November 4, 2015

The day I shaved off my hair and why.

As a kid I was a bit of a tom-boy...short hair, not really a girly-girl at all. I never cared much about hair until my late teens. Soon I had grown my thick hair long and was learning to do all sorts of tricky braids and twisty styles.

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever shave all my hair off.

Almost one year ago I did it, without hesitation and with a smile. And for good reason.

Wait. Let me backtrack a bit.

All my life I've been a semi-closet hypochondriac (= excessive worry about having a serious illness).

I imagined the worst if I got a flu or a bad cold or if my knee or ankle or some other joint or muscle was hurting or sore. My over-active imagination led me to believe I had some exotic disease or some rare condition. Something, anything, was wrong.

No, I know, it's NOT at all amusing to imagine oneself with an illness.
And I'm NOT saying I was thinking up these unreal situations for fun, I was actually scared that I perhaps had whatever ailment I'd dreamed up, read about or researched.
It's also NOT that I wanted attention from thinking this way either. (Hence the "closet" part of being a hypochondriac.)

I do have a few people in my family, near and far, close and not-as-close, that have different types of diseases and struggle with a variety of illnesses.
Of course, I pray for them ALL the time and always hope for healing for them.

And of course I am so grateful that I enjoy good health and that most of the people around and closet to me are living and breathing with good or excellent health.

Last Autumn, however, things within my close circle of friends got serious, fast.

It was a wake up call for me.
Imaginary diseases were just that...imaginary.
Real life was about to barrel down upon my circle of friends like a runaway express train!
My dear and long-time friend, Tricia, let us know that she had found a lump in her breast and was getting it checked out.

Full stop.

My heart hit the floor as she told me this one evening at my house on our weekly girls get together before the other girls arrived.
I stayed calm and listened and let her explain. 
Yes, she'd found it herself and was going for an ultrasound soon.

My own little imaginary worries faded and I was instantly alert to the fact that this was serious.
My friend would need love and support and our friendship would be stretched in a way it had never been tested before.
Weeks went on and after an ultrasound and biopsy we received a group message from Tricia detailing how she had been called into discuss the mass the doctors had tested.
It was cancer.

That word!
That terrible, scary, uncertain word.
My own mind whipped between frenzied denial and heart-wrenching sadness but also shocked amazement...we had just been on a wonderful camping trip and my lovely friend had known this news all along. And in her own strength and dignity, she hadn't wanted to spoil the trip with this serious news.
In my eyes, Tricia embodied ever essence of what it means to be strong.
In the past when other crisis have hit, I've heard words that others close to her have used to describe her, "she's a trooper" or "amazing" or "rock star".
I officially add strong to that list.

Things moved swiftly after that.

Surgery was scheduled and the night before, we gathered at her house. A few of us girl friends along with her mom, who flew in right away after hearing the news, prayed over Tricia and her family.
The surgery came and went.
The lump was removed along with a few lymph nodes to test.

We made some meals for Tricia and her household to help take off some of the worries with something as simple as food.
It was something little we could do.

A few weeks passed and Tricia was expecting to hear about upcoming possible treatment.
She was called in and explained that she would need to start chemotherapy treatment right away.
That, in itself, was a blow.
She would lose her hair, probably be tired, and sick to some degree.
She shared this information with us all and we all kept praying. Hard.

Before her first treatment she needed to have a CT scan of her internal organs in order to have a clear understanding of what was presently going on verses how her body would look during and after her stint of chemo.
After that scan her doctors called both Tricia and Justin in to go over the scan results.
The consensus was not at all good.
The cancer had already began spreading.
It had spread to her liver and bones in her chest and back as well.

This news stunned us all.

How could this be? How could my dear friend be put through this? How could this have escalated so quickly? How could they not have seen this from the first few test? How would this affect her treatment? What on earth could I say or do to help or support her?

If my own reality was rocked by this news, I'm certain it all but crumbled Tricia's world.

I was so very grateful that her mom was staying with her and that she already had friends, family and her church family praying for her.

Tricia may not think of herself as strong, but I saw it.

