And sadly, the SPIRIT of WAR shows up COVERTLY everywhere …

When are we going to get it??  I was scrolling through my Facebook page … and … low and behold, I come across this COVERT but entirely sanctimonious attack on those whose beliefs are different than our own.

Merry Christmas ...

My heart stops.  Frozen in the deepest despair.  We all SAY we are committed to PEACE.  We self-righteously point fingers at those we believe are guilty of ATTACKING others and raging war.  We are absolutely outraged by such unprovoked global aggression.  We must  STOP them.

And then, in the next breath, we obliviously and unwittingly perpetuate the ENERGY of war and divisiveness with this kind of seemingly benign attack.  ‘ShutUpImStillTalking’ appears to delight in their deliberate intent to BOTHER those whose beliefs are different.

THIS is an unflattering microcosm of the macrocosm … covertly promoting religious INTOLERANCE … even though we are vehemently criticizing that very thing across the planet.  How come it’s only wrong when THEY do it?  By endorsing and embracing this kind of belittling energy (also hidden behind religious sanctimony), we are very unwittingly adding to the darkness.  Argh.  And yet, for some reason, we cannot see it.  And it all leaves me saddened to the core.

Happy Holidays

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated.

Can we not find it in our hearts to make room to live peacefully with those whose beliefs are different than ours?  Offering neutral good wishes (Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings) CANNOT possibly corrupt or diminish any of my own beliefs.  I would argue that uttering these sentiments cannot take the omnipotent love of God out of any Christian’s heart … but rather, it simply MAGNIFIES and REFLECTS it.

From where I am looking, when all people can offer a loving acknowledgement to all others without requiring them to fit into their own belief system …  THAT is to live in peace. And, when we can extend warm, meaningful and loving wishes to those we know hold different beliefs … THAT is to cultivate peace on earth.

Isn’t that the TRUEST essence of tolerance and love … isn’t that the core teaching of Jesus and so many of our other religious teachings?  If we can’t offer it in our neighborhoods or on Facebook, we will certainly never see it globally.  And it saddens me to the core.

Gandhi sagely professed: “We must BE the change we wish to see in the world”. Gandhi so clearly got it … when, oh when, will we?

Rant over … but … my heart still aches, Karen

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The Moments Between …

Mornings are my favorite part of the day. It’s just after 6:30am on a dark, chilly Sunday morning … November 22, 2015 … to be precise. I don’t have to be up yet. I just want to be. I think it’s the stillness. Or maybe it’s the coffee. I do love them both … with unequivocally crazed adoration.

My second favorite part of the day is punctuating the end of all the ‘doings’ over those 8 – 12 hours with a lovely glass of red wine … before the grilled cheese or roasted chicken that is dinner (depending upon the day). Sipping, savoring and reflecting upon how I invested those precious minutes of my life … scanning the moments for the brightest points of light … and, of course … the dimmest and dismal of them are doggedly determined to color the space (no matter how much I try to ignore them). Letting both blessings and lessons land in my awareness … holding them both with curious introspection.

And yes, on this particular day, the Malbec is in the rack, patiently awaiting my arrival. And although I eagerly anticipate that delicious and delectable moment, there is something so profoundly nourishing about just sitting here … in this solitude, before the buzzing of the world begins … sipping my java out of this gigantic 20 ounce mug.

My mug speaks the truth. I’d like to think that the mornings do too … but …  I am acutely aware that my morning knows nothing for certain about my afternoon nor my evening. Except for the nudging from ‘the list’ that I have put in my smart phone … itemizing and prioritizing the particulars this day might hold in store for me.

But who really knows. I think I am in control of my life … I feel like I am in charge of what I decide to cross off my list. But … as my thoughts wander through this blessed stillness of this morning, I realize that that sense of agency is just an illusion. Albeit an illusion a delusion that I really quite enjoy …

DonBut, I am reminded that we woke up 36 years ago today … November 22, 1979. It seemed like an ordinary Thursday. I’m sure I had a list. My hubby remembers that he slept in. I just remember the phone call. My husband’s younger brother, Don, was on his way to work. And, he didn’t make it. No, he didn’t make it. There was an accident. I still feel the agonizing ache in that reprehensible reality. He was just 20 years old. Even coffee couldn’t make that morning better mourning less bitter.

