Long ago,

before You became,

You were a Divine spark

filled with the promises

and carrying the hopes and pain

of all that came before You.

Each Moment of Your history

strung together in multicolored lights:

Some glowed and twinkled,

others flickered valiantly

still others died husks with brittle insides.

And still You shone.

Then others wrapped around you.

Some choked You as they coiled,

Others wrapped You in warmth

and filled Your spaces with Light.

For Light always cancels dark.

And still you Shine.


In the Quiet

In the quiet of my own heart

I hear the whispers of knowing

No longer drowned

By the din of day to day.

Who I am destined to be

Need not be “found.”

It need only be stripped

Of its masks, costumes, and camouflage.

It lies fully formed and perfect.

Waiting for the veil

To be pulled gently back

By my own hand.

Perspective and Perception

Have you ever thought about the importance of perspective? Today I saw flamingoes! I’ve been wanting to get a good look at flamingos for weeks. I’ve seen them wading in the salt flats, as we drove past on the highway, but today the taxi driver decided to take me up on my request.

Byron and I took an impromptu trip to a neighbouring community where the beaches were broader and we were supposed to see flamingos. The internet is a wealth of information, again, much of it inaccurate. Here was no exception. It turns out much of the beach in Uaymutul is private. We were dropped off in a parking lot and found our way to a wide sandy beach littered with seaweed and no way home until the taxi returned. So we lounged for a couple hours, because beaches are lovely here, and headed back to the highway unsure how we were going to get a good look at a flamingo. Depending on how we looked at it, this trip might have been a failure.

Well it turns out not a mile from our house if you park next to the vacant primary school and wind your way past the rubble, you come to a small meadow carpeted in portulaca. They weren’t blooming right now but I recognized the fleshy leaves because it is ubiquitous in flower gardens and planters in Canada. It turns out it grows wild here. It is called verdolaga and while it can be used to treat burns here in Mexico, it is considered a weed. But I digress because once I looked into the salt flats beyond the small meadow was a cluster of white and bright coral birds. What was a simple and a bit ramshackle fishing village became fascinating when you looked at those birds who make their home here. And they looked every bit as exotic as I expected, as I sat in the shade of the wall of the local school. Their pink bodies moved slowly through the flats, the older ones whose plumage had all turned the bright pinky coral we expect, were shyer and moved regally away from intruders. The younger ones, more white than pink, were oblivious to our presence and were preoccupied bickering with each other. Even the birds saw our presence differently. While we looked our fill the cabbie gave us a looking glass to magnify the birds, then proceeded to arrange for a cake for a celebration for a friend. He was not impressed by these creatures he has seen so often.

As I contemplated his indifference, I thought of bears, moose, wolves and eagles that my kids were raised around as the sons of a game warden and who ran unfettered and half feral in the bush of the Northern Boreal that we made our home in. It wasn’t until they left home that they realized how unique and privileged their upbringing was. Sometimes it takes leaving the security of our own world to realize the beauty of it. Maybe only when we lose something may see it’s worth.

This is true of much of this trip for me. I love the exotic gift of waking to the sound of the waves in the morning, though perhaps not the angry howls of the El Nortes. I love the challenge of going about my daily life in a language not my own. I will say, however, that writing has become a little bit more joyful. I am eloquent in English, I am funnier. I make words dance as opposed to struggle through a swamp of unfamiliar to find a way to ask for the simplest thing. The use of a language is vastly different depending on perspective.

And yet again, as I drove by the sometimes crumbling homes of the people who live here, I am reminded of the unfathomable wealth I enjoy compared to here. This place, where food is a luxury and the right to go to school is dependent on the dollar a day it takes to ride the bus. I am struck by how much every person in my home of Canada has, where my middle class lifestyle is wealth here. Where I can be assured help, if I get sick. Where schooling is a right. I have got to know a number of Spanish people recently, and they are a passionate, friendly, opinionated and cynical lot. They laugh at our petty squabbles behind their masks that they wear inside and out and in the lineups for vaccines that are hours long. Where we complain of rampant corruption they don’t go to the police, and even local projects are decided by how much money crosses palms. Their social and political systems are so riddled with illicit money every layer of life is created on foundations of it. Yeah, we have corruption, but our systems are not created and operated on the assumption of it. We are annoyed if we are inconvenienced by it. They are shocked we have so little.

