Things my father taught me…


By Anita Manley

In follow-up to last week’s blog about “Things my mother taught me…”, I’d be remiss if I did not list all the things my dad taught me.

In January of 1995, when I was 4 months pregnant with my second daughter, my dad died of cancer. My world came crashing down. I was only 30 years old and he was my confidante, my hero and he loved me unconditionally. I miss him terribly, but I’m comforted in the feeling that both my mom’s and dad’s spirits are watching over me.

So here, in no particular order, are the things my dad taught me, to help form the person I am today:

  1. “Everything in moderation” (I’ve passed this onto my children)
  2. How to present a business case. (It started at the age of 13, when he’d said “convince me”)
  3. Be prompt. (Notice the double dose of this – mom and dad – thus, I’m usually early!)
  4. Think like a leader. (He was a manager and would share stories of how he handled difficult situations)
  5. Be honest.
  6. How to write.
  7. “Always vote in every election. Know the issues.”
  8. How to raise concerns to a higher level. (He would often type letters on his old Smith-Corona, to his MP, MPP, etc. if he thought his voice should be heard. Then, he would get me to read it over before he mailed it. This lesson has helped me on countless occasions over the years.)
  9. Be rational.
  10. How to compromise.
  11. He modeled how a good husband treats, respects, loves and honours his wife. (Mom and dad always held hands when they walked together.)
  12. How to be patient and kind.
  13. How to carefully listen to others points of view and to respond respectfully.
  14. How to love unconditionally. (He didn’t always “like” me, but I knew he always “loved” me.
  15. How to manage money and to invest.
  16. How to drive a car.
  17. How to ride a bike.
  18. How to read a map (and to fold one– a real talent!)
  19. The importance of a routine.
  20. A strong work ethic.
  21. How just sitting there quietly, just being there, is showing support and love.
  22. Commitment.
  23. Although he did not personally teach me, he paid for (and my mom registered me):
    swimming lessons, downhill ski lessons, cross country skiing, tennis lessons, soccer team, summer community pool membership. Yes, I do realize how privileged I was. He would also drive my brother and I to a ski hill, 1 hour and 45 minutes away, and sit all day, waiting for us to finish (since he did not ski — he had a bum knee). Now, that’s commitment!

    I am truly blessed to have had the upbringing that I did. As my husband says, I won the adoption lottery!
My dad taught me many things, and would often read to me before I went to sleep.

Things my mother taught me…


By Anita Manley

In December 2013, at the age of 87, my mom passed away from cancer. I was 48 years old. I miss her dearly and often wish I could pick up the phone to share some exciting news. My mom died peacefully, on her own terms. She had a strong faith in God and was anxious to be reunited with her husband, my dad.

I had a wonderful mom and dad. My husband, Ron always says, “you won the adoption lottery”. It is true, I did!

I decided to make a list (certainly not exhaustive) of all the things I remember my mom teaching me. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. “Be a leader, not a follower.”
  2. “Always say your pleases and thank yous. Be polite.” (How to write thank you notes and address an envelope).
  3. A strong work ethic.
  4. “Be punctual.”
  5. Volunteerism and giving to those in need.
  6. How to knit and sew.
  7. “Patience is a virtue.” (One that I have had to work on my entire life).
  8. “Don’t worry about things beyond your control.” (I’ve only recently got a handle on this one.)
  9. How to entertain (and with that, how to cook and bake)
  10. “Be respectful and honest.”
  11. “Be thrifty.” (always look for the sales)
  12. Always buy a good, new mattress and new, comfortable, and stylish shoes. Never go second hand on these two.
  13. Be stylish on a budget.
  14. “Only spend what you can afford.” (I used to be known for my champagne taste on a beer budget)
  15. “You’ll be lucky if you can count true friends on one hand.”
  16. Be happy!
  17. Sing out loud!
  18. The importance of a daily routine.
  19. Make your bed every morning as soon as you get up.
  20. Brush your teeth and floss regularly.
  21. “You’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
  22. “Relationships are 50/50. If they don’t work out, it is never only one person’s fault.”
  23. Through my mom’s belief in religion (Catholicism) and God, I became spiritual. (Which I am now told will help me with my recovery– yes, I am still in recovery!)
  24. My mom modeled smiling at strangers.
  25. “Be friendly with neighbours.”
  26. How to be a good, loving, caring and nurturing mom. (Sadly, for many years, due to my illness, I was unable to be all of these things to my two daughters. They do tell me that I am making up for lost time now, though.)
  27. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
  28. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
My mom taught me many, many things… including how to bake. She made the best Scottish shortbread. I’ve passed this recipe and method onto my daughters. We all gather together, in-person and virtually, to make it every Christmas.

