Category Archives: Inspiration


To notice the beauty in things left behind is to see the soul of a life once lived. – Heather Durren

I photographed this truck yesterday on a friend’s farm near Lowe Farm

A graveyard is overgrown with weeds. I photographed it in Bangkok Thailand.

I photographed this boat while exploring Stykkishólmur Iceland.

Funeral pots I discovered and photographed on a hike in the hills in Hong Kong

A barn I photographed on a tour near Herschel Saskatchewan.

Military vehicle photographed while hiking on a friend’s property near Steinbach

I photographed this unfinished abandoned home in Runaway Bay Jamaica.

Dead abandoned duck in a plastic bag I photographed while on a walk to have breakfast in Merida Mexico.

Cupboard and umbrella I photographed on the beach after the tsunami in Phuket Thailand.

House photographed while I was on a walk through Savannah, Georgia

Pair of shoes I photographed on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg while I was on my way to work.

I photographed Dave looking at a tree that had grown to become part of an abandoned temple in Angkor Wat Cambodia.

I photographed this plate left on a table at an outdoor restaurant we ate at in Vientiane Laos.

I photographed this house while biking around Yangshou China

Our guide Victor Penner photographed Dave and me finding the abandoned tombstones of Dave’s great uncles in an overgrown orchard in Ukraine.

Cliff dwellings of the Salado people I photographed while driving through the Tonto Forest in Arizona

To notice the beauty in things left behind is to see the soul of a life once lived. – Heather Durren

Other posts……….

She Painted Battlefields and Helped to Start An Art Gallery

My Father-In-Law Was Born In A School For the Deaf

A Walk to Have Breakfast in Mexico

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Reflections

A Heartfelt Book That Started On Instagram and Sold Two Million Copies

I was introduced to Charlie Mackesy on the CBS Sunday Morning show. Mackesy is an artist with a studio in a quaint old barn in the English countryside. In 2018 he started doing sketches about a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse that were meant to encourage people and give them hope. He posted his daily sketches on his Instagram page.

Mackesy’s Instagram account became a huge hit with hundreds of thousands of followers and then Harper Collins offered him a book deal. The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse has sold 2 million copies, been translated into 17 languages and spent more than 15 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Published in the fall of 2019 the book is targeted at audiences of any age. It is not so much a story as it is a collection of illustrations about a lonely boy who makes his way through the countryside, finding friendship with the mole, fox and horse. He talks with them, sharing his hopes and fears and asking important questions like.…....What do you think success is? What is the bravest thing you ever said? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you think is the biggest waste of time?

The book also contains words of encouragement and hope. Like…………. Everyone is a bit scared, but we are less scared together. Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent. When the big things feel out of control focus on what you love right under your nose.

There is a lot of wisdom in this little book. I have it on my nightstand and like to dip into a page or two before I got to sleep. The very last page in the book is one we would all do well to remember. It says…………

Sometimes all you hear about is the hate, but there is more love in this world than you could possibly imagine.

Other posts………..

And that Led Me

Mending What We Can

I‘m Possible


Filed under Books, Inspiration

Word of the Year- How Did I Do?

Listen was my word of the year for 2020. When I chose it last January I wrote that I wanted to get better at ‘listening’ in lots of different areas. I think I was pretty successful in some of them, but not as successful in others.

I said I wanted to start listening to more podcasts and I did. Some I especially liked and wrote about were Mobituaries with Mo Rocca, Heavy Weight with Jonathan Goldstein, 1619 with Nikole Hannah Jones and Through Line with Rund Abdelfatah & Ramtin Arablouei. Other podcasts I enjoyed quite regularly were This American Life and Hidden Brain.

I also wanted to start listening to more music and different kinds of music. To inspire me I subscribed to Apple Music and have added lots of new songs to my playlists this last year. Dave and I regularly listen to my expanded music library while driving although this has been the source of some debate.

My son with his band Royal Canoe just before their phenomenal show on ice instruments at The Forks in Winnipeg in January 2020

My son Bucky was actually largely responsible for the widening of my musical listening horizons in 2020. His band Royal Canoe got the year off to a bang with their Glacial Show. In January they played music from their albums on instruments made of ice to huge crowds down at The Forks in Winnipeg. That was certainly one of my most unique musical experiences.

Since his careers as a touring professional musician and a music booking agent came to an abrupt halt with the pandemic my son started all kinds of new ventures and one was a weekly radio show. The music he played on his program was almost all new to me and introduced me to many artists I had never heard before.

No matter the weather Dave and I have been heading out on walks during the pandemic. We try to get in our 10,000 steps every day.

I said last year that I wanted to start listening to my body and get enough exercise but I also wanted to learn to listen to my body when it told me to rest. The pandemic has certainly meant my body gets more rest since there aren’t lots of places for it to go. However, I have still tried to listen to my body calling to me to get outdoors and keep fit. My husband Dave has been a great inspiration encouraging me to walk or cycle with him every day.

