 1835¬†‚ÄĒ 32 years before Canadian Confederation, as the “Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada”, it was one of the oldest prisons in continuous use in the world at the time of its closure in 2013. ¬†It didn’t become known as Kingston Penitentiary, or KP, until after Confederation in 1867.

The penitentiary’s carved stone walls and neoclassical-inspired design. ¬†It’s design was heavily influenced by the system in place in Auburn New York at a the time.

Six inmates were accepted when the penitentiary was initially opened. When the first convicts arrived from Toronto in 1835 to serve their time, the new prison was not yet open for business; the inmates had to be held at the county jail for five days.

The original rules for inmates stated that inmates “must not exchange a word with one another under any pretence whatever” and “must not exchange looks, wink, laugh, nod or gesticulate to each other,” with violators receiving the lash. ¬†They were literally not allowed to talk all day. ¬†It was thought that if they were silent and had time to think of their wrongdoings they would recover and would not reorient once they were released. ¬†This just did the opposite, it drove the inmates mad!

Our young guide, shepherds us through the gutted prison. At nearly every turn, a retired guard tells us stories from the facility’s past.

We pass by Private Family Visitation Units: a small row of semi-detached cottages (conjugals) with yards where model prisoners could have barbecues with their kids and catch up with their lovers.


Nearby, there’s a sewer grate where guards would dump confiscated homebrew.

In 1859 ‚Äď 1861 the centre dome was added connecting all four cell ranges. ¬†The facility consisted of a single, large limestone cellblock containing 154 cells in 5 tiers and some outbuildings.

Guard house under main dome connecting the four cellblock buildings

Below, Vern Thibodeau, a former corrections officer (guard) at KP takes part in our tour telling us about centre block and the infamous “bell” that directed each of the inmates movements throughout the day. ¬†They apparently HATED that bell and it was the first thing to be destroyed during the 1971 riot.

Vern tells us about the three prison riots. The worst, which occurred in 1971, saw six guards held hostage and two inmate deaths over four harrowing days. Several parts of the prison were so badly damaged in the riot that they never reopened as a cell block.

Mail boxes¬†ūüﶬ†in the centre block, so they could mail money home, request counselling, ask for school supplies, request a hair cut or file a grievance

We moved onto Range 2G1 (they call cell blocks ranges).  This was a general population wing.  There were two levels to each range and 1 guard area in each section.

The cells originally ONLY measured 29 inches wide by 8 ft deep!  Imagine that, not even the width of a standard sized stove!  The cells remained the same small size until the first major renovations between 1895 and 1906.  Most of the cells have been stripped, but several inmates left their belongings when there were transferred to Millhaven.

The HOLE – solitary confinement – the prison‚Äôs dissociation unit.¬† This is where the they housed inmates for their own protection against the general population or to keep them away from from other inmates because they are deemed dangerous. ¬†The cells in the unit were larger and private. And unlike normal cells, they had windows and air conditioning, because they were confined to their cells 23 hours per day, only allowed yard use for 1 hour. ¬†Their ‘yard’ is not with the general pop yard, they have a very small concrete only area located inside their range. ¬†In case you’re curious, Paul Bernardo’s cell was #4 – I don’t think any Canadian is surprised that he’s in solitary confinement for his own protection.


General population yard Рsouth guard tower in the far left corner.  At the back right, there is a basketball area/nets.  They did have access to weights, but they were eventually removed due to safety concerns.


This is also where¬†Tyrone “Ty” escaped KP. ¬†Conn was 32 years old, serving a 47-year prison sentence at maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary when he staged a spectacular escape on May 7, 1999.

His cunning, patience and ingenuity, coupled with a series of stunning security failures, made the breakout from the Bighouse possible. Conn was the first prisoner to make it over the wall of Kingston Pen in 41 years. He scampered over the east wall sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., strapping and grappling hook he fashioned from a piece of steel rebar.

He made a dummy to act as himself. The crude apparatus was constructed the night before the escape. A shoebox served as torso and paper towel rolls served as an arm and leg.

There was no head.

The limbs and torso were wrapped in towels and hockey pads were placed at the joints.

The dummy was dressed in a T-shirt and track pants. It was positioned in his bunk so that seen from outside the cell, part of the torso and a bent knee and elbow were visible.

The head of the ‚Äėperson‚Äô on the bunk wasn‚Äôt visible because Conn began using a headboard on his bed several weeks earlier. A guard passing his cell could not see his head.

For weeks, Conn began lying on his bunk in the same position that the dummy would later assume.

The nearest guard tower (the one in this photo at the back of the Yard), a squat observation post at the southeast corner of the prison, had been empty since 11 p.m. the night before. Had a guard been on duty, he or she likely would have had a clear view of the escape in progress, and, armed with a rifle, would have been equipped to stop it. The tower had been unstaffed on the overnight shift for several years, a victim of management budget cuts, despite the protests of prison staff.

After the escape, prison managers reinstated 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week staffing of four perimeter watch towers at Kingston Pen.

Conn’s escape also was successful because two inmate accomplices on his cellblock spent the evening of May 6 moving a dummy in and out of his cell bunk before regular head counts. At the time, Conn was hidden in a canvas shop, assembling his escape gear. The dummy wasn’t discovered until after 7 a.m., when a search of the prison was ordered after a staff member arriving for work noticed the canvas strapping dangling from the outside of the east wall.

Ty Conn‚Äôs breakout was embarrassing for senior Corrections officials, who deserved much of the blame for fostering a culture at Kingston Pen that made the escape possible, front-line staff say. The internal inquiry into Conn‚Äôs escape and the resulting report documents dozens of security failures at the prison. Many prison workers insist that the final report was a whitewash, meant to protect prison managers and senior Corrections staff. It chronicles the genius of Conn‚Äôs escape plot. It does not address one lingering question ‚Äď who helped him? Police who investigated the escape are nearly certain that an accomplice in a car was waiting outside the prison in a nearby neighbourhood to spirit Conn quickly out of Kingston. That person has never been identified.

‚ÄúIt appears that he ran toward Alwington Place, ripped open an envelope and spread cayenne pepper to throw off the dogs,‚ÄĚ Labrash says.

The car may have been parked in the Alwington neighbourhood just east of the prison or perhaps as far east as the Tett complex, adjacent to the prison service’s regional headquarters.

