Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Dining Table

Over the past few years my parents have been thinking about moving from their farm into town. The conversation has progressed substantially, they have bought the house in town and this transition is slowly becoming a reality. Like many of you reading, you have gone down this road and made this transition, so you know exactly where I/we are right now. In preparation for this move the time has come for us kids to start picking and choosing things from the farm that we want ~ not an easy task that’s for sure.

I have thought long and hard about what it is that I want, what piece of the farm can I take with me that will allow me to remain close and connected to a place that saw me grow from a four year old pig-tailed little girl into a thirty-something woman? There are many things I have decided I would like however there is one thing that has stuck in my mind and I have finally I decided to ask for it. What is it you ask? The kitchen table!

You may think the kitchen table a strange request, however you must understand that in our house, like many of yours I’m sure, the kitchen table is the centre of so much, it’s almost like the central nervous system of the home. So much has happened and still happens around that table, so many hours of conversation whether it is the early morning coffee with the neighbors, warm winter breakfasts, dad’s 12pm lunch or the countless dinners that have been shared or maybe it’s the late night heart to hearts. Whatever the case may be our kitchen table has and continues to host much laughter, some tears, always great food, many jokes and so much more.

Over the years I have learned that a kitchen table isn’t simply wood and varnish rather it is like a giant memory box. The kitchen table is the gathering spot where life is shared, where dreams are realized, where vision is cast and where laughter can be heard. Sadly I see many new homes being built with no kitchen and no space for a kitchen table, this is a trend in the big cities that I see has not yet hit small town Saskatchewan and I hope it never does. This ‘new way’ of living is about eating out or individual eating in your bedroom in front of the computer or television. A travesty indeed.

There is something significant about kitchen/dining tables and as I look through history I see that through feasting and dining cultures come together. There is strength in breaking bread together as families and as communities. I think about Jesus and the last supper and the fact that it was shared at a table. I find it interesting that Jesus could have chosen anywhere for this significant act to occur yet he chose the table to share such an important moment. Through this one act I have to believe that there is a message to us all. Tables are sacred places. They are a place where we can come together to talk about the hard things, to relax and enjoy each other’s company, to communicate, to eat and to simply be together.

I would like to encourage you to use your dining table to it’s full potential. Through our work with thefamilyroom I have seen countless families come together, broken hearts mended and so much more simply through sitting at the table together, sharing a meal and getting back to what really matters. I find it interesting that we are designed to enjoy food more than once a day, we are designed to stop, sit and replenish so why not start making this a critical part of our family schedules.

If you haven’t enjoyed a meal together at the family table for awhile I would like to encourage you to dust off the table, let everyone know that dinner is on at 6pm, prepare a family favorite and watch everyone enjoy each others company. I know you will be amazed. If you find yourself alone and without family then I encourage you to extend yourself and invite someone to your table. If gathering at the table is something you do regularly then please keep it up and why not invite someone over and share the time together.

As many of you know I live away from family and have done so for many years now, this being the case, there is one thing I know for sure, if I call at dinner time I know I will always get an answer and if it’s a party or special occasion, and everyone’s home but me, as the phone is being passed around I know exactly where everyone will be sitting - being able to do this warms my soul and the simplicity of this allows me a feeling of everything being well with the world.

To conclude I am happy to report that my parents have said I can have the old kitchen table that still holds the chip that I etched out one warm summer day in 1978. I know that as the years continue and as life changes I will hear the voices of my family and friends simply by sitting at that table and allowing the richness and memories flood my mind. Let me encourage you to use your tables and remember to always put an extra potato in the pot or rice in the cooker and leave room to squeeze one more in just in case someone turns up at dinner time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Enjoy your time with family, eat lots of chocolate (if you're allowed) and remember to have fun and laugh lots.  

Keep it real and keep it simple.

Much love,
thefamilyroom crew

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Power of Your Story

Easter is creeping up on us quickly with the threat of enough chocolate eggs to fill a driveway. It is an exciting time for kids and adults alike with the promise of family gatherings and festivities over the short break.

Not only does this time of year herald the Easter Bunny and his diabetic inducing treats, but it also boasts one of the world’s most famous life stories of sacrifice and forgiveness. A story that has changed the lives of so many.

This started me thinking of the stories we all share along our journey that have or will bring help, empathy and understanding to so many around and beyond us. How many books have we read that give us a glimpse of how life panned out for others entailing their personal accounts of heartache, trials, support, overcoming and achievement?

Last night I was at a work function and the conversation turned to around to the story of my adoption and the sacrificial work of my parents who have been fostering children for nearly 50 years. It was amazing to hear the questions that spilled out, the interest that filled the room, the compassion that was shown and the stories that followed. What seems like an everyday run of the mill existence is new, interesting and often inspiring to someone else. I have personally felt more understood, challenged and inspired just by listening to the life stories my friends have bravely shared over the years.

Never underestimate the power of your story. As my mum always says, ‘Your trial is not always about you sweetheart, you never know who will need to hear about this in the future.’ Keeping that in mind, it helps put things into perspective and think outside myself.

Without a publisher or the talent of a wordsmith, all we need to do is open our mouths or in the Family Room way, write a blog. EVERYONE has a story and is worth the read. And the impact it could potentially have on someone going through a similar experience is priceless.

Have a brilliant Easter and listen to someone’s story and, if you’re feeling courageous enough, share yours!


Monday, March 10, 2008


Hi everyone. I hope you are all well.

TOCOPHOBIA…… I wonder if any of you know what that word means. It’s definitely an interesting one.

I recently read an article in the Sunday paper about a disorder called “tocophobia”. According to the article many women suffer from it. What is it? Tocophobia is defined as “an abnormal and persistent fear of childbirth.”