And, isn’t that the way it is with life … if we get quiet and clear enough to really examine it. We can’t possibly know what life will bring us … in those moments between the coffee and the wine. We can never know for sure … even with the most intelligently crafted list. It’s all uncharted ground … ripe with possibilities (divinely guided moments) and probabilities (stick to my list moments) … all with unequivocally uncertain propensity.

And, really, the best I can do is to remain open to all of it … and … simply choose the energetic frequency by which I will greet it. Because, while savoring my wine this evening, I will be reflecting upon the blessings and challenges that were tucked into today – the moments defining this particular November 22nd. Likely, I will be more grateful for some than others … but … the one thing I know for sure is that I’ll be weighing the energy I brought to those moments between my two favorite beverages:

Was I KIND?

Was I AUTHENTIC?

Was I an energetic expression of LOVE as I moved through the day?

I hope I will like my answers … Karen

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Well, I Had a Dream …

Source Unknown

Somewhere, very early on in my life, I decided that inspirational quotes like this one were the answer.  I have been collecting them for as long as I can remember. I have viewed them as the exquisite blueprints for creating the life of my dreams and, not surprisingly, I have deeply internalized the notion that I should be pursuing a big, juicy, delicious life.  And I really have been … BUT …

As inspiring as it sounds and although many of my dreams have actually become realities … I have learned something that those inspirational quotes don’t tell you.  Pursuing any one of those dreams can be exhilarating … pursuing all those dreams can be exhausting.  Unless you are not a dreamer. But, the problem for me, is that I have so darn many Dreams, Desires and Delights on my 3D List as my bestie Marie renamed the infamous ‘bucket list’.  (If you would like to view my 3D List, please request the password.)

And yes, I am eager to live out my days in high-def ‘3D’ but here is the thing: I often feel like my mouth is completely stuffed …  so jam packed with delicious, delectable morsels that it’s difficult to sufficiently savor of any one of them in particular.  And, because I am so passionate about it all, I can’t fathom the idea of spitting anything out.  So I keep chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing.  And, although I am nourished in some very wonderful ways … there is also a part of me that longs to simply stop all the jets, come screeching to a halt, and just settle into a more mediocre but manageable ‘one bite at a time’ existence.  These competing desires have created a conundrum for me … as well as some health issues.  Argh.

BUT …  I had a dream.  Not to be confused with Martin Luther King, who also had a dream.  My dream was not a dream of that magnitude, but rather … it was the kind of dream you have in your sleep.  I could have chalked it up to some silly nocturnal nonsense, but upon deeper reflection, I’m thinking that this dream might be the dream that I most need to follow in order to actually create my biggest, juiciest and most delicious life EVER!   Let me explain …

In my dream, my husband and I were teamed up in a foot race around the world (kind of like The Amazing Race). We started off in some remote location in the woods with a winding dirt path that led up to a rustic old log cabin that was to be our first pit stop of the race.  As we started racing up the road, I fell into a faster than usual pace for the ‘runner’ within me only to be advised by my husband to “run slower”.

I shot him the ‘what the hell would you know’ glance that unequivocally questioned how he (the non-runner) could presume to know the right pace for me?  Without accepting my invitation to spat about it, he reasoned that it would be downright impossible to sustain that pace for the whole distance.  He humbly suggested that we could maximize our time and optimize our physical resources by slowing down.  Hmmm … maybe he was right. I hate it when he’s right, but I knew I had no time for self-righteous bantering.  I reluctantly conceded that maybe this was one of those Tortoise and the Hare times when slow and steady wins the race …

And, we were “The first team to arrive!”at the quaint, old-fashioned store constructed out of ginormous logs … that sold all kinds of hand-made eats, crafts and memorabilia specific to that area of the world. Now, in my wide-awake life, whenever we travel anywhere, I always buy a Christmas tree ornament because nothing pleases me more than fondly reminiscing about my 3D experiences while dressing the tree each year.  So there I was … in my ‘racy’ dream (sorry – couldn’t resist the pun) torn between finding a meaningful memento to mark this memory or dashing out the door to maintain our first place lead (not that I am competitive).  🙂

I headed out the door, but as soon as the gravel crunched beneath my first foot step,  I could vaguely hear that small inner voice pleading with my sensibilities: “Just how much are you willing to lose in order to win?”

