Staycation: Steveston Getaway


Steveston, BC, a small fishing village on the outskirts of Richmond, is an awesome destination for a staycation or for a day of caregiver respite. Heritage buildings line the few streets and you can always peruse the docks to get a view of the sea. It’s a picturesque town that has been used as the back drop for many television shows and movies, including Smallville and more recently, Once Upon A Time. If you are looking for more ideas for micro-vacations to help you feel energized and inspired, Steveston is a fun day trip.

Here’s an itinerary for your staycation in Steveston, BC:

1. Start your day with a trip to the coffee shop.

I love the 49th Parallel coffee from Village Books & Coffee House (12031 First Avenue), but many line up to get the specialty pour over and syphon coffee at  Rocanini Coffee (115-3900 Moncton Street). Get your coffee to go!

2. Wander through streets to look at the many boutiques and shops.

Nikaido (150-3580 Moncton Street) is my favourite with half of the store dedicated to tea and the other half to stationary and gifts. Other shops to check out include a fun toy store, many vintage and collective shops, and of course, you must go visit Romania Country Bread (3680 Moncton Street) if you hear the bell ring (the Storybrooke Bakery for Once fans) for the wood-fired whole-wheat organic sourdough bread that makes up his entire selection.


3. Dive into the heritage of Steveston, BC through the local museums and attractions.

Steveston, BC is home to numerous tourist attractions including the Steveston Museum & Visitor Centre, Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, and Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society. Learn more about the early fishing and canning industries in the area.

4. Have some lunch at one of the many local restaurants.

Steveston, BC has a multitude of food options including Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, and even Southern barbecue. Go to Gudrun (150-3500 Moncton Street) for some cheese plates and fondue, or get something more casual at Dave’s Fish and Chips (3460 Moncton Street).


5. Peruse the seafood vendors aboard their boats while walking on the docks.

Numerous vendors display their freshly caught spot prawns, salmon, and other delectable options aboard their fishing boats right along the dock. My favourite way to end a Steveston trip is to purchase some for a seafood dinner at home.

Did I miss a must-see destination? Let me know your Steveston, BC favourites in the comment section.



What I Wish I Knew Back Then: Lessons Learned from Family Caregivers

What I Wish I Knew Back Then: Lessons Learned from Family Caregivers
By Stephanie Chan, Home to Home Advisory Services Inc.

In researching for this article, I asked a few of my clients for some insights into what they’ve learned from their caregiving experiences, and what they would tell their younger selves given what they know now. I expected to receive a series of tips and practical advice but instead what I got back was an abundance of thoughtful, heartfelt and emotional feedback that I am so pleased to be able to share with you. Of course, all names have been changed. I hope that those who are starting their caregiving journey can benefit from this article by learning something they can apply themselves and more importantly, know that they are not alone.

Lesson 1: Be proactive and make changes before it becomes necessary
Mona’s mom Victoria, lives in an assisted living residence in Vancouver. Mona is the only child and lives in L.A.. Five years ago, Victoria, at Mona’s encouragement, moved from her independent apartment to an assisted living residence.
“Looking back, I would have somehow had mom transition into independent or assisted living earlier. As hard as it would have been for mom initially, I think she would actually have adapted better to a group living situation, and then made the next transition from independent living into assisted living easier.

As mom aged, she lost her ability to initiate friendship and join groups, and her ability to adapt to a new neighborhood. If she had moved earlier, she would potentially have enjoyed living there more because she was still mobile and independent enough to get on the bus and get out and around by herself. She might have relaxed a bit more and reached out to make friends inside the residence. This thinking is certainly counterintuitive to the theory of preserving independence until the last possible minute, but for mom’s particular circumstances (a widow, few hobbies and friends, 1 child living long-distance), it might have been the best option.”

Laughing Mum & daughter

Lesson 2: Know your boundaries
Jennifer is a family caregiver for her aunt Linda, who lives independently in an apartment which she moved into from a large house 4 years ago. Coming from a close family, Aunt Linda has been an integral part of Jennifer’s family and since Aunt Linda never had children of her own, Jennifer and her brother have been taking on some of Aunt Linda’s care. “If I could go back in time I would have set boundaries for myself. It’s so easy to get lost in all the issues, appointments and things that need to be done. I would have realized that this is for the long haul and the time commitment can get overwhelming if you don’t set boundaries for yourself. I would have also set some parameters about financial commitments. I didn’t realize all the direct and indirect costs that would accumulate over time. There are direct costs in say getting groceries for Aunt Linda, but more importantly are the hidden costs in taking time off when I should be working in my business, the gas consumed in driving to visit Aunt Linda and taking her to appointments, and the emotional anxiety that arises when my brother and I don’t agree on things. Setting and communicating boundaries in advance would have definitely helped.”