Signing the contract for my book in June

Another goal for 2020 was to listen to critiques of my writing and take them seriously and act on them. I did that by submitting work to contests and editors and my writers group and getting lots of great feedback I took to heart. That resulted in a book contract.

A family conversation prior to the pandemic

I had one listening goal where my progress is questionable. I wanted to talk less and listen more and to be a more sensitive listener so I could improve my relationships with others. Not being able to get together with people to visit and not seeing them in person to sense their mood or body language has made listening in a more sensitive way a challenge and is something I will need to keep working on.

I haven’t picked a word for 2021 yet. I am still thinking about it. I’ll let you know when I’ve decided on one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Reflections

My Talented Friends

The other day I found this photo of my talented friend Marge on Facebook with a quilt she had designed. Her niece had posted the photo of the quilt.  Marge has designed and stitched so many beautiful quilts.  

That started thinking about all the very talented friends I have. 

My friend John takes pictures of flowers. Look at one of his stunning photos.

My friend Audrey is amazing at food presentation. Look at one of the meal courses I have enjoyed at her house.

My friend Debbie creates unique and meaningful cards.  Look at one of the beautiful personalized birthday cards I’ve received from her.

My friend Glenys sets a picture-perfect table. Look at this beautiful table setting.

 My friend Ed makes things out of wood. Look at these amazing music stands he built.My friend and cousin Lynne is a wizard with the sewing machine. Look at the cool hats and scarves she made for us and for our grandson because she knew about his passion for dinosaurs. 

My friend Mitch writes stories.  Here he is reading one of his stories that is a favourite of mine. 

My friend Esther is an artist.  Look at one of her lovely sketches. My friend Christina is a very crafty person. 

Look at this unique notebook she designed and created. 

My friend and cousin Sharon makes mosaics out of broken china and glass.

Look at this detailed and breathtakingly beautiful piece of hers called Winter Sun From the Ski Trail

I have so many talented friends and family members.  They inspire me!

Other posts………

An Artist in the Family 


Getting Crafty for Christmas

When Did You Stop Drawing?




1 Comment

Filed under Inspiration, Introductions

They Jump Into the Work Head First

alexandria ocasio cortez

Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez

This week as I listened to Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez give her brave and incredibly important speech decrying the sexism and misogyny still firmly entrenched in politics, I was reminded of a poem by Marge Piercy called  To Be of Use.  Ms Cortez follows a long line of women who have not been afraid to jump in headfirst to bring about the changes so necessary in our world. 

dorothy day statue

Social justice fighter Dorothy Day photographed in Solanus Casey Center in Detroit

To Be of Use    by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best

jump into work head first 

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.

female suffragettes quebed

A trio of Quebec suffragettes who fought for 22 years to get women the right to vote in their province. Photographed in Quebec City.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.

rosa parks by tony scherman

Rosa Parks civil rights activist in a portrait by Tony Scherman photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who are not parlour generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.


Maria Leal de Noguera influential educator, literacy pioneer and writer of children’s literature in Costa Rica photographed in Santa Cruz Costa Rica. 

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.

Other posts…………..

Difficult Women

Are You This Determined to Vote? 

The Beatitudes Come to Life 

1 Comment

Filed under Inspiration, Poetry, Politics

Word of the Year- 2020

I follow author Carrie Synder’s blog.  Each January instead of making resolutions Carrie chooses a word she wants to apply to her life for the coming year and blogs about her progress in doing so. 

I decided I would try to pick a word of the year for 2020.  It was hard. I toyed around with lots of different possibilities, but I finally settled on LISTEN. 

visiting with al (1)

I tend to talk a lot and so this year I want to try to talk less and listen more.  I want to really listen to what others have to say and learn from them.  

I want to get better at sensing how other people feel about me or when I may have irritated, frustrated or upset them, and so I want to listen in a way that helps me pick up on more than just other people’s words, but listen to their body language and unspoken emotions as well to figure out how I can improve our relationship.

walking in iceland

I want to do a better job of listening to my body and what it is telling me I need to do to keep it healthy and strong.  I also need to learn to listen when my body tells me it needs rest and quiet. 

I want to listen to different kinds of music and expand my music tastes. 

I want to start listening to some podcasts and be inspired by the new ideas they might foster. 

at the writing desk in icelandI want to seek out more advice about improving my writing and getting it published and I want to listen to that advice and take it seriously.  

Hopefully, I will make progress implementing my word and can report back to you during the coming year in some blog posts.

What might you pick for a word of the year?

Other posts…….

Words to Live By- My Grandmother’s Epitaph

Words of Wisdom on a Wine Bottle

Elegant Words




Filed under Inspiration, Reflections

Inspiration to Speed the Coming of Spring Weather

“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”
― L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Avonlea
pink bike and tulips spring
In winter I plot and plan. In spring I move.  Henry Rollings

I want to pay attention to springI am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around……and look up. I am going to…… listen.  Anne Lamontwedding in japan“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

purple flowersFor now the winter is past. The rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come. – Song of Solomon 2:11-12

canada geese on school playground in winnipeg“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.”
― Lilly Pulitzer

winnipeg river in springIn spring the river rises as high as the sea.  -Zhang Ruoxu 

leaf after a rain 2012There shall come Spring rains

When all seems lost to the cold decay

And winter shall release its icy reign. 

