Mother’s Day Gifts For Grandma

Sometimes grandmas need a gift that’s just a little different than regular moms. That’s why this list has been curated. These are gifts for my mom who also duals as grandma to seven sibling kidlets.

If you’re still shopping for mom, Carolyn Nicander-Mohr has an awesome list over at the Wonder of Tech where she writes an amazing blog you shouldn’t miss ever.

So, let’s dig in, shall we?

#1 — Battery-Operated Spice Mill

#2 — Felting and Knitting Accessories

#3 — Health And Fitness

Just a few ideas that are running on my list…a slightly different twist to the active, younger mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Canadian Olympic Business, Life Coach Shares Story

This post originally appeared August 5, 2011. Figured we’d do a repeat (my first ever) in honor of the Olympics in London this week.

Momaraderie is a sometimes feature I write to recognize an elite bunch of business women who are mompreneurs. I’ve written about several amazing chicas over time, and if you’ve not met them, please stop in to these posts for a refresher. I’d like to introduce you to Kaarina Dillabough, a Canadian Olympic business and life coach.

I am not sure how I met Kaarina Jokinen Dillabough; I believe it was Twitter, and after the first few tweets a fast friendship was born. Kaarina is a mom of several boys and lives in Canada. She also calls her boys, The Beatles, and if you ever Skype with her be sure to ask for a grand tour of her beautiful log home she and her husband (together since 1978) built. On one wall where she finally landed the camera is a tribute to the The Beatles.

What impresses me most about Kaarina is her aptitude for friendships. She is intuitive about business, life and knows when someone needs a virtual hug. She writes a blog that’s fairly new, yet the comments are fast and furious from a variety of peeps. It’s because she’s a darn good writer with amazing perspective about business.

What is more amazing is her storied sports career! She started rhythmic gymnastics when three-years-old, attended the National Ballet in Toronto, ran track and field, competed in artistic gymnastics and played varsity basketball at college.  Her place in the history of Canadian Olympics is rock solid.

Kaarina tells her story…

In 1976, I was selected as part of a team to perform at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Montreal.  Rhythmic Gymnastics was not yet an official Olympic sport, and our inclusion as a demo sport was intended to lay the foundation for its inclusion in the next Olympics.  The experience was almost indescribable.

Our particular team was seated at the base of the Olympic flag until the moment we performed.  I still get goosebumps remembering the march of teams, the raising of the Olympic flag, running in of the torch (for the first time by both a male and female).

After the Olympics, I became the youngest President of a National Sport Governing body for Rhythmic Gymnastics for Canada.  I was proud to have been involved in the lobbying for inclusion of the sport.  Unfortunately, 1980 was a boycott year, and we did not attend the Games.

But we hit Gold in 1984!  Lori Fung, from Vancouver, will forever hold the title of first-ever Gold medalist in the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics.  I was one of her coaches during her preparation for the World and Olympic Games, and represented Canada at all World, International and Olympic rhythmic sportive gymnastic events in the capacity of Chef de Mission, Coach and CBC colour commentator, with direct responsibility for all team, media and government relations at home and abroad. I prepared all print materials for print and electronic media and was spokesperson for Canadian delegations to public and press at all International Rhythmic Sportive Gymnastic events, including World and Olympic Games, for a 10 years.

I had the honour of doing CBC Colour commentary at the ’84 Games with Ernie Afaganis.

There is a really interesting story about those Games.  We were not expected to win, and we were up against Basketball for air time.  As we commentated live, it was becoming apparent that Lori was going to win the gold.  The event was over, and immediately after, the producer cut to my headphones and said we were going live in 3…2…1

I had to commentate the event as if it was actually happening, with the producer talking me through where Lori was on the floor through my headphones…all the while I was looking at a blank screen.  Pure adrenaline took over, and I don’t know to this day how I held it together.  But when I review the video from that event, you’d never know it wasn’t live.  That is an experience I’ll never forget.

Our first son, David, was born in 1985: our Olympic baby!  When he was just 6 months old, he travelled with me to Spain and Switzerland for the World Championships.  He had his own accreditation, and quickly became the team “mascot”.  When we travelled to Japan, he stayed home with dad, and I wrote him a daily journal, which he treasures to this day.

Five years later, our second son Michael arrived.  From that time on, Rhythmics was behind me, and I was on the bench as an athletic trainer for hockey and lacrosse.  I was the lacrosse Trainer for our 2000 team to the Canadian Championship Minto Cup, and to the Brogden Cup (Canada Vs. USA) in Florida, where we won Gold!

Over 25 years ago, an associate said to me: You know…what you do for athletes, business could really use.  I began to volunteer my coaching services to business owners, long before the moniker of “business coach” came into being.  I soon realized that the skills I possessed were marketable, and I’ve been a business consultant, coach and strategist now for over 25 years, helping business owners to reach higher levels of profitability and prosperity, and working in both the public and private sector with small to medium sized enterprises.  Throughout it all, my family has been my strongest support and loyal fans.


Honor All Women This International Women’s Day

In my view, every day is women’s day; we rock in families, in workplaces, as mothers, and partners. I’m fortunate to feel this way because I’ve been raised in the land of opportunity.

Other women have not, do not and do not have.

March 8, 2012 is International Women’s Day.

Some moms have not had the luxuries my parents gave me; they don’t have the ability to provide for their children the way I do mine. They’re among the one in seven people who go to bed hungry every night. And this isn’t because there isn’t enough food to go around. It’s because there are deep imbalances in access to resources like fertile lands and water. In fact, more than 40 percent of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – live in poverty, and many of them are women.

