Category Archives: Inspiration

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




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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

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Filed under Art, Inspiration, Portugal

One, Two, Three, Four Together

dragon boatsOn a bike ride yesterday I passed the Dragon Boat races.  All the rowers in one of the boats were shouting  1,2,3,4, Together  over and over as they dipped their oars in the river in unison.  What great team work I thought. 

Friday night I hosted a birthday party for my husband with 50 guests.  My son, his wife and our friend Jon who is visiting from Denver helped me do all the clean up after the party.  The four of us together had the kitchen put to rights in record time. What great teamwork I thought. 

Teamwork divides the task and multiples the successes.  – Steve Jobs

Other posts……….

Teamwork in Vietnam

Supporting Each Other

Advice From Doctor Seuss

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Mending What We Can

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within reach.  – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

combine dadMy parents grew wheat on their hobby farm to donate to the Canadian Food Grains Bank. This grain was sent to needy countries around the world. Mrs. Claudette Brown daycare ownerClaudette Brown runs a non profit day care in Runaway Bay Jamaica. The day we visited one hundred and forty children were in attendance. street children indiaThe Salaam Baalak Trust is a charitable organization started by movie director Mira Nair. On our visit to Delhi India we saw how the profits from her films help provide street kids with food, medical care and education. jill morse talks about land mines

Jill Morse is a retired banker from California who does education work at an orphanage and Land Mines Museum in Siem Reap Cambodia. Here she completes an educational presentation at the museum for my high school students.

vi voluntary serviceMy aunt Viola worked as a volunteer in a children’s program in Washington D.C. in the 1950s. 

Connie's team MS walk
My extended family participates in the MS walk every year to help raise funds for research efforts to end the disease.

with children on bolaven coffee plantation in laos

My husband Dave with kids on a coffee plantation in Laos owned by a man named Sam Say.  Sam was a Laotian refugee brought to Canada in 1977 by a Mennonite church in Alberta. Now a successful commodities trader Sam uses his money to help impoverished Laotian families become self-sufficient coffee farmers. 

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within reach.  – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Other posts………

Visiting a Land Mines Museum

MS Walk

Street Children of Delhi

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Filed under Inspiration, Reflections


mom and sisters oct 1934

My mother and her sisters in 1934.

For there is no friend like a sister  in calm or stormy weather   – Christina Rossetti 

Easter 1957 – With my sister in dresses sewn by our mother

You can fool the world but not your sister. – Charlotte Gray

My father-in-law’s sisters around 1940

A woman without her sister is like a bird without her wings. – Moosa Rahat

My maternal grandmother and her sister in 1902

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.- Marion C. Garretty

My father’s sisters winners at a music festival early 1950s

Once sisters are grown their relationship becomes the strongest in the family.  – Margaret Mead

grandma peters

My paternal grandmother far left with her sisters and sisters in law.

A sister is both your mirror – and your opposite. ~ Elizabeth Fishel

My mother-in-law and her sisters  in 1931

Sisters are different flowers from the same garden- Author Unknown

Other posts……….



Birthday Books- A Hundred Years Old


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Filed under Family, Inspiration

Let Me Count The Ways


Let Me Count The Ways……….


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”  – Luke 10:27


heart of compassion

my mother listening to people…. as if what they had to say to her was the most important thing in the world

those women in my church hugging me and quietly sharing their own stories of loss

my mother-in-law’s nurses whispering words of love to her as they tenderly provided palliative care


soul of wonder

Grandma teaching me to split open pea pods with my fingernail

watching my son hold his infant son against his heart

marveling at that black sky over our mesa just jam-packed with stars


strength of spirit

my husband’s grandmother surviving that week she hid in the cellar with her four little boys while the bandits terrorized their village

my father supporting my mother through more than a thousand dialysis treatments

my son’s music group continuing their international tour even after thieves stole all of their instruments


mind of curiosity

that Old Testament professor making us reconsider all our assumptions by assigning an essay about the geography of our faith

the inspiration of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her friends who in 1895 wrote reflections about every single woman mentioned in the Bible

the children I guide at the art gallery who are always finding things in the paintings I’ve never seen before


neighbor as self

my husband stopping to listen to the stories of the people who ask him for money on the street

my sister opening her heart and home to that refugee mother and her children

my former church congregation singing in full harmony at the end of every gathering …..ubi caritas et amour deus ibi est

Where charity and love are, God is there.


Other posts………


Wisdom from Dr. Seuss

Wisdom on a Wine Bottle


Filed under Inspiration, Religion

Wisdom from Dr. Seuss

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.        Dr. Seuss

I’ve been thinking about that Dr. Seuss quote often during the last while.  I’ve had to say good-bye to many good things in my life. Sometimes it’s hard not to be sad about ‘what was’ but it is important to put that sadness into perspective because our lives change and if we keep being melancholy about what we once had and have lost we sometimes can’t appreciate what we have now.  This post is a personal reminder to not be too sad because some good things are over and no longer part of my life but to smile because I was fortunate enough to have such good things happen to me like………………

Teaching in Hong Kong for six years

Farewell party staged for us by friends when we left Hong Kong

Having a fabulously supportive, affirming and caring mother

With Mom at Christmas a year and a half before she died

Having a rewarding and enriching teaching career

My class of students at Elmdale School in 1982.

Having so many memorable family times at my grandparents’ house in Gnadenthal Manitoba

Playing dress up with my cousins on my grandparents’ farmyard.

Having the opportunity to study and expand my world view exponentially at university.

Having the privilege to parent young children.Having a chance to live on the Hopi Indian Reservation for a year. 

Having such a kind and supportive mother-in-law.

With my mother-in-law Anne on our last visit before she passed away

Having been a columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. 

Having the chance to explore so much of Asia in our travels. 

On the great wall of China

Don’t cry because its over. Smile because it happened.

Other posts………

Better With Friends

The Station of Tears

Start and End Happy

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