Category Archives: love

Showing love at this special time of year

Christmas is not particularly my favourite time of year – I’ve had some not so great memories of the time, but I have also had some pretty good times too. I have found it has become very commercialized and that it’s all about gifts. Giving is showing love, but the expense of giving has become a bit ridiculous in my eyes. Seriously – what 10 year old needs a brand new iPhone? None.

I was recently reading Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (by Richard Carlson), and one of the chapters strikes me as relevant this time of year.

“Tell 3 people (today) how much you love them”. The beginning of this chapter asks the question “If you had an hour to live and could only make one phone call – who would you call, what would you say, and why are you waiting??”

Christmas, for some, is rather depressing, for many reasons. A lot of people have lost a family member and this is the time that they wish they were still around. Some people simply can’t afford Christmas (this was me as a single mom many years ago – I did without so that I could get my kids something for under the tree – not that I regret one minute of it, but that was just the way it was).

So today, instead of thinking and stressing over the Christmas rush, take a minute to call someone and tell them that you love them. It’s only a minute out of your day – surely we can all take a minute to tell someone we love them.

I hope we all can have a peaceful and loving holiday season, and I hope we can all remember the true meaning of Christmas – whatever that may be for each of us.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Feliz Navidad, Veselé Vánoce, Joyeux Noël, (I think you get the picture).

Love to all this holiday season. And remember, be kind.

The Most Beautiful City in the World

I have travelled quite a bit over the past few years and while I haven’t seen a lot of cities, I have seen enough to know what I think, in my eyes, is the most beautiful City in the world.


For anyone who knows me, they already know my answer.  It’s the city that changed me forever.  The city that touched my heart and soul and will forever live there, no matter where I go and what I see.  The city with a magical and mystical feeling to it.  The city where so many people made me feel like I belonged and I truly found myself.


That city is Prague – the city of 100 spires.  Set in Central Europe, it is a city that is drenched in medieval history and yet has a modern touch to it.  The amazing sites to see, the friendliness of the people and of course the cheap and delicious beer!!!  In my opinion, this is the City that EVERYONE should see in their lifetime.  It is forever etched in my memories as one of the most memorable times of my life.



An overrated day….

Happy Valentine’s Day – the day that the flower shops jack up their prices of flowers and for the restaurants to have “special dinner prices” for couples.


Perhaps I am slightly jaded, being a divorced woman who has been single for a long time now and really has no desire to be in another relationship (at least not for a while), but I really think this is one of the most overrated days of the year.


Cards, flowers, expensive gifts – why do couples wait for one particular day of the year to celebrate their love?  Shouldn’t they do this every day of the year?  Is love not special enough to celebrate all year-long?  Why not just pick a day each month to celebrate the love you have?


Once a month – go out for a special dinner.  Buy flowers for your mate (male or woman!).  Bring home chocolate (or something special that they like).  Surprise your mate with a romantic night – it does not need to wait for February 14!!


Make your love special and show them how much you care every single day!!



A little girl with a doll made me cry…

This past Christmas day, I did something I have never done before – I volunteered at my church to serve Christmas dinner to the less fortunate in my hometown.  It was definitely the most heartwarming day I have had in a very long time.


I signed up to volunteer over a month before Christmas, and I had thought I would be helping with serving the dinner.  Instead, when the orientation came up for it, I was assigned the gift table with another woman.  I really wasn’t sure what was expected of me but I was excited to volunteer and be part of my community on Christmas Day.


I arrived to the church with seeing a big line up of people waiting to come in and be served Christmas dinner.  I arrived at the gift table and the other lady and I started organizing the gifts into women’s, men’s and children.  I had my dinner there and then we proceeded to hand out the gifts.


Everyone was very appreciative of the gifts we gave – some were hygiene items with something extra in them, the kids received toys, there were scarves and various items.  Well, this one little girl was there with her mother, and she was very quietly playing with her doll she brought.  I was talking to everyone to make sure they were enjoying their meal and day, so I went over and had a chat with this little girl and her mom.  She very excitedly told me her name and her doll’s name.  She was very sweet and her mother looked so happy that I had taken the time to come and say hello.


Well, the gift she received was another doll from the church donations, and her mom had received a lovely gift of bath oils and lotions.  They were very happy and made sure to stop me to thank me numerous times.  We had excess gifts (due to the very generous nature of companies here), so we were handing out extra gifts.  I saw two matching scarves so I took them over to the mom and daughter.  The little girl’s eyes lit up and put it around her neck right away.  She hugged her mom and said that we have matching scarves now!  She then looked at me and said thank you – this is the best Christmas ever!  Her mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said thank you so much – and we will definitely be back next year.  You made my daughter’s day with so much attention and the generosity of everyone.


