Author Archives: Jennifer Chandler

The Beauty of the Fall Season

The Beauty of the Fall Season

One thing that is great about living in British Columbia is the change of seasons. I am so fortunate to live in such an exquisitely diverse province where flora and fauna, oceans and rivers, mountains and farms, city and rural living weave their way across this landscape. The crisp air mixed in with this sunny day tells me Fall really is around the corner.


Should Kids Have A Say In Home Buying?

Should Kids Have A Say In Home Buying?

“You’ve got to be joking!” I exclaimed in utter disbelief. It was the hottest summer day and I had spent it cleaning my house and primping up the garden. Dust bunnies gone, floors mopped and smelling fresh, carpets meticulously vacuumed and every glass surface was clear of any prints. Multiple areas were ready for further inspection.

Outdoor pathways were swept and plants given a lovely drink to perk them up. A welcoming entrance and deck said, “Come on in and stay awhile.” or  “Buy this house.”   Either way it was dressed to impress. We are trying to sell our home and luckily there was a request for a second showing.

Our agent said that the people are an older couple who have toured the house before and they really liked it! They’re returning with their son so that he can look at it. Now, I thought mature couple, mature son. I had visions of their adult son coming and doing a more solid assessment of the house and maybe if he had some trades background his opinion would be quite helpful.

No, that was not the case. Instead it was a boy around 10 or 11 years old! WHAT THE….?

My agent passed along the following: He liked the place but was disappointed it didn’t have a basement. He likes to have more space for his activities, gaming etc. He apparently was brainstorming how to use another room for himself and he really liked the flat of Coke my husband had in the utility room. My agent said, “Well if your parents buy the home I’m sure we can throw that in the deal.”

I was driving in my car when I got the news and well, I will not write what I was screaming in my car. I could not believe I sweated all day for a child to give the final say on buying a home. So, I contacted my husband to share the news and I ranted for a good 20 minutes about the situation and the unbelievable state of parenting today.

There isn’t one person that I have talked to about this who’s jaw didn’t drop in disbelief. In fact, its making the rounds in our social circle for topics such as Signs of Child Entitlement and Parenting Gone Horribly Wrong.

My parents would have never had us kids decide about a home to buy, it’s not our investment.  After they buy it, we would have say in decorating our room but outside of that, home buying fell under adult decision making. Across the board nobody could recall their parents taking them to a house and asking for their opinion.

As a kid I was focused on other real world decisions and problems to solve. Should I play with Sara or Rebecca? Do I enter into the long distance run or short track run?  Was there a way to get out of piano lessons. How much scalloped potatoes can my dog eat so I don’t have to. Plus, one crucial decision: To take the long way to school instead of taking the shortcut path – thus avoiding stupid bullies.

If this kid has that kind of power at 10 years old I can’t imagine what he’ll be like a few years from now or maybe I can. He might expect other people to be equally indulgent. He’ll be the kind of kid who spends the next 20 years in his basement gaming while his parents keep supporting him. He’ll scoff at having a job because he’s entitled to everything anyway so why work. AND He won’t like it when others fail to embrace his opinion or suggestions.

And don’t think the above commentary isn’t a reality because I have seen it with my own eyes at our Employment Service Centres. Twenty-something’s finally forced to get a job or Thirty year old men who have been in and out of work because they feel under-appreciated. They know it all and people just don’t get it! And If they aren’t able to get days off for Comic-Con then, See Ya! (That’s for another blog)

If I sound still miffed about this, I am. I’m sure you’ve guessed the outcome by now…No House Sale.


We can’t look away from bad news

We can’t look away from bad news

She watched one news story after another, disgusted by each one but didn’t turn the channel. Stories about animal abuse, fires destroying homes, a man killing his wife, a woman’s tirade in a store, gang wars, suicides, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, AND the political poop show that dominates everything!

Her analysis of the world, “It’s all terrible!” Later today she’ll watch the news again for more of the same coverage.

The truth is humans have difficulty turning away from tragedy. People can be drawn towards drama, excited by debauchery and even envious of the person who stepped over the line and publicly lost their cool. We can be mesmerized by stories of misconduct and horrified but curious about mayhem.

