Category Archives: Gratitude

Go to the fields and seek the unexpected

“Imagine, adorable, if we were walking through a beautiful field, in a beautiful day and suddenly a storm fell over our heads. How wonderful! Is there greater emotion than seeing the elements producing wild power and energy? Let’s go to the fields, Mary, and seek the unexpected.” 

—Khalil Gibran, from a love letter written to Mary Haskell, May 24, 1914

Imagine, readers, if we were walking through a beautiful field, in a beautiful day with a person we love and suddenly we decided to celebrate the “wildly ever after” instead of the “happily ever after.”

How wonderful!

Is there a greater achievement than successfully withstanding the wild power and energy produced by the elements?

Forget the fairy tale and the happily-ever-after ending. How dull! (And unrealistic.) Look with delight upon the storms that fall over your head and the wild power and energy of the elements.

Go to the fields and seek the unexpected.


See more of Kahlil Gibran’s love letters to Mary Haskill at the  blog: Gibran’s love letters




The morning after: Breathe . . . all shall be well

I am writing this post early in the morning on Monday, October 19. It’s federal election day here in Canada, but I don’t know yet what’s going to happen. The polls haven’t even opened in my region. When I finish writing, I will pre-schedule this post to run tomorrow morning when the results are in and people will either be mourning or celebrating. I don’t yet know what’s going to happen, but I do know this.


“The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

All shall be well.

No matter what happens, all shall be well.

If you invested your whole being in the Conservative party, and they will not form the next government, it’s okay. All shall be well.

If you believe that Justin Trudeau is the sure and certain leader for our country, but the Liberals did not win enough seats, it’s okay. All shall be well.

If you live and breathe the politics of the New Democratic Party, but Thomas Mulcair’s NDP candidates did not show well, it’s okay. All shall be well.

If you believe that Stephen Harper is a megalomaniac who holds too tightly the reins of his ministers and the public service and does not respect human rights, but the people of Canada voted his party back into power, it’s okay. All shall be well.

If you believe that Justin Trudeau is just not ready, but the votes carried him into the footsteps of his father as prime minister of this country, it’s okay. All shall be well.

If you believe that Elizabeth May is a fine candidate and her Green party has the potential to re-shape our country in a positive way, but the Greens still didn’t manage to gain any political headway, it’s okay. All shall be well.

I have close friends in all of those camps. Close friends of mine live and breathe the politics of vastly different parties. I love all those people. Not a one of them is evil incarnate.

That’s how I know that all shall be well. 

Since confederation, this country has been led by either Liberal or Conservative prime ministers. Collectively they shaped this country into, what I believe is, the finest democracy in the world. Each one of them changed us for the better in some way. Each one of them made mistakes.

In between elections, the parties not in power raged about the travesties of the governing party. They ranted about what they would change. After all the bluster though, when changes in government happened, the new governing party kept what worked—even if they had raged against it—and changed what didn’t.

My diverse friends, although they approach it from different directions, are all driven by the same ideal: the building and maintenance of a great democracy.

I believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was right. Events which, at first blush, appear horrific or unjust, often lead to a greater good.

“The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” All shall be well.




Thanksgiving for Today: Hafiz

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada, may everyone in the world move slowly over the lines on God’s palm with hearts full of wonder and kindness, as Hafiz would have wanted.


Do not
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God’s palm
As I move through the earth’s

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
My Beloved.

Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full of wonder
And kindness.

I do not
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God’s body
That is right beneath our
Own foot.

As I
Dance with
Precious life


A line on God’s palm

A fire wishing for wind: Gifts from randomness

wishing-for-wind“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.” —Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

My husband and I had to roll with randomness twice recently.

The first time was two weekends ago when we planned a trip to London, ON to see my son at university. It was my birthday, so we were fulfilling my wish to get a birthday hug from both my children before the weekend was out. Our plan was to get up on Saturday morning, relax, do some reading, maybe some gardening and then meander down to stay with some friends in Kingston, ON on Saturday night. From there we would rise early on Sunday morning and drive to London to watch my son pitch from the bullpen in baseball game and have a quick visit.

