Keys to Joy: #1

Wellness Wednesday Blog

After a nervous breakdown at age forty-three, I was left to reconstruct life as I had created it. As a working journalist, I chose a one-month joy project—a project that mercifully morphed into two life-altering years.

After two years, FIVE KEYS TO JOY emerged for me. Here is #1 (from the book Journey to Joy):

Key #1: Know (just one thing)

I know there is always a first step—the single one right before me. Not the twenty thousand that follow, or the decisions surrounding each, but this one single step in front of me.

I have learned to stop. I have learned to take the time—the time to know which direction I should go. It’s not based on where I want to end up. It’s based on my gut, my knowing self, my knowing insides that were created for the very purpose of leading me and herding me where I was always meant to go.

Just under the surface of what we think will come is what was always going to be.

It’s hard to detect, impossible at times. But, always, it is there. It’s in the genes that tell the cells to position themselves in such a way that the colour of eyes appear, that buds blossom and that hearts fit perfectly into the cozy caverns created for them.

I can only hear the whisper of what is to be when I stop to listen. And I ask the simple question, What do I want to do now?

Always there is an answer.


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Hope …

Wellness Wednesday Blog

When I suffered my nervous breakdown eight years ago, I got a little note from a friend while in the hospital.

It wasn’t a long note, or an expensive note. It was a simple note. It said:

“You’re going to make it through this.”

I really, seriously didn’t believe this to be true at the time.

After a three-week stay in the hospital, I was home and still struggling.

(Excerpt from Journey to Joy, page 112) When I got home from the hospital … my husband asked what I needed. There were lots of perfectly good answers to this perfectly reasonable question: I needed sleep, support, counselling, and an entirely new and fearless way of viewing the world. But more than any of that, I needed reassurance.

“Just tell me it’s going to be okay,” I answered spontaneously.

He put his hand on the small of my back and whispered lovingly and gently, “It’s going to be okay.”

I took a cleansing breath, as if the whole world was falling profoundly into place, and stood there for a long time, knowing he had my back.

In the end…I’ve concluded that sometimes you just need a little hope. When you’re in the middle of depression, hope is what you don’t have, so look to those around you!

No words…


Last week, my blog post was about Adam Herold, the 16-year-old hockey player from my hometown who lost his life in the Humboldt bus crash on April 6. I received this message in reply.

“Thank you for this message. We lost our son Troy, daughter-in-law Carissa and our grandchildren Kael, Shea and Maks in a horrific car accident on June 29th. As difficult as it has been we try to be grateful for something each day and we cherish the time we had with our precious family. ❤️”                                       – Kelly Gasper

There are no words…not even I, a writer by profession, have words.

All I have is sympathy, and prayers, and the power to pass this message along so we can all witness the resilience of the human spirit.

I give thanks today for those who so openly share their sorrow, and their human-ness, yet retain their ability to be grateful.

Thank you Kelly—I will hug my family tighter today. I will not worry about homework being done, or the dishes being washed. I will simply be grateful.


Give thanks: What I learned from Russell Herold and J.J. Hunter


It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well.

But what about when they’re not?

A few weeks ago I had a conversation that changed the way I view gratitude.

I had been spending some time with Raelene and Russell Herold, who lost their 16-year-old son Adam in the Humboldt bus crash six months ago. It’s pretty hard to be grateful when these things happen. Adam’s parents are broken, his Grade 12 classmates are devastated and our community is still grieving deeply.

As I rode the combine with Russell, and talked about all the things that would not be and could not be, my heart sank. So many things that would never come to pass for Adam—the start of a school year, the start of a hockey season in the WHL and the beginning of a new season of life for a teenaged boy on his way to manhood.

Russell and I hashed over the unfairness and all of the pain.

But somewhere in the middle of that combine ride on that sunset-backed fall evening as the abundant wheat crop swayed in front of us, our conversation took a turn.

Russell talked about his recent conversation with JJ Hunter, a Shaunavon, Sask. grain farmer and a member of the Hunter Brothers country band. The crops in some parts of southwest Saskatchewan were not as good as those in our area so JJ and Russell had talked about what that would mean.

Just when I thought Russell would tell me how difficult and hard it would be for JJ and his family, he said this profound sentence that has changed my definition of ‘gratitude’:

‘We’re just thankful for what we DO HAVE,’ JJ told Russell.

What JJ still had was ‘some grain’ to put in the bin. Maybe it wasn’t a bumper crop, or maybe it wasn’t even enough to cover costs, but it was enough.

Because when you’re truly grateful, you see things as they are, not as they could be.

And while ‘as they are’ is not always perfect, or even good or even fair, there is always something to be grateful for—food on the table, freedom outside our doors, communities to offer support and friends to lift us up.

To buy Christalee Froese’s uplifting book, Journey to Joy, click on the square at the top of this page and go to ‘Buy Book’!


Russell Herold combining with passengers Christalee & Journey Froese


J.J. Hunter