Chef Boy-our-Sam

pancake breakfast lori welbourne jim hunt

My 13-year-old son came home from school a couple of weeks ago and asked to do something he’s never asked to do before: make dinner.

“I want to make pancakes for you and Daisy,” he said. “From scratch.”

Wow. Even I have never made pancakes from scratch before.

“Why would you want to do that?” I asked, perplexed.

“It’s for school,” he said. “We have to do it for home ec. class, and then our parents have to mark us.” Ah, okay. Now that made sense.

Looking at the recipe provided I could see that it wasn’t just for pancakes but for syrup as well. Homemade syrup? Goodness. Obviously a trip to the grocery store would be necessary before the adventures could begin. I mean, really. Who has white corn syrup, cream of tartar and maple flavouring in their pantry? Well, maybe lots of people do. But not us.

After getting home from the store and putting out all the ingredients on the counter my son started to cook. And I, of course, started taking pictures.

“No, Mom,” he objected. “I don’t have a shirt on.”

“You never do,” I responded, since he never does when he’s at home. “Why don’t you wear this apron?”

He looked at it like I was a crazy person. “Why would I wear an apron?” he said. “Aren’t those for protecting clothes?”

He let me take a few pictures after I assured him I wouldn’t post them on the internet or sell them to the tabloids, and then I happily became his sous chef for the next messy hour.

His recipe called for a lot more ingredients than the Aunt Jemima pancake mix I’d normally use, so it took longer than either one of us expected, but we had fun. A lot of fun.

Since Dad was out, it was my job to taste the results. Not being a fan of this starchy breakfast meal since I was very young, I didn’t think I was the best to judge his creation. I took one bite of his blueberry, whole wheat pancakes with butter and homemade syrup and gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. They were a little thick and I could taste the baking powder, but I could tell they were edible. I didn’t imagine Sam and Daisy would eat much more than I did. I was wrong. The entire stack of them were devoured in record time.

“Those were the best!” Sam said, proud to make such a delicious dinner for us. “I should do that for breakfast with chocolate chips instead of berries.”

Since our house usually becomes sleepover central on the weekends, and pancakes are a favourite with the kids, I thought that would be a much better plan than the decadent breakfast feast my husband made for everyone recently.

After getting a craving and going out early to buy the ingredients, Paul came home on a Saturday morning to surprise us with something more exciting than the typical scrambled eggs, French toast or pancakes the gang usually eats. He decided to make us eggs Benedict and asparagus.

Paul’s an excellent cook with a natural flair for creating tasty dishes and presenting them in a beautiful way like a nice restaurant would. His talents were lost on the children.

“It’s kind of disgusting,” Daisy said poking at the Hollandaise sauce and stabbing an asparagus spear with her fork. “No offence.”

The other kids weren’t quite that honest, and gave it a try with the tiniest bites imaginable, yet none of them could go the distance, and Aunt Jemima was called in to save the day. At least Sam will be able to do the saving now. I’d better get some chocolate chips.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Goodbye Winter, hello Spring

goodbye winter, hello spring lori welbourne jim hunt

I love the four seasons, and the one I look forward to the most is spring. With all its wonderful qualities, my anticipation of it intensifies since it directly follows winter. Yes, the snow is beautiful, but being cold isn’t my thing.

Thursday, March 20 is the first official day, and I’m looking forward to the fresh start. My husband laughs when I say stuff like that, because I’m constantly seeing fresh starts.

“The first of the new year, new month, new week, new moon,” he said. “Everything’s a fresh start with you.”

Not everything. But I’ll admit to resetting my start button quite frequently, and the first day of my favourite season provides an excellent reason to push it again.

Everything becomes so alive at this time of year. The sun shines longer, the flowers begin to bloom, the birds start to chirp and people seem to smile more than ever.

“They’re happy because they’re not too hot and they’re not too cold,” my ten-year-old daughter explained. “It’s the perfect amount of degrees in the spring.”

