beauty products,  parenting

When It Takes A Village – Dove #CelebrateMom

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This post is part of’s support of the Dove Celebrate Mom contest.I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.You can nominate inspiring moms here:
In many ways my family is the truth at the heart of that saying It Takes A Village To Raise A Child. It took a village to help us build a family and when we adopted our girls, both as infants, well I knew always that  I would seek to find them strong role models to help guide them throughout their lives.
I had many. My Mother, a single parent, a teacher and caregiver for many. My grandmother, a strong opinionated woman who raised six children and still had time for us. And so should every girl. Each of my daughters, before they came to our home had two prior mothers. Birth mothers and foster mothers and then me – Mom, the one who gets the best parts of them.
Maybe it’s my nature as a human being to know that I sometimes need help, maybe it’s because our family started in this way as a collaborative effort – whatever the reason, I know that I am a person who is comfortable asking for and advocating for help when support is a thing that a family needs.
And so, along the way, as my girls accumulated a number of diagnoses, a host of letters and special needs behind their names threatening to weigh down tiny shoulders, helpers have come into our lives.There have been therapists and doctors and social workers and other adoptees that have each filled a need. One or two have been very good role models for my girls. Both of their former foster moms are amazing role models I can never thank enough. I am, of course, beyond grateful to each of their birthmothers as well. We would never have been parents without their gifts.
But most recently one amazing soul has reached out to help us as a family guide through some pretty rough terrain. She has grown to become a friend, a trusted confidante for my oldest daughter at a time when she is at a crossroads between childhood and teenage years.
Laurel Crossley-Byers is an angel for many families. I knew her first as @Optimom and we shared some tweets back and forth starting two years ago. She punctuates sentences with Kitten, Muffincakes and Snort and is generally a bright light in your twitter stream on any given day you need a giggle.
When my Mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year, Laurel A. Crossley Byers aka @Optimom reached out to me personally phoning me, providing me with some ideas, thoughts, empathy. No expectation of returns, just an unexpected kindness. And when my mother started wandering that same summer, and my daughter’s anxiety increased over what was happening with her grandmother, Laurel had my child figured out in about three minutes. Sensitive, caring, creative, gifted and a perfectionist. (I think she might have seen hints of her own character traits too.)
Next time we talked, Laurel remembered everything. Every. Last. Detail. It was freakish. And as my daughter grew older and had some issues arising at school over her perfectionism – me tweeting all my problems to the world – well Laurel again stepped in and talked to me about anxiety and the ways in which it can take over, and had taken over, at times in her extended family. She told me her thoughts and then suggested a Skype program she was running for kids just like mine.
Eight weeks ago my daughter logged onto Skype and met Auntie Laurel on line and she and several other girls with similar personalities, oddly all in grade five, did sessions on meditation, animal therapies, nutrition, homework and alternative therapies like crystals. The LMAO (Laughing My Anxiety Off) program was an idea my oldest was so keen to embrace, she saved half of her own money to fund it. Because the strange thing about anxiety is that it prevents you from living your life. I think my girl was starting to realize that.
Laurel is a mom of two teens, Aidan, 13, and Alannah, age 17.5, and an aunt to many. She is bright and witty and funny and a bit unconventional. And she helps kids all over who are having problems managing life, stress, anxiety, school, worries. Most of all she helped my daughter immeasurably.
I asked my daughter if it was okay to nominate Laurel for this Dove Celebrate Mom contest and she shook her head vehemently affirming my choice, then she said this:
“Laurel is just so hysterical that sometimes she makes me forget I have anxiety at all.”
Laurel is a great creative spirit and a friend of children. When we finally had a chance to meet at an event in Toronto recently, my daughter Payton reacted as if she were meeting a rock star, screaming her name across the room (subtle, she is not) It was fitting that we were meeting another one of our role models, at an event that asked girls to think about who their role models are.
Laurel Crossley-Byers, life coach, parent educator, founder of Opti-Mom and TV Host, is creative and one of a kind. Things I want my daughter to hold as important in her life. Just last week, Laurel helped inspire at least five to six young girls in one night alone. She is a helper, with a soothing and therapeutic personality. Also things I want for my daughters both to value throughout their lives.