Labrash says there was evidence that Conn ran east along the waterfront to his rendezvous.

The Regional Treatment Centre (RCT) was an independently run facility providing in-house mental health and services to the Ontario regional population.

Work Shop Building – there was a mattress area, a carpentry shop, a fabrication area, tailoring, shoemaking and a metal shop/blacksmithing and right up the stairs – a school. Inmates were paid $5.00 per day to go to school. Which was a relatively high wage. The max an inmate could earn was $6.90 a day. They were able to use his money for canteen items. The higher wage than other work ships was to promote education upon release.

Inside the prison, other men worked in various trades.


What the Dickens?

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 2.17.12 AM.pngCharles Dickens visited Kingston and the penitentiary in 1842, and wrote in his¬†American Notes for General Circulation, ‚ÄúThere is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect.‚ÄĚ He went on: ‚ÄúHere at Kingston is a penitentiary, intelligently and humanely run.‚ÄĚ Apparently he wasn‚Äôt privy to the brutal conditions prisoners actually endured then. Eight-year-old Antoine Beauche, for instance, was lashed 47 times in nine months for breaking in-house rules that included staring, laughing, whistling, giggling and idling.

Heamingway Visits KP

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 2.21.06 AM.pngOn September 11, 1923, on his first day as a reporter with the¬†Toronto Daily Star¬†(now the¬†Toronto Star), 24-year-old Ernest Hemingway was sent to KP to cover a dramatic jailbreak that occurred the day before. His¬†2,6000-word report¬†detailed the daring escape of five inmates, including burglar Norman ‚ÄúRed‚ÄĚ Ryan. ¬†Ryan was caught almost a year later while picking up his mail in Minneapolis. He was sent back to Kingston to face 30 lashings and life in prison.

KP Closes Its Doors

Citing aging infrastructure and rising maintenance costs, the federal Government closed KP’s doors in 2013 after 178 years. ¬†Inmates were transferred to Millhaven Maximum Security down the way in¬†Bath, Ontario. ¬†



T xo


The Tragically Hip – Wheat Kings

Monster Hunt: My Search for the Manipogo Monster

Cryptozoology: ¬†noun:¬†¬†cryp¬∑to¬∑zo¬∑ol¬∑o¬∑gy¬†¬†\ňĆkrip-t…ô-zŇć-ňą√§-l…ô-jńď, -z…ô-ňąw√§-\

A pseudoscience. The study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence

I’ve always been intrigued with folkloric creatures like Loch Ness, Sasquatch, Chupacabra,¬†Abominable Snowman, Kraken, Sea Serpents, The Mothman, Thunderbirds and Jersey Devil, just to name a few.

Today I am an acting cryptozoologist! ¬†I’ve watched show, after documentary, after movie on these interestingly mythical creatures. ¬†It’s safe to say that I have more than a passing interest in these folkloric, mystical, unusual and surreal beings.

We live in an ideal location Рnestled between the Riding Mountains and the Duck Mountains.  We are also surrounded by plenty of lakes, most notably Lakes Manitoba, Winnipeg and Winnipegosis.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 6.47.41 PM

Loch Ness isn’t the only lake with a reputation for a Monster. In North America many large, deep, cold water lakes have stories about sea monsters. These lakes were formed over ten thousand years ago, during the last ice age.

In Canadian folklore, Manipogo is the lake monster said to live in Lake Manitoba.

Today, in search of this elusive sea creature I decided to head out to Manipogo Provincial Park (aptly named after the sea creature).

Lake Manitoba¬†is Canada’s thirteenth largest¬†lake¬†(4,624¬†km2) and the world’s 33rd largest freshwater lake. There is also a Lake Winnipegosis sea monster called Winnepogo, thought possibly to be the same creature as the lakes are connected. Manipogo is said to travel through inner-channel rivers between lakes Winnipeg, Winnipegosis and Manitoba.

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 12.24.42 AM

One of the most well-known sightings of Manipogo dates back to August of 1962.  Two sport fishermen: Dick Vincent of KCND Television (now Global) and his television colleague, John Konefell, spotted a serpent-like creature about 300 metres from their boat.

It was around 4:00 P.M. when the two men began heading back to their camp, suddenly they came along a thin animal, its body bobbing up and down as it advanced. Vincent grabbed his camera and took three pictures of it. ¬†They watched for about 5 minutes¬†before¬†the creature dove back down below the surface.¬†They¬†were able to take a blurred photograph (see photo above). In subsequent years, Vincent denied that he saw Manipogo, and claimed to have just seen “something in the lake”.

Since the late 1800s, people have claimed to see the creature, but no conclusive evidence of the monster’s existence has ever been found.  The local native population has legends of serpent-like creatures in Lake Manitoba dating back hundreds of years.

Today I explore the lake,¬†maybe I can finally prove the legend of Manipogo, Lake Manitoba‚Äôs serpentine sea monster! ¬†*I don’t actually expect to see a creature*


And I’m off – on my way to Manipogo Provincial Park in Toutes Aides, Manitoba – distance 101 kms, 1h 10 mins away.



I’ve arrived! ¬†Let the monster searching begin … I’m coming for you Mani!


The Stats

ÔŅĹ Classification: Lake Monster
ÔŅĹ Size: Reports indicate between 12 – 50 feet in length
ÔŅĹ Weight: Unknown
ÔŅĹ Diet: Unknown
ÔŅĹ Location: Lake Manitoba, however similar reports have come from near by lakes
ÔŅĹ Movement: Swimming
ÔŅĹ Environment: Glacier Lake

General Description

According to research we’re looking for a creature¬†that fits this general description (I’ve culminated descriptions of the documented sightings):

  • Muddy coloured creature that has¬†many humpsScreen Shot 2017-06-08 at 12.53.58 AM
  • Has a sheep-like head
  • Anywhere from 12 feet to 50 feet long
  • On its head has a single horn, its head is small and flat – looks very much like a dinosaur.
  • Giant serpent-like creature;¬†large creature like a serpent or giant snake;¬†reptile-like beast

Not to be confused with:

  • A floating log
  • A large surgeon
  • A wave
  • Boat wake

The Search

Since the majority of Manipogo sightings happen around Toutes Aides, the Manitoba government decided to name the area’s provincial park after the mythical beast.  The park sits on the far north-western shore of Lake Manitoba, close to where the lake almost meets Lake Winnipegosis.  I explored the lake, in the hopes that I may have been able to confirm the legend of Manipogo.


