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. 

Ode to Being a Mad...

Ode to Being a Mad...


by Paula M. Toledo

The days roll forward out of my control. Schools and teachers mark their calendars with art projects and thoughtful gifts to present to their fathers. At home, I prepare for our Father’s Day Go-Karting ritual in honour of my children’s dad who loved fast cars.

I always put myself in my children’s shoes. I feel their sadness, which then always leads my own sense of irritation. I think to myself, are teachers not aware that parents now exist in many shapes and forms? How about widows like myself, women who are solo mamas by choice via IVF or other means, moms who are solo mamas NOT by choice, same sex parent or transgender couples who may not identify with being a father in their relationship, blended families that have more than one father, adopted children who may celebrate their father and biological father. After some reflection (and a good cup of coffee), the irritation subsides. My rational brain kicks in and I realize that it’s not the making of Father’s Day presents at school that is the problem. The challenge is - do teacher’s overlook these emotional struggles that some of these kids are faced with? In the past, my children have told me their teachers nonchalantly recommend giving the gift to an uncle or grandfather. That’s all fine and good but where is the empathy in understanding and teaching them to work through their feelings as they spend hours and weeks at a time working on an ambiguous gift. In their hearts, these children are working through a loss by way of a meaningful absence. The gesture to re-direct strikes me as very unsympathetic. As thoughtless as re-gifting, a re-directed Father’s Day present without empathy adds salt to the wound.

How can schools and teachers use play and imagination to nurture resilience in situations like these? In many cases it’s a missed opportunity. Perhaps, more often than not, teachers don’t feel this is their responsibility.

Fortunately, I had the chance to get to know my youngest son’s teacher. The school knows our situation. I gather despite their decision to move forward with making Father’s Day presents, the teachers had empathetic concern for my children.

This morning my children busted the doors down to my bedroom proclaiming that I was their ‘MAD’. They gifted me with their Father’s Day presents because they said they didn’t want to give it to their uncles or grandfather. To them, I was BOTH their mom and dad. They told me I was the best MAD in the world.

Blending the ‘M’ of Mom into the ‘AD’ of Dad made my laugh. I take it as a healthy sign they are metabolizing their grief. They have learned a new way to present their situation to the world. Their humour and creativity, despite the difficulty of this day, made me realize that they are going to be just fine. And isn’t that half the battle as a parent? Knowing our kids will be just fine is the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

And so I spoke to them about their feelings. I asked them if they were as sad as in years prior. “Making these presents must be very very hard for you”, I said. “It wasn’t as bad mom, because you are our MAD”. And in their teasing ways, laughing at the double meaning, they busted out of my room in a fit of giggles.

Where Discovery Meets Gratitude ©

Ode to Our Children

Ode to Our Children