Rossana Wyatt, digital woman, Mom, connector, blogger and community manager, had more to say about the impact of her friend Laurel Crossley-Byers.
“Laurel is an inspiration and a truly lovely woman _she always finds time to talk to you no matter how busy she may be; she is also not afraid to put herself out there and let people know that it’s okay to just be you, no matter what others may think.”
Dawn Lyons, a London Mom and writer, also thinks highly of Laurel
“Laurel is an inspiration, not only because of how she supports young people, but because she leads by example. I would call her a role model for girls, because she demonstrates an infectious combination of confidence in herself and compassion for others that radiates in everything she does.”
As I started to think about this campaign, and the life of girls in general in Canada, I was inspired and feeling blessed. So many great people. So many brilliant role models surrounding all of our children. If you know a great role model in a girl’s life, visit to nominate her. She can be a teacher, Mom, friend, coach, sister – anyone you know who inspires girls and is a great role model. You have until September 4, 2012 to nominate. Four inspiring women will win $2,500 for herself and $2,500 to a charity of her choice.
Beauty is many things for me and for Dove. It is embracing yourself, all your colours and colourful sides. It is knowing your flaws and working with them and inspiring others to help and guide and be strong. Laurel Crossley-Byers does all this.
Laurel has helped my daughter forget some of her worries. She has given her, and other girls just like her, tools for life. After a recent session with Laurel, my daughter, who has been bullied and has struggled often with size and weight and whether she fits the mold of what a girl in grade five should look like, said this to me: “I feel really confident today. I look good.”
On a recent display about self esteem, Payton wrote: Love the skin you are in, no matter what the colour. Six months ago, she wouldn’t have written that. She was too busy hiding in her room before school so she could avoid bullies and work that she couldn’t start for fear it might be less than an A.
Our girls are all bright and beautiful and brilliant and bold, some like Payton need some help along the way. They need encouragement. And occasionally, they need someone who is not their mother to hold a mirror up to them and show them all the beauty they possess. Strong role models, guides, Moms and more. Laurel Crossley-Byers has been that for my daughter.
Payton and me in Toronto recently.
Dove has been spreading the message to girls through their Dove self esteem fund. Did you know that only 9 % of girls would choose to use the term beautiful to describe their looks?  But the good news from the Dove Self-Esteem Fund research is that positive female role models can play a powerful role nurturing self-esteem, even more so than friends or the media. Every time you buy Dove, you help raise a girl’s self-esteem. The Dove self-esteem fund was developed to help free the next generation from self-limiting beauty stereotypes. The fund develops and distributes free resources that enable and empower women and girls to embrace a broad definition of beauty.
For more information about Laurel and her courses or work visit her site too.
Visit by September 4th to nominate a mom who’s an inspiring role model to women and girls in the Dove Celebrate Mom contest.Four inspiring women will win $2,500 for herself and $2,500 to be donated to the charity of her choice.
Check out more stories about amazing role model moms.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • The Zoo

    How kind that what she gives you so much. You can’t pay for genuineness like that. Thank you so much for recognizing a beautiful and caring shining star.

    Is it just me for do you and Payton look a lot alike. People don’t believe that I’m adopted because I look so much like my Mom and Brother.

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

  • Paula Schuck

    (My apologies Jennifer: I acccidentally hit delete – I reposted by cut and paste. sorry. Thanks for your comment.)

    Jennifer has left a new comment on your post “When It Takes A Village – Dove #CelebrateMom”:

    What a beautiful story! I was in tears.

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    Moderate comments for this blog.

    Posted by Jennifer to thriftymommastips at July 16, 2012 3:35 PM

  • NPC

    AWESOME post! And Laurel is pretty awesomesauce. Thanks for sharing this and must I say, you look pretty fab too. 😀

  • Auntie Laurel

    Every time I read this, the tears flow. Thank you to my amazing Moms and Girls that continue to inspire and motivate me with their BIG hearts, sweet souls and their unconditional love. Words cannot express my gratitude. Thank you Paula and most of all thank you Payton for you truly do make me feel like a rockstar!! xoxo “Auntie Laurel”