Northwest shore of Lake Manitoba



I had no such luck on my search for Manipogo today, perhaps next time? ¬†I guess for now, the only sighting I’m going to see is of this artist rendering …

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 6.06.53 PM
Sketch by Louis Bretecher, who saw the creature in the 50’s when he was about 18.

Although there are believers who have no doubt in their minds that something lives in the depths of Lake Manitoba. Skeptics like to remind us that these lakes are known for large sturgeon which can grow up to 2.5 metres, weigh over 140 kg and can live for over 150 years (average life span is 50 to 80 years).


T xo

Fast forward to 31:08 for Manipogo Story

Creepy Canada S02.E04 –¬†Frank Slide Rocks Newman Wine Vaults Trowbridge Falls Charlotte County Court House Manipogo Monster Hopkins Dining Parlour

Published on Sep 25, 2012

Recipe: ‘Shake’ Off That Summer Heat: EASY Homemade Vanilla Coffee Protein Shake

This iced coffee recipe is super easy to make and is loaded up with protein, so you’re getting your caffeine boost and protein all in one. My version uses vanilla-flavored protein powder and has a fairly strong coffee flavour.

Gather Your Ingredients

(makes 1 serving)

  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup chilled strong-brewed coffee (using the¬†cold-brew method, or simply prepare a strong cup of coffee ahead of time and refrigerate)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used Almond Milk)


Product Information 

Creamy French Vanilla Isagenix Isalean Shake: Low-glycemic shake with energy-fueling carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins and minerals, and 24 grams of high-quality protein.

  • Superior branched-chain amino acid profile
  • Active enzymes to help ease digestion
  • Essential trace minerals
  • Natural ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners
  • No trans fat

Isagenix Premium Blend Coffee:  Infused with Minerals, Green Tea Extract & Coconut Oil.  Slow roasted.  Fairly traded.  100% Arabica Coffee.  Green tea extract, coconut oil and minerals are added to improve both the quality and flavour. The green tea complements the coffee’s natural antioxidant powers, while trace minerals offset acidity and the coconut oil adds a pleasant, buttery finish.


Simply combine all ingredients in a blender (I used a  Nutri Bullet) for about 30-40 seconds or until all ingredients are blended.

If a thicker consistency is desired, simply add more ice.

Serve immediately.






Messages from Beyond: How My Dad Connects With Me

Do you believe in the after life? ¬†Do you believe that your loved ones have a way of communicating with you after they’ve crossed?

Has One of These Ever Happened to You?

  • Have you ever come across a random dime in the oddest of places?
  • Has a song ever come on the radio at the exact moment that you were thinking of that loved one?
  • Have you smelt your loved one’s fragrance?
  • Have they ever visited you in a dream?

Those and more, are signs that Spirit is trying to communicate with you from the other side.

The afterlife¬†is the concept of a world, or the world itself (whether physical or transcendental), in which an essential part of an individual’s identity or consciousness continues to exist after the death of the body.

I’ve never been really sure how I felt about the afterlife and of Spirit visiting after they’d passed but this all changed after I suddenly loss my dad in November of 2014. He was 60 years old, had just retired and had spent the morning at home doing some puttering around, ate lunch and died of cardiac arrhythmia on his kitchen floor all before approx 11:45 AM. ¬†That is literally how your life can change on a dime!

Bottom:  Dad, Uncle Ralph.  Middle:  Uncle Kenny.  Top:  Uncle Serge

Losing a loved one is never easy. ¬†Until my dad passed I had been pretty fortunate that I had never lost anyone that close to me before (I’d lost a few friends, grand parents and my daughter’s Godfather) but no one whose loss would crush and devastate me. ¬†Losing a loved one is hard. ¬†Losing them without warning harder. ¬†Actually, in all honesty, I don’t know if it’s better or worse to lose someone with notice (i.e. being ill and watching them deteriorate) or losing them in one fell swoop. ¬†This I can tell you for sure, if they pass suddenly – you don’t have any final words. ¬†No final I love You’s, ¬†no final good byes, no final it’s going to be ok’s. ¬†They’re just gone.

I tried so hard after dad died to understand what happened. ¬†How a seemingly fit, active man for his age, passed all of a sudden. ¬†I felt guilt over not taking his last call to me. ¬†And, I had so many questions: ¬†Why didn’t you go to the doctor more often? ¬†Were you in pain? ¬†Did you cross quickly? ¬†Are you ok? ¬†And most of all – Where are you? ¬†Why can’t I feel you near me? ¬†

Callous hands told the story
For this small town Southern Northern man
He gave it all to keep it all together
And keep his family on his land
Like his daddy, years wore out his body
Made it hard just to walk and stand
You can break the back
But you can’t break the spirit
Of a small town Southern Northern man

He was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones you leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern Northern man…

Finally death came callin’
For this small town Southern Northern man
He said it’s alright ’cause I see angels
And they got me by the hand
Don’t you cry, and don’t you worry
I’m blessed, and I know I am
‘Cause God has a place in Heaven
For a small town Southern Northern man

~ Alan Jackson  РSmall Town Southern Man

TLC’s¬†The Long Island Medium was coming to my hometown in the Winter of ’15, just 3 months after my dad had passed. ¬† I decided to go with a few ladies from high school. ¬†I knew it was a long shot, there was no way that Theresa Caputo was going to sense my father’s presence in a crowd of 7,000+. Even if hearing from my dad wasn’t a real possibility, I thought I could still benefit from seeing her live and in person. ¬†I was right. ¬†Firstly, more than just watching her show on TV, I saw in real time, in real life how she was connecting people to Spirit. ¬†The stories I heard were mind blowing and these people received such peace in hearing from their loved ones. ¬†I now had even more faith in the afterlife and in connecting with those who have crossed over. ¬†The other thing I learned from Theresa is that Spirit is always giving you signs that they are around you, you just need to pay attention.