Huh?? That provocative question sparked me to pause in mid stride. As I considered going back for my ornament … I gazed back over my right shoulder and caught a glimpse of the most idyllic purple, orange and pink sunset. It’s spectacular splendor stopped me right then and there. I instinctively gasped as I paused to inhale the magic in that miraculous moment.  Just then … the awareness struck me … if I had just kept on running in order to ‘win’ the race, I would have ‘lost’ that precious but unexpected prize.

Absorbed in awe of the colors, I found myself questioning how many other unpredicted, un-pursued but munificent moments like this I had missed as I sped through my days doggedly determined to claim my biggest dreams, desires and delights.  It became exceptionally clear that if I wanted to win something big, juicy and truly magnanimous by participating in this race …  I would need to do three things:

1. Run … more slowly.

2. Pause … embrace moments and collect memories.

3. Notice …  the unexpected magic along the way.

I’m sensing that my dream was a humbling metaphor for my very full, busy ‘follow your dreams’ life.  It strikes me that it is far too easy to confuse a ‘big, juicy and delicious life’ with a ‘busy, demanding and overwhelming life’In order for something to stir the soul … one needs time and space.  And when I get real with myself, I can see many places in my life where I have unwittingly traded depth for breadth.  And, when I get really real, I can see that I am weary.  I have been racing through my life at a ridiculous pace … claiming many dreams at the expense of missing other blessings that weren’t/aren’t on my radar.

And with this awareness, I have been seriously flirting with scaling back to a “one bite at a time” paceI remain entirely befuddled about how to actually operationalize that desire.  I have no clue how to prioritize my bites … and the fears of not being able to ‘do it all’ makes me edgy and uneasy in the most prickly ways.  My anxious mind warns me that, at my age, I am over the hill and on the home stretch.  If I don’t keep moving quickly, I am going to run out of time and miss out on the miracles. 

But … I am also open to the possibility that many ‘unexpected’ dreams, desires and delights will be surreptitiously tucked into a more slow and steady presence.  And, I want to leave enough space to savor them.  I really do.

Wish me luck and sweet dreams to all of you … Karen

 

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[Guest Post]: The Big Purge

I am re-blogging this exceptional post with oodles of enthusiasm because it has tickled and awakened the deepest part of my inner rebel … I just need to compassionately and gently shush my inner scaredy cat that wants to hold onto everything … just in case! I expect this will speak to so many others too!

BonneVivanteLife

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons Image courtesy of Pixabay.com under Creative Commons

Hi. My name is Susanna, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’m also in the middle of a purge. My sister calls this a mid-life crisis. She’s wrong. She has no idea what I’m capable of. This? This is just a simple purge, a cleansing. I’ve decided a lot of things in the house must go. The living room furniture. The dining room set and china cabinet. And almost everything in the china cabinet. The china. The champagne flutes. The tea set. The lead crystal vases. The candlestick holders. (The cake stands stay. I love my cake stands.)

I need to get all these things out of the house because none of them are me, and all of this Not-Me is suffocating me. I need to get back to me. The formal dining room set with the china cabinet. The sofa and loveseat. The…

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Truth. :-)

healing

 

[Guest Post]: No, I’m Pretty Sure I Rank Higher

I just had to share this post … from a thoughtful and compassionate writer … who speaks from a heart that clearly listens with love. She wisely and kindly offers us an open invitation to consciously abandon our seemingly compelling need to ‘one up’ in a mindless, maladaptive effort to empathize … or … minimize another’s pain when are in the depths of despair ourselves.