Maybe we are hard-wired to watch what happens to others in order to protect ourselves from falling victim. It could be that we learn lessons from people’s behaviour and mistakes or, more realistically, the spectacle that surrounds us everyday has become entertainment.

Knowing our unwavering need to explore the darkest of human behaviour more news and TV programs cater to that taste. One local news story about a fire leads to a cluster of fire stories across the world. The gratuitous depictions of anger, sex, and a million ways to kill or die becomes normalized. We pay to watch these things.

Dressed up, news and other programs want us to believe we are informed. Instead, we remain largely ignorant but we do establish our place in a like-minded tribe.

Dressed down, or exposed for all it’s worth, the constant viewing of negative programs can erode our health, deep thinking and personal discernment.

Still we keep looking.

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening?

Over the course of a few months I began to assess my immediate and extended family, my spouse and my own abilities to listen. A social experiment of sorts, which focused on self-awareness and active listening skills. I would venture to guess that most people would label themselves as good listeners. Myself included.

First question:

How strong are my listening skills?

I noticed my own tendency to drift in thought or to interject in conversations. That happened mostly in my personal life but professionally I tended to stay on point with active listening. A distinction that needs work so as not to discriminate between who gets attention and where.

For the most part I enjoy different perspectives on life, relationships and world issues. I’m genuinely interested in knowing people better. However, certain family members are particularly good at hitting sensitive nerves so then ears can close and defensive shields go up. Still working on those trigger responses.

Overall, I would describe myself as a good listener with room for improvement.

Second question:

 Was my assumption that I was not being heard realistic?

I came to realize others were not offering the same degree of listening time, presence and genuine interest as I gave them. So, I began to conduct random post analysis of natural conversations.

When opportunities arose for my family and spouse to talk freely about a topic I would listen carefully. I’m pretty sure that my verbal and non-verbal cues demonstrated interest. (Absent of any triggering episodes)

Curiously, when I began to share my thoughts I noticed a distinct difference in most people’s capabilities to listen. It was as if a switch went off and all the energy that propelled them forward to talk about their topics had been expended and there was nothing left for listening.

Here’s what I experienced:

No eye contact

Quick to acknowledge  other people, things and/or pets,  without apology, while I was speaking

Interrupted to passionately impose their own opinion and raised voice to be heard

Completely ignored topic(s) and deflected to what they wanted to talk about (“That’s like me….”)

Picked up phones in the middle of a conversation to scan Twitter, or check incoming email

Got up to leave or go do something else ( Their excuse: ” Oh, I thought you were finished talking” or “I just needed to….)

Silent: Asked no questions to better understand points, nor used words like, “Really?” or “Uh, huh.”

Body language showed disinterest and they lacked empathy

To counteract their apparent disinterest I stopped mid-sentence just to see what would happen. Some people were oblivious to the odd stop and other’s were jarred out of their mind fog enough to offer a faint bit of interest….and then it was gone again.

I also experimented with what I’ll call, “Goldfish Attention Span” talking. I kept speech short with simple words. Still no signs of life or interest. I tried being more animated in tone and body to command the stage, as it were. That worked a bit but I still wasn’t getting active listening beyond that point.

After observing their inability to be attentive I would transition back to something I know they like to talk about and miraculously they were engaged again.

Maybe I’m too boring. Maybe I talk too much. Maybe what I’m talking about is over their heads. Maybe listening is easier when it’s catchy comments or profanity laced dialogue. Maybe they are self-centered or rude. Maybe WE struggle with being present.


Maybe listening skills need to be developed and consistently improved upon in order to be effectively applied to our personal and business relationships.

Check out these Tips on Active Listening:

MindTools Article and Video

Active Listening Hear What People Are Really Saying


Dr John Gottman’s Top 10 Skills for Active Listening

  1. Focus on being interested, not interesting
  2. Start by asking questions
  3. Look for commonalities
  4. Tune in with all your attention
  5. Communicate that you are listening with a nod/sound
  6. Paraphrase what the speaker says
  7. Validate the speakers emotions
  8. Maintain eye contact
  9. Let go of your agenda
  10. Turn off the TV or anything else that is distracting


Car Pool Karaoke with Paul McCartney – Thanks James

Car Pool Karaoke with Paul McCartney – Thanks James






Have you experienced relationship or workplace violence?