Well, it’s definitely the ideal temperature in my opinion, and the warmer weather inspires me to get outside. Even something as simple as a walk by the lake can be a glorious time to breathe in the fresh air and recharge my energy level.

“Are you setting any new season’s resolutions?” my friend asked me during a recent hike. New season’s resolutions? I’ve never heard of such a thing. But, sure. Why not? I’m always up for a little self review, and an organized date to clarify my goals is right up my alley. Especially after the challenging winter I just had.

Benefitting from the outdoors will be one of my intentions. Being an obsessive workaholic, I haven’t always been very good at living in the moment. Connecting with nature can help with that. Doing things I enjoy and spending time with people I love can help with that as well.

One of those people I love is my dad, yet spending time with him is difficult since we live a four hour drive from one another. Becoming more like him will continue to be one of my other goals, though. A natural optimist, his warm, colourful personality and sunny disposition actually reminds me of spring.

He would probably laugh at that comparison and make a joke about being no spring chicken, but he’s almost 67 and still acts like a big happy kid who’s just thrilled to be alive every day.

He’s a firm believer that happiness doesn’t come from having the best of everything, but making the best of everything we have, and for that reason, and others, he’s always been a fantastic role model. The older I become, the more I recognize that.

I can’t say I’m naturally like he is, but he’s one of the reasons I’ve been writing this column and discovering different ways to be more positive over the last five years.

Life can get messy, dark and painful at times, there’s just no escaping that. But as the old proverb says:  “No matter how long the winter - spring is sure to follow.”

And, now, here it comes, bringing all the joys of the season with it.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

A more accepting generation

bee mine lori welbourne jim hunt

I picked my 13-year-old son up from middle school on Valentine’s Day, and among the young teens walking home, I noticed two girls were smiling and holding hands.

“They’re gay,” Sam said when I asked about them. “They’re dating.”

“Do kids pick on them?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “Why would they?”

Wow. Things have really changed since I was in the eighth grade.

I explained that back in the old days, when I was in school, if kids were gay they’d do everything they could to hide it, for fear of being ostracized by their peers or possibly shunned by their families.

“That’s stupid,” he said. “They can’t help who they’re attracted to.”

I wasn’t surprised he felt that way since that’s the type of thing I would say, but to witness the other kids not seeming to care about the two girls comfortable and brave enough to be themselves had me feeling elated.

What if it had been two homosexual boys walking hand in hand, though?

“I’ve never seen that,” Sam said later when I asked.

“They probably wouldn’t because they’d get bullied.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “Most of us like girls. Maybe it scares some guys when someone’s different.”

“Why wouldn’t lesbians scare them?” I asked.

He wasn’t sure, but his guess was that they could relate to liking girls and weren’t threatened or turned off by the idea of them being together.

“Lesbians might get picked on too,” he said. “But probably not as much.”

For other reasons as well, there definitely seems to be a higher level of acceptance in our society for homosexual females as opposed to males. That’s why I found it surprising a couple hours later to see Ellen Page, the beautiful Oscar-nominated Canadian actress making headlines for coming out of the closet. Why was she even in the closet in the first place?

In an emotional eight-minute speech at a human rights youth conference for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning) the 26-year-old described how she had been affected by the crushing standards of Hollywood, and that she was “tired of hiding and lying by omission.“

Her spirit, mental health and relationships had suffered due to her fear of coming out, and she now felt a social and personal responsibility to go public.

She said she had learned that the beauty, the joy and even the pain of love “is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being, and that we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

I couldn’t agree more.

We only get to live our life once, and we should be able to live it authentically, without the judgment of others impeding our happiness.

I understand how difficult that can be, especially for young people with all their pressures to fit in and be like everyone else. But it’s when we’re able to embrace our individuality and gain the courage to be ourselves that we have a better chance at a fulfilling and wonderful life. And that applies to anyone, not just the youth, and not just the LGBTQ community.

“This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another,” Ellen Page said to a cheering audience. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It is if you’re nice.