I turned away and tears ran down my face, and my heart grew.   It was the most rewarding Christmas day ever for me, to be able to make one little girl so happy with such a simple thing as a scarf and a doll.  This is what Christmas is about – having the ability to make a little girl happy with a doll and a scarf.


I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day !!


I arrived in Valparaiso on Saturday afternoon, after taking Turbus from Santiago (shout out to the bus line – most comfortable bus I’ve been on, double decker, was on the top at the front – very cool!).  We pulled in, and after some conversations with numerous people, I found a cab and made my way to my hostel.  Wonderful hostel on one of many very steep streets in Valparaiso!!


La Casa Bicicleta


After an exciting afternoon (more of that to come at a later date), I settled in for the night in a comfy soft bed, and fell asleep to the barking stray dogs – who also, incidentally, woke me up in the middle of the night.  I understand that they are strays, but why do they need to bark all night????  They are very sad to see too – I saw stray dogs in China but these dogs just seem sadder.  It’s part of the uniqueness of Valparaiso – this city with a sad history.


Flower clock



the Pacific Ocean



It was cold but I don’t care!!


Sunday was spent enjoying the beach and the ocean in nearby Vina del Mar – it did not disappoint.  The sound of the waves crashing on to the beach, the children laughing and jumping over the waves, it was such a serene moment.  I even took my shoes off and put my feet in the ocean (two oceans now and all 5 great lakes in Canada – working on more bodies of water!!).   I enjoyed my lunch sitting in a small cafe by the ocean, enjoying an empanada.  Ceviche is calling out to me though – I will be having some soon!!!


One of the many murals in the city – amazing!!

Today, I took a free city tour here in Valparaiso, and discovered so much history of this city.  I am starting to read more about it – the tour piqued my interest!!  The sites to see here are so many, and the accents are delightful to listen to.  I have even mastered some more Spanish!!  It is much easier to learn Spanish then Mandarin, that’s for sure!!!


I am here for the whole week before I head to my next city.  I have met several people already on this journey, and one thing continues to strike me as odd.  I am the type of traveller who wants to envelop myself within a city, to see how the people live and thrive.  I will never understand the other type of travellers, who rush from one city or country to another, trying to see all the famous sites, and then head out to the next.  How can you honestly learn about a city or country if you don’t take the time to delve more into a place?  I would like to go back to Santiago at some point – I feel there is so much more for me to see there.  Valparaiso will be good for the week – I already have such a good feel to this city.



I am so excited to continue on through Chile and see everything there is!!  And take my time – I am in no rush.



Things I will miss about China


In three days, I will be on a plane heading to Chile.   It’s been an interesting year, with many ups and downs.  I am happy to say that I have come through all of the ups and downs as a stronger, more determined person.


Despite having things I won’t miss, there are definitely things I will miss about being here.


  1. The kids. The kids I have taught this past year have taught me so much – they taught me that I have more patience than I thought I did!  They have shown me that I am a good teacher and that they have learned confidence in themselves, which has made me more confident in return.  The hugs, the shouts of Louisa in the streets, running up to me to say hi – I am going to miss them so much!   Can I bring them with me?  Maybe a few?  haha32debf354b8bc33b992f971b40528ea552064386


  2. The food – I am definitely going to miss the food here!! Noodles, dumplings, beef and rice, chicken and rice, tofu, the produce – the list just goes on and on.  The food was delicious and cheap – my two favourite things!!   I will be on the lookout to try Chinese food wherever I go, just to compare.  I will be happy to compare it to what I have had here.
  3. The generous nature of the Chinese people – at least where I live. I don’t know what it is like in the southern part of China, but for the most part, the people I have met here have been so generous and so kind to me.   I have really been lucky with the people I have encountered.


  1. The greenness of this area that I live in – such an odd thing to say but they really keep my area nice. There are lots of trees, a beautiful park area to walk in and have picnics, and of course the community garden.  I am sure I will find beautiful areas to walk in once I get to South America, but I will miss that about this area.


  1. The friends that I have made here – Zero, Cinderella, Nancy, Cassie, Blaze, Michael and so many others – teachers and friends – they have made my time here very special.


  1. Nanhu Park – Changchun does not have a lot of touristy places to see. Nanhu Park is a big and beautiful park and lake in the middle of the city – it was a nice escape and made the city almost seem like it was smog free.    It was a great place to walk.20170430131353_IMG_0288_1493542960445


  1. The school – Livon was a special place to teach. The school looked like a mall.  Lots of modern amenities.  The atmosphere was great.  I was very lucky to have been placed in the best school in Changchun!IMG_20161215_120321_HDR



I am sure that, as I continue on with this journey of mine, I will realize how much I miss other things about China.  It is inevitable to happen but these are the things that I know I will  miss the most.

