authenticity 101

blended family

When The Vision Becomes Reality Part 2

The Proposal

So what prompted me to suddenly want to share personal vision stories on my blog? The marriage proposal from my partner Phil last month re-confirmed that visioning is real, that it works and that we all have the capacity to shape our own realities. In making my story public, maybe you will be inspired to discover your values and create your own vision for an amazing life.

After Chris and I spent time restoring our relationship but unfortunately not our marriage, I decided that I wanted a romantic partner. I wanted someone to love me for who I am, to understand me and support me and challenge me. Someone to share my life with. I decided to create a list of who that man would be. I wrote out what I wanted by specifying which values we would share, what character traits and personality he would possess and what our relationship would look like.

When I met Phil and his boys while camping with friends, there was an instant connection. But there were lots of complicated reasons for us to stay just friends. Well, I thought there were complications so we did just that. Become friends. We wrote to each other on email, had coffee once in a while and met at mutual friends’ houses for special occasions. Six months later I had to admit to myself that my heart knew better than my head and that this was the man I wanted to be with. Once I had committed to being with Phil, I remembered my list which was buried under some journals in a desk. I was astounded to see that he met every single one of the criteria I had set out, before even knowing him. I had even specified I would like my future partner to be a teacher, handy around the house, at least 6’1 in height and have the ability to be authentic and communicative. It was spooky to have manifested the vision of my perfect partner.

Now one of the complications of being with Phil was the fact that we were blending 6 kids together. Where to live? How to make that transition smooth? How to create space for all 4 parents to feel safe in the new family configuration? Visioning. Phil and I intentionally and deliberately discussed our vision of how our new family would be brought together gradually, how we would renovate my home to meet our new needs and how we would create the emotional space to let the kids adjust in their own individual ways. It was challenging and delightful and busy and emotionally demanding but always moving in the right direction. Because we had a vision and we knew that we wanted health and happiness for all parties involved. And when you know what your are aiming for, it is much easier to stay on the path towards that goal. Even when the path gets rocky.

So to get back to the reason for this post, take a close look at the photo with this blog. When Phil proposed last week, it included a surprise poster-sized collage of photos and words that depict our life together. It is basically a representation of our vision becoming reality. The poster has hundreds of photos depicting Phil and me, our children, our camping and cottaging trips, our renovation and our friends. It’s a reflection of Phil’s love for me and for us as a couple and for our wonderful blended family. And that gift reminds me once again that knowing what we value and following our heart creates magic and the opportunity for our visions to become reality.

I hope you take the time to create your vision. It’s an incredible feeling to have it come true.

The Power of Being Intentional


Zip Line Family



Having a vision and being intentional about staying true to the vision can be incredibly rewarding in ways that we don’t always anticipate.

When Phil and I decided to blend our two families (my three girls and his three boys) into the Bertmount Bunch, we very deliberately discussed how to best serve the needs of our kids. As we settled into the first year of living together we realized how very rarely we spent actual time as a full family of eight. There’s always a dance class here, a sleepover there, age and gender differences and various other commitments that pull us all in different directions. We thought that a family trip was in order to get to know each other as a blended family with no outside distractions.

During one of our family meetings we asked the kids what their preference was: a family trip or a big, fancy wedding. Ha! Guess what they picked. (The wedding ended up casual and in the backyard) I had recently heard about
homeexchange.com and thought it would be the best way to travel with our large group and minimize the cost of accommodations. So we discussed the pros and cons of various destinations and picked Costa Rica. We found an exchange partner on the website and started the process of relationship building with a lovely couple who would trade houses with us for 3 weeks in July.

Our vision was to spend time together as a family in a new environment, creating memories and getting to know each other. We did that and more. We learned all sorts of things about each other, saw gorgeous flora and fauna and experienced a new culture and language. We had a great time and have fantastic memories. Was it perfect? Of course not. Even with a pool and pets, boredom set in after a few weeks of being away from their friends. Regardless of how beautiful the scenery is or how many sloths you see, at 15 and 16 you want to be with your peers. It was lovely though to see that by the end of our trip, the kids were behaving like real brothers and sisters. Annoying each other, but also supporting each other in subtle ways.

Every day that we spend in Costa Rica, Phil and I did our best to remind each other of why we were there. I worked hard to relax (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous) and just let the experience be what we intended it to be. A family getting to know each other better. I think we accomplished that. And we did it in a really awesome environment while zip-lining and playing with monkeys.

Whether you have a vision for your whole life, or simply for one event, stay the course and be intentional about it. It’s worth it.

The Power of Being Intentional


Zip Line Family



Having a vision and being intentional about staying true to the vision can be incredibly rewarding in ways that we don’t always anticipate.