Comparison is the thief of JOY

“Stop comparing your progress to others, it minimizes the challenges you’ve overcome.” @unsinkable

Mighty M0use for Mental Health

By Anita Manley

I have noticed a commonality among friends, family and acquaintances. Those who compare themselves to others are less joyful, or even miserable as a result.

In fact, comparing ourselves to others is something we all tend to do at some point. Here are some examples:

  • The friend who says (not jokingly), I’ll trade you places, you can live at my home and I’ll live in yours.
  • The neighbour who thinks you have so many more friends than they do.
  • The family member who compares their “meager” earnings for hard work to your executive salary, or your government job with a pension.
  • The acquaintance who envies your car, boat and/or cottage.
  • The friend who has several health problems and wishes they were as healthy as you are.

    Comparison is truly the thief of JOY. The truth is you are ALWAYS going to find others in your life who…

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It’s the little things…


By Anita Manley

Not too long ago, my friend and I were out on a walk and she mentioned to me that she always listens to John Tesh (, and heard him say that “if you want to maintain a healthy marriage, it really is the little things that count.”

This hit me, and I stopped in my tracks exclaiming, “isn’t that the truth!” Both my friend and I are on our second marriages to absolutely wonderful men. We both agreed that we’ve got it right the second time around and that we both found that in our respective marriages, there is a mutual give and take.

I know that I’m frequently doing “little things” for my husband like giving spontaneous hugs and kisses, offering encouraging words, picking up some favourite treat, or baking for him, cooking meals he’ll appreciate, and so on. But, my husband does the same for me, taking me out for dinner, offering to prepare and deliver cups of coffee or soda water (regularly), cleaning up around our home, buying me a favourite piece of jewellery or perfume, etc.

My friend said it is the same with her and her husband.

John Tesh says, “what really separates happy couples from the unhappy, is the 5 to 1 ratio. As long as there are five times more positive feelings and interactions than negative ones, the marriage is likely to be stable. That’s because we tend to remember the negative more so we need more positive experiences to outweigh the bad ones. If it was one for one, all we would remember are the bad times.

But (he continues) don’t think one large positive experience will make up for a bunch of bad ones. A big positive, like a weekend away, doesn’t have as much impact on the brain as frequent small good experiences like going to a favourite restaurant every Sunday.”

So, in your relationships, do your best to think of the small things to do for your partner. They really do add up to creating a loving and happy marriage.

Buying flowers for your partner and other little things, add up BIG TIME.

The Olympics and Mental Health


By Anita Manley

Who’s watching the Olympics? What an absolute thrill to see so many Canadians winning medals– and I cannot help but mention that 99% of them are women! What incredible heroes– all of the competitors, not just those who arrive on the podium.

Of course, we cannot talk about mental health and the 2021 Olympic games in Tokyo, without mentioning Simone Biles. This 24-year-old gymnast from the U.S. made a brave and courageous decision to not compete in the women’s team final.

Unlike what some trolls are saying, Simone is not “a quitter” or “letting her country down”, she is being honest about her mental health by saying “the mental’s not there”, after losing her spatial awareness in a twist that she’d done thousands of times before.

Simone Biles has proven to be the utmost mental health advocate and is a great role model for other Olympians and aspiring athletes around the world. She knew she was not ready to compete for fear of injury (have you seen what those gymnasts actually do in competition?), so she spoke up and stood on the sidelines (at the Olympics, when she’d been training her whole life for this moment!) cheering on her teammates.

What a hero, and what a champion to advocate for mental wellness on the world stage.

My former sister-in-law, Olympic Silver medalist in figure skating (Calgary 88), Elizabeth Manley says it best in her recent video on Instagram. Follow her @lizmanley88 and check out her video on Simone Biles.

Mental Health is, and should be treated the same as physical health. If Simone had broken an ankle on that twist, we would not have expected her to compete. Why then, do some people feel she should compete when she is not feeling mentally fit?

In other good news, I just heard today that Simone will return to compete in the balance beam final tomorrow. (Update– she won the Bronze medal!) I know that I will be cheering her on, as well as most of the world — save for a few mean-spirited trolls.

Take care of your mental health folks! You are worth it!

Simone Biles is the ultimate mental health advocate at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics!