WTF Wednesday 06:
 Celebrating Andrée O’Donnell

My friend Andrée is capable, creative, down-to-earth and kind. Her smile is wide and warming. Her chuckle, bubbly. She has an impish twinkle in her eye.

Andrée’s a courageous communicator, articulating her feelings and appreciation clearly and specifically. She skillfully walks her own path without buckling to boasting or defense. And she’s an enthusiastic explorer of family, fitness and food related alternatives, experimenting bravely and sharing her results.

She’s a runner, a biker, a personal trainer, a hooper, an urban forager, a healthy eating guru, a hard-core walker and a homeschooling mom. Her faith and involvement in her church community are humbling. Her fitness feats, inspiring. She’s a generous, considerate and dependable friend.

Adventurous and unflappable, Andrée has bounced good-naturedly between homes and cities, making a complete success of each one. She pops nonchalantly to Europe or the tropics. She’s spent a blazing hot week walking a pilgrimage, 20+ kilometres a day. And she’s a daring and highly engaged homeschool teacher of two.

From the rounding up and delivering of a mechanical swing for scarily ear-infected newborn Bayla, to babysitting weekends and weekly rides to and from cadets, Andrée has been immensely good to us. She gives of her time, attention, wisdom and heart.

In The Beginning

Andrée and I met as we jumped and pumped and staved off the Baby Blues at Centretown’s Sweaty Moms exercise classes in October 1999. Our girls were shiny new and floppy, then. Andrée and I, beginner moms — sleep-deprived, optimistic and eager to research, share and do our leave-it-to-beaver best.

New moms, it turned out, could be cliquy and competitive. Labour tales, APGAR scores, philosophies and milestones could be softly used one-ups in this brand new, isolating terrain. Not Andrée, though. She was a breath of fresh air. With genuine friendliness, dancing eyes and that huge warm smile, Andrée was open, inclusive, kind and unassuming, right from the start. I’m so glad we met.

We did playdates, crafts and field trips with our baby girls. We each had a second pregnancy and another exciting year of firsts. I went back to the rat race. Andrée moved. Time passed. We lost touch.

Eight years later, half-way through my radiation, Andrée found my blog and reached out, in her straight-forward, personal and warm, honest way. We reconnected. And so did our girls. In a snap. Seamlessly rekindling a full family friendship that’s simple, smooth, spacious and real.

Epic Then

Back in our baby days, Andrée, our wee ones and I enjoyed adventures of the cheerios-and-diaperbag variety: Sweaty Moms, of course, swings and sand time at the tot lot, museum visits, dressup, fabric painted hand and footprints, and simple back yard fun. We swapped advice and learnings. We shared our parenting dreams.

Epic Now

These days, Andrée and I meet-up every few months for dog walks or coffee or one-off hooping, Madonna yoga, or barre class adventures. Last year, we yarn-bombed. This year, we vision-boarded. And we keep in touch online.

University of Andrée

Andrée’s always been a wealth of parenting and wellness resources and ideas, letting me in on interesting and educational activities for the offspring and inspiring me with her healthy food preparation and local, ethically and sustainably grown organic produce and meat.

Most importantly, though, Andrée’s steadfast authenticity, clear communication and her ability to roll calmly with the flow of life are heartening reminders of the direction I need to nudge myself. And proof that such exemplary curiosity, compassion, and composure can be achieved — even by semi non-Saints.

Fantasy Fabulosity

If I could magically conjure a next adventure with Andrée, I would pick a heavenly four day cycling trip from Montmagny to Quebec City and back, with our miraculously good natured and spectacularly hard-core teens.

We’d set out bright and early, peddling euphorically along the south shore of the St. Laurence and stopping for snacks and photo-ops all along the way. The sun would beam. The air’d be just cool enough to refresh. The 62km ride would zip by brilliantly and before we knew it we’d be savouring delicious food and wandering the gorgeous streets of old Quebec. We’d enjoy the city on foot and by bike, then cycle smoothly back for R-and-R at the Montmagny spa.

Two moms, four blissfully bicker-free kids and one huge bucketlist checkmark.
It would rock.

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