Category Archives: Reflections

A Display of Racist Anger

coffeeI was in a Winnipeg fast-food establishment early Tuesday morning having a coffee when a man strode in through the doors and started yelling and screaming at the young clerk behind the counter. The clerk was Sikh and the angry man was liberally lacing his long and loud tirade not only with the f_____ word, which he used several times in each sentence, but also vile racist references.  The customer was upset because earlier he had used the drive-through of the restaurant to pick up a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee and there had been some syrup on his cup which had gotten onto his hands.  He basically accused the restaurant employees of deliberately putting the syrup on his cup.  

The clerk to his credit remained calm during the man’s foul and racist diatribe and even tried to interject with an apology,  offering to get the man a new cup of coffee and call his manager.   This went on for several minutes.  Part of me felt like I should do something, perhaps get up and defend the clerk, but the angry customer was a very large, very tall man wearing a camouflage type jacket and work boots and frankly, I would have been terrified to get in his way.

 I couldn’t stop thinking about the incident all day.   What makes someone become such an angry person? What had happened or not happened in the life of the irate man to make him so racist, so uncouth, so enraged about something so minor?  If this was the way he reacted to a little syrup on his coffee cup how might he react to members of his family when they did something that irritated him?  I worried he might have a partner or children who had to bear the brunt of his troubled anger. 

And I thought about the young man behind the counter too.  What must it be like to know you are constantly at risk of becoming a target for that kind of racist violent behaviour because of the colour of your skin and the way you choose to outwardly express your religious beliefs? I realized from my privileged position as a white person who belongs to the dominant religious group in Canada I had no way of understanding that. 

In the past Winnipeg has been accused of being the most racist city in Canada.  That has always upset me because I find Winnipeg to be such a friendly place to live and I love its diversity. But that incident on Tuesday exposed me to the kind of racism that does exist in Winnipeg and had me thinking seriously about what I can do about it.  

Other posts……….

Racism Pure and Simple

A Racist Statue

An Important Letter


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5 To Do List Alternatives

I still make lists of things to do almost every day. Sometimes at the end of a busy week, my kitchen counter which is also my writing and work area is littered with multiple lists of things I wanted to accomplish in a given day. Yesterday at the end of a very busy week of speaking, meetings, working, entertaining and beginning to get ready for a trip, I threw a wad of ‘to do’ lists in the trash. It had me thinking about whether making lists of things to do is really the best strategy for getting things accomplished. I decided to look for some alternative methods and found several that intrigued me.

Getting exercise should be my number one priority because it sets the tone for my whole day

In their book, The One Thing Gary Keller and Jay Papasan suggest that instead of making lists each day you choose the one thing that will have the most impact on your life and make sure to get that done. I think for me that is often getting exercise. If I make that a priority my whole day goes better. 

As a young mother I was so busy just doing the daily routine tasks of child care and home care in the evening I often thought where has this day gone and what have I actually done?

Reva Smith suggests in an article in the magazine, Fast Company that rather than make a ‘to do’ list at the beginning of the day you make a ‘done’ list at the end of the day writing down all the things you have accomplished.  I used to do that when I was a young mother and it seemed so hard to get anything done.  I was always amazed at the end of the day when I wrote down what I’d done how much I’d really accomplished. 

Writing in a house we rented in Iceland

Sam Bennett whose company Organized Artist caters to those trying to achieve creative goals suggests making a ‘could do’ list instead of a ‘to do’ list.  It sounds much less dictatorial and gives you the freedom of choice.  I do use this to some extent in my writing life often making lists of potential writing projects I ‘could’ tackle that excite me. 

A photo I took last year around this time of my calendar and lists

In an interview with Business Insider New York Stock Exchange Executive Betty Lui says she uses the 1-3-5 list to have a successful day.  Every day she writes down one very important thing she wants to get done, three things of average importance and five smaller tasks to accomplish.  By tackling the most important thing first she says she has renewed energy to get the others done too.  I use my day planner for this kind of thing- writing the most important task or event of the day in the actual square for the day on the calendar and putting smaller tasks in the sections for each day on the following pages. 

I spend far too much time scrolling through social media

Finally, there’s Chris Guillebea the author of the book The Art of Non-Conformity who suggests we make of list of things we are not going to do rather than a list of things we want to do.  By eliminating some things we don’t want to do we leave more time for the things we want to do.  My list would include playing card games online, watching silly television shows and scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram way too many times a day. 

Do you make lists?  What kind of list making works for you? 

Other posts……..

Making Lists

My Brain is Befuddled

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Decisions That Change Your Life

I received Alice Kuipers book Me and Me as a Christmas gift. It has an intriguing premise. A seventeen-year-old girl named Larkin is in a situation where two people she knows and loves are drowning and she has to decide which one she will save. One is her boyfriend and the other a little girl she babysat. During the rest of the novel, the story flips back and forth between the two different outcomes. We see how Larkin’s life would have turned out had she saved the little girl and what would have happened had she saved her boyfriend. Her life is markedly different in each scenario. 
Reading the novel made me think about times like that in my own life. Not nearly so dramatic as Larkin’s but decisions I made that would have totally changed the course of my life.

Photo with my class when I was named Manitoba Teacher of the Year

I remember when I was in college and I was thinking about whether I should become a teacher or a nurse and my Dad came to have supper with me in my college dining room. We went into this little lounge off the dining room after our meal to visit and I told Dad I wasn’t sure what my career should be teaching or nursing. And Dad told me he didn’t think I would make a good nurse. I should be a teacher. I remember at the time I was upset with him for saying I wouldn’t be suited for a career in nursing but his instincts clearly steered me in the right direction. I liked being a teacher and I think I was pretty good at it. I still sometimes speculate though about what would have happened if I hadn’t taken Dad’s blunt advice. What would my life have been like if I had been a nurse?