Long after we are long into the endemic stage of this they will be going about their days masked and smiling. Late in the vaccination game their population is only 56 percent fully vaccinated. While we grumble behind our respective walls of opinion, certain this has been the most difficult two years of our collective lives, they are navigating a life that we cannot even conceive. I am humbled and more than a little embarrassed. Their hospitals are divided by poor and wealthy and the difference is obvious. Where $20 buys a doctor, a prescription, a box full of antibiotics and painkillers. Yet the people here don’t complain. Pensioners open doors for pesos, you can buy a dozen buns from the bakery for the equivalent of a dollar. While I live in my rented apartment on the ocean the average family lives in a house no bigger than my living room.

Every time I travel to another country, and I’ve been determined and fortunate enough to have done a fair amount, I am always so grateful to get back home and so grateful for all that my home has. And this time is no different. I am so grateful for the wealth and security of where I live. I’m grateful for the schools and the hospitals. I’m grateful for the system that allows even our poor to eat and have a place to live. Where people with addictions have an opportunity for help. Where we have a system that functions, if not perfectly. But so too am I humbled as I see life from another less privileged place. Where they still continue on with generosity and kindness and patience for their neighbours.

So this year not only will I be grateful but I am determined to be a lot more patient when I return. Patient about how I navigate whatever is still to come. Patient with the people who feel differently than I do, though I still may be more patient at a distance. I’m not sure how I’m going to navigate it entirely. Because I will also be a little more patient with myself.

Mother’s Day Special

Being a mom is singularly the most difficult and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It’s kept me up at night, made me cry with joy, made me laugh so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. It has changed me so profoundly I can feel it in every breath. It is a spiritual challenge as big as any I’ve faced and taught me more than anything ever has.

So as is my tradition here is a list of things I’ve learned from being a Mom:

1. You don’t have to know it all right now you just have to be willing to learn. Every day. As they grow, you will too. You are going to make mistakes. Stay committed to learning and it will be okay.

2. Give up on sleep. They will keep you up at night as babies, needing you there. They will keep you up as teenagers because they don’t. And as they get older their problems will get bigger. Raise them to be strong and willing to work hard and learn. They will figure it out.

3. Worry doesn’t change the outcome but you’ll do it anyway.

4. Yell less. They hear you. They won’t tell you that until they are 25, but they hear you.

5. Listen with your heart. You aren’t always going to like them. But if you listen with love that love will prevail.

6. It goes without saying to be present with all the little things. You will miss them.

7. Sometimes you will wonder how you can love someone so intensely and want to kill them at exactly the same time.

8. Don’t ask why they did it. The answer will only make you more terrified and angry.

9. Your job is never done. As my mother said ‘You never stop worrying the problems just get bigger. ’ My mother is a realist. She couldn’t write a Hallmark Card to save her life. But she is the one who taught me that motherhood was hard and to never stop learning so im thinking there is a wisdom in this too.

10. Motherhood is a long process of letting go at the right time. If you do it for them they will think you don’t think they are capable. They are meant to fall and learn, just as you were.

11. My job is never done. I am mentoring them in each stage of their lives as they enter them behind me. They will make mistakes and do some things better than I ever could. As long as I’m here I will be watching over them and loving them. When I’ve left this plane I will be the brightest star in the sky loving them from the hereafter. I did good.

So Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there. Whether you brought them into the world or just played a part in guiding them through it, you matter. Keep doing what you do. It matters.

Rainy Day

It has been raining here in BC. It is pervasive, daily and, at times, a deluge. I avoid complaining about the weather, it seems so pointless, but now, after weeks of it, I am getting annoyed.

So I move to gratitude. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with it. It swamps me in its intensity on occasion and I feel so in awe of what I have. But other times, like today, it is a decision. And at those times, as I look at the weather app desperately looking for a day where the sun is out long enough to dry the deck and the night is warm enough to let the stain dry completely overnight and I sigh. Nope, yet again, I can’t finish the job I started last year before I left for the summer.

But I look around me and notice the evergreens tipped with a lighter green buds, and trees draped in bright flowers of every color imaginable. Last year, we were already on fire watch. Today, the fog keeps everything but my yard draped in mystery.

