Category Archives: Musings

Taking time for reflection

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Oh dear.  I realize how often in my daily interactions I slip into the category of discussing events and people, but I aspire to do better.

Journalist Steve Wasserman asks: “Does the ethos of acceleration prized by the internet diminish our capacity for deliberation and enfeeble our capacity for genuine reflection? Does the daily avalanche of information banish the space needed for actual wisdom?”

What would Eleanor Roosevelt think about the way social media bombards us with ‘bites’ of information, but no true analysis of events?

This is why I love bookclub. Coming together for the sole purpose of discussing the ideas presented in thoughtful books is so enriching. When the other group members share their insights I see that each person’s experience of the world allows them to interpret the story and its ideas differently. That in turn promotes clarity and then wisdom, and helps me become a more empathetic person. Books (and journals) are the antithesis of ‘fast news’, which, like ‘fast fashion’ has quantity but no quality.

One of the silver linings from the pandemic is that each of my three adult daughters has rediscovered books and reading. When the pandemic is declared over, I hope they will continue to read and, even more importantly, discuss the ideas found on the pages.

Do you like what they see? A writing prompt …

You’ve just met someone new. Or maybe it’s an alien from some far off galaxy. They have arrived unannounced at your home. For some strange reason you cannot speak. I don’t know why. It’s not important.

This person can only get to know you by watching you and seeing how you live. You can’t tell them about yourself, so they will surmise who you are by seeing what you do, where you go. They will learn your habits. They will see your home and belongings. Do you fold the corner of the page of your book or use a bookmark? Are the surfaces in your home clean and clutter free or do they tell the story of your day, your week. Maybe your month? What do you have hanging on your walls? How full is the laundry hamper? What is in your fridge?

Where will this person think you put most of your attention?

What will they determine are your priorities?

Really think on this.

Now, here’s the real question:
Do you like what they see?

Wise Words

The following are the wisest words I’ve heard since the start of this pandemic.

“Undoubtedly, the Covid 19 pandemic has introduced uncertainty into all echelons of daily life. But uncertainty need not inspire fear. Uncertainty is the precursor to innovation and innovation is the precursor to change.

We are offered two choices today: To fear uncertainty and to fear change, or to see this generational challenge as a generational opportunity.” (Andrew Weaver, former leader of the BC Green Party)

When the pandemic first hit I was amazed at how fast the grocery stores installed plexiglass partitions, curb-side pick up became the new norm for small shops and crosswalk lights became automated. No need to touch any surfaces. Yes, innovation quickly evolved from the uncertainty of the lurking coronavirus. These were small, quick fixes. Imagine if this same ingenuity was used on much larger issues. I’m thinking of Senior Care Homes for starters. Climate change to follow up.

This is our moment for leaders and institutions to revamp those systems that no longer serve us well.  I’m going to imagine the day where we live in balance with the natural world and also  live harmoniously  with all of humanity in its many delightful hues and cultural variances. These could be the hidden opportunities the coronavirus offers us.

Image: quotulatiousness.ca

Having Purpose – Can it Bring You Good Health?

In a conversation with Jonathan Fields on his Good Life Project podcast, Dr. Frank Lipman shared stories that showed how our health can be greatly improved when we find a sense of purpose.  Jonathan agreed, adding that many of the things we’re afflicted with simply fall away when we find that purpose.

So what does finding purpose look like? It can be working at a job that is meaningful to us. It can be participating in our community on a project of common interest or joining a non-profit to work for something that feels important. Volunteering for an organization whose values match our own can provide deep meaning. Setting personal goals and meeting them also works.

Writing gave my life purpose for a long time, and it still does in many ways. Being supportive of  my grown children also gives me purpose as does participating in my community through friendship and activities. But recently I felt that there was room for more and through a couple serendipitous meetings with old acquaintances I found my way back to a local Unitarian fellowship whose mission is to ’empower people to live with greater depth, meaning and purpose.’ Simply being among other people with these shared values makes me feel that a door is opening, inviting me to live with that greater depth.

It’s not easy to discover what our purpose is and it changes throughout our lives.  We can go for long periods of time feeling restless, but I believe if we consciously open our minds for opportunities to live more intentionally those opportunities to live with greater depth and purpose will appear.

And if you like podcasts, be sure to check out Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields.

It All Matters

Today would have been my mom’s 98th birthday.  Her last few years were spent in a care home and the care providers were truly angels on earth. Being a care provider for the  frail is not a ‘sexy’ job. It’s hard, sometimes dirty, often thankless work, and fortunately there are people who are willing to do it, caring for those in our communities that are the most vulnerable.

This passage from “We Are Called to Rise” by Laura McBride makes me think of those wonderful  care providers.

It all matters.

That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing.

What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.”

So I’m thinking of my mom today, and I’m thinking of those angels who cared for her at the end of her life. Through them I learned that ‘it all matters’ and it matters a lot. I’m trying to be that person who does those small, seemingly unimportant tasks, those little things that matter as much as anything else. I fail every day, I’m so far from perfect, but I will keep on trying.

  • Angel craft by artist Carole Burdett

Write What You Know? Maybe not…

I’m often asked if I have a favourite author and the answer always changes depending on what books I’ve recently read. If asked today I’d say it was John Boyne. The three titles of his that I’ve read (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, My Brother’s Name is Jessica) are each completely different, yet so brilliant in their own way. He has a talent for creating humour out of desperately difficult circumstances but without making light of that situation. Continue reading

Celebrating Canada Day All Year Long

To celebrate Canada Day I have chosen to read a Canadian authored (and published) book this weekend. (Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones). Every time we choose to read a Canadian published book we know there was a MADE IN CANADA team of editors, graphic designers, layout artists, publicists, printers, warehouse staff, delivery drivers and book sellers behind it.  The Canadian book industry pumps money into the Canadian economy which creates jobs and pays taxes.

And that is just the book industry.

I’m also attending a gathering  this weekend where we will wear red and wave little Canadian flags because truly, we are proud to be Canadian and know how blessed we are to live in this country. And yet next week some of us will go out and  purchase products that are produced everywhere but Canada. There’s a disconnect here.

Let’s show our Canadian pride all year long by supporting Canadian-made products whenever possible.