Live and let live. When we’re old and on our deathbeds, we’ll be happy that we did. Thankfully, the younger generations seem to be embracing this way of thinking, and will hopefully continue to become more accepting of other people’s differences.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

A blonde walks into a bar…

blonde to brown stereotype jim hunt lori welbourne

My friend Laurie posted a picture of Barbara Eden’s “I Dream of Jeannie” character on Facebook, prompting comparisons between her and Elizabeth Montgomery’s “Bewitched” character – also a blonde beauty who was magically inclined. Laurie made the observation that on both television shows these nice, sweet characters had evil, manipulative sisters, comically played by the lead actresses wearing dark wigs.

“Nice bit of cultural indoctrination there,” she said. “Just as bad as Disney and other fairy tales.”

It immediately had me thinking of additional characters that fit that good-versus-bad stereotype. Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics, Krystle and Alexis Carrington from Dynasty, and Aurora and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty were the first few that popped to mind.

“It’s a constant theme throughout Western European-based mythology,” Laurie said.

I couldn’t help but agree, and I had noticed this before, but I wondered if her being a brunette made her more conscious of that particular typecasting, while I was more in tune with another one: the dumb blonde cliché.

I can’t even begin to count how many blonde jokes I’ve heard in my life. I used to tell them myself just to beat people to the punch. Some are funny, but in reality when someone insinuates that I lack intelligence because of my hair color, it’s annoying.

I guess that’s why it can irritate Laurie when someone jokes about brunettes being bitter or less attractive – yet another ridiculous stereotype.

The concept that hair color can actually affect the perception people have regarding women’s characters, brain power or beauty is astonishing. But it can.

In my twenties, I dyed my naturally dirty blonde hair to a beautiful, dark rich brown. I loved the color. Unfortunately it didn’t love me and I looked terrible. I had to wear heavy make-up so my face wouldn’t look washed out. Despite this, I had several people tell me I looked better and smarter after the change. One friend said that it was an improvement over my “fake, blonde bimbo image.”

Ironically, my former self was far more natural than this transformed version of me that she preferred.

To prevent damaging my hair too much, I lived as a brunette for longer than I wanted and felt relief when I returned to my original color. It felt as though I was able to take off an uncomfortable Halloween wig and finally be myself again. If someone didn’t like my reversal, I no longer cared.

It felt absurd to be judged on something so insignificant. Does the color of a man’s hair impact the way people perceive him? Not to the same degree as a woman, I’m sure.

There are so many ludicrous stereotypes about many different things that can affect men as well. Sweeping over-simplified generalizations are made about people all the time. Sometimes with horrific results.

What I learned as a child, and now teach my own kids, is that regardless of one’s ethnicity, faith, profession, gender, age, income, appearance, sexual preference or whatever, there are wonderful and horrible people within each group.

Judging people based on stereotypes is dumb. Being a blonde is not.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

miley cyrus lori welbourne jim hunt

When I first heard of a 13-year-old performer named Miley Cyrus, she was starring in Hannah Montana, a TV show my kids had just discovered on the Disney channel. My son was six-years-old, and my daughter was three.

Seven years later, they have now moved on. And so has Miley.

Her controversial and well-documented departure from that persona got us talking this week.

“I still like her songs,” my ten-year-old daughter told me. “But her new videos aren’t appropriate for me.”  When I asked my 13 year-old son what he thought, he just shrugged like he didn’t care.

Lots of other people care quite a bit, though. And some high profile celebrities have been sharing their opinions as well.

Many of them strongly disagree with Miley’s overtly sexual performances, scandalous publicity stunts, and frequent twerking and tongue displays that keep making the news. Perhaps she would have upset less people if she hadn’t started off as a squeaky-clean child star, but it seems the shock of her transformation from good girl to bad has started wearing off, and people are expecting her to be outrageous now.

“She’s an attention whore,” one of my friends said, rolling her eyes. “If she just went on stage in a classy dress and sang nice and normal like she used to, she’d be a lot more respected.” Maybe. But would she be constantly making headlines and leading the polls as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year? I doubt it.