When Phil and I decided to blend our two families (my three girls and his three boys) into the Bertmount Bunch, we very deliberately discussed how to best serve the needs of our kids. As we settled into the first year of living together we realized how very rarely we spent actual time as a full family of eight. There’s always a dance class here, a sleepover there, age and gender differences and various other commitments that pull us all in different directions. We thought that a family trip was in order to get to know each other as a blended family with no outside distractions.

During one of our family meetings we asked the kids what their preference was: a family trip or a big, fancy wedding. Ha! Guess what they picked. (The wedding ended up casual and in the backyard) I had recently heard about
homeexchange.com and thought it would be the best way to travel with our large group and minimize the cost of accommodations. So we discussed the pros and cons of various destinations and picked Costa Rica. We found an exchange partner on the website and started the process of relationship building with a lovely couple who would trade houses with us for 3 weeks in July.

Our vision was to spend time together as a family in a new environment, creating memories and getting to know each other. We did that and more. We learned all sorts of things about each other, saw gorgeous flora and fauna and experienced a new culture and language. We had a great time and have fantastic memories. Was it perfect? Of course not. Even with a pool and pets, boredom set in after a few weeks of being away from their friends. Regardless of how beautiful the scenery is or how many sloths you see, at 15 and 16 you want to be with your peers. It was lovely though to see that by the end of our trip, the kids were behaving like real brothers and sisters. Annoying each other, but also supporting each other in subtle ways.

Every day that we spend in Costa Rica, Phil and I did our best to remind each other of why we were there. I worked hard to relax (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous) and just let the experience be what we intended it to be. A family getting to know each other better. I think we accomplished that. And we did it in a really awesome environment while zip-lining and playing with monkeys.

Whether you have a vision for your whole life, or simply for one event, stay the course and be intentional about it. It’s worth it.

Did You Say Camping Wedding?


Camping Wedding

If there is any event in your life where having a vision is really quite important, it’s a wedding. No matter how big or small, casual or formal your ceremony and reception are, the day you get married should be full of good moments and feelings of happiness and love. The part we often forget though is that the months (or weeks in our case) leading up to it should also be fun and that we can’t get lost in the details.

Visioning has become such a big part of our life that when Phil and I talk about planning things, we start with the end in mind. What was the overall feeling we wanted at our wedding? That our guests feel comfortable and at ease in a casual natural environment that allowed for organic conversations and a moments of connection. Hmmm. That sounds a lot like sitting around a campfire. Which is exactly how we met each other. So we decided to turn our backyard into a camping retreat in the city. In the space of 5 weeks, we created a space which included a true campsite area with picnic tables and a fire pit on cedar mulch under a canopy of mature maples. We had a “glamping” lounge with rugs, sectional furniture and a chandelier for the non-camping crowd and our own backyard with a deck and a willow tree for the ceremony. Oh, and a 50’ by 30’ white tarp over our entire back yard, 30 feet in the air above the willow. The people who saw the “before” and “after” shots were incredulous that we pulled it off. They never could have imagined it.

The part that is hardest to explain about visioning is that
you don’t have to know how you will accomplish it. You just have to envision it and then take the steps to make it happen. The universe will support your vision as long as you have faith, apply your time and energy to the details of supporting your vision and do the work. Each step in the direction of your vision will bring it to reality.

When we first thought of using the back yard, we had to pause as our yard is tiny. It meant really scaling back our guest list which we were loathe to do. As we continued working through the details of how to make our vision a reality and accommodate our guest list of 140, we approached our neighbours with the idea of knocking down the fence between our yards in order to add extra space for our event. Since we were offering to re-landscape their space and pay to re-build the fences, they agreed. So our vision of a camping wedding in the city was suddenly completely possible as we had 3 distinct yards to create outdoor “rooms”. From that point on, hard work, lots of helping hands and a open mind to accept ideas from friends all came together to create our ideal wedding. The best part? Phil and I rarely disagreed. We tore down fences, built a deck, bought dishes and lanterns, put up a tarp, created an invitation, wrote our vows ... you name it, we did it. Together and with a lot of laughter and ease. How is it possible that planning the wedding was so much fun? I truly believe it’s because we were doing exactly what we wanted to do and we had a common vision that we kept in sight. We were doing this wedding for us, and it reflected our values and the things we cherish: our children, our families and friends, our home and our love of community and entertaining. And camping!

It really was magical. Everything fell into place, including the weather, and we have incredibly beautiful memories of our wedding. An event that reflected our values and even included my ex-husband. The fact that he was present and supportive of my new life was priceless and part of my vision for a healthy and loving future for my girls and new blended family.

So once again, I have proof positive that the “how do I get there?” is not important. It’s the “what do I truly want?” that’s crucial. A clear vision from a heart-felt place is all you need. The how to make it real will show up and you just have to be ready to do the work.