Have you experienced relationship or workplace violence?

Have you experienced relationship or workplace violence, abuse or harassment?

I have to tell you about an amazing workshop series that I facilitate for Survivors of Violence. The personal transformations occurring through this workshop series is truly inspiring and I want to welcome you to join us!

The magnificent women who have attended consistently speak about how each workshop helped build compassion for themselves – especially given their circumstances – and increased self-esteem. Through self-reflection activities, and diverse conversation topics, participants have many “aha!” moments which positively shape what happens next both personally and professionally.

Many of our former participants refer other friends and family to the workshop series and I consistently hear,

“I wish I had learned this before – it’s life changing.”

Women of all ages, ethnicities and economic backgrounds attend our classes and this makes for very rich discussions in a highly supportive environment AND we have fun too!

You may be eligible to attend these special workshops and/or receive individual services.

If you live in the Richmond or Abbotsford, British Columbia areas, and want more information about upcoming Survivors of Violence workshops, contact me directly at 604.535.8761 or email        


Back in Motion, Richmond, BC                                                                                778.732.0290

AGORA Employment Essentials, Abbotsford, BC                                                  604.859.6790

Would you like tools and strategies to help manage and overcome the effects of abuse?

Here’s what we cover:

  • Establishing Healthy Boundaries
  • Building Self-Esteem, Self-Awareness and Observation Skills
  • Managing Emotional Triggers, Anger, Anxiety and Depression
  • Recognizing, Understanding and Overcoming the Impacts of Abuse
  • Qualities of Healthy Relationships
  • Substance Abuse Relapse Prevention Strategies
  • Effective Problem Solving and Communication in the Workplace
  • Overcoming Barriers to Change and Reframing Negative Self-Talk
  • Post workshop: 1 individual touchback session with workshop facilitator
  • Eligible clients receive FREE counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor

Note: If you live outside the areas listed please feel free to contact me for referrals to an agency near you.

The Face of Suicide

The Face of Suicide

With the death of Kate Spade, a highly recognized fashion designer, the topics of suicide and mental illness come to the forefront of media yet again. For those that do not suffer from mental illness, committing suicide seems like an extreme act. But, for some people who have considered taking their own life it’s not extreme at all, it’s just an option.

In honest conversations with people who struggle with severe depression I have learned that suicide can be considered a relief – a way out of their discomfort. They see themselves as sparing self,  family and friends from all the problems that exist with their condition. Others say, they are trying desperately to suppress such thoughts and urges but find it difficult at times to control the voices in their head. Embarrassed by it all, they try to keep the talking about it to a minimum.

It’s tough to know what will act as the catalyst for ending life, the one thing or day that will make such a thought become an executed decision. Outside of those that make their suicide a public spectacle, it is quite likely a very lonely way to go. Somewhere – while drowning in the torture of one’ s mind – comes the drive to go through with it. It is so very sad.

I may be taking some liberty in assigning the word lonely to such an experience as we never will know what each person feels in the moments before death.  If notes were left, like allegedly in Ms. Spade’s case, there is some answered questions and feelings described to others but ultimately the last seconds are personal.

We have multiple therapies, medications and groups that endeavour to help sufferers of mental illness. Through such support they are heard, validated and given reasons to continue life. However, all our knowledge and compassion unfortunately can’t save everyone.

There is no face of suicide. It is found in the stories of all people, all ethnicities and age groups, regardless of economic status or gender.

I have witnessed people recover from suicide attempts who go on to lead their best life. I think it’s important not to judge what “a best or normal life” is but to support whatever that looks like for them.  We should continue to try to offer support, call suicide prevention hotlines for guidance, or contact professionals on behalf of someone in distress.

All is not lost,  hope can rise again and what seems insurmountable can be challenged. One more day might make a big difference.


Suicide Prevention Canada

Thinking About Suicide?

Racist Ranter – Fire Her?

Racist Ranter – Fire Her?