​Happy 150th birthday Canada!!!

Canada ~ my home country. It is an amazing country, with some of the most beautiful nature you will ever see, the friendliest people on earth and the best country to live in.

I have travelled across Canada, from Ontario to Alberta. I have crossed over to British Columbia briefly on a snowshoeing trip. I spent many summers as a child in Quebec visiting my grandparents. I have been to New Brunswick, and landed in Newfoundland.  I have yet to see PEI (as an adult) or Nova Scotia, but they are on my list.  My home country is big and beautiful and has something for everyone. Every single province I have seen has mesmerized me with its natural beauty.

There is so much to see in each of our amazing provinces and territories. 

I love my country and miss it. I am so very proud to be a Canadian and I happily tell everyone that I meet that I am from Canada.  

Happy 150th birthday Canada !!! 

The teachers of Livon

I have written a lot about the students I have taught over the past year, but not much has been said about the teachers who have helped me.

The primary teachers at Livon have been incredible. They have been helpful, generous and so very sweet. From assisting me in my classes, to helping me translate Chinese, and so much more ~ they have made my teaching experience very memorable.  I will miss them but I know that I have made some lifelong friends.

George ~ my Saturday assistant

Michael ~ an amazing young man and a lifelong friend

Mark ~ grade 3 and 4 assistant

Summer ~ grade 3 and 4 English teacher

Cassie ~ grade 1 English teacher

Winnie ~ grade 1 English teacher

Emily ~ an occasional assistant

Peter ~ my official liaison

Pamela ~ an occasional assistant

Ariel ~ an occasional assistant

Emma ~ grade 2 assistant

Lily ~ the head teacher of primary and one of the sweetest women I have met here

Sherry ~ grade 1 English teacher

Tesia ~ grade 1 English teacher

Naomi ~ grade 2 English Teacher ~ she was like a daughter ~ same age as my daughter!  Note the teary eyes…

Nancy ~ grade 1 English teacher and an amazing young woman!

Rainbow~ grade 2 English teacher and so much fun!  She always was so involved in my lessons!

I will miss them all!!

​Grade 4 ~ Monday morning madness

There is only one Grade 4 class at the school. They were my first class to teach each week ~ Mondays at 8:55am.  The class never started on time, my time was always short with them, and that was disappointing for us.  Despite the time constraints, we always managed to have a fun class. 

There is so much potential for the brilliant minds that are in this class.  I could have actual conversations with some of the kids and they were able to understand me and communicate with me.

They were a class of chatters but I still was able to connect with them.  They were a tough class to teach some days. Tough in that they were the most distracted of all the classes. Their classroom was in a corner away from the others due to renovations in the school.  Their interaction was mostly with each other so it was understandable that they chatted.

They were engaging when I had an interesting game or activity to do, they liked asking me questions about Canada and they also liked giving me a hard time about my minimal Chinese. I did manage to surprise them on occasion with some new Chinese words though!  They were very intent on teaching me Chinese!

Some of my favourite lessons with them were Scattegories, Scrambled Sentences, and Charades.  The charades was a very rambunctious game that came at a price of a broken ruler (not on one of them ~ on a desk~ oops!!)

I enjoyed the time with them and I can sense that there are going to be a lot of very successful students in that class.

As with all the students I have met and taught at Livon, I will miss these kids very much!!  It has been such an amazing experience teaching all these kids.

Grade 3 ~ the reasons why I love this career

If someone asked me what my favourite grade was to teach in China, this was it. Grade 3 without a doubt. These kids were awesome.

They were fun to teach, they were funny, they understood a lot, I could be silly with them but they also knew when they had to listen. One loud bang of the giant yellow ruler and they knew it was time to stop and listen.

Playing with them at lunch time (what time is it Mr. Wolf!), eating lunch with them every day, bonding with them outside of school at the playground ~ these are the kids that I will miss the  most. 

There are only two Grade 3 classes, each with 36 students, so it was much easier to get closer to them.  These kids ~ oh these kids ~ I will miss their laughter, their questions, their smiles, and their generous nature.   The snacks they would feed me, the high fives in the hallway, and lots of hugs.  

Albert, Frog, Yoyo, Sun, Sam, Terry, Derek, Nick, Coco, Cici, Angel ~ these are the names that immediately come to my mind but I will remember every single one of them.  (I wish I was just making those names up….but I’m not. Those are their English names!)

The Grade 2 students may have made me a better teacher, but the Grade 3 students showed me how much I truly love this career I have.  

Shine on kids, be the stars you are all destined for and know that I am going to miss you all so much!!