So I closed my eyes this morning, first thing, before Byron rose, before even the dog stopped snoring, and my meditation prompt read into my headphones.

‘If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.’ No wonder Dolly Parton is such a good songwriter.

And I let my mind catch and let go of the people in my life going through difficult times. God has them in the palm of His hand. I accept that I will be preoccupied with the wedding preparations. But I let those go because right now I’m enjoying the peace of the morning. I listen to the soft sound of rain and I welcome the grace.

And when I do open my eyes I catch sight of the birdbath that Irene gave me before she died, now filled with rocks I’ve collected and had gifted to me, where water pools and the birds drink. And, somehow, the rain is perfect and still. I smile remembering her strength and her laughter.

I think of the fires last year that had already started by this time. I think of the budding trees and the Saskatoons which we didn’t even see bud last year because it was so dry.

And then I sit quietly with my coffee, watching the hummingbirds gorge and wonder if their nests are full yet.

And I remember that the rain has a reason.

And for this moment, in this life, I am overwhelmed again with gratitude.


I found myself in a familiar place this afternoon, sitting among the brilliant gold leaves, still mostly clinging to the aspens, watching the river. From my perch high above, I pondered recent events in my life. Leaves littered the ground like pirate’s treasure. It is a place I have returned to often when the world is uncertain or I need an island of calm. It is a place that reminds me of the beauty of the world around me. I’ve seen this valley on horseback. I’ve visited in the green of summer and cooked hotdogs with boys I thought came only for the food; when their noise still could not overwhelm its peaceful beauty. I’ve visited it coated in the white of winter when we turned off the roaring machines that brought us, and let the snow swallow the sound in gulps, leaving the silence echoing across the valley.

My boys called it ‘The Quiet Place.’ I dubbed it “The Pines” after the trees that grew from it’s sandy soil.   I’ve come here and laughed with loved ones and I returned when their loss seemed unbearable.  I’ve come here to listen to the echoes of voices long gone but still part of the earth around me.   This spot has seen and heard everything my heart had to offer, and taken it into itself with infinite acceptance. 

I came today, to this gold drenched place overlooking a wide and powerful river that cut its way through the banks, to reminisce. I sit here watching the wind rustle the leaves clutching tenaciously to branches. I am grateful for their determination. This golden time is too short. It’s a balance and a breath in time. The summer has drifted off but her perfume still lingers and winter’s harsh beauty is expected, but not here yet. It occurred to me how this spot and this time is representative of my life. I retired months ago, and my husband will follow in a month, at which time we will both move from one idyllic place in Northern Alberta to another in Southern British Columbia. As much as I love this season, my home, and this special place in the pines overlooking the Peace River, it is all temporary. It is still familiar and comforting, but the place, like my life is stalling at the top of a breath, ready to begin the next phase. We are both in pause. And I in this moment am full of expectation, gratitude, excitement, nervousness, and grief.

This will likely be the last fall I take the time to enjoy here. The last time I will have opportunity to just be and watch the time pass and the leaves fall. The last season I will watch the light play games with the horizon leaving everything bathed in golden warmth. When I return here to visit, if my experience is to be believed, I will be in a rush of people, stuffing our lives into a small envelope of time. But for right now, I get to say goodbye a season in a place, that while it is remote, and ordinary, it is miraculous and beautiful in a way only a dear old friend can be.

This retirement thing is a challenge. I feel like I am in a waiting room for an audition for a play. That play that is the rest of my life. It doesn’t quite seem real. I fill my time with teaching English, learning Spanish, and cleaning closets and windows. I fill time and enjoy my solitude, as I must, in this weird time when socializing is something to be avoided. Byron is a month away from joining me, so my days are spent rattling around in a nearly empty house that looks like a college kid’s dorm. Cast off furniture populate spaces without the clutter one would expect of a home that I spent a quarter century in. A home that raised two boisterous and busy boys. It is our home and yet it is not. The chaos and love that filled it no longer echoes in every room. I’ve drawn that energy back into me in preparation for leaving. It is a building now, contemporary grey walls instead of the riot of color I loved so much. Most of our belongings are already gone. The walls are bare. It is not sad, so much as quiet and still, like a photograph of a memory.

