Burger Night at Symposium Cafe!

A great turnout this week at Symposium Cafe  for burger night! Symposium is one of Widowed Friends sponsors, so we are thrilled that so many came out to enjoy each other’s company at this great, friendly spot!  It was $5 burger night – a great deal for everyone. Check out the pics from the evening!

Saturday Night At Dominic’s Ristorante

It was a great pasta event on Saturday as a big crowd turned out at Dominic’s house for dinner.  Lots of salad, pasta and wine were served and everyone enjoyed getting together over the long weekend.  Many thanks to Dominic for hosting and cooking.  Check out the pics here:

It’s Not Too Late To Build Resilience……

No matter how old you are or what your life circumstances might be, we can all still build resilience as we face life’s ups and downs.

Resilience is a speciality of management and psychology professor Dr. Adam Grant who co-wrote Option B with Sheryl Sandberg. He was recently  interviewed in the New York Times regarding resilience building in mid-life. The good news is he thinks that it’s never too late to develop those skills that will help see you through life’s peaks and valleys.

You can read the article in more detail but his main points include:

  • Practice optimism – consider being a glass half full kind of person instead of a glass half empty and surround yourselves with similar optimistic people ( like Widowed Friends!) and you’ll feel more optimistic.
  • Rewrite Your Own Story – focus on the opportunities you have in life and not on the things that have happened and that you can’t change. It takes a bit of time to reframe your thoughts, but with practice you can learn to find that silver lining in the dark cloud
  • Don’t personalize setbacks – everyone has moments of misfortune or reversals – remember to focus on what you can do going forward in a positive way
  • Remember your own “comebacks” – we all have a tendency to focus on what we haven’t done well, but it helps to take some time to think about what we also have succeeded at in our lives.
  • Support others – this is the core principle of Widowed Friends! We get together to support each other and to provide strength and caring to help us all move forward positively with our lives.
  • Take a stress break – ensure that you are doing the things you enjoy, so your mind and body get a chance to recuperate from life’s stresses
  • Get out of your comfort zone – for many of us that might be attending a first Widowed Friends event, or going on a vacation or trying something new.  Each time you try something new, you build confidence in your abilities which helps build resilience.

Do you think you’ve re-built resilience following loss?  What tips can you share for people who are looking for ways to become stronger and happier? Share your tips in the comments section and we’ll post them.

Social Sunday in the News!

Over 40 people came out to this month’s Sunday Social at Hampton’s Restaurant  to enjoy each other’s company and catch up on the latest news.

We were joined this time by Mary from the publication SNAP Oakville who was there to learn a little more about Widowed Friends so she could share what our community is all about with her readers – she took lots of pictures and talked with many of the attendees.  You can take a look at her pictures from the event here. 

Congratulations to Penny and Brian – our raffle winners.  Check out photos from the event below – let us know your comments in the box below too!

 

Summer Reading & Watching

As you sit on your deck or balcony or in some lovely shaded backyard, it’s nice to have some good reading material to pass the time.

We have found a few articles we thought might be of interest to you, that aren’t exactly relaxing, but might be informative.

We often get asked about scams and viruses when we use our electronic devices.  There seems to be an endless variety of approaches the bad guys try to gain access to personal info.  This article from Forbes is focused on helping adult children prepare their aging parents against some of the scams out there and of course this is an American take on the issue, but we face similar issues in Canada and there are some good tips here that we can all put into practice.

Another good read is the website Second Firsts by Christina Rasmussen.  Her latest blog post is entitled I Used to Compare My Old Life With My New One  – maybe a topic that will resonate with you.

And as long as we’re talking about grief and loss, Option B’s website has a good article by Rachel Roth about the profound wisdom and harsh realities of loss.

On a lighter note….here’s psychologist Shawn Achor discussing how to find happiness (he talks fast!).  What are you reading this summer – let us know in the comments section.

 

Oh Canada (Day)!

Huge thanks to Donna for hosting another big event at her house!  Over 50 WFH members came out for a Canada Day celebration bbq and social.

Despite some discouraging rain in the afternoon, the sun finally returned and the party moved outside to Donna’s deck and patio to enjoy the green trees and lovely surroundings in the backyard.

A rousing rendition of Oh Canada was sung by the crowd….in the rain!! We are a hardy bunch!