-Sheri Walters

cherry blossoms spring japan

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough.

A.E. Housmana toast in rome

Toasting the sun,
See spring twirl
Flower-cups in the air.
Would I could wipe from your brow,
The furrows of care!

-Salomeja Neris


spring in the window

“I glanced out the window at the signs of spring. The sky was almost blue, the trees were almost budding, the sun was almost bright.”
— Millard Kaufman

The photos in this post were taken in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Moose Lake, Rome, Portugal, Kyoto and Hiroshima

Other posts…….

Icy Inspiration

Australian Inspiration

Inspiration on a Walk in Sedona

Fiji Inspiration



Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Nature

Show Me What You Can Do

bank of ghana

In 2017 Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey’s picture was featured on the five cedis note of Ghana’s currency in honor of his educational contributions

Don’t tell me what you know, show me what you can do.  

On Sunday my pastor used that quote in his sermon. Its wisdom can be attributed to Dr. James Emman Kwegyir- Aggrey a turn of the century educational philosopher from Ghana. He obtained numerous degrees from American universities, was an educational consultant in many African countries and in the last years of his life served as the vice principal of a college in the Ghanian capital of Accra. 

Checking out Dr. Kwegyir-Aggrey’s impressive biography on various sites led me to a number of other quotes of his that were thought-provoking.  

About racial harmony he said…………If you play only the white notes on a piano you get only sharps; if only the black keys you get flats; but if you play the two together you get harmony and beautiful music.

On education for women he said…… The surest way to keep a people down is to educate the men and neglect the women.  If you educate a man you simply educate an individual.  If you educate a woman you educate a family.

On getting along with others he said…..  If someone scowls at me I smile back. If they scowl again I just smile back. I don’t often find a scowl a third time. 

On contemplating one’s future he said……Be patient, don’t lose heart, don’t hate anybody and make yourself worthy of good things

Dr. Kwegyir-Aggrey died in 1927 but his advice seems very timely some ninety years later. 

Other posts………

Wisdom From Dr. Seuss

Things My Mother Said

Sometimes You Just Need A Dose of Precious

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Reflections

Inspiration from Maya Angelou


President Barak Obama presents author and poet Maya Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

I love Maya Angelou and have read many of her books and poems.  Here is a piece of advice she gave that I am really trying to take to heart especially as I age. It is isn’t always easy.  There are days when I think many people feel the world is ‘going to hell in a hand basket’ and it is tempting to contemplate just crawling into a corner and ceasing to engage, but Maya Angelou’s words inspire us to do anything but that. 

Don’t just survive. Thrive and do it with………….

working in my office writing book

Working on a writing project in my office in Hong Kong. Writing is definitely one of my passions.

some passion,

with children on bolaven coffee plantation in laos

My husband Dave helping children on the Bolaven Coffee Plantation in Laos learn English

some compassion,

dressing up at the museum in quebec city

Fooling around in a museum in Quebec City

some humour and ……….

young girls in the 1940's in dresses they sewed

My mother with her best friend Millie around 1943 and dresses they had made for themselves

some style.

Don’t just survive, thrive and do it with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.

Other posts…….

I Almost Saw Maya Angelou in Person

A Sunny Birthday on a Rainy Day

Fair Trade Coffee and Hope for Laos




Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration

Inspiration From Portuguese Artists at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon

Prudencia by Domingos Rego 2000

I know who I am. When I look in the mirror, I see me. -Tracy Morgan

Family by Sarah Affonso 1937

Families are messy.- Rick Riordan

The Boy’s Lunch by Julio Pomar- 1926

The best inheritance a parent can give their children is a few minutes of their time each day.— Orlando Battista

Untitled by Jorge Barradas 1920

Accept your burden and carry it, with joy. ― John Ajvide Lindqvist

Maternity by José Sobral de Almada Negreiros- 1935

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life. – Sophocles

The Homecoming by Paulo Ferreira- 1935

Home is people. Not a place. – Robin Hobb

Encounter of  Natalie Correia (poet), Fernado Botelho (novelist) and Maria Joao Pires( pianist) -by Nikias Skapinakis- 1974

Anytime women come together with a collective intent it is a powerful thing. -Phylicia Rashad

Cramped by Hunger by Marcelino Vespeira -1945

We can end global poverty and hunger within our lifetimes. – Barack Obama

No Saying Yes by Rui Toscano -1970
(34 radio/music players each with a voice saying “yes” at different times)

The oldest, shortest words- yes and no– are those which require the most thought.- Pythagoras

Evolution of a Square in a Logarithmic Mesh by Artur Rosa 1926

The human heart likes a little disorder in its geometry.- Louis de Bernieres

Other posts…….

Inspiration at The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

Hawaiian Inspiration

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Inspiration, Portugal