A Poppy For Pappy

A heartfelt book seen through the eyes of a child about a fallen warrior expressed through watercolour paintings, honouring their remembrance… We must never forget.

Just because Remembrance Day is in November doesn’t mean we forget the rest of the year.

For sale on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y4o9zq3t

50% of my share of the royalties will be donated to the Poppy Trust Fund.

Your contributions directly support Canada’s Veterans and their families, while ensuring Canada never forgets.

ISTORIA

A glimpse of a true story soon to come to light from a woman whose courage led her to hide two families from not one, but two fascist regimes, during World War II.

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Prologue

“They’re coming! Quick! Go make sure everyone is back in the attic and tell them to be silent!” the neighbour warned Eirini. “They’ll be here any minute! Hurry!!”

Eirini ran back to the house and saw that everyone had come downstairs from the attic to stretch their legs. She couldn’t blame them. After all, the attic was a very small space only having a metre and a half of headroom. It was very dark; no windows to let in any sunshine. Eirini knew the 14 Italian soldiers must be very cramped.  Still though, that was the only place she could fit them all. The only place big enough left to hide them.  She didn’t blame them for coming downstairs to stretch their legs. She would have been cramped also.

Hurriedly, she got everybody back upstairs into the attic and warned them not to make a single sound or they would all be shot dead on the spot.

The Nazi soldiers patrolling their neighbourhood barged into homes unannounced. Many families who hid Greek Jews or Italians hiding from Mussolini had already been killed. The Nazis spared no one and neither did Mussolini’s army.

“When was this nightmare going to end?” Eirini cried, under her breath. There was no time to think, feel or process anything. Their comfortable life as they knew it disappeared overnight, replaced by terror and fear.  Panic had become the new norm as were the atrocities of war that was just plain surreal.

Climbing back down the stairs from the attic, Eirini closed the hatch.

“George! Quick, come and help me push the bookcase close to the wall. It will help hide the entrance into the attic.” Eirini looked into her darling husband’s eyes for reassurance but all she saw was fear.  It’s a miracle all those soldiers were even able to fit in the attic at all. They were cramped for sure but at least, still alive….for now.

Prayer, it seems had become the one constant these days. All she could do was pray for all of them not to get caught. It had been 3 weeks since she met the soldier in the market. He tapped her shoulder and Eirini got so scared she dropped her basket filled with vegetables which spewed all over the ground. He begged her to hide him and his team of soldiers.  They had escaped the compound where they were all being held to be sent back to Italy.  Many Italian soldiers tried to escape. Some were successful and many were shot not having gone very far at all.

“Please! Please! You must help us! If Mussolini finds us, he will kill us all!” he pleaded. “Me too!” she thought to herself but what else could I do? “I can fit you all in the attic but you must promise you will not make one sound! Ela, ela! Come on, quickly! We must hurry!”

Eirini guided the soldiers through backstreet alleys to avoid getting caught by the Nazi soldiers patrolling the streets. Poverty had swept over Athens practically overnight and food had become scarce! How was she ever going to find enough food to feed her family and 4 children let alone the 14 Italians soldiers in the attic not to mention the 3 Greek Jews in the tiny closet in the basement?  She felt her heart palpitating and quickly took a few deep breaths.  The only thing she could do, was pray.  God was her saviour and her strength.

“God will help me find a way; he always does.” She prayed silently. “Please God, keep us safe and get us through this war alive”

Thumping reverberated through her body. The soldiers were outside the front door banging.  The sound seemed so loud and all-encompassing.  Eirini’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes opened wide in fear.

“Are you hiding anyone?” the Nazi soldier shouted. “Open the door and show me your papers at once! Eirini opened the front door and let them in. Three soldiers rushed in almost knocking her over.

As she turned to walk back inside, she felt the point of a rifle nudging her back. Eirini, spun around with shock in her eyes at the thoughts that must race in their mind as they bullied everyone in their path. She looked the Nazi straight in the eyes with as much courage as she could muster. He was not going to scare me, she thought to herself. At the very least, she was not going to show him how much he intimidated her.