In the article the author spoke of her desire to be a mother and her debilitating anxiety as she thought of the “damage” childbirth would do. Her fears were confirmed by friends who opening and rather graphically shared their colourful experiences. We have all been in those situations, hearing as some people call it, the war stories of pregnancy and childbirth.

As a midwife and a mother I can see the complexity of the situation. I am reminded once again that the way that we share our birth stories can impact those in our company. I can’t stress how important it is to keep the feelings and futures of those around us in mind as we share. Sadly, my 9-year-old daughter says she doesn’t want to have babies because it hurts too much. I know I am responsible for forming this opinion. It is a wake up call for me. I hope and pray that as I change the way I communicate about childbirth I can instill confidence in her and her approach to pregnancy and childbirth.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Welcome to thefamilyroom on Youtube

Lonely World - Part Two

After receiving so many emails from people about the last article 'Lonely World' I decided I needed to do a part two. Can I say that I would love it if you would convert your emails into comments on the blog itself. Although I do enjoy the emails I can tell you that many people would be encouraged and challenged by the comments you make to me personally.

I received and overwhelming response to the article and found that most people are willing to step out a little further and try and reach people. The challenge seems to be time and confidence. So, with this in mind I am going to try and give you a few tips on how to overcome these two challenges.

This is something thefamilyroom girls discuss regularly and it is something that most people grapple with. How do you find TIME to do what you need to do? In our busy schedules how do you carve out space for yourself, let alone space for someone else? Well friends, to have time you have to make time. I strongly suggest (as I have before) journal what your week looks like. Do it like you would a food diary (we've all had one of those at one time or another) if you will. Write everything down for an entire week. At the end of a week look at what you've accomplished and how much time you spent doing everything. Then, at the beginning of the following week set some goals, things that need to happen and again journal your week. At then end of that week, sit down and access.

In doing this simple exercise I'm confident you, like myself, will find time. You will realise that there are somethings you are doing that you don't need to, some you are taking to much time doing them, etc., etc., etc. Before you know it you will have found time to do something different and you will be using your time much more effectively.

This is a great exercise to do not only for yourself but for your family as a whole. You can also use it to help those friends whom you know are struggling with time.

This one is simple. Put one foot in front of the other and just make it happen. Do it with fear and trembling if you need to, just do it.
If you're inviting someone over for dinner cook something you know really well. You really don't need to turn into Martha Stewart overnight!!! People just want to be included, they aren't looking for a 5-star performance or a performance at all, they are simply looking for a sense of belonging and significance.
So, keep it simple. We've had some of our best parties or get together(s) simply by scouring the pantry and kitchen and pulling a meal together.
The main ingredients you will need: an open door, laughter and an interest in someone else.

You may be reading this saying, "this is easy for you, you're not me I don't know how to do this." To that I will remind you that I too had to start somewhere and put one foot in front of the other. You can do this and it's amazing how the simplest of things can make the biggest difference. Dare to be different and make a difference in someone else's life.

Susan J. Sohn

ps - remember if you need food ideas check out our archives for great, simple, familyroom tried and true recipes.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Lonely World

As most of you know, our family have been in LA for the last few months. Having grown up in Canada, lived in Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia I consider myself to have lived in some of the most amazing places in the world, especially when it comes to community and hospitality. I now find myself in what they call the city of Angels and I have to believe it's called that because the need for Angels here is so huge. This is a big, lonely city and from what I can see, a city that has become hard and callous towards the human heart and emotions.

Yesterday I sat at my son's basketball game and chatted with a gentle, kind hearted father of one of the boys on the opposing team, we new each other because we were on the same soccer team last season. This nice man hails from Bombay, India and has been in LA for the past 12 years. In between our air punching and team chants and individual hoorays, we found space to have an incredible conversation. During our conversation he asked me what it was that I did; at which point I told him about thefamilyroom. He was extremely interested and began asking questions. As I answered, he asked more and finally began to share about his own life. With tears in his eyes he told me how his marriage was an arranged marriage and after years of trying to make it work, he found the challenge was maybe more than he could take. He told me that he had known his wife for all of 1 month before they wed. Our discussion was varied and included that of arranged marriages vs what he called ‘marriages of love’, we covered a great deal during that 60 minute game. He shared with me about living in LA and how different it was to India and how lonely he and his family were, how community just wasn't anything like he knew or loved. I could relate and understand. This conversation caused me to think and stirred me to write.

Whether you find yourself in a big city, medium sized city or small town and whether you yourself are lonely please understand that there are lonely people everywhere. According to a recent Harvard Study loneliness, which can lead to extreme depression, is becoming one of the top killers in society today. It's sad to think that we, as people, have become so distant from one another, especially when we know we were created to be in relationship and that our inner most being craves connectivity.

I would like to encourage you today, as we always do through thefamilyroom, to extend yourself. Invite someone over for dinner or out for coffee, open your hearts and doors and allow people in. Let’s dare to be different, dare to be known as people of kindness and generosity, allow your homes to be the homes on the street that people want to come to. Allow your home to be a light in a world where darkness, sadness and loneliness seem to be on the increase.

Through my conversation at the basketball game this man came to understand that I have a love for Indian food that stems from my childhood and amazing family friends. He learned that I enjoy cooking Indian food and that I'm not afraid to try anything. Interestingly enough, as I have said in the past, it is the dining table and food that will bring this man, his family and hopefully ours together and perhaps for one night their loneliness will be forgotten and replaced by a feeling of belonging, connectivity and community.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all cared just a little more.


My Favorites

Clicky Web Analytics