Father's Day 2014

This Father’s day I remember two great men, both of whom impacted my life greatly, as well as my brothers who are wonderful fathers and role models. Each of us has a remarkable man to cherish on Father’s Day and if we are lucky sometimes there are more who deliver great meaning in our lives. My father is one of these. An adventurous, risk taking, globe-trotter who not only fought, as a teenager, in World War 2, but also left all he knew in his native Holland to make a life here in Canada. You would have to be made of strong stuff to lie about your age so you could enlist in the army at 16 years of age, willingly placing your life at risk. While in the army he was shot at numerous times but evaded the bullets that likely would have killed him.

I don’t know what it is like to live in war-time but I do know how much I looked up to my father who always maintained an optimistic attitude no matter what the situation. My mother tells a story of when my sister and I were 4 and 5 years old. Newly emigrated to Canada, my father had been severely beaten and thrown down a set of stairs, late one night at his place of work, in an attempted robbery gone wrong. He was left for dead that night but an amazing, now famous surgeon named Dr. Wilder Penfield, saved my dad’s life, bringing him out of a coma and inserting a steel plate in his head. Like a cat with nine lives my dad survived many challenges, including a near fatal heart attack at age 34, a true testament to his resilience. However his greatest pleasure was getting his hands dirty in the soil, growing his cherished vegetables and enjoying a cup of coffee with my mom.

From my father I have inherited the same love of the earth and a ridiculous pleasure in small things like a cup of coffee enjoyed with family or friends. Moments like these create the fabric of my life. I am pretty sure I am a survivor and a risk taker because my father showed me the way first. I will remember him and thank him this Father’s Day – for I take these lessons with me always.

When I met Robert Kennedy in 1999, I was a woman on a mission to improve my physical self but was essentially dormant, like a seed, not expressing my true inner traits. Everything changed when, as a newly divorced school-teacher, I experienced the power of alchemy under Robert’s tutelage in all things body building and Eating Clean related. He was the sun to my dormant seedling, the rain to my roots. He saw things in me I could not see for myself or had become blinded to, and made it his personal mission to extract this out of me. I became a better woman because of Robert.

As a team we took on the emerging crisis of poor eating overtaking North America, making it our goal to positively affect people’s lives through the human touch, Eating Clean and strength training. We worked best together and we were always together. No man has taught me as much as Robert in the ways of expressing myself, touching people’s lives and allowing my genuine self to flourish. This Father’s Day, like every day since his passing, I will miss him but know how lucky I am to have been standing in his sunshine even for a brief moment in my life.

My brothers, Ron and Rene, are two wonderful human beings who possess much from our father. They are resilient, loving, joyful men who can cook up a mean meal, wipe away tears as gently as a mother, love their sisters and wives, stand for something bigger than themselves and set an example for their sons and daughters. They enjoy planting vegetables and a strong cup of coffee just like my Dad and I – we are the same! Rene just ran the 2014 Boston in the elite wave, only the second time to ever run a marathon, while Ron does century bike rides and competes in cycling events like the Iceman Cometh Challenge, a 29 mile point-to-point mountain bike race from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan in the snow.

I may be flying solo right now but each of these men factors into my life on a daily basis. I am a lucky woman to know such well rounded, endearing men who don’t kiss my butt, but push me to be better, stronger, to dig deep and be my best every day. Thank you, each one of you.

As for you, my Sisters in Strength and Life, remember your brothers, fathers and friends. Celebrate them on their special day and every day because if you don’t celebrate, it never happened, they never happened. I stand shoulder to shoulder with you this Father’s Day in celebrating fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and great men everywhere.

Happy Father’s Day! With love, Tosca

PS. Watch for my new eBook, Resilience – How to Be So Strong. You’ll Survive Life’s Challenges Like I Did!