I saw a young Mom who kept her family going, doing the normal Mom things and cherishing her family but not letting what she went through to upset their normal routines.
I saw a wife who is best friends with her husband and always has been a "rock star" to him.
I saw a friend who wasn't too proud to accept our offering of food, goodies, babysitting and beyond. A friend who is honest but reserved. A friend who isn't too shy to let us tell her story if only it means that more and more people would be praying for her and her family.
She needs it. Her whole family needs it.

I believe that God hears our prayers.
I know He has a plan and we cannot see the entire plan, just tiny pieces once in a while.
I know God wants us to seek Him and trust that He works for good.

Tricia began chemotherapy and after her first treatment she did well, not sick, a little tired, but no major reactions.
After her second treatment I was looking after her boys when she came home.
The second drug they gave her caused a horrible reaction to her system.
I was so glad her mom was here and with her, as she was able to alert the nurses right away.
She was pumped with Benadryl and filled us in when she got home.

After the first and second treatment Tricia's hair already started to fall out. After trying to keep it as long as possible, she finally decided to have Justin take the clippers to her head that week.

Not long after she posted a photo of her new, shaved 'do (for which she received some rightly deserved rave reviews on her totally gorgeous and striking facial features!) two of us girl friends decided to made good on our promise that if her hair came would ours!

We wanted to do it for the right reasons and spoke privately to Tricia first.
She thought we were crazy, and told us we didn't have to.
We knew we weren't obliged to take this drastic step but we told her if it only succeeded in making her laugh, it would have been worth it.
As it was, we quickly whipped together a fundraising campaign for our "Double-Header for Tricia". Both Crystal and I would shave our heads with a goal of raising $1000 for Cancer research AND $1000 for Tricia directly. We were blown away by the generosity of those around us! (including a few donations from friends of friends who didn't even know Tricia and even a donation from a social media friend as far away as Scotland!!)

That Friday night we gathered at Tricia's house and plugged in the clippers.
We let Tricia take the inaugural buzz from Crystal's head first and then finished off with my own.
 I wasn't scared or nervous...well not too much.
 It was, after all just hair. It would grow back.
And yes, if it made our dear friend laugh for a while, then why wouldn't we do it?

We snapped a few photos and video clips (here's one, and another!) of our freshly shorn heads and laughed, played some card games and talked late into the night. (I did have one moment of weakness when I suddenly asked Tricia where she had bought the nice little warm cloth hat she was wearing that night...I was a little overwhelmed for a moment, but it passed as boy did we laugh!)

A few thoughts I've had over this year of going from shaved head to hair again....
  1. Who knew one's head could be so dang COLD!! Winter was not our friend with no hair!
  2. Scarves and hats were my best friends for a few months! I even ordered some pretty scarves online on one panicky day when I felt like my head was naked. 
  3. Having no hair or really short hair was really quite liberating! No blow-drying, no products, no fussing. Just get up and go.
  4. Watching our close friend have to wait longer until her hair started to grow back was difficult. I still hope she doesn't resent us for our crazy head-shave. I know that looking at us may have reminded her of what was going on, but in our hearts, we didn't want her to feel like the only one with a visible difference. We were proud to have no hair, if it meant that she didn't feel so singled out and so different. 
  5. It's been awesome to see Tricia embrace her new CURLY hair and rock an awesome purple mohawk as it grows back in!!! Not many women could pull off such a bold look, but our Tricia certainly can!

That night was almost one year ago and since then Tricia has continued to be a solid rock.
She's undergone many treatments, a few adverse reactions, annoying rashes, painful picc lines, surgeries, good days, bad days, numerous scans and appointments.

A groups of us continue to bring her family meals once a week. Just one less thing she needs to worry about and one little thing we can still do to show her we love her and support her. (If you'd like to be added to the list, email me and let me know!)

She recently had some scans and comparatively, all the small spots on her liver were gone and the larger spots were noticeably much smaller, too! The spots on the bones in her chest had also shrunk!
She moved from having chemo twice every three weeks down to once every three weeks, and as I understand it, it's the type of chemo that "maintains". She will continue to alternate having ultra sounds and CT scans to keep seeing the progression of her shrinking spots or to see no spots at all.
And just a few weeks ago her oncologist said things are looking "really good"!