Lesson 3: Get other affairs in order
Sally’s mom Anita lives in an assisted living residence. Although both Anita and Sally are in Greater Vancouver, Sally lives in Surrey while her mom lives in West Vancouver, and in the best of traffic, the drive is over an hour for Sally to visit her mom.  Anita’s cognitive decline has been rapid over the last year, and Anita will need to move to a care residence soon.

“I think the most important thing is that I am so thankful that my mom was so organized from a financial perspective and had all of the paperwork intact. I have seen what so many others have had to go through and my heart goes out to them if they don’t have the paperwork ready.

Having the Power of Attorney paperwork ready to go and simple with one main power of attorney and a backup has simplified my ability to respond accurately and efficiently.”

Lesson 4: Help your parent keep socially active
As Sally’s mom downsized from her house into an assisted living residence, Sally noticed a change in her mom’s level of socialization and realized the impact that friends and social activity have on one’s wellbeing. “I have learned that there comes a point in time when as good as family friends are, they go on with their lives. I don’t know if they realize how much help they are to the family when they visit. It’s nice for mom, but it is appreciated more by the family.
When my Mom went from independent living to assisted living it was only about 5 months when the friends stopped visiting. Once her friends stopped coming, my Mom’s health deteriorated even quicker. “

Lesson 5: Plan ahead and have a contingency plan
Jennifer wishes that she could have had certain conversations with Aunt Linda before Aunt Linda’s cognitive decline started. “I would have had a conversation with Aunt Linda about what she envisions for herself in 2 years, in 5 years and beyond. Although it is not too late to have it now, her mindset is very different now, and much more resistant. If I had started the conversation before there was a need to make a decision, she might have been more honest without feeling any pressure. And we could have had those original plans to look back on and make comparisons to the current situation. It would have added an element of accountability in the sense that the things we are planning for Aunt Linda now which she feels are “unnecessary” or “forced” are actually things that she said she wanted for herself.

What is clear from the above is that every person ages differently and experiences different challenges along the way. The common thread is that as family caregivers, we all want the best quality of life for our loved ones and in that pursuit, sometimes we have to be the initiators. We have to be the ones who start the conversation, encourage proactive changes, and try to preserve the lifestyle elements that are important to our loved ones. For example, if mom has a love of music and has spent years going to the symphony orchestra, try to find a way for her to keep going even after she stops driving. If dad is a lifelong golfer but can’t finish a full 18 holes anymore, could he finish a 9 hole course or play with a golf simulator? With advance cooperation from your loved one, planning ahead and sharing responsibilities with family and friends can all help in achieving the best quality of life possible.

Read Stephanie Chan’s other guest blog post, How to Choose a Home Care Agency.


Mindful Monday no. 39 – Self-Compassion

As caregivers, we are often capable of showing others endless compassion and love but we sometimes struggle with showing ourselves the same consideration. We can beat ourselves up over something we said. We can feel like bad things only happen to us and divulge in to much sweets. We can forget to eat lunch though we know we need a break.

We are not 100% perfect with these things and that is okay. Self-compassion is a practice.


What is self-compassion?

It is encouraging and loving self-talk.

It is recognizing how and when you need self-care.

It is nurturing yourself with healthy food, regular exercise, and restful sleep.

It is understanding that struggles and adversity are normal parts of everyone’s life.

It is knowing that tough times will pass. It is knowing that good times will pass too.

It is being in the moment, staying present, being mindful.

It is taking a moment when you need one, to breathe, gain perspective, or rest.

It is acknowledging the wide spectrum of your feelings and taking time to process them.

It is reaching out for support when you need a friend or a counselor to hear you out.

What have you done today to show yourself some self-compassion? Try to practice one element of self-compassion today, even when you feel yourself slip into old habits.





Book Review: ‘Getting to Yes with Yourself’

images‘Getting to Yes with Yourself’ by William Ury (HarperCollins, 2015)

William Ury was co-author of the well-known ‘Getting to Yes’ (also reviewed previously HERE) and co-founder of the Harvard Negotiation Project.

The basic premise of the book is that:” the better we are able to get to yes with ourselves, the better we will be able to get to yes with others”

There are 3 main strategies to be aware of:

  • the biggest obstacle to successful agreements is ourselves, our tendency to react in ways that do not serve our best interest
  • avoid reacting: learn to observe yourself inside, as if you were in a theatre observing the drama of your life unfold from the balcony
  • develop your inner BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). Make a commitment to yourself to take care of your needs independently of what the other does or does not do

Developing your inner peace is the first step to being at peace with others

If you follow the above advice, and read this fascinating and timely book, you will be well on your way to creating peace in your life and enjoy satisfying relationships at home, at work, and in the community.


