paula toledo

Where Discovery Meets Gratitude

Ode to Wonder is an experiential community, a creative space built to exercise mental well-being and positive states of mind by engaging in curiosity, discovery and gratitude.

It is a celebration of the simple things in life, accessible through the beauty of humanity, art, travel, and sports/nature. The four pillars fit together perfectly as an acronym, 'H.A.T.S. Off' to describe a mental wellness regime based on self-care and self-compassion. 

While crossing paths with innovative and inspiring people, Ode to Wonder will share their stories of adversity, but mainly offer insight into their individual strength and the resources they used to  help them work through life's challenges.

May Ode to Wonder be a contagious remedy for some, offering enlightenment. May it be a dare to dream bigger, believe in oneself that much more. A dare to climb up those stairs, open the door to the rooftop of the world and wonder.

For we are one. Let us all be part of each other's wonders. 




by Paula M. Toledo

Unapologetic with absolutely no notice she just showed up. My friends said, "What do you mean, she just showed up?"  They were confused. "A complete stranger, out of nowhere just shows up at your house?!"

I said, "Yeah, this time she actually wasn't so bad." She comes and goes. I just never know when she will show up. 

When I first met her, she literally walked into our life, out of nowhere . I left our front door open, as we always do. Without hesitation. Without any notice. Literally out of the blue, she just marched right in through our front door! Tornado force. A vortex just sucking up anything in its path, having no mercy for anyone but herself. No one quite understood why I let her in. Dressed as a Goth, there was an intensity about her. My memory is that she went straight for the fridge, helped herself to whatever, slept on my sofa for days. Never offering to help or put anything away. She was an emotional mess. My house was a mess. My kids were a mess. I was a mess! I spoke to my friends, my family, anyone who would care to listen but they didn't have any advice for me. They had never been in this situation themselves. Many advised me to just shut her out. Maybe even change the locks. 

When friends came over, they just pretended she didn't exist. Trying to conceal their awkwardness was painful for everyone. They just didn't know what to say or do. Small talk became even smaller. Social situations became more draining. Dating was a whole other story.

I just didn't really know what to do with her. My kids tried to ignore her.  We found it very hard - crushing in fact. She was causing havoc in my life and all I wanted was for her to leave. She reminded me of that nightmare of a tenant in that movie Pacific Heights that refuses to leave. I wondered if our lives would ever return back to normal. I remember needing to go see a therapist to talk about it. It just consumed me. Not part of me, but all of me. 

Then one day, without notice, she packed up her bags and left. As quickly as she arrived, she was gone. 

I found joy again. I even found happiness picking up after her. It felt symbolic. It meant that I was getting my life back. Back to the way it was before she arrived. 

But deep in my gut, I knew her entering my life was significant, that I would never be the same person ever again.

Not before long, she would return again. Without notice. Without hesitation. I thought to myself, "You gotta be kidding me!" Friends and family started getting really worried. Impatient even. Then fed up. They were just so over it. Tired of me putting up with her. They told me if I just kept myself busy, out of the house, that if I just ignored her that eventually she would leave on her own accord. They said, she would move on. But in my heart, I knew I had to do the opposite. I knew that I needed to lean into this situation. She was here for a reason. I had to open my heart and have compassion for her.  Accept her stays. Not judge her. Not judge myself for letting her in. 

9 years later, I'm happy that I managed to be patient because over the years, we have struck a new stride. A better relationship. She still shows up unexpected. But her stays are infrequent and brief. Sometimes, just a quick hello to drop in to say she was thinking of me when she heard that lyric of that song that meant so much to us. That song by Blue Rodeo, 'Try'. She would try to sing me the lyrics but would always forget them. So we would google them together. 

"Don't tell me I'm wrong. Cause I've been watching every move that you make. Hearts you steal, with your make-up and heels. Trouble for the man that you take. Every time you walk in the room. I couldn't ever be sure of a smile. You were never the same way twice. I'm falling in love. Oh, night after night, oh it's crazy."

There is a thoughtfulness about her. She never forgets a birthday or anniversary.  We have indeed formed a strange kind of relationship. She gets me. We get each other. She has witnessed so much of our lives and what we have been through. 

The last time I saw her, she looked different. She was all cleaned up. The Goth look gone. She brought balloons for my kids. They gathered around with all their friends, scribbled notes of hope onto them and let them go into the sky. In the past, the times she showed up really affected them. It was so heavy. But not anymore. It was so great of her to bring the balloons. To see the kids laugh and giggle. What joy. What a remarkable change. 

Good-Grief Central.JPG

be well, hope to not see ya soon

haha! ;)

In a way I am happy I never changed the locks. I'm happy I let her in. She has been a teacher to me in so many many ways. A visitor, who through her complex ways, has showed me the road to compassion, not just for her, but for me, my kids...for other people. I have accepted her. We have accepted each other. I have accepted that others have their own visitors. You just never know what happens behind the four walls of someone's home.

The intensity in our lives has lifted and has made room for positivity and growth. 

I think by giving her a key to my house, it helped her feel validated. Ironically, she rarely uses it. The last time she was over, she left, but this time she gave us a little notice.

Next to the key she left behind, laid a scribbled note. "Be well. Hope to not see ya soon. Haha!" A winky emoji next to her almost ineligible handwriting. 

"Your Dear Friend, Grief". 




Ode to Mtl Breakfast TV's, Derick Fage

Ode to Mtl Breakfast TV's, Derick Fage