Miltiades, her youngest of 4 sons, peeked from around the corner and was afraid for his mama. His father caught his eye and with one glare and the raise of an eyebrow, sent him back to bed.  He ran back to his room and trembled under the blanket with his 3 older brothers. He held back his tears to not alert the Nazi soldiers. “Be strong tsourapo!” his brother said encouragingly. It made him smile when he thought of the nicknames each of his brothers had for one another. The four brothers held hands and prayed that everything would be ok.

One of the soldiers heard a creaking sound. He turned quickly on his heel and asked “I’m going to ask you one more time! Are you hiding anyone?” his voice deep, loud and menacing. He started walking around the house opening and slamming closet doors and cupboards.

“NO! Of course not!! That was my son wanting to make sure we were ok; he went back to bed! For heaven’s sake, why would we hide anyone?! To get killed?! Please leave!” Eirini snapped back.

As the Nazis turned on their heel to leave, one of them noticed Eirini’s small collection of perfume essences her brother in law from France had given her.  He swept them up with one hand and started to walk out.  Eirini lunged at him and managed to grab 1 of the 4 perfume bottles back.  “Those are mine!” She exclaimed and gave him a scowl of a look as she slammed the front door behind him.  She calmly walked to the living room and sat down. She was trembling.  George was looking at her in disbelief with the way she handled the situation.  What if he had just shot them right then and there?  He thought to himself… over a bottle of perfume!

“What were you thinking?” he turned to Eirini and asked her questioningly “It’s mine and he didn’t ask!”  she replied.  “And if he had asked, would you have given it to him?” he continued. Eirini replied with a brisk “NO!” and got up to get ready for bed.

Eirini had a lot of spunk and attitude. George was always worried her smart mouth would get them into trouble! Another day went by and Eirini thought to herself, we survived.  Sending prayers of gratitude to God, she exhaled slowly and with a heavy heart lied down to sleep hoping tomorrow would be calmer.

Sitting at the kitchen table, she smoothed her simple black skirt as she often did and crossed her legs. She took another sip of her coffee from her favourite English rose tea cup as she came back to reality and realized she was recounting this story to her grand-daughter who was staring at her with incredulous eyes wide open. Eirini smiled and held her grand-daughter’s face in her hands.  This would be one of many stories she would recount to her in the hopes that one day they would be retold.

For Love of Country

Tomorrow is the first day of May!! For me and I’m sure for many others, this year has flown by.  Time passes so fast and yet other times it seems like minutes are dragging so slowly.

May is also our neighbour’s month to celebrate Memorial Day and remember our heroes, our veterans, and any and all loved ones who are deployed abroad.  In that spirit, I created a children’s book for them to engage with and attach photos and momentos as well as their thoughts that they can then send off to their deployed family and friends.

The book is currently sold on Amazon and I have included the link below for you.

https://tinyurl.com/y3rerlsp

Please have a look and if you’re called to purchase a copy or several copies for your local school or library, know that you will be contributing to children’s higher learning as 50% of my share of the royalties from the sale of every book will be donated to the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. This fund was created to help children of post 9/11 veterans who died on active duty.  You can check out their website below:

https://www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY 2018! GOODBYE 2017!

 

 

For many, 2017 was filled with unpleasantries, anger, sadness, major changes, loss…OK, you get the point!  2017 is over!! Should we continue to complain about all the crap shoveled to us or should we close the book on all that – as difficult as that is! And I know that it can be very difficult not to mull over things that didn’t go right in your life!!

FINE!  Things didn’t go right?? Put your hands on your hips and choose left instead!  If you don’t feel like doing that today, that’s fine too!! You don’t have to be perfect!  In fact, be perfectly imperfect!! But don’t wait until the end of the year, however, or you’ll be right back where you started last year!

Let 2018 be about being real with ourselves for once; whatever that may mean for YOU! Let’s stop trying to be perfect and just do the best we can with what we’re facing that day!  What would that look like? A whole lot of happy that’s what! The pressure is taken off to perform like a circus monkey all the time!