If a sentence begins, “Well, at least YOU…” you can bet your sweet bippy that it is a comparison that aims to show the speaker in greater need or pain than the listener.

“Well, at least YOU know some of the people at the party. I don’t know anyone.”

“Well, at least YOU have a job to complain about. I can’t even find work.”

“Well, at least YOU have a kid who tries to get good grades. I can’t get mine to care.”

star winner2

You get the idea. There are some people who always seem to need to rank higher on any “scale” of life being discussed. Kristen Wiig’s Penelope character from Saturday Night Live is the queen of “one-upping”:

YOU WILL HAVE TO CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE THE VERY FUNNY VIDEO OF PENELOPE BECAUSE NBC AND WORDPRESS ARE MAKING MY LIFE DIFFICULT.

Most of us are not Penelopes…

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Never Underestimate the Power of a Great Pair of Shoes …

cute shoes

Image

iO Tillett Wright: 50 Shades of Gay …

A profoundly uncommon conversation …

You may think you can’t  find/spare the 18 minutes it will take to watch this.  I would like to suggest that you might not want to rob yourself of viewing this short clip because you might not be able to find a better way to INVEST 18 minutes of your life … whether you are interested in the conversation of sexual orientation or not. THIS is a most unique and remarkable invitation to dwell in the spaciousness of love.  I hope you’ll accept the invite because … our humanity needs it.

I’d love to hear where this compelling and uncommon conversation takes your mind and your heart …  Karen

Video

Facing our Dragons …

Dear Steph and Bryan

I recently attended a wedding.  It touched me in a very meaningful way.  It was the kind of wedding that penetrates your soul because the energy of love was palpable and pervasive throughout the entire event.  I popped the bride and groom a little note to share my reflections about it. I received permission from them to publicly share my meanderings with you here.  Aside from a taking a few editorial liberties to ensure their anonymity and to polish things up a bit for publication, here is what I shared:

Dear Bride and Groom,

We enjoyed your wedding so much! Right from the ceremony itself … to the East Coast influence of fun and frolic on the dance floor … to the delightful taste sensations … to the warm and vulnerable speeches that touched and tickled my heart in so many ways.  I scribbled something in the guestbook in the small margin of space at the bottom of the page that I selected … something about hoping that the love and light and laughter you enjoyed on your wedding day would multiply over the years to come. I didn’t have space to say what I wanted to say. I’m not sure why I didn’t turn the page … maybe it was the late hour, or maybe the Malbec. It really doesn’t matter but …

I woke up in the early morning hours after your wedding (I think it was still in the sixes) and my hubby was still asleep. I made my way quietly to the desk and with the little lamp lighting up the darkness I picked up the complimentary pen and note pad provided by the Wingate by Wyndham Hotel and while I was waiting for the one cup coffee maker to drip me a little disposable cup of decaf coffee, I jotted down what I wish I had said in your book.

Here is what I penned on those three double-sided sheets of that little wee pad …

“It was so refreshing to marinate in the pure love expressed throughout your wedding day. The words in the ceremony were so moving and brought tears to my eyes … and I noticed that the groom never took his eyes off his gorgeous bride. I said to my friend seated beside me, who was equally touched, “That boy is in love!

I repeated it again to my husband … who knowingly nodded (with a tear leaking out of his eye too) because we both know all too well what that actually means. At the risk of projecting our experience onto you … may I share what was going through our minds at that moment.

It means that the groom is completely vulnerable. It means that he is ‘all in’. It means that the bride must be very cautious lest she unwittingly injure his fragile and unprotected heart. It means that he has never been more likely to get wounded in his whole life.

Paradoxically, it means that he could say or do things that are seemingly inconsiderate or thoughtless (to her) but perceived as ‘completely insignificant’ to him (knowing how much he adores his bride). These things, however, might spark some anxiety, frustration or pain in the heart of the bride because, unfortunately, she is not looking at the situation through his eyes.

