Category Archives: Living life to the fullest

Failing positively: Lessons from Henry Ford

“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.” —Susan Jeffers

Wouldn’t it be enlightening to gather statistics on how many people have given up on dreams because someone told them their aspirations were unrealistic? How many hockey players have hung up their skates because a coach told them the National Hockey League was a long-shot? How many entrepreneurs have stopped seeking investors after being told their ideas would never sell? How many writers have filed stories in drawers after reading dire statistics about the state of the publishing business? How many people have given up because they’ve been told that “NO” equals sensible, but “YES” equals dreamland.

More importantly, how many people equate failure with negativity? 

Henry Ford didn’t see failure as negative. On a recent trip to Michigan, I took this picture during our visit to the Henry Ford Museum. (Side note: Please visit the museum, if you have the chance. It’s about much more than cars; it’s about life.)


“I would rather build a big plane and learn something, even if it didn’t fly, than to build a smaller one that worked perfectly and not learn anything.” —Henry Ford

Henry Ford would rather try something unrealistic and fail positively than try something realistic and succeed negatively.

Mind-twisting, isn’t it?

Sharpen those skates, dust off that business plan, pull the stories out of the drawer: Dreamland is a fun place to live, and failure is useful too.









No more weight scales

“I decided to go on a strict diet. I cut out alcohol, all fats and sugar. In two weeks I lost 14 days.” —Tim Maia

nedicA Mighty Girl brought this Toronto campaign by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre  (NEDIC) of Canada to my attention. It reads: “For years, body image among girls and women has taken a hit from the beauty industry’s ubiquitous message that ‘skinny is hot’ and any other look is ‘not’. Now is your chance to send the beauty industry a message. If you think it’s time fashion editors and lifestyle advertisers broadened their definition of beauty and inspired us with a range of different shapes and sizes, ditch one or all or your women’s magazines through the slot on the other side of this transit shelter.”

The NEDIC reports that 81% of 10-year-old girls are worried about being fat, and findings from Project EAT (population-based study of approximately 5000 teens) found that more than half of girls and one-third of boys engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors (e.g., fasting, vomiting, laxatives, skipping meals, or smoking to control appetite).

What are we doing to ourselves?

That’s why I appreciate a step taken by the Dovercourt Community Centre here in Ottawa. They removed weight scales from changing rooms. Bravo!

The reason they give: “. . . it’s [body weight] simply not a reliable indicator of overall fitness.”

Too many people obsess about “the number,” and in many cases the number a person obsesses about is not a healthy one for their body type or overall life plan.

Dovercourt is interested in the health and fitness of patrons, so they suggest this:

“If you need a number to set your sights on, consider this: practice girth measurements with a cloth tape measure. Start by recording the measurements of your chest, torso, hips, and arms, and revisit those measurements in comparison after a number of weeks. Even better, keep a record of your resting heart rate moments after waking each day, and see how that number lowers over time, after increasing your cardiovascular threshold. Monitor the weight you’re able to lift over time, and increase that weight as it becomes easier to handle over a set number of repetitions. And feel free to keep a note of how those clothes fit; if the number on the tag continues to bother you, cut it off and keep on moving. If you must weigh yourself, avoid checking daily, and take it with a grain of salt: a healthy diet combined with cardiovascular exercises and resistance training is a key to success, and the best measure is feeling good, inside and out.”

Good advice. And if you want to get rid of those magazines that portray a narrow definition of Photoshopped beauty, NEDIC has the perfect place for them.


Read the full Dovercourt notice here: A Weighty Issue: Where has the scale gone?






Stings like a bee: ZZzzzt happens

bumblebeeThere I was, walking in the woods, not bothering anyone, when—ZZzzzt—out of nowhere a large insect dive-bombed into my neck and stung. It was a large insect, so the impact alone stunned me. Then the sharp sting. It happened so fast and hurt so much, I didn’t see what kind of insect it was. It struck and then buzzed off, literally.

I gasped at the sharp, pain. Ow!

I stopped. I’ve never been allergic to insect stings, but you never know when that might start, and the sting was on my neck where swelling would be dangerous. I was alone and far enough away from home that a serious allergic reaction would have meant big trouble.

I waited to see if there would be swelling, and there wasn’t, so I carried on. No biggie, right?

But the unexpected attack set me to pondering the fragility of our daily lives, and how sudden, unforeseen events sometimes turn best-laid plans upside down. There we are, walking along, not bothering anyone, when—ZZzzzt—catastrophe dive-bombs in. Impact. Sting.

When those things happen, I re-evaluate what is important. Have I showed my kids  that I love them today? What was the last thing I said to my husband when he left in the morning? What will I do today to make the world a better place?

I didn’t know what happened to that large insect to make it so angry before it performed its airstrike on me. Perhaps a dog-walker disturbed it? Maybe nothing happened to it, and I simply had the misfortune to encounter the Oscar the Grouch of the insect world.

I did know that asking “Why me?” would be a waste time. Why not me?

The only thing to do when ZZzzzt happens is to stop, wait, re-evaluate and carry on with new mindfulness of what is really important.






Wow! Completion and gratitude in one word

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini
on Flickr


The word we say when we don’t think we’re going to say anything at all. But then something stupendously perfect and surprising appears before us, and the word leaps out of our mouths before we know we have the need to speak.