Thanks as well to all the many helpers who brought enough food to feed several armies and to all the organizers, dishwashers, and clean up crew including Dorothy, Stephanie, Glenda, Henny, Penny, Lesley and of course the amazing Donna, who hosted, cooked and organized simultaneously.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

Walking for Carpenter Hospice

Widowed Friends recently participated in Carpenter Hospice’s  9th annual Hike for the Hospice.

Carpenter Hospice offers both residential-based care to people in the last stages of their lives, and community-based programs for people dealing with grief or a life-limiting illness. It lets residents spend their final days together with loved ones in an environment that is peaceful, comfortable and meaningful.

Billy and Grace S missing from this pic!

Walking just 4.7 kilometres through neighbourhoods around the hospice,  the Widowed Friends team raised over $1000 for the organization.  The weather co-operated nicely and the crowd of over 400 made their way around the course easily, stopping  mid-way to add the name of a loved one to the remembrance wall.  Arriving back at Mountainside Recreation Centre, everyone was treated to lunch provided by a great team of volunteers.

Thanks to all the participants for coming out on a Saturday morning to support a great cause.

Chet & John through the finish line!
Memory Wall

Grief Expert Nancy Berns Explains How To Carry Joy & Grief Together

With thanks to the Option B website, here’s a video the site shared that we thought might be of interest to you.  It’s just over 17 minutes long.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Do you agree with  Nancy Berns’s thoughts on closure?

 

Feasting With Friends!

Many thanks to Vishan for opening his house on a rainy Sunday for a potluck feast. With so many members attending and everyone bringing a contribution, there was enough food to feed a couple of small armies!  A great team of volunteers ensured all the food kept warm, then helped serve and organize the numerous dishes and then followed up by cleaning all the dishes, so everyone was able to take home clean casseroles and serving dishes. It was a great warm and welcoming way to spend the afternoon!

Check out the pictures – just click on any picture to open the slideshow!

 

 

 

Woof, Woof

As  you’ve probably heard, the next Halton Dance Party is scheduled for March 4th and is in support of the Lions Foundation Dog Guides program. The Lions Foundation of Canada’s mission is to assist Canadians with medical or physical disabilities by providing them with Dog Guides at no cost. To do this, the Foundation operates Dog Guides Canada, a national training school and charity that assists individuals with disabilities through specialized Dog Guide programs.

This dance will have TWO special appearances – the first from Peter & the Elegants, a live 50’s and 60’s band AND a visit from some canine friends from the Dog Guides program.

If you’d like to attend, please contact Dorothy or Stephanie and let them know. Here’s an interesting video about the amazing dog guides program and the many ways canine buddies help out their human friends.

Sunday Social on a Snowy February Day!

Despite the big snowfall, a great crowd turned out for Widowed Friends monthly social event. Whether digging out from a few centimetres of the white stuff or just driving through the slush, everyone came and enjoyed a great meal at Hampton’s and a meet up with friends and new acquaintances!!  Congratulations to Anna for winning the raffle prize!!

Check out the pictures below – just click on any picture to open the slideshow.

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Hearts & Hard Hats Gala in Support of Carpenter Hospice

The not ready for construction crew - missing from the pic -Sandy
The not ready for construction crew – missing from the pic -Sandy

A small group attended Carpenter Hospice‘s recent annual gala at the Burlington Conference Centre.

Carpenter Hospice offers residential-based care to people in the last stages of their lives, as well as community-based programs for people dealing with grief or a life-limiting illness. It lets residents spend their final days together with loved ones in a  peaceful, comfortable and meaningful environment. It is staffed by a dedicated team of professionals and volunteers providing compassionate palliative care to meet residents’ every need, ensuring that each moment matters.

With the need for hospice care always growing, Carpenter recently launched an expansion program to renovate the existing facility and add new patient care rooms. Raising funds for the expansion was the goal of the gala and between raffles, silent and live auctions and donations, the building fund was off to a great start.

Henry and her donated sculpture

Widowed Friends member and artist Henny R contributed one of her sculptures to the huge silent auction and it was acquired by a keen collector who bid well above the suggested value.

The evening included cocktails, dinner and a live band as well as an opportunity to meet some of the staff and volunteers at Carpenter.  Many thanks to the team at Carpenter for hosting a great event – we’ll look forward to attending next year!

Check out some of the event pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Way to “Give Back”

Many of us are alumni of bereavement support groups, through Acclaim Health or other groups, and have benefitted from the warmth and support of caring individuals who work to ease the burden and sadness of loss.

AcclaimRGB_Horizontal_72DPINow Acclaim Health is offering an opportunity for individuals in the community, and especially those who have been touched by loss, to “give back” by becoming a volunteer in its Bereavement Peer Support Program.