Of course, he’ll have a hard time understanding her sensitivity because all he can see and feel is how much he cherishes her and, therefore, her fears may seem unfounded to him. As such, her concerns may fall on deaf ears at times. So, if I had a suggestion it would be this:

If the bride is hurting, please be willing to look for what she is seeing on her side of the coin. Even though you are seeing ‘tails’ (the maple leafs on your side of that shiny penny), she may be seeing ‘heads’ as she stares straight into the face of the stately Queen and the date stamp on the other side of that exact same coin. It’s so important to remember that the same coin (or event, situation, circumstance) looks different to everyone depending upon their perspective.

Couples have been defending what they see on their side of the coin for hundreds of years … strongly defending the accuracy of their viewpoint … arguing mercilessly with each other hoping to somehow prove how right they are and how wrong their partner is … all the while forgetting about the fragile and vulnerable hearts that are getting trampled in their self-righteous exchange.

From where I am looking, it’s far better to see if you can identify with what part of their perspective might be even a wee bit true. We must remember to be gentle with such valuable but vulnerable hearts especially when we are wounded. It’s tricky, though, because when we are most wounded … we APPEAR angry rather than hurt. It’s very tricky to remember that.

And, of course, if the bride is anything like me … that timid, scared little girl (who needed her mom to follow the bus to school) stills lives within the heart of that strong, independent and competent bride. She’s just harder to identify now … because this woman is clearly so bright and beautiful and smart and strong. She’s managing her anxious mind much better than when she was little … but … she has just vowed to let the groom into her heart space. Oh my, she is now wide open to wounding. The groom must not let her capable, competent demeanor fool him in those delicate moments. She needs to know she can lean in on the groom and he will be there … really be there … not just with one eye on her and the other eye still on the hockey game.

She is going to need her groom to help her quiet the anxious thoughts that might sometimes blindside her at the worst possible moment. She doesn’t need him to fix it … no … she’ll figure it out. She just needs somewhere safe to put her tears. She needs to know she can trust him to honor her most tender scaredy-cat moments of insecurity. She needs to know that he will not dismiss how big her emotions feel to her in that moment. Yes, she’ll work through it herself … of course she will … but when you love someone, you don’t want to leave them alone to fight their dragons … however real or imagined.

In almost 38 years of marriage and 10 years of counselling/coaching people, I have learned that it serves us best when we unite in love and face our dragons together … in solidarity … because we all have them. Even the best of us have insecurities and fears and wounds and scars from our prior lived experience. We need to be able to count on our partner to have our backs when the world seems too fierce and formidable to handle on our own.

That said, I am not sure if any of this will make sense to you … until it does. In the meantime, I am wishing you both an incredibly beautiful journey … one in which your hearts remain safe enough to stay as open and vulnerable as they were on your wedding day!

I can still feel the love that was in that room.

What an amazing young man!

What an extraordinary young woman!

And … as two remarkable families unite, the joys are simply multiplied …

Yes. This is what I wanted to write in your guest book.

With deepest respect,
Karen

Clucking or Oinking … ?

When I read this quote I was about to give myself a wee little pat on the back because I thought I had actually been doing more of this over the past few years … BUT then …  the word committed got me second-guessing myself.  Some wise soul once said:

When it comes to making bacon and eggs … the chicken is ‘involved’ but the pig is ‘committed’.

The distinction between ‘clucking’ and ‘oinking’ gave me serious pause.  Both chicken and pig are essential contributions to this vision of creating a scrumptious ‘breakfast’ … but they certainly do not reflect the same level of investment.  Those who are ‘committed’ are willing to risk it all in passionate pursuit of their dreams and goals. It could certainly be argued that the most remarkable and necessary social changes in history were oinked into being … at great personal cost to the souls whose ‘commitment’ ran deeper their ‘fear.’