I’m leaning into this new time in my life.  Filling it with things I’ve not taken time to do.  There will be travel, sunshine, whimsy and mostly time in my future.  Time for family, time for writing, time for the things I love to do but rarely had time for. And while this seems like a space between episodes it doesn’t feel as empty as I feared it would.  Because right now, I’m sitting in gratitude for the slice of heaven this place represents and the people who have shared it with me. Like the leaves around me it and this gold saturated afternoon.  I am simply being here with the leaves, and the breeze and the smell of summer fading into fall.

Raising Boys

Things I know because I raised boys:
1. Toddlers like the feel of their gum boots on the wrong feet. Don’t sweat it. Like potty training, learning to walk, cleaning the bathroom, and balancing their checkbook, they get it eventually.
2. Aim is learned and inconsistent. Young boys are closer to the target but add alcohol a decade later and the effect is the same.
3. They won’t always love hugging you so take it while you can. Keep hugging them, even when they don’t want it anymore, because there will come a day their wiskered faces will rub against your cheek and you will hear, “I’m glad you are here Mom.”
4. Yell less. They hear you. They will admit it much later.
5. Show up. Make noise. Drive them. The conversations you have when you are heading somewhere they want to go are some of the most important. They need to know you see them on their “up” side. They are glad you are there even if they are too cool to admit it.
6. Advise and love. They will do it anyway. But they will hear your voice in their ear when their heads get unstuck from their asses. And they will know you loved them enough to warn them.
7. Pray. Keep the health cards handy. They will scare the shit out of you. They are testing their wings and all you can be is a safe place to land. As one ER doctor once told me “You can wrap them in cotton batting and hide them under a table, but they won’t be normal.”
8. Hygene happens and body functions are fascinating. Get used to the conversation at the dinner table. When they are little, you wonder if they rolled in the dirt. When they are thirteen, they smell and react to water like cats. When girls come along smelling good becomes a priority. Your nose won’t always be offended.
9. As one beleagured mom put it, “It is fascinating that I can love something so intensely, and want to beat it so badly, at exactly the same moment.”
10. Relax. You fall in and out and in love over an over again. You love their baby smell, the end of the day when they ask for three stories, from books you find annoying, when your ten year old finds his own humour, when he asks you how to ask a girl he likes out, and when he lets that girl go with kindness. Most of all, you get to a moment where you know he is grown and he is a good man that you are glad you know.


The Thing I learned When Someone Died.

ageHey beautiful world, do you ever think how lucky you are, just for this day? Every time I see this meme I think of the people I have lost far too young. And for a moment, I grieve. Then I think of what they have taught me, about life, about courage, about gratitude, and joy. I think of the echos of their lives are like wind chimes in a breeze in my life, and I am grateful. I think of their families, that have become part of mine. I think of how I would not have done one single thing differently. I would not have spared my heart from the loss, if I had known what was coming.

Then I think of what age has given me: perspective, patience, wisdom, and grace. I am better at making mistakes now. I jump in sooner, not later. I don’t have time to hesitate. And if I fall flat on my face, I am still five feet nine inches ahead of where I started. I do not worry as much. Everyone has their path dictated by their own soul and the music that plays in their own heart. And mostly I have learned more compassion for myself and others. I set boundaries sooner but with a bit more gentleness than I had in the past. And I am emphatic about those boundaries. Never again will I not care for myself for the sake of others. I am useless broken, defeated, or exhausted.

And I relish my changes. The grey hair peeks out from my part and I think is today the day I let it grow out? If it glowed white I would. I love the laugh lines around my eyes…what put them there was worth it…every damn line was worth it. I would take nothing back, not one moment, not one year. Each moment encapsulates a miracle gifted to me by the Divine. To regret the years, the wrinkles, the aches is to say I would give up what put them there.

Life is a miracle we waste time complaining about. It is one hundred percent of our own making. What is outside us is beyond our control. What is inside us is what defines it. I intend every day, to be defined by gratitude and joy. And if someone sees a crazy middle aged woman dancing on a street corner maybe they will join in….

Life is too short not to.

