Category Archives: Reflections

My Word for 2022

I thought long and hard about what I wanted my new word to be for this coming year. I even scrolled through online lists that give you hundreds of suggestions for words that might be suitable. I didn’t pick any of them.

Instead, I’ve picked the word LESS. I know that often when choosing a word of the year people are trying to figure out how they can add MORE meaning or interest or purpose to their life. But I am choosing the word LESS.

I want to spend LESS time inside and more time outside. I have found this neat website created for kids called 1000 Hours Outside. It provides lots of fantastic suggestions for how to spend time outdoors and has creative colouring charts to keep track of your progress. I have printed up one of the charts and I have started filling it in. I may not make it to a thousand hours but I am going to see how far I get.

I want to spend LESS time in front of the computer screen. Hopefully, the pandemic will ease eventually so meetings and visits can be other places than on Zoom or Facetime. But even if that doesn’t happen I want to spend LESS time on the computer and more time reading and doing other creative things. My computer has a screen time feature that lets me see how much time I spent online. I am going to try and bring those numbers down.

I want to spend LESS money on things I don’t really need.

Posing with a new necklace purchase

I love buying new earrings and necklaces but really my collection is so big already I don’t need any more. I will still buy some new jewellery because it gives me such pleasure. But…..I will buy LESS.

I want to spend LESS money on foodstuffs that I end up throwing away because I don’t have a specific plan for how I am going to use them when I buy them.

The pandemic has shown me that really I don’t need nearly as many clothes as I have. I am going to buy LESS clothing in 2022 and use second-hand stores more often as a source of clothing when I do add things to my wardrobe.

You can follow the wonderful cartoonist Theo Moudakis here.

I want to be happy with LESS when it comes to this grand adventure of life. Theo Moudakis had the cartoon above in the Toronto Star in celebration of 2022. I want to appreciate that tiny pleasures can be just as meaningful as travelling to some exotic destination or achieving some major goal. I want to be content with LESS when it comes to once in a lifetime experiences and just take pleasure in the tiny things.

Finally, I want to spend LESS time worrying about things I can’t change. There’s no point to it and I do way too much of it. Rather I need to focus my energy and time on things I can do something about.

Other posts………

Go Outside. Go Often.

Fashion Statement

Down With Screen Time- Up With Family Time


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Wisdom From Desmond Tutu

Just as 2021 ended Desmond Tutu South African Archbishop and human rights activist died. A man who was small in stature but made a huge impact on the world, Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. After his death on December 26th, many of his words of wisdom were prominently featured in the media. I decided to take some of his thoughts and use photos to connect them to me personally.

Our family in 1979

When we see the face of a child, we think of the future. We think of their dreams about what they might become, and what they might accomplish.

Marching in the Pride Parade in Steinbach. Photo credit- Grant Burr

I would not worship a God who is homophobic.”

My husband’s family on the occasion of my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” 

I learned more about the Shinto religion on a tour in Japan. Here I pose with the famous Itsukushima Shinto shrine

“We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.” 

Posing with my daughter-in-law and her sister with the statue of The Famous Five in Ottawa. They were giants in advancing the rights of women in Canada.

It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.

Girls at a school I visited in Bali, Indonesia

If we are going to see real development in the world then our best investment is WOMEN!”

With my friend Sandy at the Gandhi statue in Winnipeg

God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian, because God is not a Christian!” 
“All of God’s children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God.” 

Me and my husband Dave on our wedding day in 1973.

We are made for love. If we don’t love we are like plants without water.”

My husband Dave working as a volunteer tutor for kids from shanty towns in Jamaica

Each time we help and each time we harm we have a dramatic impact on the world.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

Desmond Tutu was someone whose words will continue to resonate with millions of people around the world in a very personal way.

Other posts…………

Thinking of Folks in Bali

The Famous Five

The Remarkable Story of the Runaway Bay Tutoring Centre

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Word of The Year- A Retrospective

My word of the year for 2021 was acceptance. I was not as successful as I’d hoped I would be in implementing it.

For 2021 I chose the word ACCEPTANCE.

In writing about my word last January I said I wanted to be accepting of whatever 2021 would bring but I wasn’t expecting that a year later we would be in another pandemic lockdown. That has been very hard for me to accept.

It meant all the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities with friends and family we’d planned were shelved. It meant my father’s nursing home was locked down and he was alone quarantined in his room for Christmas. It meant the Boxing Day reunion at my sister’s house was cancelled. It meant Dave and I spent New Year’s Eve alone.

It meant finding out to my dismay that many people I know have COVID-19 or are isolating because they were in contact with someone who has been diagnosed. To be honest I shed quite a few tears during the holiday season. Acceptance? Not really.

T-shirt I gave my oldest grandson for Christmas last year

I admit that all too often I felt angry instead of accepting. Angry at the fate of my father and other seniors who are virtual prisoners in their nursing homes and care facilities because of the pandemic. Angry at government representatives who seem to put politics ahead of health and safety. Angry at people who refused to accept the truths of science. I said I wanted to try and be more accepting of people who were different than I was and I did try to do that by researching why people don’t trust scientists but overall I think wasn’t nearly as accepting of the whole pandemic situation as I wanted to be.

Photo by Jordan Ross The Carillon

I said at the start of 2021 that I wanted to accept offers to try new things and I did do that. The publication of my first novel brought lots of new opportunities for speaking, presenting and making connections in the writing world and I eagerly accepted those invitations. I also accepted a chance to be the newsletter editor for the Winnipeg Friends of the Library organization and I recently accepted an offer to teach an online college course in spring. I accepted an invitation to join a new online book club which I have really enjoyed.

