Category Archives: Living life to the fullest

Bam! Gratitude lessons from a child

It was Thanksgiving in Canada yesterday. 

I’m grateful for the combination of creative solitude and family celebration I enjoyed over the weekend.

I’m also grateful for past blogs to turn to after I used the creative solitude for other purposes, and the family celebration was way to fun to interrupt to write.

The boy I wrote about in this post from last year has grown up and he no longer follows this practice. I miss it! But no matter. He taught me a timeless lesson during that brief delightful phase of his childhood.


Monday evening is the regular library time for a father and a small boy. Those two are the highlight of my week.

At the time of their visit, I work in the room that houses the book drop. The murmur of their voices and the scraping sound of a step-stool being pulled into position comes to me through the slot. The child’s feet climb up one step on the stool and  another as he prepares for his book return ritual.

“Thank you, book. Good-bye,” he says to the first book. He pushes it through the slot. “Bam!” he shouts.

He performs this small ceremony for every book. He returns 10 to 15 books, on average, so his process takes some time. If there are people waiting behind him, he doesn’t adjust his pace; he savours his moment.

I stop whatever I’m doing and savour his moment too. I smile widely.

This child shows me:

  1. He respects and cherishes books.
  2. He expresses gratitude.
  3. He knows how to “be here now.”
  4. He celebrates each moment with a Bam!

Some lessons for all of us, from a child.

Bam!

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I’m also grateful for chocolate.

I thole, you thole, we all thole together: A thole word

Some days I barely manage to thole the Twitter experience. Other days, it sends wonderful gifts.

Last week, @RobGMacfarlane sent this gift:

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Fantastic word, that.

Quietly, toughly inspiring, as he says. The simple act of reading the definition fills my “thole” with a renewed vigour.

Sometimes we feel like this lone twig on a barren tree.

lone twig on barren tree

Other days nothing can hold us back, like these robust colourful blossoms.

Lonely twig or robust blossom, I thole, you thole, we all thole together.

 

 

The season of construction

In Canada we jokingly say we have only two seasons: winter and construction. 

We laugh, but it’s true that nature dictates that we have a time to build and a time to refrain from building.

We’re still in construction season and during my daily cottage walks I passed this sign posted by a new housing development.

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This site poses a certain kind of danger. The trees they are clearing could fall a bonk someone on the head, or the large diggers and bulldozers used to dig roots and clear rocks might flatten a heedless pedestrian.

On other sites when builders sledgehammer through walls, someone might step on rusty nails or touch live electrical wires.

Construction, it seems, involves an inherent element of risk.

What about other kinds of construction?

  • When I was pregnant—”constructing” babies, so to speak—nausea and fatigue made me, let’s just say, unpleasant to be around. My husband often tiptoed around the danger zone.
  • This day after Labour Day many of us begin new studies or projects at work. As we construct our knowledge-base and our careers, we face the dangers of failure or financial losses.
  • Building a business is a dangerous proposition. To earn business rewards, an entrepreneur risks investment funds and reputation.
  • Artists and writers who build worlds for us to temporarily inhabit all know the danger of rejection, feelings of inadequacy or wasted time.

In this season of construction, are you clearing paths and building despite the danger?

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An invitation to create the old-fashioned way

Imagine how excited I was to discover this at the Penetanguishene Public Library near my cottage.

My husband, a former journalist, remembered the feel of those old typewriter keys under the fingertips.

I loved the idea of the invitation to story. I was pleased to see people take up the offer.

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I’m still on a summer break, but itching to write . . .

 

Summer vacation: Forgiveness

I will be stepping away for a few weeks of down time in the Ottawa summer sun.

May you also enjoy a time of respite wherever you are and whatever season you are in. Carry this thought with you into that respite. I will.


“When is the last time you physically hurt yourself? What did you do to get the pain to stop? And how long did you wait to do something about it? When we’re in physical pain, we’re usually extremely proactive about figuring out how to make it go away immediately because, you know, it hurts . . .

When it comes to our emotional pain, however, we’re apparently way more game for seeing just how much torture we can endure, wallowing in our guilt, shame, resentment, and self-loathing, sometimes for our entire lifetimes . . .

Forgiveness is about taking care of you, not the person you need to forgive.”

—Jen Sincero from You Are a Bad Ass”

Canada and America: Sharing feelings

A few blocks from where I live, this flag flies on a neighbour’s house.

Canada flag with stars and strips on the red sections

I saw it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I my instinctive reaction to it surprised me. For the first time in my life, the stars and stripes made me feel uneasy. 

The United States has been many things to me—fun, powerful, demonstrative, advanced, swaggering, egalitarian, right-seeking, loud, over-the-top, and occasionally a little insensitive—and it has made me smile, scowl, throw my fist in the air, cringe, celebrate or roll my eyes, but it has never made me uneasy. 

But the sight of our Canada flag combined with that of United States right now does not sit well. It is definitely not a “great again” feeling.

Especially when another flag that flies right behind that first one would not be welcome in many parts of that country.

Rainbow flag behind the Canada flag with stars and stripes

America, I’m worried about you, is all. I’m worried because that flag really does represent the truth of our situation. No matter how we feel about it, we are interwoven with you. The fates of our two countries are so tied together that we Canadians really need you and want you to succeed. Your place in the world is such that your actions have global impact, and we need you and want you to keep moving forward, upward, outward.

What’s happening now feels like the opposite: backward, downward, inward, like a balloon that has developed a slow leak.

I guess what I’m saying is, in the words of one of our Canadian icons, Red Green: “Remember, I’m pulling for ya. We’re all in this together!”

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