Stephanie & Dorothy – Widowed Friends Celebrities!

In preparation for our first year anniversary event, Stephanie & Dorothy sat down with Deb Tymstra host of the Cogeco TV Show @Home to discuss our community and the upcoming dinner and dance.  Here’s the full interview!



Exercising Your Resilience Muscle…Notes From Dr. Flavia Ceschin

Widowed Friends of Halton recently celebrated its first year anniversary and was privileged to have Dr. Flavia Ceschin as keynote speaker at its gala event.

flavia ceschinDr. Ceschin is a counselor who specializes in grief support and counseling as well as being the driving force behind Heartache2Hope a loss after suicide support community.

With over 8 years of counseling experience, Dr. Ceschin came to speak at our Widowed Friends anniversary event bringing a message of hope and resilience in the face of loss.

She kindly shared her presentation with us, so we’ve excerpted some key points to review and consider as we move forward on our journeys.

Dr. Flavia Ceschin
Dr. Flavia Ceschin

“Let’s take some time to think about healing from loss. What does that mean? We all know that “healing” does not mean that your heart will be exactly like new—there will always be a wound there from the loss. You will never be the same again. But healing does mean that your heart can love again, that it can feel joy again, that it can laugh again– with sincerity. That is what I mean when I talk about healing in grief.

This healing process is what psychologists call resilience. A lot of people think you’re either resilient or you’re not. But, do we either have it or don’t have it? Or, is resilience a skill we can cultivate? Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lost her husband suddenly in May 2015 and she answers this question eloquently in a recent speech:

“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”

Let’s look at what people who demonstrate resilience do and learn from that.

Point one: Resilient people start with reality, accept it, and build on it. That means they accept what has happened and where they are now—even if they don’t like it. They take inventory of their inner and outer resources and build their choices on a firm understanding of the resources available to them. They choose life and hope. I call it setting your intention to heal and to find joy in life again. This is your first task–To see yourself as a survivor, rather than a victim; to focus your attention on life and not just your grief. Healing from grief isn’t just about sitting in the pain of loss, it is also about creating a new life that makes you happy.

Point two: Resilience grows from the way we process or interpret the bad things that happen to us. Resilient people do not believe that everything that happens to them is because of them. They do not blame themselves. In the aftermath of loss, we often plague ourselves with “Should haves…Could have dones..”– Not helpful in healing. I have learned that, sometimes, bad things happen to good people. It has nothing to do with what they did or didn’t do. Accepting this and not blaming ourselves for everything helps make us stronger and open to renewal and life.

Point three: Resilient people take action. They are proactive. Remember what I said before–“time alone does not heal—it’s what you do in that time.” Grieving and restoring life, side by side.

Resilient people tend to be optimistic. I think proactive and optimistic go hand in hand. When faced with a challenge, they are more likely to say, “I can get through this.” They know that sorrow, despair and crushing grief will not last forever. They are able to sit in their grief with this knowledge that they will not be sitting there forever.

Point four: Resilient people choose to focus on the positive as well as the negative. Being resilient does not mean that you never experience hard days. But being resilient does mean that you choose to experience positive emotions along with the negative ones.

Make a deliberate choice to focus on the positive. This is hard to do because human beings are hardwired to focus more on the negative than the positive. For example, if 5 good things and 1 bad thing happen on a particular day—what do we usually ruminate about at the end of the day—the one bad thing. So how do we fight this tendency?

Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist who wrote a book called Hardwiring Happiness suggests that we can hardwire our brain for happiness by focusing on “taking in the good”. To take in the good, we need to be proactive about making positive experiences an inherent part of our memory.   Then we need to “sit” in these positive experiences.

Point five: Resilient people do not believe that something will affect all areas of their life.   In other words, they look at the big picture and don’t just focus on one thing. When parents who have lost a spouse or child come to me and ask me how they can help their children, I always say “get kids back to their routine as quickly as possible.” I believe that this is often good advice for adults too. The timing of getting back into your routine, or developing a new one, is different for each person. Each person’s grief journey is as unique as his or her thumbprint. But most often when they get a routine back or develop a new one—whether that is going to work or other activities—it has helped them. At first, people’s experience is one of “what am I doing here and why would anything matter?” but slowly, activities and work becomes a welcome distraction and a source of accomplishment and new confidence. This routine can help you see that there are areas in your life that are going well—it gives you the big picture and that there is more to your life than your loss.

Point six: Resilient people are willing to be helped by others and proactively reach out to others. Human beings do not grieve well alone. A big part of being resilient comes from the support of friends, family and community.   Resilient people not only rely on their own strength, but also the strength of others to help guide them through tough times.

If times seem really dark and you feel stuck, don’t be afraid or hesitate to seek professional help to give you that boost you need in moving forward.”

To read the full text of Dr. Ceschin’s presentation, please check out our resources section. To learn more about the counseling Dr. Ceschin provides you can contact her at

What are your thoughts on resilience? Add your comments about ways you’ve found to enhance resilience and we’ll post for the group.