After watching the video of a BC woman unleashing all sorts of racial insults at a group of men in a Lethbridge restaurant I understood fully why her employer was reported to have fired her. Whether their decision will stand remains to be seen, but I too would feel compelled to do something. If firing or a leave of absence (with an expectation of counselling to deal with her issues) is within my power then one or the other is going to happen.

I don’t care that she wasn’t at her place of work when she decided to be verbally abusive to these men. I also don’t care if she felt provoked or justified. It matters little to me that she may have been under the influence of alcohol or not. The fact is it’s unacceptable behaviour.

This woman needs help. She is consumed by fear which is the foundation for her racist rants, defensiveness and judgements. Her narrow view of people – who in her mind “aren’t Canadian” – is now played out for all the world to see.

When she rises up to declare, “I’m a Canadian woman who won’t be talked down to by you”, we are privy to another layer of her anger. In her mind all their women ( Syrian women) are mistreated, disrespected and without a voice and she’s not going allow them to do that to her. This may be her own experiences with being disempowered coming to light.

If there was any honor she thought she was defending it was not found in her rant. If at the core she doesn’t believe immigrants respect our country, traditions, values or even other people she has also not demonstrated RESPECT. She has become what she hates and looks outside of herself to find blame. All of this is not only self-destructive but has escalated to triggers experienced in public. She is fortunate that nobody responded with physical violence.

It is for all of these reasons that I go back to my point that until she receives assistance I would not want her at my place of work. We don’t live or work in a cultural bubble. We are both challenged and fortunate to live with diversity in this country.

I’m trying to see her through the lens of pain instead of a racist, verbally abusive person spewing profanity at other human beings. I’m also aware she was not the only one involved in this confrontation. So, to guide me towards that end I turned to a quote by Marshall B. Rosenberg,

When we listen for feelings and needs, we no longer see people as monsters.

In Memory of Dame Daphne Sheldrick

In Memory of Dame Daphne Sheldrick

A I write this I’m fighting back tears. Today, I learned that a woman I greatly admire has passed away – her name was Dame Daphne Sheldrick. She was the founder of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which has been rescuing and protecting wild Elephants and Rhinos since 1977. Her passion for wildlife conservation was nurtured alongside her husband David Sheldrick and after his death she remained committed to supporting wildlife in Kenya.

I wish I could find the perfect words to honor this woman but I’m afraid that will not be the case. I can’t capture the feelings fast enough in order to eloquently speak about her impact on my life.

My awareness about the plight of elephants came through an interview she did many years ago. After I finished watching her speak I was moved to find out more about DSWT and from that introduction I became committed to its success. Since that time I have continuously supported the charity and proudly sponsor two elephants.

A point of fact: When Dame Daphne Sheldrick began rescuing orphaned baby elephants it was difficult to keep them alive without their mother’s milk and loving guidance. It is through pure dedication that Dame Daphne Sheldrick managed to develop the right formula in which to feed baby elephants and developed a program in which a person would be assigned to each orphan. With this type of personal care and companionship these elephants thrived. Within Tsavo East National Park, and beyond, there are generations of healthy adult elephants who live because DSWT cared.

Now the tears stream down my face….

Dame Daphne Sheldrick had gentle hands caring for elephants and rhinos but a determined voice as their advocate. She knew that a world without these majestic, incredibly intelligent souls would not be right. She brushed up against their bodies and listened to the beating of their hearts. She looked into the eyes of an orphan and knew she couldn’t take away their tragic memories of loss but could lessen their grief with an introduction to a new family. Dame Sheldrick and her team knew all souls would not be saved but accepted this as their reality. She was incredibly brave to fight this battle and her final battle with breast cancer.

In 2009, one of my earliest blog posts was a two-part interview with Wendi Wendt – who’s picture you see on this post with a baby elephant – she was the Vice President of The US Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I was thrilled to speak with her. Wendi and I spoke about our first encounters with this project at more length than what’s written in my blog. I know I share with many people today a tremendous amount of sadness and a renewed sense of purpose to keep Dame Sheldrick’s vision alive. Please feel free to read US Friends of the David Seldrick Wildlife Trust Interview Part 1 and Interview Part 2.

I offer my condolences to her family, friends and dedicated colleagues.

Please help support their cause – For the Love of a Baby Elephant or Rhino. Donate


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