On International Women’s Day, stop and think a moment about the women in poverty who comprise half the population on earth. Here are some sad but true factoids:

  • Sixty-six percent of the world’s work falls on women’s shoulders, yet they earn only 10% of the world’s income
  • If women were given the same level of access to resources that men have, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 percent to 30 percent
  • Hunger and poverty are about power and inequality, and women and girls face the biggest inequalities of all.

This International Women’s Day, Oxfam America is suggesting several ways to celebrate women while at the same time honoring those we’ve never met:

1. Send an International Women’s Day eCard to women you know around the world. All it takes is their email address to say thanks for her contributions.

2. For bloggers who really want to recognize a woman who is making a difference, Oxfam America has the International Women’s Day 2012 award. It can be shared via social media and/or handed directly to an influential woman.

Programs like this are always a good reminder to stop a moment from our every day grinds and reflect on our standing. When we look at the women in poverty trying to do what we mothers and business women do with their limited resources, we owe it to ourselves and them to share a kindness. Please do.

Momaraderie is Single Mom, Body-Builder Candice St. Pierre

This Momaraderie feature was presented to me by Erica M. Allison, president of Allison Development Group, who writes the blog Spot On.

By Erica Allison

Meet Candice St. Pierre, a single mom of two and an ordinary mom with an extraordinary story to tell.  This single mom has managed to rewrite her own story in just five short years and is approaching a major milestone in her life on 11.11.11.  St. Pierre turns 40 and is choosing to celebrate this occasion in major style (think Arabian nights here).  Her party represents her enthusiasm for living, the cornerstone for her amazing transformation.

Candice’s story is one of inspiration, wellness and reinventing yourself in tough times. She wants to share her story of everything that she’s overcome and all that she has achieved today in the hopes that it can inspire other moms out there.

In 2006, this Midwestern girl from rural Illinois returned to the USA from Germany with two little ones in tow. She was going through a devastating divorce, near bankruptcy, no job prospects and trying to stretch child support with two kids, shelter and food.  In addition, she was unhealthy and overweight.  When she landed in Greenville, SC she had no idea how she would turn her world around; there was no opportunity for an Eat, Pray, Love trip here.  Instead, she focused on breadcrumbs and finding her way one important step at a time.

Five Years Later

Fast forward five years and Candice has wiped out $50,000 in credit card debt, over two-thirds (2/3) of her $100,000 in student loans; has a solid retirement plan and financial security; has a successful job and is currently planning a new, independent venture; and, is in the process of writing a book chronicling her story and her steps to financial and personal freedom.  Candice is also 40 pounds lighter, with a new body to show for it; she recently competed in the Carolina Supernatural (body building/ figure competition) placing fourth in the Figure, Tall category. It was her first contest and a true testament to how hard she’s worked and succeeded.

“Our mental, physical and emotional selves are interconnected,” said St. Pierre.  “Interestingly, I found a study that shows a correlation between weight loss and income.  As you lose weight, your income goes up.  I can attest to that!”  St. Pierre is pleased to say that her credit card debt is gone, the legal bills are gone and she has paid off more than half of her student loans.  “I am well on my way to being debt free,” said St. Pierre

Candice is the first to say she did not achieve her new optimal self on her own. As a single mom, she’s sought out help, and still does along the way. “It is not possible to do anything by yourself,” said St. Pierre.  “Somewhere along the way, you need the help of others.”  St. Pierre advocates hiring others to help reach goals, but only if one’s basic needs are met.  In order to pay for advisors and coaches along the way, Candice focused on the necessities, but also took tangible actions, such as cutting off cable and garbage service, in order to free up funds to pay for help.  “Sometimes, we have to make hard choices to move ourselves forward.  The stronger we become (emotionally, physically, and mentally) the easier it is to make the right choices for ourselves,” said St. Pierre.

Candice’s story demonstrates that it’s never too late to rewrite your story.  Connect with her on LinkedIn, she’d love to hear from you.


Sunday Sweets With My Twitter Friend Jenn

It’s not Sunday anywhere until Saturday, so #Follow Friday, @JennWhinnem.  She needs a little boost of support, love, encouragement, and friendship today as she manages a medical condition she rarely speaks about and you’ll never know she has (until you do).

Yesterday, Jenn sent flowers, and they were purple to match.  She knew someone had a broken heart, and she focused not on herself and her convalescence, but on someone else she knew needed a hug. That’s the most amazing gift one can give – generosity to others, focusing outward, and sending love when she’s the one who should be on the receiving end.

Jenn is one of those special friends who will make you laugh, make you think, and make you marvel at the quality of writing she shares with us on occasion. She’s a regular guest author here, and she’s graced the likes of Shakirah’s, Mark’s, Jon’s (and who knows who else’s) houses, with really cool pieces.

Jenn now works at the Connecticut Health Foundation as the communications officer where she’s implementing vlogging, social media, blogging, and a bit of PR, if I’m not mistaken. I’m missing her on the Twittersphere as a result of her recent gig, but I’m so glad someone is benefiting from her many talents.

I’ve often asked Jenn for her opinion about Facebook strategy and building out pages; if she didn’t know the answer, she’d go find it and send me a link – immediately. She seems to be in the know about the latest applications and will share with anyone who asks so they know, too.

I’ve never seen Jenn not smiling. Perhaps today’s gift in kind, Jenn, will ensure your pearlies are visible to those around you.  One thing is for sure, you’ve managed to be the most selfless person I know – putting me in front of you during a time when you should be first.