Please continue to pray for Tricia.
Pray that she stays well and continues to feel strength and love from us all and from God. We believe that God can use doctors and medicine as well as His healing touch to keep her healthy and well!
Pray for her husband, Justin, that he has peace and strength and that they always have what they need to keep their family happy and healthy.
Pray for their two young sons, that they may always know love and happiness and compassion for others.

I pray for anyone reading this blog. If you or someone you know has cancer or another illness, I pray that God would work in your lives to restore health and peace and strength.

Thank you for reading, and as always, I value your comments and will always respond back.

Take care of yourselves, be kind and courageous!!

PS - FYI - I did speak to Tricia before posting this. :)

August 25, 2015

Kids in Nature Scavenger Hunt (FREEBIE!)

This past weekend I had a fantastic time camping on a local Vancouver Island lake with a gaggle of friends, which included some NINE children.

As part of my contribution to the fun of our outdoorsy experience, I attempted to look up a fun scavenger hunt that the kiddos could try.
I found many interesting options, however some lacked a little discretion when it came to their intended audiences.

 No, I did not think it was appropriate or even safe for kids to be picking up shotgun shells or broken glass! Goodness me!

In the wake of my fruitless search for the perfect, age-appropriate nature game for my little pals, I whipped up my very own and shall now share it with the world.

Below you will find my version of a "Kids in Nature Scavenger Hunt".

The only "rules" were that the items must not be taken out of any garbage containers and that you must find as many items as possible but you may not find them all.
Each child was given a small paper bag to collect their treasures and in return they showed me, the game's judge/awards master, all their loot for a new bag full of treats.

The Hunt was eagerly anticipated and the kids ranged in age from just 6 to 9, I do believe. Some took off in pairs, some sought the help of  parent or two, and some even came up with ingenious ways of answering some of the hard-to-find items.

The Hunt was a hit and I will be hard-pressed to top it for next year's campout!


July 3, 2015

Today's Action Plan (Freebie!)

Download a FREE Daily Task Planner! -

I'm taking a quick break from updating you all about my recent UK trip to bring you a FREEBIE!
(#kbintheuk on Instagram or catch up on all my blog posts with even more photos here>>

(and who doesn't like freebies?
If you don't...well, you're weird.)

My good friend showed me some samples of a daily task sheet and asked me to make something specific for her so she wouldn't have post-its notes all over her work space.

I took the best bits from a few samples and came up with something that combines a daily fitness & water log with appointments, daily goals, To Do lists and a reflective grateful list etc.

My pal was so happy with the result she shared the sample around and her co-worker wanted the same but in another colour scheme.

So, YOU have two colour options to choose from: Blue/Teal/Coral or Purple/Yellow/Teal.

Download a FREE Daily Task Planner! -

Feel free to print and share and I'd love any feedback you have on what works or what you like best about this daily tracking sheet.

Take Care!

June 26, 2015

Scotland Adventures - Days 4-5 - Companions and Castles (Edinburgh and Alnwick Castle)

Scotland Adventures - Edinburgh, Alnwick Castle -
I'm baaaack!! It's been a busy week but I'm back to let you know what I've been up to on my adventures.

The morning was Wednesday and I got up quite early, looking forward to my Mom joining me on the next half of my UK travels!

I guess I could have taken the subway then airport bus to the Glasgow airport but instead I called a taxi for a quicker ride. (A taxi company my lovely rental flat hosts so helpfully provided!) 
I arrived and waited at the gate and shortly my Mom emerged. Yay! 

She was joining me for two nights in Scotland then six nights in London and Ashford before we headed back home via Dublin. 

June 17, 2015

Scotland Adventures - Day 4 - Jacobite Steam Train

After quick instructions on a shortcut the night before, I found the subway station on my own. It's about a 5 min walk from my rented flat. An easy walk but boy my body was so tired!! I've been go go going for almost a week!

I used an automatic ticketing machine and paid for an all day pass and found the right stop for the downtown Buchanan St station. It terminated at about a 3 block walk to where the tour buses parked downtown. On the way I found an open cafe and bought a small orange juice and cookie for the road. 
A few fellow passengers were waiting and I met a nice mom and son duo from New York who were bound for the same bus.