Albert Einstein once said: “You have to learn the rules of the game and then you have to play better than anyone else.”

That’s what Miley seems to be doing quite brilliantly. She’s an entertainer, that’s her job. To say she’s an attention whore might sound like an insult, but it’s actually a compliment. To be accused of that in her line of work usually means she’s doing something right.

Attacking her, or any performer, for using their looks or sexuality to get attention is futile. So who should be targeted instead? The industry executives who often act as the puppeteers for some of these starlets? They’re just doing their jobs as well – it’s business.

And we certainly can’t criticize the media can we? They’re merely writing about people and topics they hope will get shared on social media to generate more advertising dollars. It’s a business for them as well.

In a recent essay in Glamour Magazine, actress Rashida Jones blames the current state of the music industry and the “pornification of everything” on all the wrong people in my opinion. If blame should be placed on any one, it should be on us – the public.

There’s nothing as effective as the published angry protests against someone to generate more interest in them.

It’s simply supply and demand. If readers don’t respond to a story, the media is less likely to run another one, and the performer is less likely to try similar antics if their sole objective was attention.

Personally, I’m not bothered with the way people wish to present themselves, whether they’re a celebrity or not. Yes, I have young impressionable kids who can be influenced by others – but that has always been the reality and there’s no changing that fact.

Variety and choice is another fact. Not everyone in show business is overtly sexual or into publicity stunts, and there are many other performers to choose from if that’s not our cup of tea.

As far as my children are concerned, I encourage them to appreciate the entertainers they enjoy, but refrain from putting them on a pedestal. We’re all just people after all, and we all have unique qualities that deserve celebrating. It’s up to us who we decide to give energy and pay attention to. The public holds the real power.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Black swans deliver message of hope

black swan lori welbourne jim hunt

For the last few years, every time I talked to my friend Kay Brown, I could see pain in her eyes. The physical suffering she had endured since her whiplash injury 17 years prior had become too much for her to manage, and the quality of her life was deteriorating at the same rate as the bone alignment of her diseased spine.

As much as she wanted to distract herself with the company of friends, the agony she was in made her withdraw once it became all-consuming. Having normal conversations felt next to impossible.

“I’d be talking to someone, already feeling terrible, and suddenly I’d get a jolt of unbearable pain that I wouldn’t be able to hide,” she explained. It became easier for her to just stay home than to try to be social.

After years of being told nothing could be done, a surgeon named Dr. Kim in Houston, Texas, said the words she’d been praying to hear: he could fix her.

“I sat across from that nice Asian doctor with his cute Texas accent and listened to him tell me that he could immediately eliminate 75 per cent of my pain with an operation he could do in his sleep,” she said. “He claimed the other 25 per cent would diminish over time. I was in shock.”

Her friends and family were overjoyed at the news, and Kay was hopeful, but she couldn’t wrap her head around the staggering cost.

“A one night stay in the hospital would be $80,000,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine coming up with that kind of money on top of the surgery and travel expenses.”

Loved ones urged her to get the operation and figure out the finances later. Her new friends whom she had just met at the hotel in Houston, managed to get the hospital charges decreased. Now $30,000 would be required upfront, and an additional $20,000 afterward.

Within one day some friends back home completely astonished her by coming up with the hefty loan for the down payment.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Kay laid down on a lounge chair at the hotel. “When I opened my eyes a couple minutes later, three black swans were beside me,” she said. “They stayed with me for 40 minutes. It felt magical – like some kind of omen. At first, I didn’t want to Google the meaning of it, just in case it meant the kiss of death or something.”

According to the Internet, the black beauties symbolized an epic event. That felt right to Kay. She went ahead and had the operation, and it was a huge success.

Talking face to face with my friend is a different experience now. Her eyes still well up easily, not from shooting pain or despair, but from the love and support extended to her by her friends and family, and even complete strangers during her time of need.