So I did, I started being more mindful and I started feeling his presence from time to time, just saying “Hi, I’m here”. ¬†Through dreams, feeling sensations or simply hearing¬†a meaningful song on the radio, your deceased loved ones attempt to connect with you after their passing. ¬†

For me, I started finding random dimes everywhere. ¬†Not nickels, pennies or quarters. ¬†Dimes – ONLY dimes! ¬†It became a regular occurrence. When I would go to get in my SUV, I would frequently look down to find a dime on the ground at my feet (either inside or outside). ¬†I would be cutting the grass and find a dime on the lawn! I found a random dime at a hardware store on a shelf. ¬†I would be standing at a store checkout and look down to find a dime lying there.¬†Of course you would expect to find change on the floor in a grocery store checkout line, but it was never a quarter, nickel, or penny. It was always a dime! ¬†It got to the point where I just expected them to show up wherever I went. I was actually disappointed when I would go for a day or two without finding one. ¬†I would pick them up and pocket them and go on. ¬†Then,¬†I started to think it was not just a coincidence. ¬†¬†I finally decided to look on the internet to see if there was any answer to the question, ‚ÄúWhy do I keep finding dimes?” I found dozens of stories of people that have shared my experience. Dimes¬†are left as a means of communication, telling you that you are being watched over. Someone from beyond is letting you know that you are not alone and everything is going to be alright. ¬†It’s called “Dimes from Heaven”. So that’s one way that dad is communicating with me. ¬†I have pictures of each dime I’ve found over the last year in random spots. ¬†Below are a few.

The other way I noticed dad communicating with me was through music. ¬†Musical signs can come in the form of a meaningful song being played in your head or a song being played on the radio at an opportune time that is very meaningful to you or their song Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.36.00 PMcoming on. ¬†The very first instance I recognized that dad was trying to communicate with me was about 3 weeks after his funeral. ¬†I was at home and I was cleaning up. ¬†The flowers from his service had wilted and dried and yet I felt a bit guilty having to throw them out. ¬†I took the dove and the embossed sign written with “DAD” and decided I was going to add it to the Christmas tree so he could be there with us in Spirit, if not in person. ¬†The radio was on, and I cried as I took apart the arrangement and as I walked to add the white dove and the DAD sign to the tree George Straight’s song A Father’s Love” comes on the radio ….

¬†” …. Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.
It’s a love without end, amen.” ~ George Straight

I bawled harder than I already was and knew right then and there, that was no coincidence.  Dad was telling me it he was there and it was going to be ok.

I thought about seeing a Medium, but unless they were personally referred to me I was skeptical (not of mediumship but rather of their skillset) and didn’t want to waste my money. ¬†All the while I continued to watch shows on psychic mediums and the paranormal. ¬†I found it interesting even before my dad passed. ¬†Back in the day I loved John Edward – he had a show called Crossing Over with John Edward¬†and Sylvia Browne after seeing her on The Montel Williams Show¬†years ago and the newest one Tyler Henry, his TV show Hollywood Medium is terrific! ¬†One of my personal favourites is Carmel Baird, she’s a Canadian Psychic Medium who has a show on CMT called Mom’s a Medium. ¬†I followed Carmel’s website and had enrolled for regular updates, but, didn’t pursue it any further (to be honest I couldn’t afford her rate and she has an insanely long waiting list).

IMG_0728Now, I’ve always been an believer in fate and serendipity and that things happen for a reason, even if they aren’t immediately clear. ¬†I woke up in March of 2016. ¬†I decided to take a bath before getting my day started and while in the tub decided to go through my emails to clear a bunch out. There was an email from Carmel re: “Sunday with Spirit”. ¬†That day was a Sunday and that day FELT like the right day (I can’t explain it, it just did). ¬†So I clicked the enrol link to see if there were any spots available, there was! ¬†I was in. ¬†It started in an hour, so I rushed to set up my laptop to joint the webinar.

Prior to logging in I sat there with my youngest daughter and talked to dad – I told him that I needed to hear from him today, that it had been too long and I wanted to hear from him and get answers and know that he is ok. ¬†My dad is also a kind of impatient man, lol, he doesn’t do lineups, crowds or traffic. ¬†He’s also the kind of person who doesn’t like the limelight, he prefers to be in the background rather the forefront so I told him that I knew it would be a stretch for him to come through but that I really needed to hear from him today and to please do everything that he could to come through for us. ¬†Then we logged in.

I love Carmel, I love her personality, her demeanour, the way she connects with people and her family is a bit quirky – much like mine. ¬†When she first came on, she introduced herself, how she operated with connecting and talked about the different types of things she could assist you with – it wasn’t just to connect with people who have crossed over. ¬†She could give you guidance on relationships, your health, your career. ¬†I, of course, like most others wanted to connect with someone on the other side.

Everyone enrolled in the webinar’s name was put into a large wooden bowl where she or her assistant selected the name of the lucky ones! ¬†The first reading was interesting, we all got to listen to it and watch Carmel speak with this lovely lady. ¬†If you’ve never been on a webinar before, everyone can see the host but you can only hear the other person and active comments run down the side or bottom of the webinar so others can engage. ¬†It was time for the second reading. ¬†They stirred up the names in the bowl and Carmel had her assistant pull the next name … it was MINE! ¬†I almost lost my mind! ¬†He did it! ¬†Dad came though! ¬†I would get to speak with him, finally!

She connected through to me and unmated my mic and we got started.  She prefaces the call by asking me not to give her details, just to validate facts as they are presented to her.

My Sunday With Spirit Connection with Dad

She says that there is a male Spirit who comes through immediately who has crossed who wants to wants to make a connection.

He says that he was too young to pass and asks if I agree with that, I say yes. ¬†She asks if dad passed quickly or suddenly. ¬†I answer suddenly. ¬†He tells her that even though he passed quickly or suddenly that it had something to do with his health. ¬† I answer yes. ¬†He says to tell me to stop being mad at him for not going to the doctor more often. ¬†He says that there are people mad at him because he didn’t go and get proper health check ups and that he should have gone to the doctor more often. ¬†This is 1000% accurate, I have often wondered this and talked to family members about this.

She asks if he worked with his hands, because he was showing her his hands and they were dirty, he says “I work with these”¬†. ¬†Factual, dad was a mechanic/millwright in a pulp and paper mill.

She asks if he wore a hat all of the time – absolutely, he was seldom without a ball cap on his noggin’ (see feature photo).¬†He says you’ll know it’s me because I have my hat on in Heaven”. ¬†He acknowledges that I have a jacket and a shirt of his that I wear. ¬†I do have two of his jackets, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt of his.