Calm Pond

Mindful Monday no. 38 – Learning Resilience

How resilient are you? Resilience is the ability to endure hardships. Stressful, traumatic, and generally negative events are inevitably part of our experience, but our ability to endure these impermanent events is what we call resilience.

Lately, resilience is a popular topic in the media and the focus of many studies. The New York Times published an article recently called “How People Learn to Become Resilient” with the central idea that resilience is learned behaviour. For one, how we respond to a negative situation in our lives will relate to how quickly we bounce back.

With this in mind, here are 6 tips on how to boost your resilience in the face of adversity:

  1. Understand that the negative event you are currently facing is an isolated one, not an indication of your life or yourself, as a human being.
  2. Recognize what you can change about the situation and acknowledge when you need to let go of control. Taking charge over the things that you can control will motivate you, lead to better well-being, and results. While ruminating on the aspects that are out of your control, will only bring you down.
  3. Give yourself regular boosts through positive self-talk. Tell yourself that you have the skills to face this situation, rather than beat yourself about the things you can’t accomplish.
  4. Even if at first your response to the situation is negative, make an effort to re-frame the event in positive terms: what have you learned from this challenge and how have you grown from the experience?
  5. Make sure to take care of yourself. Get a good night’s sleep; practice your mindfulness; try some breathing exercises. According to this article, resilience is dependent on how well you restore yourself.
  6. Reach out to others when you need to talk about the situation. Getting the support you need through your circle of friends or with a professional counselor is not an indication that you aren’t fit to cope, it means that you allow yourself time to process the event so that you can return to your happy self more quickly.

Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Tell us about them in the comment section.


Foodie Friday: No Bake Energy Balls

photo-1466027575040-12134f1397fa.jpgWho wants to bake in the middle of summer? Even if it’s been raining lately on the North Shore, no one wants to be slaving over a hot stove. No bake energy balls are great summer snacks to take with you on the road, to bring to your summer picnics, or a tasty afternoon snack to boost your energy.

How to make no bake energy balls: 


  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (or substitute carob chips or raisins)
  • 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter (or substitute with your favourite nut butter)
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Optional ingredients: toasted coconut, chia seeds, medjool dates, cinnamon.


  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  2. Grab a small portion of the mixture and knead it into a small bowl.
  3. Place your energy balls into a container and store in the fridge or freezer
  4. Pop one in your both when you need a boost of energy!

Recipe adapted from

Do you have a favourite recipe that requires no baking? Tell us about it in the comment section.



What Music Means to Me

What does music mean to me.  Everything.  So what does everything mean to me?
Every emotion a human being can experience I can find it in music.

When I am driving or stuck in traffic music keeps me company.
Music is my companion, she/he speaks to me when I am lonely and lost.  When I am sad I can cry with the singer who’s expressing my feelings or dance feeling free and letting the endorphins lift my soul to feel good, I get lost and escape from my reality and into music as he/she is always there for me.  I can feel free in music as I go to a place in my mind where no one else can take me except the song(s) I am listening to.


I am healed also when I am singing to an audience
which helps me survive life as it keeps me alive.   Music soothes my soul it’s spiritual and helps me stay in contact with who I am, it defines me and when I go out to sing and play I am retaining myself, my identity.  I am a songwriter, I sing, play guitar and keyboards.  I love to perform and give my all on stage.   When I write  songs I am able to heal from the process – it’s therapeutic as I write, sing and play my emotions into music.  Music fills the emptiness in my life.   Music can be euphoric as it takes me to a place in my mind away from feeling pain – It is my comforter.  Music is God to me.  God speaks to me through music.  I remember when my only brother died in a tragic car accident – I heard a gentle voice inside of me singing a comforting tune with a message in it.  As if it were my Guardian Angel singing to me – comforting me at a very difficult time in my life. I still hear the melody and words in my heart and soul.  I know I need to write that song one day. The message was from one of God’s Angels singing to me telling me that the Lord is my Shepard in these hard times.  Some of my deepest songs are the ones that I write alone with God.

As a songwriter I write with other songwriters.  By doing that I meet some very beautiful people and through that process I make new friends with the hope that we just wrote a hit song.  LOL.  But that’s just the beginning as I need to get the music out there to be heard and most times that’s the hardest part.   I’d like to have my music everywhere:  in a coffee shop, restaurant, hair salon, spa, night clubs, TV, movies, gym, etc.   Music is important to most people as  I  always see people on any given day with headphones in their ears – escaping and helping pass the time away.   Today I can find every type of music for every emotion and situation needed.

