Category Archives: Living life to the fullest

How to make people smile and brighten your own day

OMG-amazingA year ago I bought this sweatshirt as part of a fundraiser. I liked the positive message, and I liked supporting a worthwhile cause.

When I put it on and look in a mirror, it lifts my spirits. I think, “Oh, my God. I AM amazing!”

Never fails to brighten my day.

Best of all, when I wear it out in public, people look at me and smile. Everywhere I go—the grocery store, the mailbox, the corner coffee shop—people read the shirt, look at me and give me a big smile.

Never fails to really brighten my day.  

When I wear it and reap the rewards I think, “This makes me feel so good. How bad must people feel when they wear T-shirts with negative messages on them?”

How does what you wear make you feel? How does what you wear make other people feel, and how much of that is reflected back on to you?

Something to think about. And never forget, Oh, my God. You really ARE amazing!

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




Bathrooms, birthdays and baseball: Lessons from the week

April 10, 2014 from

Peanuts, April 10, 2014 from

Lesson One: The last shall be first.

For the past two decades my husband and I have spent our time and money on family, so renovations to our house didn’t make it on to our to-do list. Now that our children have fledged and left the nest, we have begun to have conversations about renovations. We have talked about our master bathroom and the kitchen. Of all the possible renovations, the bathroom in our basement would have been last on the list.

Not any more. The toilet down there sprang a leak and we enjoyed the fun of cleaning up after a significant flood. It’s almost like our toilet down there said, “Oh yeah? You think you can forget about me? I’ll show you.” So the last renovation we would have considered has now become our first. Jokes on us.

Lesson Two: 60 is the new 25 

My husband celebrated his 60th birthday on the weekend. The news of this event caused many of our friends to fall into stunned silence. 60? They could not believe that a person as active and as fit as my husband could be 60. But it was true.

He puts many 25-year-olds to shame. We look around at friends of the same age and it is the same story. 60 is not the new 50, or the new 40, or even the new 30. 60 is the new 25.

Lesson Three: You never know what’s going to happen, so make room for random events. (All you non-sports fans out there, bear with me.)

My goodness, but that was a barn-burner of baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night. So many flukes! Russell Martin—a professional baseball player for more than a decade who has played in four all-star games, and won a gold glove and a silver slugger award—made a Little League mistake at a turning point in the game. The odds against a player of his calibre making a careless throw that ricochets off the bat of the player in the box are astronomical. In baseball and in life, you just never know what’s going to happen.

Lesson Four: Respect is earned.

Such strong emotions between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Intense. After the debacle of Russell Martin’s errant throw, José Bautista hit a home run to give the Blue Jays a comfortable lead. (He has a reputation for doing that, so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone.) After he hit the ball really, really far—a certain home run—he admired his work and flipped his bat. The pitcher for Texas, Sam Dyson, didn’t like this, because according to unwritten baseball “code,” batters are supposed to respect the pitcher. They aren’t supposed to watch a home run or, worse, flip their bat.

I think we’d be hard pressed to find any baseball player anywhere who would not have shown emotion in that particular circumstance. Could the Texas Rangers admit that if one of their players had hit a home run, there might have been some celebration?

And José Bautista earned his celebration. I remember when he first joined the Toronto Blue Jays. He was a question mark. No one gave him any credit. People didn’t see his potential. But he worked and worked and worked. No matter what people might think about him personally, they have to respect his hard work and his talent. He earned it.

And Sam Dyson? He responded to the circumstances poorly. He gave up a home run, and that happens to pitchers. They have to learn to wear it no matter the circumstances, and no matter what the players on the other team are doing. He didn’t. He left his mound. He taunted the batters. He accused Bautista of doing what kids would do. Instead of accepting the loss with grace, he groused about the other team, just like kids would do. He didn’t earn my respect. In baseball and in life, no matter what the “code,” respect is not automatically granted; it is earned.


The managers of baseball teams in the post-season probably don’t want players on the field to be quite as relaxed as Snoopy, but they do want players who stay calm and focused no matter what mayhem surrounds them. May the mayhem be minimal and the focus maximal.

Peanuts Comic Strip, April 10, 2014 on

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


Plain and Fancy

Marian Longenecker Beaman: Former Plain Girl Meets Fancy World

Spread love not hate

Everything under the sunshine

View Pacific

The View of, from, and around the Pacific

Wire Dog Stories

Imaginary Adventures that Entertain and Inspire

Words By Montgomery

Sharon Montgomery: Author - Playwright - Lyricist


Deep Thoughts and Ideas

Notes Along the Path

A Lighter Way of Being

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

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

Dispatches from the border of Anglican and Presbyterian

Can Anybody Hear Me?

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



Simmer and Boil

Cooking Light


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 870 other followers

%d bloggers like this: