• with love: Joanne Schwindt Photography

Personal Choices. Your way.


We celebrated our eldest daughter's first holy communion this past month.

She was very excited from beginning to end of this two year process, although at times taking her to Sunday school was, well not always smooth sailing. There wasn't a day that she didn't look forward to accepting the host and of course to have a celebration in her honour to ring in this milestone. I was introduced to Catholicism when I was growing up. I felt that it was an open door to discover other pathways toward my own opinions, my own spirituality, and the journey into an awareness that continues today.

As my own spiritual opinions developed as a child and into my adult years, I began to understand patience, honesty and kindness more. I also came across the opinions of others which were imparted to me often. Their own opinions of what I should believe in, or why I shouldn't believe in it. I found this frustrating. I found the hypocrisy to be the most confusing. I realized that religion is personal. It needs to come from within you. Similarly, like all things that are grounded in personal growth, such as: childbirth, motherhood and/or parenthood for example. Through varying experiences, and simple intuition I have always felt that it is truly your own journey. No one can carve it out for you. No one book or one person can explain it perfectly or dissect it. It is one of those mysteries that we come to learn more about as we come to learn more about ourselves. If we open ourselves up to 'not knowing' life unfolds and beautiful things can happen. Spirituality has taught me more about belief in the unknown, kindness, mindfulness, forgiveness, love, letting go and most of all patience for myself, and for other people.

Both my husband and I have our own opinions about the history of religion but we felt it was important for our children to understand and come to learn more about spirituality. We hope as time continues and our children's opinions develop that their interest will ground them onto their own spiritual path; one that cannot be defined by anyone but themselves.

I celebrated my holy communion over 30 years ago. My mother kept my dress which she then handed down to my daughter as a beautiful heirloom. We took it to Greenfield Cleaners, who altered it with so much care and cleaned it impeccably. My daughter's headpiece and shoes were gifts from her grandparents. She absolutely loved that she was wearing her mother's dress. I am so thankful that my mother kept it for me after all these years.

The children's clothing as well as my husband's clothes were purchased from JoeFresh as well as the Gap

Both shops are accessible and easy for me to navigate with sizing, colour combinations and when trying to coordinate outfits for the 5 of us.

The delicious buttercream vanilla cake with cream cheese filling was made by my ultimate favourite cake maker The Wedding Cake Shoppe

I decorated it with pink roses and baby breath flowers purchased from Bloor & Kennedy Flowers.

The party favours were artistically handmade and beautifully packaged by our local neighbourhood talent Jacqueline at Teeny Tiny Bakery. We ask her to make cookies for as many occasions as we can think of. She amazes us with her sheer talent. If you have time check her out on instagram

Julin had a lot of fun on her communion day celebrating with our immediate family. We had a small gathering at La Terrazza, which had a beautiful Italian spread for us and a very relaxing atmosphere. Both myself and my husband have been watching Julin change and grow through these past two years while she began learning more about spirituality. Seeing her with family, talking about her communion on the day of, and after the ceremony was special for so many reasons. The many days which led up to her ceremony, she talked to us about her opinions of God, life, death, that people don't believe in this and others believe in that. She continues to question things, and we continue to speak about life and other cultures when it comes up. I love that we are having these types of conversations. Although, before her classes began we spoke about things like this, but we realized having someone else besides her parents talk about spirituality created for varying opinions to arise. To challenge our's and her own beliefs as well as confirm them.

World cultures and traditions have always been something we feel we can all benefit from knowing more about. We are very lucky to be living in one of the most multi-cultural places in the world, Toronto! We find by opening ourselves up to learn more about other people and what they believe allows for one to open up their own minds and hearts. Most especially, we become aware that there are beautiful open places one can retreat also to find peace, which welcome all walks of life: to pray, to meditate or to be among others in silence, in story or in song.

We meditate with our children (for as long as they will sit). We also pray with them and give thanks for the simple things we have in this life. We also talk about the unjust and the just. We speak about being mindful. Thinking before speaking. Acting out in kindness. Treating others with patience and love. Trying to repair things and learning how to let go. Both myself and my husband speak about our own imperfections and our missed marks, as people, as a couple and as parents to our children. This leaves room to speak about forgiveness, authentic apologies, taking responsibility for ones actions, naming feelings, and most especially that we are always learning and changing.

We don't overwhelm our children with our own opinions, or too much information, but we encourage them to be curious, to ask questions, to share their opinions honestly, and in-turn to find their own voice in the varying things that are presented to them, such as spirituality.

Love: Jo

Thanks to: Our Parents + Our Families The Wedding Cake Shoppe Teeny Tiny Bakery Saint Joan of Arc Church Greenfield Cleaners Bloor & Kennedy Flowers

Joe Fresh GAP

La Terrazza

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©JOANNE SCHWINDT PHOTOGRAPHY   All material is strictly copyrighted

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