I write songs because I cannot deny myself.  I dream music, I wake up with songs, and if I wake up in time I’ll record it so I don’t forget it.  By writing music I’m able to feel like I have a purpose in life.   Music can take me to a happy place in time – help me feel good, help me feel alive, heal the body, mind and soul.  Even when there are no words and it’s just a melody I can escape into the music that can take me away from my pain even for a few minutes, an hour, or a day.  Everyday.
You can hear my music at:

I do not feel alone even though at times I ammusic keeps me company, loves me and I am an antennae listening to the waves of the universe speak ever so gently to me even when I feel like giving up – I hear Josh Groban sing  “Don’t Give Up”. An example of a powerful message through music. Music saves me.

As a singer/songwriter I am able to carry the message that I hear from that ethereal place and pass it on to whoever is listening, hoping that I am also comforting, helping people through music.

 Joyce Grennan

7 Tips for Communicating with your Siblings

photo-1460518451285-97b6aa326961.jpgDid you read the July/August 2016 issue of The Family Caregivers’ Grapevine? In this issue we talked about the sibling relationship when caring for aging parents. The sibling relationship can be a difficult one to manage in crisis because old feelings and family roles may surface and hinder your best efforts to handle your parents’ care. Good communication is essential to ensuring that everyone in your family is on the same page.

Here are 7 tips for communicating with your siblings: 

  1. Express your feelings directly using I-statements such as “I feel overwhelmed with the responsibility.” You-statements such as “You don’t help!” can sound accusatory and incite a defensive response from your brother or sister.
  2. Avoid guilt-trips or passive aggressive behaviour when you perceive that family members could be doing more. It will only cause further harm to the situation.
  3. Evaluate whether your emotions are suited to the situation at hand, or whether they are the result of past battles or symptoms of burn-out.
  4. Be clear about how your siblings can help you as the primary caregiver. Make a list of everything that needs to be done to have on hand when you talk to your siblings.
  5. Accept the limitations of your family members in helping care for your family members. If your brother can`t leave Toronto because of his job, what can he do from afar?
  6. Keep communication open between your siblings through phone apps, emails, or phone calls. Make a schedule for communication and stick to it.
  7. Employ the help of a professional counselor before conflict gets out of hand. They can help mediate the situation so everyone feels heard and understood.

Do you have a tip to add? Please let us know in the comments.




Mindful Monday no. 37 – Aromatherapy


Want to feel more energized, relaxed, focused, calm, present, centered, alert, grounded in your mindfulness practice? Aromatherapy can enhance the effects of mindful living in many ways. 

Place a few drops of essential oil in a burner or diffuser, and let the scent permeate the room as you take a few minutes to meditate.

Add a few drops to a carrier oil like olive, almond, or grape seed oil, and place it directly on your skin for a subtle scent to bring your to a more mindful state. 

Essential oils heighten our awareness  of the present moment by directing our focus to the sense of smell. 

Here are some essential oils that will help you be more mindful: 

Lavender: relieves anxiety and helps with relaxation before bed.

Jasmine: uplifts mood and reduces negative emotions. 

Bergamot: boost mood and reduces tension by relaxing muscles and nerves. 

Sandalwood: clears the mind and improves the forgetfulness related to being overwhelmed. 

Neroli: invokes feelings of joy to combat depression. 

What essential oils do you find more effective? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. 


Staycation: Backyard Camping

photo-1414016642750-7fdd78dc33d9Do you feel like you are unable to get away for a much-needed vacation?

I was recently inspired by an article I read in a magazine while in the waiting room of my doctor’s office about the topic of micro-vacations.

You know how you feel when you return from a trip away?

You feel inspired, restored, and your mood is improved. Breaking from the routine actually encourages the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine so that we feel energized. That’s why a weekend getaway can do wonders for a person, while even a day trip can induce the same feelings that we gain from our travels on a smaller scale. Micro-vacations are escapes away from the regular routine of life, even if it is just for a short period of time.

Here’s an idea:

Try camping in your own backyard. 


  • Pitch a tent in your own backyard.
  • Make some hot chocolate.
  • Roll out the sleeping bag.
  • Watch this fireplace video on your tablet.
  • Microwave some s’mores. (Here`s a recipe!)
  • Tell some ghost stories.
  • Breathe in the fresh air.
  • Spend time gazing up at the stars.

Backyard camping is something you could do any night of the week. After a night out of doors, you`ll be one happy camper.

What sort of micro-vacations have you taken? Give us some suggestions in the comment section.