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.56.49 PM
Me wearing one of dad’s jackets

She asks if dad really liked hockey – the obvious answer is resounding yes, my dad loved hockey! ¬†He was a loyal Leafs fan and loved his local Temisacaming Titans team. ¬†He even billeted a few players. ¬†He tells her that he’s watching hockey all day long in Heaven. ¬†I ask if the Leafs win the Cup in his World – she laughs and says yes (well at least they win in some world lol).

She asks if someone has a tattoo for him – I say it’s me, on my arm. He says for her to tell me¬†“I see the memorial tattoo and this makes me really happy” ¬†He wants you to know that, she says.

I will not miss anything, ¬†I will be at all of these events”. ¬†

She asks whose birthday is in the month of May. ¬†I answer “my brother’s”. ¬†She says that dad is saying¬†“happy birthday,¬†happy birthday,¬†happy birthday” and he asks her to draw balloons for him – she does and shows them on screen so everyone can see them.

He also says “I speak to you through the music, do you hear me through the music, do you know that I am there”?¬† I of course say yes, as this has happened to me many occasions. ¬†He says that he also sends me eagles, owls and big birds.

She asks if he drove a pick up truck (my dad always drove pick ups). ¬†She says that dad had a really big ego and that wasn’t able to say all of the things that he needed to say while he was alive but now that he is on the other side he is able to say I love you and he’s able to say the things he had a hard time saying with while he was alive.

He says “I wasn’t in any pain, I went to the light very easily and that you don’t need to worry about me, I’m ok”. ¬†What a relief, I’m glad to hear that, dad.

He says to tell my little brother that “I love you and I’m with you and that I’m around you all of the time”

He wants “everyone in the family to know that I am there for them”.

She asks if we have a pit bull or a bulldog (we do, Nash a Levitt Olde English Bulldogge). ¬†He says to tell me that Nash can see him and knows when he’s around.

He ends with “I love you and I’ll always be there for you”, and with that, my 10 minutes with dad via Carmel is over. ¬†But, I take solace in the fact that he is always around me, that he sends me messages of love and support even if he isn’t here in the physical form. ¬†I voice noted the entire call with Carmel, and every so often when I feel I need his presence, I play it.

Just last week, a very poignant sign came from dad, keeping his word that he will not miss any events. ¬†My eldest graduated from University – we were going back to her place after breakfast so that she could get ready. ¬†On the radio comes THE song that my kids most associate with their Pappa – Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton. ¬†This is not a radio song, I have never just heard it on the radio, but, as we were scanning for a tune to listen to on the way home – it came on the radio, the day of her graduation from University, a milestone of a day. ¬†Her¬†Pappa was telling her, I’m here Cassandra, I see you and I’m proud of you!

Yes, I actually took a picture of the radio n the car as the song was on.

When your loved ones cross-over into Spirit, they are just as eager to get your attention as you are to get theirs. Countless times, they are attempting to send you signs. ¬†Pay attention ūüôŹūüŹĽ


T xo

Published on Oct 2, 2009

Alan Jackson’s official music video for ‘Sissy’s Song’.



On Genealogy:¬† Great Scott! My SCOTTISH Roots, Descendants of Andrew McKenzie

Today’s blog #7 on genealogy features my SCOTTISH roots. ¬†Before my AncestryDNA results, I hadn’t spent too much time on this line – it follows my father’s line – through my 3x grand father George Richards’ wife, Cecelia —> ¬†see tree below.

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 12.41.21 AM

I assumed we had some Scottish in us given my GGG Gramma’s last name was McKenzie. ¬†But I hadn’t spent all that much time on this line yet. ¬†Not because I didn’t think it wouldn’t be interesting, just that I have my hands in so many different lines at the moment that sometimes I bounce around and forget to go back to a line I started.

Ok, let’s get started ….

Generation 1 

ANDREW MCKENZIE married ELIZABETH (last name unknown).

At this stage I can’t confirm who the immigrant family was. ¬†Was it Andrew and Elizabeth who brought over Andrew or did Andrew Jr leave his family behind in Scotland for Canada?

Generation 2

ANDREW MCKENZIE II was born about 1809 in Scotland. He died on Oct 16 1881 of ‚ÄúLung Congestion‚ÄĚ – likely Pneumonia which he suffered from for a period of 10 weeks. The Death Certificate says he was a “Bookseller” in Almonte, Ontario.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.04.32 PM
Andrew’s Death Record – 1881

He married (1) AGNES LECKIE on 21 Oct 1836 in Ramsay Township, Ontario. She was born about 1813 in Scotland. She died on 27 Feb 1875.

He then married (2) JANET GREVILLE TOSHACK on 08 Jan 1877 in Almonte, Ontario, daughter of William and Margaret. She was born about 1821. She died on 15 Nov 1893 in Ottawa, Ontario.

He emigrated from Scotland before 1836, but actual date is unknown.  I am unable to locate any records of his immigration to Canada, but records were not commonly kept during that time frame.  We also know that he was one of the original settlers in Lancaster County, Ontario, Canada.

In 1861 we find him living as the¬†Head of Household in the County of Renfrew, Ontario. The census information notes that he is Scottish, ¬†is a Labourer and is a member of the Free Church.¬†The Free Church of Scotland was formed by¬†Evangelicals¬†who broke from the¬†Church of Scotland¬†in 1843 in protest against what they regarded as the state’s¬†encroachment on the spiritual independence of the Church.


Almonte Gazette, Friday, October 28, 1881: 

OBITUARY: Another old settler has gone to his last rest. Mr. Andrew McKenzie died of congestion of the lungs at his residence in Almonte on the 17th Oct., 1881, aged 72 years. Mr. McKenzie was for over twenty years a *colporteur in the service of the Ottawa Valley Branch Bible Society. In the winter time he visited the shanties in the Ottawa Valley, selling bibles to the shantymen, and speaking to them of Him who came to seek and save the lost. Dreary and long were the journeys he often took, and many were the hardships he endured, and the dangers he escaped as he passed from shanty to shanty. But his work is done, and we doubt not but he has received his Master’s approval, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Lord, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”¬†

* A colporteur is a peddler of devotional literature.

The Renfrew Mercury, Friday, October 21, 1881:  DEAD РThe corpse of Mr. A. Mackenzie, the colporteur, a former resident of Renfrew, was taken through the village on Tuesday, from Almonte, for interment in Admaston.