The blessing of today

  1. FB_IMG_1488684420586Today I love my life. It isn’t true every day but today it is and I realized what a fabulous moment that was.  It wasn’t a really exceptional day.  I did my laundry, cleaned a bit, listened to the birds sing as I drank coffee  and watched the sun rise.  I talked to my son and two friends on the phone.  I read a book and spent time with my neighbor.  She makes me laugh.  It was very ordinary and yet it was spectacular because each moment felt like a blessing.

In truth, I realized that for one of the first times in my life I don’t just love my life.  You see my life is a daily commitment to and validation of being me.  On those days when I simply love my life I am in the process of loving me.

I love my family.  I love their warts and idiosyncrasies.  I wish they didnt stumble, fight, or judge and I worry but it lasts only as long as it takes for me to realize their challenges knock off thr rough edges and challenge them to grow.  They are perfectly imperfect and they are rising to the challenge of building thier lives in an imperfect world. I have faith in them.

I love my heart.  It keeps giving with everything in me, and without expectation. On the days I do this well,  I love the feeling of doing that without feeling depleted.  Expectations are premeditated resentments. So when I can embrace the idea that love has no cost, then what others do with this gift is their stuff.  My part is just to love them. I am free to do it without fear.

Mostly I love that I have been loved. By my family, by my friends who have love me like family and by friends who are learning me enough to become family.  The power of the knowledge that we all know eachother on the inside. If we can realize that disagreement doesn’t mean rejection we can be vulnerable and reàl.  Something I’ve done must have been amazing; that past must have been special to  have given me such incredible gifts of the people who love me.

I love my humour, energy, and my loudness that it shocks people from their complacency.  I challenge the idea that we always need order for the world to function.  Sometimes we need chaos, laughter and fun to bend the straight lines into beautiful curves.

Mostly I love the purpose of my life that keeps unfolding like a magical book.  Each page blank as it is opened and then words drawn by a secret pen, it’s colours mutable and infinitely complex or blessedly simple. The miracle of each day is yet to be written.

I love my life and all its blessings,  including and perhaps today, most importantly, the blessing that is me.

Blessed Be Beautiful World and my part in it.

Thanks to Louise Gallagher again. Www.dareboldly.com

The Empty Page

I have learned that I have trouble starting a project sometimes because I am unsure of what the end product will be.  The empty page mocks me.   The noisy critic, this empty page, the cluttered table, or the things unfinished. But I’m also finding the struggle to finish means I know the answers, that I have the conclusions already made.   This is not where real solutions for problems are often found.
For some, they need the curriculm already written to make the attempt. The map is there, the trip planned ahead. I don’t. I’m not sure I would find any joy in that kind of adventure. My magic, like some others, is in the process. It’s in the question, the ponder, the struggle and the learning.
So one day I sat in the centre of a maelstrom. It wasn’t chaos, but neither was it scripted.  I watched people bring from nothing, a small project, a food bank, which is changing my job. It started our as noticing that people came for help getting work with empty stomachs, worried about their kids, and unable to concentrate. People came into the centre looking for help feeding their families. A desperate situation for sure, but now they walk through our learning centre to get help with food and with small goals. They are snagged by the job board, computer tutoring, or literacy tutoring. The benefit we only hoped for, was people connecting with each other and with the community. Our clients have become volunteers, they have found housing and jobs. They bring baked goods and gifts ways of thanking us for connecting them. They ask for help, and bring their expertise to help their neighbours. We are creating community, dignity, and hope.
I wish I could have said I expected this. That I predicted or planned the result. But I didn’t. I knew it was needed and there was the right mix of people, will, and skill and we collectively rolled the dice. It was a blank page that mocked us. And we all stared at it and started filling it with no idea of the result.
And around us people started watching, like spectators around a live art exhibit in the town square. They offered their support and at times they picked up a brush and what started out simple, is growing like a secret garden, magical and full of promise.
I can’t say I know where it will end but I know that the whiteness teased us and we started filling it. First with doodles and then new people came along who took over when my ideas seemed to stagnate. And in the end there is a page of flourishes and some blank spots that willFB_IMG_1488926496737.jpg be filled as time goes on.
When the empty canvas mocked us, we started filling it with no idea how it would end… it is a story without an ending but it is quite the story so far.
I am so proud of her teasing, this not so blank page.

Thanks again to Louise Gallagher for her “She Persisted series”




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