Of Seagulls, Sand, & Sequels

“Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip,” Jonathan would say, other times, “is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.” Richard David Bach, (American Writer), Jonathan Livingston Seagull.Of Seagulls

We have left the harsh cold of snow-land, the world of white and winter, and have arrived in Florida, eager to listen to the music of the wave-washed coast. We are ready to bask in the warm sunshine, and it is here that I have found the sanctuary I need to write “the sequel” to, Better With A Bag Than In A Bag.

That narrative is a book I did not originally set out to write. Just a little more than a year before I published it, I had arrived at death’s door after a 4 year struggle with illness and suffering. I survived against all odds, it was an amazing triumph of the surgical medical team, home care workers, my caregiver/life partner Mark, my body, and my human spirit. I fully embrace the full and glorious extent of this, and I am in awe.

During that year I was engaged on the battlefields of body recovery. My goal was to transform myself through a spectacular recovery. As I am a writer, one of the ways of clearing my thoughts and laundering my emotions is to write. And so, during that year, on a daily basis, I would write a word, a sentence, or paragraph on how I was feeling, what had happened, what I was experiencing, and where I thought I was.

I felt my light needed to sparkle and shine once again. I had high hopes. I knew I was recovering but didn’t know how much recovery would actually occur. Is there a limit; or is it limitless?

Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, chronicles the journey of me, an ordinary person, who had to endure a devastating illness, emergency lifesaving surgery, the creation of Percy (stoma), and the year long recovery that brought me to my 1st ostomaversary. On that day, we enjoyed a celebration of life, filled with friends, good eats, and all the sparkle July 21, 2012, could bring.

On the next day, I sat down and read all of the musings, rants, and laughs I had experienced and jotted down in the darkest and lightest of moments during that year. When I had finished reading, I realized that in spite of myself, I had written a book that would become, Better With A Bag Than In A Bag, From the brink of death to recovery through humour and inspiration. And, it was also the day that the full impact of reality set in, and I realized that although the official recovery process was now completed, the lingering carnage from the original disease, the damage from the extensive surgery, and the emotional toll it takes to adapt and live with an altered body function, was just beginning.

Percy, my life sustaining stoma and I are at the beginning of our, “beginning again”. Hmm…well ah, beginning of what, why, when, where and the how of a new life, new self, a new normal, whatever the heck that’s supposed to be, at any rate.

My journey is not complete. No journey I suppose ever is. So, marching to the beat of the recovery drum that sets the pace, I am now writing “the sequel”, which will be published later this year. It will be a book in which, together, we will explore the fact that regardless of your life altering occurrence, the truth and authenticity of whatever has struck you like a bolt of lightning cannot be erased. And, one of the key’s to success is to know and believe the grief you feel is not a place where you stand stuck. It is a process, a challenging and remarkable journey.

The sequel is about not being bound by physical or social challenges. We all have the ability to get on with life with the cards we have been dealt through strength and determination. Percy (Stoma) is co-writing the book with me. Well, what can I say? That little stoma has an opinion on everything, and we know Percy likes to toot his own horn.

Of seagulls, sand, and sequels in life, we observe from the edge of the waves, a vast ocean of life and possibilities. As Richard Back says in his story – Jonathan Livingston Seagull, “Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.”

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay


Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”Seagull & Sand


Wishing everyone the best of the season, Merry Christmas, and may you have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015!PointsettiaPhotographer: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Food For Thought and The Tastebuds

A recipe for success and gastronomic delights.Berry Bush Christmas

The personal and professional issues we deal with in life are universal to everyone, and at the same time, they are experienced uniquely by each person. No matter your struggles, everyone is individually co-creating themselves and their particular life experience. Along with everyone on this planet, you are pursuing goals and meeting challenges in order to achieve health, happiness and prosperity.

In addition to our universal issues, ostomates have their particular challenges to contend with on a daily basis. Our ostomies are a mixed blessing. On one hand they are the medical miracles that give us a second chance at life, promoting wellness, energy, and the opportunity to live life to the fullest, come what may. An ostomy is also a constant reminder of the illness we experienced, and the damage it caused.

Having said this, acceptance of the changes and transition we ostomates experience is fuelled by our attitude.  A positive attitude truly helps us transform and settle into our new normal. We know of course this is more easily said than done, but the effort is well worth it, it really does pay off in the long run.

A positive attitude is your success attitude. A success attitude is the drive to empower every act with the intent for fixing anything that is bungling up the hard work you’re doing. A person’s attitude is a great factor in gaining the confidence of others, and for obtaining desired results. Your attitude will always play an important part in how easy or difficult an experience will be. Your ally throughout your whole life in good times and bad, will be your attitude.

Very often people come up with creative excuses, and these excuses can present major obstacles to success. The best strategy for dealing with excuses is by eliminating them as much as possible. This is a challenge in itself as excuses are seductive. The bonus for eliminating excuses will cause you to be more open to learning from an experience and this will fuel your success attitude.

There really is no simple recipe for success, but there is one essential ingredient: A Success Attitude.

Success Attitude Recipe

Add 1 part Definite Decision. Don’t just think about it – go for it. A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.

Add 1 part Commitment. Go the extra mile. Everything you do, do your best. Your best will bring you closer to your dreams, no matter how menial the task.

Add 1 part Life Study. Objectively listen, ask questions, and observe yourself. You will always actively learn from every person you come into contact with, from everything you do, and from every experience.

Mix ingredients together, and place them in a willing mind free from excuses. Feed them to your conscious and subconscious mind till it becomes your individual success attitude.


We are a body, a mind, and we have a human spirit. For a little fun, Percy and I thought we’d like to share a gluten and lactose free recipe to delight your taste buds.


Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

Makes 24 cookies and 12 sandwiches.


1 cup (250 ml) natural peanut butter

1 cup (225 grams) sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Marshmallow Fluff (if using)


Preheat the oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix on low until combined. Use a small ice cream or cookie scoop and drop 1 ½ tablespoonful’s of dough onto the prepared backing sheets. Use a fork to flatten the mounds of dough and create a criss-cross pattern on each cookie.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes until the cookies firm up enough to transfer to cooling racks.

Once cooled spread at least 1 heaping tablespoonful of Marshmallow Fluff onto the back on one of the peanut butter cookies and top with another. Enjoy!


In closing as we say goodbye to 2014, Percy Stoma and I extend our best wishes from our home to your home. As you ring in 2015, may the magic of new beginnings fill your home and heart with peace and joy. We sincerely wish that the next year ahead will be your best yet.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay


Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”