Andrew is mentioned in the blog Up and Down the Shantymen Used to Roam, posted on February 6, 2017 by lindaseccaspina.

Note for Andrew McKenzie: ¬†Admaston Cemetery records show Georgina McKenzie Brown, wife of John Brown, born June 11, 1850, died March 4, 1939. It is probable that Georgina is the daughter of Andrew and Agnes since Andrew’s will mentions Georgina Brown, wife of John Brown. The will of Andrew’s second wife, Janet, refers to “Mrs. John Brown”. Georgina’s relationship to Andrew has to be verified but she is included with his children based on the circumstantial evidence in the estate files.

Generation 3

CECILIA MCKENZIE was born on 09 Dec 1851 in Ontario. She died on 12 Sep 1921 in Mattawa, Ontario. She married GEORGE RICHARDS in 1886 in Mattawa, Ontario, son of Ambrose Abraham Richards and Olive Moore. He was born on 26 Jul 1858 in Eardley Township, Ottawa County, Quebec. He died on 25 Apr 1942. Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.15.40 PM

1881 Census:  George Richards, married, 23, born: in Ontario, Scottish, Farmer, Presbyterian. Rosy Richards, married, 19, Irish, born in Ontario, Presbyterian.

The next entry on this census is the family of Donald and Agnes Fraser. We find Cecelia McKenzie living there, with her sister Agnes, at the time. She and George likely knew one another and married after the death of his first wife, Rosy.  Cecelia was employed as a Seamstress.

Their son, Ambrose Richards was born in 1885 (according to his death certificate), however Cecelia and George were married in 1888.  Some 3 years later, was he born out of wedlock?

Generation 4

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.29.11 PM
Ambrose driving the grinder & Cecelia McKenzie – Richards Farm abt 1914

AMBROSE RICHARDS (B: Dec 12 1887 ‚Äď Mattawa Ontario,¬†D: 1957 ‚Äď Mattawa Ontario) m. BRIDGET ANGELINA MULLEN (B: Jan 3 1887 ‚Äď Vinton, Qu√©bec,¬†D: April 10 1976 ‚Äď T√©miscaming, Qu√©bec)¬†on 20 Nov 1912 in Sacre Coeur Parish, Sturgeon Falls, Nipissing, Ontario.

Of interest, Ambrose converted to Roman Catholic from Presbyterianism – apparently to marry Lina as he was baptized only 10 days before they were married.Godparents were Denis Leaghy & Mary Brown.

He was baptized Catholic on¬†10 Nov 1912¬†‚Äʬ†Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, Canada. ¬†

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.32.53 PM.pngGeneration 5

BENJAMIN GEORGE RICHARDS (B: Feb 10 1916 ‚Äď Sturgeon Falls Ontario,¬†D:¬†June 17 1977 ‚ÄďMontr√©al, Qu√©bec) m. SARAH ANN LEE (B: Dec 7 1922 ‚Äď Meltham Mills, Yorkshire England,¬†D: March 1993 ‚Äď Montr√©al,¬†Quebec)

Refer to my blogs on the LEE family and Pte. Benjamin Richards for details about my grandparents.

Generation 6

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.39.37 PM.png


PATRICK JAMES RICHARDS (B: Jan 15 1954 ‚Äď T√©miscaming Qu√©bec,¬†D: Nov 18 2014 ‚Äď T√©miscaming,¬†Qu√©bec) m. ¬†MONA ROSE LAMOTHE (B: Jan 20 1956 ‚Äď Bonfield Ontario,¬†D: ‚ÄĒ-)

Generation 7


~ A thread will tie an honest man better than a chain a rogue – Scottish Proverb


T xo



On Genealogy: The LEE Side of Me …

Hello all! ¬†Happy Thursday! ¬†It’s a soggy, dreary and wet one out there as I write today … ever so fitting as today’s blog entry #6 focusses on my English roots and follows my paternal grand mother’s, father’s side. ¬†I haven‚Äôt written exclusively about them yet, but, I have mentioned my Gramma Sally in preceding posts.¬† This blog entry follows, the LEE family line in Yorkshire, England.

The LEE’s were a hard working, blue collared bunch. ¬†They lived primarily in the little towns and hamlets of Yorkshire and worked mainly in factory jobs. ¬†Meltham Mills was known for its many textile mills back in those days.

The large majority of them lived on Shady Row in Meltham Mills.  Shady Row was a row of properties built in Meltham Mills for the employees of the Jonas Brook Bros. mills (which I have confirmed is where most of the males worked based on census results). It was a co-op community.  Census returns indicate that there were a total of 60 houses.  At the time of the 1841 Census, 57 of the houses were occupied, with a total of 339 people were residing there (averaging nearly 6 people per property).

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.08.22 AM.png
1929 map РShady Row is highlighted in green. It was still in existence in the late 1940s, but had been demolished by 1965.
Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.17.49 AM.png
Shady Row (highlighted in green) can be seen in this aerial photograph from 1926, by which time the rows of housing were hemmed in by the mill buildings

Sarah Ann Lee

When Sarah Ann Lee, affectionately known as Sally, was born on December 7, 1922, her father, Joseph, was 26, and her mother, Ellen (née Plant), was 30.

She was born in MELTHAM-MILLS, Yorkshire, England, a village and a chapelry in Almondbury parish, W. R. Yorkshire. The village stands ¬ĺ of a mile E of Meltham, and 3 WSW of Berry-Brow r. station. The chapelry comprises parts of the townships of Meltham and Honley.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 12.19.06 PMI’ve located her birth registration in England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005, for births registered the first quarter of 1923. ¬†I have not been able to locate her actual birth record as of yet. ¬†I need to confirm her actual ¬†year of birth as there is a¬†discrepancy¬† from what I have been told i.e. 1922 and the historical records confirming her registration in 1923. ¬†

Her father Joseph Edward passed away in 1930 in England at the age of 34 and her mother Ellen Ann passed away on May 9, 1936, at the age of 44.  So, she was orphaned at the tender age of 13.

She married Benjamin Richards on June 20, 1945, in Agbrigg, Yorkshire, England, at the age of 22 while Benny was there on military service during WWII.

Transcribed excerpt from Grampa’s military record:

June 20 1945:  Married with permission to Miss Sarah Ann Lee in Agbrigg, Yorkshire, England.