Her physical and mental transformation has come at a high price though, and her friends are now trying to help her pay the debt back.

“Kay’s a hard working single mother of three daughters, and a respected business owner in our community,” said Dr. Dave Manns, her friend and chiropractor.  “This woman has a heart of gold. I just hope that we can help her the way she would try to help any of us if the roles were reversed.”

A fundraising event for her is being held on Saturday, December 7th at the Holiday Inn in West Kelowna. Auction items and cash donations are being gratefully accepted, and there are a few tickets left for sale. It is sure to be an epic event. The black swans from Texas confirmed it.

To donate or read more information: CashMobForKay.com

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

 

Life is a game, love is the trophy

alice osmachenko lori welbourne jim hunt

My step-great grandmother, Alice Osmachenko, will be celebrating her 101st birthday on November 24, cheering for her favourite team in the Canadian Football League’s season finale game.

The fact that her team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is playing against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in her own province is an added bonus. But the real icing on the birthday cake is that the Grey Cup is also celebrating its 101st birthday on the exact same day she is.

“Woohoo!” she exclaimed excitedly two days before the game. “I bet they win!”

Vickie Oomen, the activity director of Eatonia Oasis Living, where Alice is a resident, hopes they win as well. Excited about going to the game herself, it was she who noticed that Alice’s birthday celebration would, coincidentally, fall on the same day.

Wanting to send a picture of her to the local newspaper, the staff at the personal care home hung up a Roughriders banner behind Alice, dressed her up in one of the team’s green jerseys along with a giant fingered fan glove, and gave her a football to hold.

“You’re making me look like a fool,” Alice griped. “But I love it!”

The spunky centenarian has been a long-time Roughriders fan, and has lived most of her life in the team’s province of Saskatchewan.

She wasn’t born there, though. Her first two weeks were spent in pre-revolution Russia, until her family fled to Canada for the government offering of uncultivated farmland to immigrants. Her parents raised her and her six siblings in a mud house in Biggar, Saskatchewan, where they worked the land for grain.

“We were so poor we didn’t have a broom,” she said. “My mom made one out of twigs and we’d sprinkle water over the floors and use that.”

Full of stories and happy to share with anyone interested in hearing them, Alice talked about the scarce food supply during the Great Depression, and how she and her brothers and sisters would hunt for birds. “Don’t ever try the pigeon,” she advised. ”Yuck.”

The administrator of the home, Cora Knuttila, enjoys her stories as well. “Alice is very outgoing and quite a character,” she said. “It should be a fun day around here on Sunday.”

Born Alexandria Evanoff, Alice is more like a mother than a grandmother to my stepmom, Kym White. “My mother abandoned me and my three siblings when I was four,” she said. “Gramma stopped her life to come out to Edmonton and raise us while our dad worked in the oil field.”

Kym’s father, Donald was Alice’s only child. He died 31 years ago, the day after his 46th birthday. It was a heartbreaking loss for his children and his new wife who was expecting his 6th child, and it completely devastated Alice.

“Parents should never outlive their kids,” Kym said. “She’s gone through so much in her 101 years, but losing him was the greatest tragedy of her life. She still misses him every day.”

Determined to be there for her family, Kym said her grandmother put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own, and part of that was teaching them that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, to love and live life to the fullest, and to be honest.

Described by the staff at her home as “popular, funny and full of stories,” Alice was quick to add “but not full of lies!”

She’s clearly not lying when she says she’s looking forward to the Grey Cup and hoping for a big victory for her team. She’s also tickled over the media attention she’s received in recent days.

“I’m getting famous,” she said with a laugh.

Whatever the outcome of the game, Alice Osmachenko will remain a fan of the Roughriders, and an even bigger fan of love and life.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Mirrors reflect appearance, not true beauty

Daisy Lori welbourne mirror jim hunt

My 10-year-old daughter showed me a picture that was circulating on the internet of three gorgeous models, one in particular with an exceptionally tiny waist.

“She’s skinnier than me,” Daisy said about the model in the middle. “And she’s a grown up.”