You know what I’m going to say next, right??  Resolutions for the new year!  HA! No! I wasn’t going to say that!  Resolutions are ideas people throw to the wind as they are downing they’re third glass of whatever makes them happy.  What we need are GOALS!!

I am the biggest believer of DREAMING BIG, but I know one thing for sure… Big Dreams can only come true when YOU make them happen! Let me repeat that:

YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN!!

I have put together a simple 2-part workshop for doing just that!

Happy Planning to Make Happy Dreams Happen  ($20) 

Week 1: Jan 15, 2018

  • Choosing one big dream from the thousands of dreams we want to accomplish at the same time
  • Creating a Vision Board to support your one big dream

Week 2: Jan 22, 2018

  • Breaking it down and organizing it in bite size pieces
  • The plan

You’ll get:

  • an e-book in PDF format that you can download and be able to refer to whenever you would like to revisit this class.
  • 4 private YouTube videos

If you would like to sign up for this workshop, please email me for more information:

happyandlaughingtoday@gmail.com

Every month will have a different workshop dedicated to that month.  A 2 week workshop is simple. Life is complicated enough with so much technology thrown at us from every angle.  Sometimes we just need to take a step back and take a couple of weeks for ourselves and reevaluate what is important for us.

Life should be simple, happy and laughing…

 

 

 

 

Embracing imperfection

So it happened!!  I failed my challenge to blog every day for 30 days!  Or did I?  One of the things I’d like to share is the notion that we somehow need to be perfect at everything we do!! The house being clean from top to bottom, kids’ lunches always having all 4 food groups, being perfect at your job every day!  NEWSFLASH: not right to expect that of ourselves every single day.  I think if we “show up” and do the best we can every day, it should be enough. After all the only person we are competing with is ourselves. I say we cut ourselves some slack and embrace our imperfections as our new perfect for me…not any one else.  I promise you will be happier in the end!

Incidentally, I did it on purpose to not post a blog yesterday so that I can share my thoughts with you about it today.  Be happy and laughing. How ever you decide to spend your day today, know that it’s not coming back, so enjoy every moment…with a smile!

 

Haiku

I’m up north on a mini getaway looking for rest and relaxation.  There has to be something said about sleeping in complete darkness.  No blinking lights from the outside world, no neon green lights from the alarm clock on your bedside table reminding you that you need to get up in exactly 2 hours and 15 min, no flashing light from your smartphone beckoning you to see what the notification is about, no spending time on facebook, pintrest, instagram or twitter.  It’s just you and nature.  I slept like a baby. I enjoyed the deepest sleep I have had in years and I woke up with a smile on my face. I am reminded of a poem my son wrote in 4th grade, a haiku that has stayed with me still even though it is 4 years later:

Deep in the mountains

There is a wind in the air

Soon, there is silence

I feel peaceful, calm and happy…

Take a drive on a country road…

Alarm clock goes off and up I go.  Lunches to make, kids to wake up, school forms to sign. Hustle and bustle to get the kids off to school. I close the door, make myself a cup of green tea and sit back and take my first deep breath of the day! It’s Friday and the weekend is all mine!  I’ve made plans to go up north.  Quiet. Stillness. Peace.  A place to think and be able to hear my thoughts speak back to me.  Walks in the woods.  The wind blowing gently telling me to calm down from the scurry of the week. Time to take a step back and look at myself from the outside in.  What thoughts are meant to come out? What advice do I need to hear from nature. Mother Earth has so much to share.  Sometimes I am ready to receive her guidance sometimes I want to wallow in my sadness.  What will it be this weekend?  I have been blessed with the gift of nature abound and ready to give me all.  As I drive on the highway toward the north, I notice I take my first deep breath and sigh with a peaceful sort of happy.  Yes! This weekend is much needed.  What do I need to hear? What advice do I need to be shown to me? I take a walk in the dark by the light of the moon that shines her light in front of me telling me that all will be known when the time is right and only a little at a time.  I go to bed and close my eyes, happy.