Agbrigg is a suburb of the city of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England.

Per Grampa Benny’s military records her address as next of kin is noted as 4 Pick Hiss Rd, Meltham Yorkshire, England. Since she was orphaned at 13, what happened to her? ¬†I am wondering if she was living with her sister, Mary at this time. ¬†What did she do from 13 to 22? ¬†Who did she live with? ¬†Did she have another boyfriend before grampa? Did she work? ¬†I literally¬†cannot locate¬†any records of her for this period of time … ¬†How did she and grampa meet? ¬†¬†

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 11.55.47 AM
Portion of email from Canadian Wives Bureau

As we know, Gramma was a war bride. ¬†She arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax in 1946, which is Canada’s equivalent to the USA’s Ellis Island in New York. ¬†I was able to locate her in the Canadian Wives Bureau records and have just have written to the Department of Immigration for a true copy of her arrival documents, which will likely contain the passenger log and her Canadian naturalization documentation.

Sarah sailed to her new home on the¬†RMS¬†Aquitania, a¬†Cunard Line¬†ocean liner built in¬†Clydebank, Scotland. The ship was launched on 21 April 1913 and sailed on herScreen Shot 2017-06-22 at 11.56.16 AM.png maiden voyage to¬†New York¬†on 30 May 1914.¬†Aquitania¬†was the third in Cunard Line’s “grand trio” of express liners including the RMS¬†Mauritania¬†and¬†RMS¬†Lusitania, and she was the last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner. Widely considered one of the most attractive ships of her time,¬†Aquitania¬†earned the nickname “Ship Beautiful”. ¬†In her 36 years of service,¬†Aquitania¬†survived military duty in both world wars.¬†After completing troopship service, the vessel was handed back to Cunard in 1946, and was used to transport¬†war brides¬†and their children to Canada under charter from the Canadian government. This final service created a special fondness for¬†Aquitania¬†in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the port of disembarkation for these immigration voyages

I understand she that took the train from Halifax, NS to Mattawa, ON where Grampa met her and they carried on to¬†T√©miscaming¬†QC by train (there were no roads leading into town at that time) to live with Lina ¬†(Angelina – Benny’s mother/Sally’s M-I-L) in Lumsden. ¬†This was stated in documentation twice. ¬†Once in Benny’s military records on discharge and in Sally’s document from the Canadian Archives which I obtained earlier this week.

Excerpt from Benny’s military records:

‚ÄĚ ‚Ķ Richards married in England and expects his wife to join him in a few months. ¬†They can live with his mother until they secure a house through the paper company, who are building homes for returning service personnel”.

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The Canadian Wives Bureau log is hard to read due to poor quality ¬†“B-66965, Pte B.G. ¬†RICHARDS, Sarah A. ¬†19 Pickmill Rd, Meltham, Huddersfield, Yorks”. In the section where is says Address in Canada – last column – ¬†“Mrs. L. Richards (M/Law) Temiskaming P.Q.”

Sally and Benny had seven children during their marriage (Christine, Malcolm, Ralph, Gwendolyn, Rosemary, Patrick, Kenneth).  She had 7 children in 9 years.

She was¬†an avid knitter and puzzler (no she didn’t like to puzzle people, she enjoyed working on puzzles ūüėČ), ¬†I remember she would make them when I would visit her in Verdun, QC. ¬†I’m told that she was also a¬†teetotaler – I had no idea what that term even meant until 2:05 PM. ¬†Def’n as per¬†Wikipedia: When at drinking establishments, teetotalers (or teetotallers) either abstain from drinking completely, or consume non-alcoholic beverages such as water, juice, tea, coffee, virgin drinks, mocktails, and alcohol-free beer. ¬†So, she didn’t drink. ¬†She apparently ceased drinking alcohol after getting a little too tipsy one evening on rye (It’s ok gramma, haven’t we all?).

In connecting with my uncle Kenny and my aunt Gwen (I wish my dad was still alive so I could ask him some if this) Р they moved in to 102 Anvik Avenue (in Témiscaming) in or about 1955.

At that time¬†T√©miscaming¬†was a company (CIP) town and the company owned everything including the homes. The company sold the houses in or about 1972, Sally and Benny¬†bought theirs. The row house was tiny. ¬†4 rooms total (living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, 1 washroom). It was only 2 stories, no basement. Aunty Gwen remembers them digging out the basement until they hit a big rock … they were able to move the furnace down there. ¬†Only the front bedroom had closet space … Grampa built one in the back room for the 3 girls … that and a double bed. ¬†The bathroom had a toilet and bathtub … no sink. ¬†They were 9 living there – 7 kids, ¬†2 adults. ¬†There was also an enclosed, unheated back porch. ¬†The whole space was about 600 sq ft. ¬†The address was originally 502 Elm Ave, but the Dutch Elm disease killed all the Elm trees ands the town renamed it Anvik Ave and renumbered the houses….. the number became 102 instead of 502.

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102 Anvik is the unit on the right hand side with the brown door (ūüď∑:¬†circa May 2013)

FYI:  The Canadian International Paper Company (CIP) was a Montreal based forest products company.  The mill in Témiscaming was originally built by the Riordon Pulp and Paper Company, later bought by CIP. When CIP wanted to close its mill in this one industry town, the employees formed Tembec to take over the operation. Tembec was sold just last month (May 2017).  It agreed to a takeover offer from Rayonier Advanced Materials in an $807-million (U.S.) deal.

Her husband Benjamin George passed away on June 17, 1977, in Montréal, Québec, at the age of 61. They had been married 31 years.

Gramma Sally ending up selling the house to Lucien Bernard for $6,000 in 1978 and moved to Verdun, Québec to live with her daughter Gwen, son-in-law Serge and her grandkids Marc and Caroline.

She passed away on March ** 1993 in Montréal, Québec, at the age of 70 years of cardiac and renal failure resulting from complications of Diabetes Mellitus.

I was pregnant with my oldest, Cassandra, at the time that Gramma passed. ¬†It was a tough weekend as my Grand M√©m√®re¬†on my mom’s side and Gramma Sally on my dad’s side passed away 2 days apart and at 7 months pregnant I had to trek up North to attend both funerals on the same day – in different provinces – thankfully T√©miscaming¬†and Bonfield are only about 1h10mins apart.