With Appreciation & Thanks to our Sponsors


One of the gift tables at Anniversary Dinner
One of the gift tables at Anniversary Dinner


Our first anniversary dinner featured a huge array of silent auction items.

These items were provided by the following members and corporate sponsors and we are forever grateful for their generosity.


Corporate Sponsors

Anne D Burlington Bowl, Burlington
Barb O David Daniels Jewelers, Oakville
BettynBlue Hampton’s Restaurant, Oakville
Dominic R Hand & Stone Salon, Burlington
Dorothy T Mo’s Kitchen & Tavern, Oakville
Frank D Olive Press Restaurant, Oakville
Geraldine K Revive Hair Salon, Burlington
Henny R Tryst Hair Salon, Burlington
Judy S
Kimberley B
Linda M
Penny R
Sharon J
Shirley K
Shirley R
Stephanie E


Looking for pictures from the first anniversary celebration on May 15th?  Here they are!   Just click on thisWidowed Friends Logo link and the picture gallery will open.

What’s your favourite memory from the event?  Click on the leave a reply box and tell us your thoughts.

First Year Anniversary Congratulations

Congratulations to Stephanie and Dorothy for a great first year anniversary celebration.

With a sold out crowd, great food, an energetic singing DJ and a large array of raffle gifts, members renewed friendships, shared experiences, tried out their dance steps and had fun.

To show their appreciation for all of Stephanie and Dorothy’s hard work building and developing the Widowed Friends community, members organized a thank you presentation. Representing the community, Bob presented Steph and Dorothy with gifts as well as some lovely flowers from Sharples Garden Gallery, courtesy of member Melody Sharples.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and and remininscences about the past year and last night’s celebrations too! To add a comment, just scroll down to the comments section below.

We’ll add more pictures soon, so check back often to see more. If you’d like to review the pictures from the past year, here’s the slideshow that was running through the evening

Looking forward to a great year two!!



5 Questions & Answers with Julie D’Attoma

JulieMany of us have enjoyed a Sunday afternoon at Taste of Colombia in Bronte, learning some new dance steps with Julie as our patient, knowledgeable teacher. How did she get to be a dance teacher and what does she enjoy about it – we thought we’d ask!

Q.  What is your dance background?

A. I’ve always loved to dance, starting when I was a child. I was introduced to Ballroom and Latin dancing in the late 90’s and have just continued since then learning more and more.

Q. Why do you continue dancing?

A. I started to notice how much better I felt both physically and mentally when I was dancing and focusing on learning a dance. I really wanted to share my love of dance with others so they could experience the same enjoyment and sense of accomplishment. One of the things I like best about dancing is that you don’t even notice that you are getting a great workout – you are just focusing on movement and the rhythm of the music and the exercise just happens.

Q. What are your favourite dances and why?

A. I definitely enjoy the Latin dances the most out of all the dances, because of the rhythm in the music. I feel the flow of the music. I am also enjoying Tango and appreciating the complexity of Argentine Tango. Music is the spice of life for me so I can’t say I like one type more than another. I like to mix it up constantly.

Q. What are your best tips for Widowed Friends participants who want to be prepared for a Sunday afternoon class.

A. My best advice is to be comfortable. Good comfortable shoes that have a bit of flexibility and are not too slippery are the most important thing. Be sure to wear comfortable casual clothing; something you feel good moving in. It’s best to wear light clothes as you can get quite warm after an hour or two of dancing. Come and just have fun, no pressure or expectations.

Q. What would you suggest people do who want to continue learning Latin and Ballroom dance?

A. If someone wants to continue to learn Ballroom and Latin, I suggest some private lessons with myself to get comfortable with more techniques and steps. A level 2 Class in Ballroom and Latin would also be beneficial and could be organized anytime by letting me know you are interested. I can also help organize some social outings to various dance venues for social, fun, and practice! Be sure to sign up for Widowed Friends First Anniversary Gala on May 15th so you can practice with your friends and try out some of the steps we’ve learned over the past few months.

For more information about Ballroom and Latin Dance, please contact Julie.

Look Who’s On TV!

Yes, Stephanie and Dorothy are moving to the big screen (well tv anyways).

They were recently interviewed by Cogeco’s Community TV Channel 23 (channel 700 for some) on the @Home show discussing our group and the upcoming anniversary dinner and dance.

Hosted by Deb Tymstra, the interview gave Steph and Dorothy the opportunity to share how the organization started and has grown, the variety and frequency of events and some of the exciting plans for the future.

The show will air May 2,3, 4 at 1:00 pm, 1:30pm and 5:30 pm. The show will also air May 7th at 9:00 am. It will eventually also be on the Cogeco OnDemand channel available to subscribers. We’ll let you know more when we get closer to the “air” date.

Stephanie and Dorothy will be signing autographs at the next event.