Then . . . at 9:45 on Saturday morning my son sent a text: “I’m in Toronto with the team, and I just found out I’m starting the 2:00 game.” We live a 4-hour drive away from Toronto. I hadn’t showered or packed or prepared in any way, but we ran with it. We threw a few things in an overnight back, contacted our friends in Kingston to adjust the timing, and drove like stink to Toronto.

This unexpected series of events worked out better than our original plan. We got to watch our son be the starting pitcher in a game instead of coming in out of the bullpen, I got to see him on my actual birthday instead of the day after, and when we arrived at our friend’s house in Kingston later, we had nowhere to rush off to, so we enjoyed a leisurely visit and a walk in the conservation area behind their house.

The second gift of randomness arrived on our wedding anniversary. Our plan was to attend a presentation that a friend of ours was giving at the Chateau Laurier for the Canadian Public Relations Society and then go out to dinner. We started our anniversary evening at the Chateau Laurier and enjoyed the event and the opportunity to see our friend.

But when we walked him to the front door where he planned to catch a taxi to the airport, we discovered there was not a taxi in sight. We tried the hotel down the street, where a line-up of taxis always lingers. No luck. There is unrest in the taxi industry in Ottawa at the moment. Our friend was starting to panic about missing his flight, so we said, “We’ll drive you.”

After we dropped him off, my husband and I said, “What now?” We hadn’t anticipated being in the airport part of the city. We decided to head back to our neighbourhood and go to a restaurant that used to be one of our haunts when we were newly married and childless.

Again the surprising series of events worked out better than our original plan. We would never have thought of that restaurant otherwise, so we would have ended up somewhere less meaningful. Now that we are long-married and into empty nest childlessness, we felt like we had come full circle, and the restaurant felt exactly right.

“If you are not a washing machine or a cuckoo clock—in other words, if you are alive—something deep in your soul likes a certain measure of randomness and disorder.” —Nassim Nicholas Taleb

While all this was happening, I was reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile: Things That Gain from DisorderHe suggests that systems—and people, marriages and families are systems—need some stress and agitation. Instead of resisting uncertainty, chaos, chance, volatility or disorder, or being extinguished by them like a candle, we should feed off them.

Not just survive, but thrive. Be the fire and wish for the wind. Sometimes it works out better than the original plan. 


Pumpkin spice “predictable novelty”: The science of loving fall

maple-leafI love this time of year, when the Earth’s spin and the tilt of the planet carries us into cooler temperatures, shorter days and colourful leaves. And wool socks. And the smoky aroma of logs burning the fireplace. And cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves.

The cooler weather rejuvenates people. The shorter days give us more time to read. Pumpkin Spice Lattes warm chilled hands. (My daughter works at Starbucks, and she spends much of her time these days preparing Pumpkin Spice Lattes. People love them.)

Most of us love these things without understanding why, but scientists have theories about our affinity for fall. Catherine Franssen wrote about it on Huff Post Science.

According to Franssen, we like “predictable novelty.” In other words, fall gives us the two things we need all in one package: change and stability. It brings change that doesn’t make us anxious, because we know it’s coming. We also associate fall with pleasurable things, like pumpkin pie and walks in fallen leaves. Those pleasurable memories trigger neurotransmitters.

“The neuroscience behind that love is the trifecta of pleasurable neurotransmitters fired: dopamine (pleasure), serotonin (contentment) and norepinephrine (alertness). When all three are going at once, you’re in a heightened state of awareness in a really good way.” —Catherine Franssen

Apparently, many of us float through autumn high on dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine—not to mention cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves—as we eagerly anticipate football victories, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties.

Sounds good to me. I think I’ll have a latte . . . 


Faith, whether we claim it or not

More food for thought from Bishop Steve Charleston


“We do not know what is around the next corner.

We do not even know what will pass in our lives between sunrise and sunset. Therefore, whether we claim it or not, we live each day in faith.

We believe. We believe in ourselves. We believe in our family. We believe in others who are close to us.

Some of us believe beyond that, to name a loving power that guides us, to walk with others who pray with us. But we all believe, in some way, in our own fashion.

Let that thin thread, that simple affirmation, bind us in a shared respect. We are not strangers in shadows, but believers searching for the light.”

—Bishop Steve Charleston


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