The weather was overcast and a bit chilly but I didn't need to put my jacket on, after walking a ways I always tend to run a bit warm. ;)

Scotland Adventures - Day 3 - Loch Ness, Castle Urquhart, Culloden (& maybe some whiskey!)

After another excellent nights sleep I packed up. I tried a different method that a customer at one of my Saturday markets told me about. Lay everything flat and just fold the extra edges up the sides. But it was about the same as rolling it all. I still haven't worn about half my clothes.

I'm headed downstairs to the eating area over looking the luscious grassy backyard sporting a pair of brilliant pheasants pecking for their breakfast and the green hills in the background. I ordered a full cooked breakfast. Poached egg over "black pudding", bacon, sausage, tomato. Tea and oj. Everything was delish! Even the black pudding! I sort of knew what it was but I refrained from looking up its' ingredients until later. (I'll let you do the same in case you are eating right now.)

Scotland Adventures - Day 2 - Circling Skye (Kilt Rock, Portree & Fort Augustus)

Kilt Rock cliffs
Time for a whole day on the Isle of Skye, Scotland!

Agnes, my lovely B&B hostess made me an excellent full cooked breakfast: poached egg on toast, beans, two big pieces of juicy bacon, two yummy sausages, a little cooked tomato, orange juice and tea. I slept so well! My first real full nights sleep since arriving in the UK.

Scotland Adventures - Day 1 - The Isle of Skye (Fort William & Castle Eilean Donan)

So, I left off getting up super early (3am!!) on a crazy noisy night in downtown Dublin, Ireland for my back-up flight over to Glasgow, Scotland.

From the noise beneath my room as my alarm went off at 3, I heard them shout out "last call". At least the majority of merry makers would be off the streets by the time I had gotten up, ready and packed to go around 4am. Here's hopin'!

June 16, 2015

Irish Adventure - Day 4 - The North (Giant's Causeway & Titanic)

I started off my final day in Ireland with a conundrum: I waited at the place where my day tour said the first pick up point would be, in front of a certain Starbucks. There were regular bus stops right at the curb but no "WildRover" tour buses anywhere. However, directly across the street there were four "Irish Day Tours" buses. Now I had seen the WildRover buses and they are clearly marked. Conundrum!! 

Ok Conundrum averted. I asked the other buses and got the correct side and went away on my tour bus! Yay!! I love it when a plan comes together!!

We were going to Belfast in the North of Ireland. They use British pounds instead of Euros. I'll do the amazing new Titanic Exhibit built there. Then we drove to the Giant's Causeway and thw awesome Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge!!

We had a totally full bus!! And it had wifi!!

We had  a very amusing bus ride to Belfast. Our guide was a short, ginger headed man in an old brown blazer who drone on and on, spewing facts and statistics and barely took a breath after each section of his expansive epic historical recitations. Sure enough, later he admitted he used to be a history professor. He was very nice and organized and truely knowledgeable, but not at all fun to listen to. A shame, really. 

June 15, 2015

Irish Adventure - Day 3 - Ring of Kerry

On to Day 3 in Ireland.
I was catching a train again, only a few blocks away. Soooo...somehow I mixed up my times when setting my alarm and thought I had to be there by 7. I got up, got ready and walked to the station thinking, no problem. Buuuuut I WAS supposed to be there by 6:30!!! I got there at 6:55 and they literally had to run me onto the train that left the station literally 5 seconds after I set foot on board! But I was on my way.

I had to walk through 4 train cars until I found the rail tour guides in their yellow shirts and jackets. We had a whole car reserved for us. I sat next to a lady and her friend from Edmonton. Across the aisle was a group of four (grandma, mom, 2 daughters in their 20s) from Florida. All very nice and friendly. 

June 10, 2015

Irish Adventure - Day 2 - Bunratty, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren

Well, it's just been so crazy busy and I've been so super tired that it's taken me a few days to recuperate and keep updating you on my amazing adventure! 