Training over 8 weeks is provided and a commitment of at least 1-2 hours a week is required for a year, but the benefits of the program can last a lifetime. Key skills learned are compassionate listening, learning to withhold judgment, and helping others move forward in a positive way.

Here’s more information – be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible to join the April training.

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Sunday at Liz’s

Many thanks to Liz for hosting another great pot luck event on Sunday January 29th.  Great food, fun and friends.  Check out the pictures from the event below.  Just click on any picture to open the slide show.

 

January Cheer-Ups With Widowed Friends of Halton

Despite the gloomy January weather we’ve been enjoying lots of fun social get togethers!  On Sunday, January 22nd, a large  group attended our monthly social event at Hamptons Restaurant at the Quality Inn in Oakville. Check out the pics from the event, just click on any picture to open the slide show. Keep scrolling down to see more pictures from the pizza and wine evening held Friday January 27th at Stephanie’s house.  Be sure to join in the fun by signing up on meet up for upcoming events.

Sunday Social at Hamptons

 

Pizza & Wine Evening at Stephanie’s

Great Volunteering Opportunity for Widowed Friends of Halton

Did you know that 40,000 client visits are supported by food banks and community outreach depots in Halton every month? That’s a huge number of individuals and families to feed with limited resources, staffing and funding, but is the challenge met monthly by Food For Life.

food4lifeFood for Life is a local food based charity that sources and distributes fresh and nutritious food to those in need and is the largest food redistribution network in Halton. It provides food for more than 200,000 meals per month – the equivalent to 2.5 million meals annually. As a charity that serves other charities, it supports more than 80 food banks and community food programs.

We learned about Food For Life through Dorothy and Stephanie’s other project – Halton Dance Party.  Along with providing great music and a fun evening of dancing, Halton Dance Party sponsors a different Halton charity at each event. Over the past few months, funds have been raised for Carpenter Hospice, the Oakville Firefighters Toy Drive, and last month for Food For Life.  

Dorothy & Steph present cheque to Brenda Hadju
Dorothy & Steph present cheque to Brenda Hadju

On behalf of all the attendees at the January dance, Steph and Dorothy were pleased to provide a donation of $820 to Brenda Hadju, Executive Director of Food For Life.  This donation will provide the equivalent of 2460 meals – an amazing, rewarding outcome from one Saturday evening dance.

While visiting with Brenda, we went on a tour of the small warehouse that is the hub for receiving and distributing food throughout the Halton community.  It is a hive of activity filled to the brim with boxes of fresh produce, meat and dairy and trucks driving up to the door to pick up food for distribution.  Food for Life is unique as it focuses on redistributing fresh, nutritious food as opposed to canned and packaged foods that food banks tr20170116_124030aditionally provide.  As a result, families and individuals who might not be able to afford fresh vegetables, fruit and meat in a store have access to healthy foods to feed their families.  


Volunteering
 

20170116_124133Food For Life has a large volunteer base helping to collect and distribute food daily.  A key role in the process is helping sort donated food boxes at the warehouse to prepare them for the distribution teams.  

This is a great opportunity for a Widowed Friends team! Just 3 hours of a volunteer’s time once a month can help out hundreds of local families in our community.  If you’d like to be part of a WFH team, watch for more details on Meetup, then join the team!  We are hoping to confirm our first volunteering session in March to continue monthly.  No special skills are required and no heavy lifting is needed. 

To find out more about Food For Life, check out its website or read the report about the organization from Charity Intelligence, a charity rating agency that named Food For Life one of the Top Ten Charities in 2016, based on impact per dollar donated.

Reading For A Cold January Evening

On these cold, dark January evenings it’s nice to have a little reading to distract from the chilly weather. We’ve been following a few different blogs and websites and thought you might be interested in some articles we’ve enjoyed. If you have suggestions or recommendations for reading that you think fellow members might enjoy, please add them to the comments section.

First up is one from one of our favourite authors, Carol Brody Fleet who often writes for the Huffington Post and has her own blog called Widows Wear Stilettos.  This article entitled Your Top Ten Widowed Resolutions for the New Year is a good one to review in January.

Next we have one for the anxious. Most people suffer some anxiety at one point or another in their lives and often following life-changing events.  This article deals with anxiety from the perspective of bomb disposal experts. It provides great advice on avoiding the rabbit hole of stress!  How to be calm under pressure: 3 secrets from a bomb disposal expert!