She is buried alongside her husband in¬†T√©miscaming, QC – how fitting of a tombstone footer, ¬†“A small corner in a foreign land, that is forever England”

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***I have decided to keep the bios of her lineage to a minimum.  I just have too much information and photos to add to this to make it easy to follow***

Joseph Edward Lee and Ellen Ann Plant

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.41.20 PM.pngJoseph Edward Lee was born on August 24, 1896, in Batley, Yorkshire, England. Batley is a town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Batley is a very old town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 and was listed in the 1379 Poll Tax.

When he was born his father, Tom, was 27 as was his mother, Hannah.

His brother George Victor was killed in action on November 4, 1915 in France and Flanders in WWI.

He married Ellen Ann Plant in December 1918 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England when he was 22 years old.

He died as a young father in 1930 in England at the age of 34.  I am looking for a cause of death РI suspect he was ill because the census records indicate that they moved from 33 Shady Row where they had lived for many years to 6 Shady Row, in 1930 Рthe same year he died.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.41.41 PMWhen Ellen Ann Plant was born on May 10, 1892, in Honley, Yorkshire, England, her father, Tom, was 29, and her mother, Sarah, was 31. Honley, a village in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated near to Holmfirth and Huddersfield, and on the banks of the River Holme in the Holme Valley.

She was baptized on Dec 10 1892 at St Mary with Brockholes, St George, Yorkshire, England (Honley).

April 2 1911 – the census notes that her family lives at 4 Oldsfield in Honley. She is single & 19 y/o. She works as a Cotton Frame Tenter at a cotton factory. A frame tenter works in the Spinning Room & looks after spinning frames. Her father must have died as her mom is noted as being the head of the household.

She died on May 9, 1936, at the age of 43. It¬†is said that she passed from Dropsy. We know that the term Dropsy is no longer used in today’s medical terms – it’s an ol’ fashioned term to describe the presence of generalized swelling, but you just get or die from edema without some etiology – usually it was due to¬†acute decompensated heart failure. Prior to the twentieth century, heart failure was known as Dropsy. ¬†I’ve seen this Dx come up in a few other death certificates throughout my family tree journey.

Tom Lee & Hannah Crabtree

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.43.13 PMWhen Tom Lee was born in 1869 in Liversedge, Yorkshire, England, his father, Samuel, was 43 and his mother, Martha, was 45. He married Hannah Crabtree on January 26, 1889, in Batley, Yorkshire, England.

In the April 2 1911 census he is noted as Married; Head of House. There were 9 people living in a 4 room dwelling at 3 Shady Row Meltham Mills, Meltham. He was working as a Bobbin Maker. MIL Sarah Crabtree lived with them as she is widowed (72). The census notes of 8 children; 6 were alive & 2 dead.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.43.30 PMHannah Crabtree was born in 1869 in Hull, Yorkshire, England, to Sarah Ann Pickles, age 30, and William Crabtree, age 40.

She was imprisoned on Aug 25 1890 for obscene language at HMP Wakefield.  Sentence Imprisonment or Servitude Released on August 29, 1890.  She was jailed along with mother Sarah Ann Crabtree.  I am making the assumption they got into an argument and used threw in a few F bombs lol

Samuel Lee & Martha Lee 

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.44.34 PM.pngWhen Samuel Lee was born in January 1826 in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, England, his father, William Lee, was 26 and his mother, Mary Raine, was 22.

He was baptized on 26 Mar 1826 at Holmfirth, Holy Trinity, Yorkshire, England.

Samuel Lee married Martha Lee in Almondbury, Yorkshire, England, on February 9, 1845, when he was 19 years old. ¬†Marriage records indicates that¬†Samuel was a is a ¬†Bachelor, employed as a Spinner and that Martha was a Spinster. They marked their signatures with X’s so that tells me that they were unable to write.

They lived in Honley, Yorkshire, England, in 1851 and resided at 65 Dean House. He and Martha and Harriett and Sarah Ann are all living here.  He was employed as a Spooner.  As a Sponner he would work in the Spinning Room and would operate one or more usually two facing each other, spinning machines, each with many spindles, to make thread. Because the floor beneath spinning machines was soaked in the oil from the cotton, spinners usually worked barefoot. Spinners normally employed their own piecers and paid them directly. A spinning mule might have up to 1200 spindles from end to end and be nearly 100 yards long. A spinner would be paid according to the amount of thread produced.

On the 1881 census they¬†lived in Batley, Yorkshire, England. ¬†They were living at Temperance House at 175 Wilton St. He is living with Martha, William (who is working as a Clogger – ¬†i.e. made wooden shoes “clogs”, in England they were usually leather with thick wooden soles) and Tom who is in school. They also have a boarder staying with them. Sam is working as an Eating House Keeper (would an eating house keeper mean someone who owned a cafe or was just managing it?)

He died in 1901 at the age of 75.

Martha Lee was born in 1824 in Honley. ¬†The marriage record indicates that Martha’s Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.44.42 PMdad’s name is John Lee. He and William both worked as Weavers. ¬†So her maiden name is Lee as well?

Martha is absent from the 1901 census leading me to believe that she passed away between 1891 and the 1901 census. In this census Sam is listed as widowed and is living with William Brown (75) and Martha Brown (75).

William Lee & Mary Raine

William Lee was born in 1800 in Newbiggin, Durham, England. He married Mary Raine Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.46.22 PM.pngon March 4, 1821, in Middleton in Teesdale, Durham, England. They had ten children in 21 years. He died on May 17, 1883, having lived a long life of 83 years.

In the 1851 census they are living in Holwick, Yorkshire, England  He is listed as Head of Household. He is working as a Lead Miner. He has some of his grand children living with them (not sure whose, two have last name Lee and the other Longmire).

In the 1871 census, we find them in¬†Wooldale, Yorkshire, England, they are residing at¬†6 Muslim Hall. They have a visitor, Joseph Broadbent, age 26 who is a Grocer’s Assistant. William is still working at 70 as a Wool Weaver.

In 1881 we find him living in the Hamlet of Holwick, Yorkshire, England.  Marital Status: Widower. He is a retired lead miner and farmer.

Mary Raine was born in abt 1800 in Yorkshire, England, died in October 1874 when she was 74 years old.

I haven’t been able to trace the line back any further than this for the time being. ¬†I’ll keep on searching.


T xo