For my sweet little girl, this was confirmation that she herself was “too curvy” and needed to lose weight.

I explained that her healthy body was perfect and beautiful exactly the way it was and she didn’t need to change a thing. I then showed her another version of the same picture – but one taken prior to the model’s waist being digitally manipulated to appear inches thinner.

Miranda Kerr, the model in question, just so happened to be on my radar since the very photo my daughter was showing me was being reported on by many online news sites. Apparently the famous model  had posted the 2012 image to Instagram and some detail-oriented people noticed that her waist was much smaller in her version, and started sharing the original picture beside it as a comparison.

“Why would she do that Mom?” Daisy asked, after seeing the difference between the two photos. “She was already skinny.”

I told her that we didn’t know who altered the picture, but that it was a very common practice. I also said that no matter how great we think someone looks, that person, or someone else, may think otherwise.

“You know how you were comparing your body to hers?” I asked. “You should never compare. You are you, and your body is yours. It’s your home for the rest of your life. Love it and nurture it – and never think it’s not good enough.”

She nodded and agreed. But then she said something I was hoping she hadn’t noticed.

“But you don’t think your body’s good enough,” she said. “I heard you tell Dad you’re fat.”

Ah, nuts. I had been using the “f” word recently and I clearly needed to stop, for my sake and the sake of our impressionable young children.

Not that our 13-year-old son has taken any notice. But when I was his age, I remember how unsatisfied my mother was with her own appearance and I couldn’t understand why she would ever criticize herself. I thought she was beautiful and I hoped to look exactly like her when I grew up.

I didn’t though.

After gaining weight during puberty I developed an eating disorder and continued to pack on the pounds well into my mid-20s. I ended up obese and miserable, promising myself that if I ever had kids, I’d teach them to love themselves from the inside out. I wanted them to be happy, confident and satisfied with how they looked no matter how their outer shell appeared. I now worry that I’m failing at least one of them, and will do my best to strengthen her self-worth immediately.

But here’s the thing that we all know: children are influenced by so much more than just their parents. They have friends, teachers, family members, famous folks, and many other people and things that affect who they become. There’s only so much we can do.

I’m hoping that as long as Sam and Daisy feel cherished and valued for who they are, rather than how they look, they will be light years ahead of me in the self acceptance department.

I don’t want them wasting precious time trying to attain some unachievable idea of aesthetic perfection that means nothing. What I want is for them to embrace their so-called flaws and treat their bodies, and themselves, with the love and respect we all deserve.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Time to change the channel

lori welbourne watching tv jim hunt cartoon

I was lazy last weekend.

I didn’t plan to be and I didn’t schedule for it. In fact, I had every intention of getting a bunch of things done and I also arranged to meet some friends at an anniversary party. But when the weekend arrived, I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere.

“You’ve been working too hard,” my husband said. “You’ve burned yourself out.”

It’s true. I have. I’ve also been under a tremendous amount of pressure professionally and personally. All I wanted to do was lay low and recoup.

I watched television, read magazines, and ate too much junk food. I also slept. Much more than usual.

Aside from the bad eating, my reaction to the stress wasn’t typical and I felt like I should be doing things differently. Maybe talking things out, or writing things out, or at least sweating them out in the gym. But I didn’t do any of that.

Once the weekend ended, I woke up with the realization that I was right on deadline: I had to write this column immediately.

It wasn’t Monday morning like it seemed. Since it had been a long weekend, it was actually Tuesday. I felt like I’d lost a day in my negative haze.

There would be no more laying on the couch watching other people’s work or lying on the bed reading about other people’s lives. I would have to sit in an upright position at my desk and try to conjure up something interesting to write about in my completely uninterested state of being.

Yet again I was reminded of why having a back-up story or two is a great idea. I also recalled something that my former boss brought up when I first proposed this “On a Brighter Note” column almost five years ago.

“Won’t you run out of positive things to write about?” he had asked. I felt like calling him and answering: “Yes, yes I will.”