I so deeply admire folks like this.  I think we all do.  Ordinary folks often capture our attention and become the ‘famous’ heroes in history whose stories of self-sacrifice are so inspiring that we remake them into Hollywood movies, captivating biographies and/or historical exhibits.  I vividly remember acquainting myself with some of the lesser known souls in an electronic book exhibit at Schindler’s Factory in Berlin, Germany.  One of the books cited courageous tales of the German ‘heroes’ of World War II who were so passionately ‘committed’ to their vision that they even sacrificed the security and safety of their own loved ones/children in order to save Jewish families and their children from extinction.  The other book revealed stories about the German people who didn’t dare resist Hitler’s powerful force and were viewed as ‘informants’ … perhaps because their fears for the safety of their loved ones/children prevailed and/or trumped their faith in any chance of  derailing the prevailing powers of that time.  I was utterly silenced  and soberly shuttered at the magnitude of daily ‘choices’ that these ordinary souls were faced with …

I remember standing there, warily wondering – wondering clear down to the deepest part of my soul – which book I would have ended up in had I endured that horrific time in history. I stood there, hoping against hope that I would have ended up in the book that told stories of courage and sacrifice but, in all honesty, I am not sure I would have.  I know I can be brave … sometimes.  I know I have strong convictions … about some things.  I know I feel tremendous empathy for the marginalized and oppressed.  I know I have always been passionate about alleviating  the suffering of humanity … but seriously … if push came to shove, could I really risk my own comforts and/or my family security to help others?

Although my altruistic convictions have propelled me into the field of social work whereby I have professionally ‘committed’ myself to the pursuit of social justice … my involvement has not yet required that I truly sacrifice myself or the safety of my loved ones.  In fact, as I reflect back on what my ‘commitment’ has meant thus far, I mostly see a lot of eggs.  I am very proud of my eggs … but … let’s be candid here, I can see far more clucking than oinking in my benevolent pursuit of social justice. And, please, don’t get me wrong. I am not subordinating the value of the chicken over the pig here. Both eggs and bacon are equally essential contributions to a successful outcome.  I am just noticing my own tendencies.

There is no denying that I’m willing to invest myself in a noble cause … and I do.  BUT … it’s so much easier to believe you’d be the bacon when you’re not actually making breakfast.  I share this because  not too long ago I was faced with a situation where I had to decide  how much I was prepared to risk (in order to advocate on behalf of others).  It sparked some deep soul searching … and … brought up all kinds of feelings.  I knew that I had nothing personal to gain, so in this instance, it would have been so much easier to simply offer up an egg and call it good … BUT … for some reason I just couldn’t.  In this particular case, I really was more committed to my vision than my fear.

So, I find myself questioning what prompted my swine-like ‘commitment’ in this particular situation.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but I just knew that I feared the consequences of not taking a stand more than I feared the price I might pay in doing so.  I knew I wouldn’t sleep if I tried to step over it.  In fact, I don’t feel like I chose it … I honestly feel like it chose me.  Perhaps the most passionate of our pursuits or ‘visions’ are not self-decided callings but, rather,  are placed inside us by something greater than ourselves?

I don’t know for sure what inspires someone to oink versus cluck, but my musings about it have left me seriously pondering Helen Keller’s bold declaration that: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”.   I find myself wondering if this insight speaks to a niggling truth inside all of us.  Perhaps there is a unique and particular ‘vision’ silently seeded within each of us that will simply not be stilled by fear once it’s been brought to light. Perhaps it is different for each and every one of us …

Perhaps life represents a series of invitations for us to contribute a brave and daring oink … and/or …  to invest a safe cluck-cluck here and a secure cluck-cluck there?  What would be the rewards of living such a daring and ‘committed’ life?  What would be the risks?  What are the gains ‘involved’ in clucking?  What are the costs? Maybe there is a time for clucking and a time for oinking?

And so …this reflection begs the ultimate question: what if I dared to oink more than I cluck?  Perhaps it doesn’t have to be either-or?  Maybe the juiciest lives are a compelling mix of both?  I can’t say for sure, but I can feel that this conversation resonates very uncomfortably within me …  bumping between my anxious preference for safety and my compassionate vision to live a life that is bigger than my fears.

I wonder what my answer to the next call will be.

With deepening reverence for all the oinkers and heartfelt gratitude for all the cluckers. No scrumptious breakfast nor amazing vision happens without both,  Karen

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My Tributes: Better Because of You ...

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Better Because … at 60 … I FELT it!!

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