Third, another from a favourite author, Michelle Steinke from One Fit Widow.  Here in the Huffington Post she urges us to Consume Life – a lesson that we have all learned.

Finally, if you’d like to keep your brain in good shape, here’s 3 easy ways to whip your brain into shape! 

Let us know if you like these articles or can suggest others that our members might enjoy!

Christmas Appetizer and Dessert Party at Donna’s

Many thanks (again!) to Donna for opening her house up for another great party.  Everyone brought either appetizers or desserts,  so there was a wide variety of goodies to sample and fill up on.

The weather was uncooperative, deciding to show up with our first major snowfall of the season, but everyone seemed to manage through the snow and enjoyed the festivities.

Donna is a great hostess, so despite a big crowd she made sure everyone felt welcome and included. Thanks again Donna!

(Click on any picture to open the slideshow)

 

 

5 More Questions with Melody Sharples!

Last summer, we chatted with Melody Sharples of Sharples Garden Gallery about life as the owner of a big garden centre.  We thought it would be interesting to check back and see how the Christmas and winter seasons are shaping up for her and her family business.

Q. Now that the summer and fall gardening season is over, have things quieted down at the garden centre?

A.. There is always lots of activity in the Garden Centre at this time of the year! We are selling trees and shrubs at 60% off. As long as you can get a shovel in the ground, you can plant.

Right now, we are geared up during the Christmas season. We sell outdoor pre-decorated urn inserts along with fresh greens, boughs and garland for all your outdoor decorating needs. Our beautiful fresh Christmas trees have just arrived. Come grab a hot cider or hot chocolate to warm your soul and your hands. Our staff can help you pick the perfect tree!

Q. Do you have any tips or final thoughts about ensuring we’ve prepared our gardens for the winter ahead?

A. Putting your garden beds to sleep ensures a good healthy garden in the spring free of bugs and disease. First, you must plant all your fall bulbs before the ground is frozen. This will reward you in the early spring with the first signs of crocus peeking through the snow! You must prune or cut back all perennials and shrubs that require being done before winter sets in. Certain plants, trees and shrubs can wait until spring for pruning. Meanwhile, you should clean up any old foliage and debris from the gardens to prevent any disease in the spring. Make sure to water all trees and shrubs for one last watering to ensure they don’t get dehydrated during the winter months. Cover any shrubs that are tender or in a windy spot with burlap. Wrap the trunks of trees with spiral warp to avoid rabbits from nibbling through the winter. Don’t forget to mulch your rose bushes.

Q. What holiday activities are happening at the store? 

img_2371A. This time of year our retail store is transformed into a Christmas wonderland of 12 beautiful, custom designed trees. Customers now make it a tradition to see our trees as there is nothing quite like it around. We have seminars on all your decorating needs during the weekends. You can even learn to make a bow! Our staff will help you pick that perfect gift for that special someone and can also help you pick the perfect poinsettia from pink, red, jingle bells, img_2175burgundy, white, tri-colours and many more colours! We sell all the Christmas traditional flowers even Rosemary if you are into cooking up some lamb! Yummy!
Q. Will you finally get some rest in January and February? Do you start ordering and planning for the spring season in the winter?

A. Come January, I am back at buying for Christmas 2017. Most of the product is purchased in this month as Christmas is so fresh in our minds that we remember all the hot Christmas items including decorating decor and gift ideas. I have already bought for Spring 2017 back in the summer of 2016. I top off with another buying trip for the garden centre for last minute hard goods and garden decor.

In January customers in general start to get cabin fever from the cold winter and they grab a coffee and walk through our sunny tropical greenhouses for just a breath of spring air. We are open 7 days a week year round. Then we are into Valentines which is also purchased in 2016. Just some final touches and add ons and we are ready for the big day. Never a dull moment in this business!

Q.How do you celebrate the holiday season?

d9827506-d0ee-46aa-8ac7-442554d759c7A. For the month of December, it’s all about working and celebrating with friends and family. I  wish everyone good health and happiness always! I enjoy meeting  with customers new and old and attending the social clubs and groups that I belong to and now my many new friends from Widowed Friends of Halton. I am rarely bored! I love New Year’s, to me it’s always meant a new beginning, a fresh start, a time to set goals or keep up with old ones. It also reminds me that Spring is just 10 weeks away!! Yippee! Plus I have been known to enjoy Champagne for some of that good old holiday cheer!!!
img_1268Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy healthy prosperous New Year from Melody Sharples