A silver coyote flits across a path lit by the twilight. For an instant he gleams with feral beauty.

Wow.  What a perfect complete moment. How grateful we are for the experience. 

The word we say when an artist’s performance surpasses all expectations. When his voice echoes away and the room falls silent, in the suspension pause, we whisper the word before our hands come together in applause.

Wow.  What a perfect complete moment. How grateful we are for the experience. 

The word we say when overcome by the essence of a moment. When we witness a birth or a death—any birth or any death—the word slips out through our tears as we acknowledge the inexplicable “somethingness” and “nothingness” of life.

Wow.  What a perfect complete moment. How grateful we are for the experience. 

The word we say when we overflow with gratitude for the kindness of others. When a friend fills a need, when a stranger lends a hand, or when goodness comes to us in a quantity grander than we could have ever imagined, we shake our heads and all we can summon is, “Wow.”

Wow. Completion and gratitude all in one word. What are your wow moments?


Second Cut: What stage is your life at?

At my meditation group, the leader asked us to consider our lives as a garden or crop. She asked, “How does your garden grow? What stage is your crop at?”

The first phrase that popped into my head was “second cut.”

I grew up on a farm, so harvesting hay fields was part of the fabric of our lives. In early summer, we mowed and baled the first cut of tall Timothy hay. Later in the summer, after the hay had grown again, we harvested the “second cut.”

My growing first cut - back in 2010

My  “first cut” – back in 2010

My life is at that stage. My youngest child is about to leave for university. After years of nurturing the growth and development of our two children—a fine and healthy “crop”—I am growing again in new ways, for different purposes.

When I researched hay crops, I discovered that farmers allow first cuts of hay to grow for longer than second cuts. The new plants need the time to set down roots and establish a strong base, and all that work means they contain more starch and less protein. Second cuts of hay, growing from well-established root systems, have more leaf than stem.

Sounds about right.

It took more than 50 years for me to sink roots into the ground and develop a strong base. That work required lots of energy like the kind found in starchy carbohydrates. Now I have a well-established root system, and the proteins of experience allow me to focus on creating beauty and magnificent leaves.

If I keep at it, there might be a third cut in my future. What a rich experience that would be. 

What stage is your life at?

Canada Day: Making room for each other

As Canada Day approached, I wondered what I would write this year. I’ve written a few posts about it, and I started to think I’d covered everything. Then the principal of my son’s high school gave me the inspiration I needed during his speech to the 2015 graduating class.

maple-leafThe first phrase that caught my ear:

“As a Principal, I am often asked about what it is like in schools these days.  It is a wonderful privilege to be able to share your truth.  You are stronger, smarter and more socially conscious than generations before you, including mine.  You are notably more inclusive and the magical way you make room for each other is a beautiful thing to witness.”

When he spoke those words to the auditorium, heads nodded in agreement. One gentleman in the back called out, “Hear! Hear!”

The graduating class that sat together with ease and acceptance—representatives of all those different races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, genders and sexual orientations—is a microcosm of Canada at its best.

People magically making room for each other. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

The second phrase that caught my ear:

“In the school context you have made great efforts to grow each other. But, you have also reached far beyond the school. You have gathered and delivered aid to refugees half a world away. In countless ways you have toiled to benefit others in need, raising money and awareness. In many cases the benefits have gone to people you will never meet. I have long been interested in the very notion of a public good, the idea that our base instincts could be moderated by a compelling commitment to each other and to a time we will not see.”

The graduating class that worked together to grow each other and the world—organizers of all those fundraisers, educational events and benefits—is a microcosm of Canada at its best.

People moderating base instincts to make a compelling commitment to people we will never meet and a time we will not see.

Oh, Canada is not perfect, but we are magically, compellingly working toward a worldwide public good.


Read the speech: Bell High School, Ottawa Canada

Some other Canada Day posts:

Why I celebrate being Canadian

A Canada and U.S. sibling freedom festival

Ethereal Nature

The interface of the metaphysical, the physical, and the cultural

Ba'slan shev'la

A strategic disappearance, for the purpose of regrouping and recovering from extended engagement with one's quarry.

Capturing God

Finding Spirituality through Photography, Art & Nature

A Small Act Of Kindness Can Bring Smile On Million Faces

Kindness Like a Boomerang Always Comes Back!!


My passions: current events, health & wellness, wheat allergy, parenting, gardening and more...

The Theological Wanderings of a Street Pastor

"I've been looking for a Savior in these dirty streets." -Tori Amos

Can Anybody Hear Me?

Uncovered Myself One Pound at a Time; Still Discovering Myself One Day at a Time



Simmer and Boil

Cooking Light

The Ink Never Runs Out

Writing, literature, literacy and articles about the writing life and life as it happens.

Healing Soul Streams

Healer of my soul ~ Quiet me in Holy Stillness

Mrs Red's Reviews

Book Reviews

Healing Your Grief

How to walk through the journey of grief after losing a child

New Earth Paradigm

2015 Affirming Heaven on Earth

Sophia's Children

Reclaiming Ancestral Wisdom. Restoring Our Humanity.

Taking on a World of Words

Homepage for fledgling writer Sam A. Stevens


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