At the time, that seemed impossible. After his unconvinced response to my idea, I sat down with a coffee and easily came up with over one hundred future topic ideas just like that. But a funny thing happens when you’re living life and you go into a self-induced shut-down mode: your freedom to express yourself can all of a sudden feel less than free. And your eagerness to look for the silver lining in every experience can occasionally dissipate.

But that’s the ebb and flow of life. Some days we’re happy and we feel like we’re walking on air. Other days we’re glum and feel weighed down by stress and strain.

Yes, attitude can play a major part in us shaking off dark feelings when they arise, and usually I’ll do whatever it takes to cast them aside and get on with life. This time, though, I decided to stay stuck in the muck for a while. I surrendered to the blues while thinking of one of my favourite quotes from my mother-in-law: “This too shall pass.”

One of my best friends also sent me some words of wisdom in a text that simply said: “If ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work, don’t worry. The alphabet has 25 more letters.”

The note came out of the blue, unsolicited and without her knowing anything about what I was going through or thinking about.

Reading it was a gift. I typed it out and hung it at my desk. And now that I’ve written this column, I’ll get working on ‘Plan B.’ Or whatever letter I happen to be on now.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

Moustache Love

movember lori welbourne  jim hunt mo bros

My uncle was diagnosed with an advanced stage of prostate cancer three years ago and since learning of his condition, I’ve paid more attention to Movember. It’s taken on more meaning for me since this ugly disease has affected my family and someone I love.

Movember, of course, takes place during the month of November, and it is the official global charity dedicated to having an everlasting impact on men’s health. It raises money for prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health. This is important since men die on average five to six years younger than women, and often from preventable diseases. Their suicide rate is also four times higher.

What do moustaches have to do with it? The small group who created the charity in 2003 decided to use it as the catalyst for change.  The concept was that by changing your appearance by growing a “mo” for 30 days, you could change the understanding and attitudes men have towards their health by getting them to talk about something they don’t typically discuss.

“Guys don’t communicate the way women do,” my friend Cameron Carter said. “This charity gets them talking, and I know from experience that the moustaches are a conversation starter.”

By growing a mo and becoming a “Mo Bro” four years ago, Cameron has  enjoyed explaining the mission of the organization, and he raises money by asking his friends to donate just $5 each. But it’s the education part he enjoys the most.

“When I found out that one in seven men get prostate cancer, I thought, hey, that’s two guys on my ball team,” he said. “I’d better let them know.”

Realizing that he can’t influence everyone, he says that even if only one man improves his health or gets checked out and his life is saved, he knows he’s doing the right thing.

“A lot of guys are afraid to get the prostate exam because they think it will hurt,” he said. “But it doesn’t, and it’s only mildly uncomfortable for  seconds. That’s nothing compared to what women go through with their pap tests and mammograms.”

Not everyone’s supportive of Movember though. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they’ve had enough with all the campaigns trying to raise funds and awareness, and don’t believe any of it helps. I completely disagree.

Only 10 years ago, 30 men banded together in Australia to become the first “Mo Bros.” Since then the Movember movement has grown to include 20 additional countries that raised over $146 million last year alone. 87 per cent of the funds raised go directly to research and managed programs, and more men have become pro-active by adopting healthier lifestyles and getting prostate exams. That’s a significant improvement to men’s health that should not be dismissed. Instead it should be applauded, supported and improved.

Being a woman that can’t grow a moustache, I decided to sing about them instead. “Moustache Love,” inspired by Captain & Tennille’s old 1970s hit “Muskrat Love” is my funny new video. It features a real nautical captain, firefighters and a beloved Okanagan comedian. If you like the video, please share it. All revenue made from YouTube will go directly to the charity, so the more hits the bigger the donation.

To get more information, to donate, or to become a Mo Bro or a Mo Sista, please visit Movember.com

To watch my video, and hopefully share it, CLICK HERE. You may want to keep the volume down, I’m clearly not a singer. You are welcome for that warning.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com