Our family on the waterfront after the tsunami

In 2004 we were getting ready to holiday in Phuket Thailand and we decided at the last minute to switch to a hotel high up on a cliff instead of the one right on the ocean where we had planned to stay. The one on the ocean was totally destroyed in the tsunami and many many people staying there died. What if we hadn’t changed our mind at the last minute?

In the receiving line at our wedding in 1973

What if I had decided at age 19 that I was too young to get married as many people told me? What if I had decided after three lost pregnancies that I just couldn’t try again? What if we hadn’t gone to Hong Kong to teach because just after we signed our contract SARS broke out and many people thought we were crazy to go?
In each case, if I had made an alternate decision my life probably would have been markedly different. Alice Kuiper’s book made me think about that.

Other posts………….

A Christmas Carol Saved Our Lives

A Bathtub In My Classroom

A Walk in My Old Neighborhood

Vision and Voice

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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

The Year in Review

Here’s a look back at some of the things I wrote about on this blog in 2019.

In January we were in Merida Mexico and I wrote about climbing a pyramid at the site of the Xcambo Mayan ruins. I am at the top of the pyramid with our friend Rudy. In February we were still in Merida and I wrote about swimming in a cenote with my sister. In March I wrote about a delightful chocolate making experience we had in Merida thanks to this wonderful woman named
In April I wrote about this beautiful blanket which my great grandmother made for my mother when she was born in 1925. My mother gave it to me when I had my first child in 1979 and in April of 2019 I gave it to my son and his wife when their daughter was born. My granddaughter shares her middle name with my great grandmother, the woman who made the quilt. In May I wrote about Joop, a former exchange student of ours from Thailand who came to visit us.
 In June I wrote about visiting my 96 year old aunt in Saskatoon. In July I wrote about seeing a Fringe Festival play with my cousin Lynne. In August I wrote about celebrating our wedding anniversary with long-time friends. In September I wrote about a lovely evening in Dubrovnik with my sister and brother-in-law. In October I wrote about our cycling trip in Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. In November I wrote about a great night with the members of my writing group at our condo.

with glenys and esther

Christmas 2019 with the T-4s

In December I wrote about celebrating Christmas with the T-4s, a group of friends I meet with regularly.

It has been a great year with great people and I’m looking forward to the adventures with friends and family that 2020 will hold.

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The Olden Days

I was visiting one of my education students in a grade two class yesterday and she asked the children to spell the word statue. It was a hard word but one boy got it right.
“Can you tell us the strategy you used to spell that word?” my student teacher asked.
“I didn’t use a strategy,” the boy replied. “I had seen that word before……… sometime in the olden days.”
“The olden days?” the teacher smiled. “When was that?”
“When I was five, ” the six-year-old replied. 

Our sons each had their own Walkman

For my children the ‘olden days’ are the 1980s when kids still walked to and from school without their parents, computers were big clunky things, you went to the video store to pick up movies, you played with your Cabbage Patch doll or your Rubix Cube and you listened to music on your walkman.  

My Dad on the phone taking a medical call while we had supper

My ‘olden days’ are the 1950s when we had black and white televisions, phones couldn’t move from place to place with you in the house, women were mostly stay- at- home mothers, smoking was cool, we played with Barbie dolls and we listened to music on LPs we put on the record player.

My mom and her siblings and friends going to school in a horse-drawn wagon

My parents’ ‘olden days’ are the 1930s when most Canadians lived on farms and still used horses for work and transportation, women were recognized as ‘people’ for the first time by the law of the land, typewriters were an office staple and you ordered Christmas presents from the Eatons catalogue. 

 For a six-year-old, the ‘olden days’ are one year ago. Isn’t it interesting that as we age our ‘olden days’ change? 

Other posts………

My Grandmother’s Childhood

My Mother’s Childhood Christmases


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What’s Happening With Those T-4’s?

What’s happening with those T-4’s? I get asked that question sometimes by blog readers who have followed my adventures with a group of three friends. We have been meeting almost monthly for nearly a decade now and have visited art shows, gone mini-golfing, created art, read books, written poetry, gone to museums, walked labyrinths, solved mysteries and visited flea markets. We still get together regularly but in the last couple of years, we’ve found that just having an opportunity to talk and catch up on our lives is our top priority so our time together has been more low key and perhaps that’s why I haven’t written about us as often.

I think there are seasons in relationships and our group is in a season right now where various responsibilities and life events make it best to just find space and time to visit, share joys and concerns, and support one another.

The T-4s getting ready to share the complimentary piece of lemon meringue cake we received from the restaurant because we were celebrating my birthday

Our meeting on Saturday is a good example. We were at Pine Ridge Hollow. What a lovely venue and all decked out for Christmas! We were also celebrating my birthday because it had happened since our last meeting. I got such lovely thoughtful presents from the friends who know me oh so well. This card was made by my friend Debbie who highlights interests in my life in each square on its cover.  The four women in one square are the four of us.  Jane Fonda says that friendships with other women give us power, she calls them the ‘starch in our spine.’ She thinks those friendships are one of the reasons women live longer than men. I’ve read somewhere that women know instinctively how to nourish one another and just being together is restorative. I couldn’t agree more!

Friendships are constantly changing as are the ways we practice them. I am enjoying and appreciating this season in my friendship with three very special women. 

Other posts……….

At the Gates Again


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