My I slept marvelously in my fancy Bunrattey Castle Hotel room! The self-serve breakfast spread they put on was top notch! I love that cooked mushrooms and tomatoes are always available. The local sausage and bacon were so tasted as well! My new friend from the medieval feast came in and joined me and had an excellent chat about our families. 

Irish Adventure - Day 1 - Galway & Medieval Banquet

I'm finally here!! I'm in Ireland!!

I arrived in Dublin with no further troubles or hiccups. I stopped into a restroom at the airport to brush my teeth, comb my crazy hair and generally wake up a bit. 
My last flight from Toronto direct to Dublin took me from sunset to glorious sunrise and I didn't get much sleep, thus felt a little groggy when I arrived. 

I sought out the Airlink bus where I bought a ticket to connect me to the train station half an hour away. There, I was meeting my Irish Rail Tour that I had signed up for at 10:30 am. 
The bus ride took us all around and through the downtown area so I had a good look at the area. Dublin is a neat, bustling city with many people walking, bussing or biking to work.

June 8, 2015

WestJet is the BestJet!

Okay, so I'm not quite at my desired destination yet (IRELAND!!) but I had to fill you in on the almost panick-inducing goings on so far and the good that has come of it all.

I had three separate flight legs today and as soon as I finished the first leg, entered the airport, turned my phone back on I received an unsettling email. My last leg flight was totally cancelled! That's right, not just sort of cancelled but gone, kaput, no longer an option!
And, to top that off, the new flight the airline sent me had an overnight delay so I wouldn't get to my destination until a whole DAY LATER and I'd MISS my first scheduled rail tour! 
I stayed the panick and quickly went to to WestJet care desk where they found me and my flights and assured me they had already "built" a new leg so I would be at my destination only an hour later than expected. 

June 7, 2015

A Dream Come True!

Here I am, back from the non-blogging abyss of real life busyness and lack of motivation.

I've been meaning to write. Trying to write.

But for one reason or another I never make it here by the day's late end.

I do have LOTS to write about but today is a special day, so I made special time to write about it.

Today is the day before one of my  dreams comes true!

Tomorrow I hop on a plane, well, several planes over the course of almost 24 hours, but who cares, because tomorrow I am flying overseas to visit some of my most dreamed about places!!!

Yes, for those who know me, that's right, I am going to Ireland, Scotland and England!!!

January 14, 2015

Easy Graphics Ideas (Freebies & Download!)

free fonts, graphics design, cheat sheet, download, freebie

Happy New Year!!!

Well, if you know me, you know I love cool fonts.

I love finding fonts, collecting fonts and using fonts. I'm a font fanatic!

I even admit to being proud/bashful when I can identify a font on some advertising out in the world.

"Hey, that's Pacifico!"
"Nooo, not another sign with Papyrus!!!"

Yep, that's me.

I've been reading and researching some new ideas and tools to help me in my day-job of advertising, marketing and social media for my church.

In my search, I've come across a great (Canadian!) website resource called "Pro Church Tools" out of Niagra, Ontario. They have all sorts of amazing ideas, tips, and resources for churches or anyone creating graphic design, using social media, producing videos and more.

This week I found their blog post titled "The 2-Step Foolproof Approach to Creating Graphics that Don’t Suck" - a long title but one of my new favourite resource blog posts!! 

The guys at Pro Church Tools walk you through the EASIEST way to come up with a graphic to use on social media or in print.
1. Pick a great, flat colour from here:  (one of my new fav websites!)
2. Pick 1 fancy font for the headline + 1 simple font for the tagline, if needed. (list here)
3. Bonus - if you feel creative, layer your colour's transparency down to 80% over a cool photo from your own library or from a royalty free website. (good list here)

The result....easy, attractive graphics! (see the image above)

I've created a cheat sheet for my desk at work that I want to SHARE with YOU from the FREE FONTS mentioned in the post along with a solid colour and layered image behind. 
* You can download the PDF file here or after the image below.

Please go visit our friends at Pro Church Tools
Take some time to listen to some of the really helpful podcasts or read some blog posts. They also do have a FREE tool kit you can sign up for and they do contract work creating videos, too!

For now, enjoy my download and keep finding cool ways to use cool fonts!!

~ K

free fonts, graphics design, cheat sheet, download, freebie