Category Archives: Gratitude

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


Sharing my cake – and eating it too

sharing-my-cake“If you get a piece of cake and eat the whole thing, you will feel empty. If you get a piece of cake and share half of it, you will feel both full and fulfilled.” —Haitian saying, as told by Lynne Twist in The Soul of Money.

When Lynne Twist referred to the Haitian wisdom above, she did so in a book about money. She used it as her way of saying that a person who hoards surplus wealth—money that, like cake, is not necessary for survival—will never feel like he has enough, and his days will echo with lonely dissatisfaction. But a person who enjoys the benefits of surplus wealth and shares some with others who might not have any “cake,” will remember that she has more than enough, and her days will ring with shared joy.

I believe that to be true, but today I’m talking about actual cake. I don’t eat sweets often. I don’t care for them, really. Instead of dessert, give me another piece of pizza or an extra helping of steak and I’m a happy girl.

Of all the sweets there are in the world, the kind I can most easily pass up without a blink of regret is cake. In fact, I usually eat it reluctantly (people are often insulted if you don’t eat their celebratory cake) and I don’t find it satisfying.  In my opinion, cake is wasted calories. What is so darned appealing about a rather tasteless foundation topped with sugary goo? I don’t get it.

But it’s my birthday this weekend. Like it or not, there is extreme societal pressure to have cake at a birthday, even if the person celebrating the occasion doesn’t care for it much.

So, cake I will have. I will eat it, I will happily share it. (Please, take as much as you want!) I will feel both full and fulfilled because I know that cake makes the people I love happy, and that’s the best birthday present I could have. 



It’s spring!

Oh yes, it is.

My thoughts first turned to the southern hemisphere on Sunday morning when I talked about birthdays with the kids in my Sunday school class. One girl had a November birthday.

Here in Canada, November wins the grey and dreary prize. The weather is cold but without the redeeming value of snow in which to play. The days shorten. The two special days are All Souls’ Day and Remembrance Day, both of which involve death: not times to bring out the noisemakers and party horns.

But I told the birthday girl that in Australia November is the most popular month for weddings. Their November is our June. When I told her this, we both felt a little brighter.

Then I received an email newsletter from the Bolivian Children Foundation. (I witnessed the extraordinary work of this organization when I was in Bolivia, and I like to stay abreast of what they’re doing.) The newsletter began:

“What a great day we are celebrating today – first day of spring . . .”

Seeing the phrase “first day of spring” in September makes North Americans blink. In a country like Canada, where dramatic changes in light and temperature mark the changing seasons, it’s almost beyond our ability to comprehend September as spring.


It’s the first day of spring everyone. Oh yes, it is.

Doesn’t the thought make you feel a little brighter?

Spring tulips

Spring tulips

Words By Montgomery

Sharon Montgomery: Author - Playwright - Lyricist


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