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I just spent a week in Montreal with my family. I know, that’s a loaded statement. There is a lot of baggage that we each bring to the experience we call “family”.  Still the time there was precious. Just sitting in the same room beside my mother, father and sister, as well as with my aunt, uncle, and cousins is an incredible feat. I live so far away from them, in another landscape, with different friends and appointments, responsibilities, activities.

Sitting there in my sister’s dining room, surrounded by extended family and friends that had all gathered to celebrate my nephew’s Bar-Mitzvah, I felt a lot of joy just in listening to my mother speak, hearing my father’s laugh, and watching my sister navigate the social dynamics of her community.

Truth is, we don’t always get along; there are judgements we have of the way each other live. Sometimes it gets very sticky trying to keep my heart open inside the messiness of our relationships. Still these are the people I have grown up calling “mom,” “dad,” “sis”. They are the people who stick by me, even when they disagree or misunderstand my actions or way of life. They have sent me cards for my birthdays and called out my name in the auditorium as I walked across the stage to receive another degree. They have been telling, and showing me they “love me” for all of my life. Most of all, they are very beautifully human. They make mistakes and behave in ways that are sometimes upsetting and confusing, to me and to each other. And they are still my family. And I still love them.

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Just like I still love Montreal, although I haven’t lived there for over 18 years. My partner and I  had a wonderful time traipsing through the snowy streets of the Plateau and Mile End, my favourite Montreal neighbourhoods. Both my parents grew up here, within a few blocks of the B&B where my partner and I stayed. Although for them moving to the suburbs was a step up the social ladder, I feel most at home walking along these narrow streets with the colourful two and three story walk-ups, muralled brick walls, delicious ethnic restaurants and mouth watering patisseries.

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Now that I’m back on the island, where it’s so much warmer and greener, it’s hard to believe that I was just there.

But it’s the month of February, the most wonderful month of the year because not only is it the month of love, it’s also my birthday month. Tune in to my radio show this month, there are lots of goodies in store, including guest host Jaime Murdoch sharing her poems, music and stories about her practice of Loving Inquiry.

Also check out the information about my upcoming Time Out to Tune in: A Weekend Retreat for Educators. I look forward to seeing you and your colleagues there.

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Remember to treat yourself to some down time this month, whether it’s a few minutes of deep breathing, a half hour in the bath or a slow meal with someone you care about. We all need time to tune out of the busyness, and tune in to our hearts and bodies, so we can give ourselves some well-deserved attention and inner focus. Pull out that journal that you’ve been saving for a special occasion, or that trip next year. Now’s the best adventure of your life. This moment is it. Tell yourself how much you honour and appreciate the work you do. Put those hands to the page. You’ll be rewarded with your own self-awareness. What better Valentine’s gift is there!!