I also said I wanted to learn to accept my ageing body and appreciate it for what it can do rather than find fault with it. I think I still have a way to go there as I try to figure out ways to stay fit and healthy despite setbacks and challenges.

So this year I would just give myself a passing grade on implementing my word. I need to choose one for 2022. Hopefully, I can do a little better with it.

Other posts……….

A Bad Choice of Words

Word of the Year -2020

The Pandemic in Six Words

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2021- Top Ten

As we step into a new year here are ten highlights of the past one.

Having my novel Lost on the Prairie published, talking to the media and readers about it, and watching it land on the bestseller list at McNally Robinson Booksellers for 13 weeks in a row.

Spending several days at a lakeside cottage with all our children and grandchildren.

Traversing almost the entire length of the Seine River on its winding trail through the city of Winnipeg.

A wonderful month-long trip to British Columbia that provided so many opportunities to enjoy nature, discover new things and connect with friends and family.

Adopting four trees in my neighbourhood, visiting them regularly, and keeping a diary of the changes I saw in them.

Regular pandemic-friendly walks with my little granddaughter.

Being able to get three vaccines to protect me from COVID-19 and realizing how blessed I am to live in a country where that was possible for all citizens.

Completing 25 jigsaw puzzles. They were salvation for my sanity during the pandemic. It was a way to zone out, calm down and get my eyes off the computer screen.

Being able to nurture relationships with friends and family despite the pandemic.

Enjoying the writing life. Writing blog posts, composing my regular newspaper columns and preparing sermons. Starting work on two new novels and putting together scripts for presentations about Lost on the Prairie. Writing articles for the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library newsletter. Submitting my annual series for the Rejoice devotional publication. Writing book reviews at the request of publishers and creating picture books for my grandchildren. I also enjoyed attending online writing conferences and regular zoom sessions with my writers’ group and two writers’ book clubs.

2021 certainly had its challenges and difficulties. But it was also a very good year.

Other posts…………

The Long Year

The Year in Review 2020

The Year in Review 2019

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Light A Multitude of Candles

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

Those are the opening lines in one of my favourite novels, Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups.

Rebecca, the main character is a widow with four grown children who starts wondering if she is really happy. She begins to think about what her life would have been like if she had made other choices both professionally and personally. What is her purpose now?

Like Rebecca, as our life circumstances change, we often stop to reflect on what our new purpose might be or how the choices we made in life have impacted where we’ve arrived.

There are two key pieces of advice I always take away from Back When We Were Grownups when I reread it.

1. Don’t waste your time with regrets constantly thinking about what might have been.

Rebecca puts it this way. “Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be.”

2. Live as richly and as fully as you can in the here and now. Rebecca tells this story to make that point.

When I was eight my aunt gave me a beautiful tall white candle with white lace around it in a spiral. I thought it was so elegant I saved it in my drawer to use on some momentous occasion. One day four years later I came across it in my drawer and it was all yellow and warped and the lace had crumbled. I’d never seen it burning and now I never would. Since then I light my candles any chance I get. I light them by the dozens, all over, all year. Multitudes of candles!

This Christmas in particular, when we may be feeling regretful that we can’t celebrate the season in the way we’d hoped to, or with the people we’d hoped to, it might be good to remember Rebecca’s advice to light multitudes of candles while making the very best of what life has given us right now.

Other posts……..

Another Year For Dave

The Big Picture And Finding Your Own Happiness


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Filed under Family, Holidays, Reflections, Retirement

Where Were You in 72?

The thrift store where I volunteer is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. To prepare for events marking that milestone one of the managers of our shop asked us to submit a photo of ourselves in 1972. This is the one I sent her.

This photo was taken during the summer of 1972 after I had just completed my first year of college. I was working for the Mennonite church leading work camps. Teenagers from across Canada and the United States signed up to work for three weeks in a certain location and college students like myself provided leadership to groups of eight teens who lived together during their time of service.

I led three such camps during that summer. One was at a large mental health institution in Denver Colorado that housed hundreds of children and adults. Our group members did music therapy with the residents. I also led a group at a church in Winnipeg where we’d been asked to build a playground. I led the third group at a camp in Mississippi where we actually built a cabin.

I don’t seem to have kept many photos from that summer experience but did find these two from my third work camp group in Mississippi where we built and painted a cabin. In the photo of me eating in my granny glasses, I notice I have embroidered a flower onto my shirt, and peeking out of my shirt is a string of beads, my boyfriend, now husband had made me as a gift

I traveled from location to location by plane but flew standby in order to save money. The whole thing was a growing and eye-opening experience for sure.

I was already dating my husband Dave and he was working in Coaldale Alberta that summer. We exchanged letters almost every day and I still have all of them.

Where were you in 72?

Other posts……….

Where Were You?

A Lament For Letters

I’m A Shop Girl And I Love It

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Personal Connections To People Born On This Day

Dave and I and our friend Jeff pose with The Thinker during our visit to the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City

Did you know today is the famous French artist Auguste Rodin’s birthday? The world-renowned sculptor was born on November 12, 1840. Although his work departed from the sculptural traditions of his day and was highly criticized he refused to change his style.

My Aunt Margaret Sawatsky Peters (Froese) gave me my copy of The Woman’s Bible edited by Elisabeth Cady Stanton.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American writer, feminist, and leader of the women’s rights movement was born on November 12, 1815. She is the primary author of The Women’s Bible which looks at every reference in the Bible to women and comments on how they might have seen things from a female perspective. The book was published in 1895 and challenged the traditional religious idea that women should be subservient to men.

My husband Dave poses with a mural of music legends at Johnny G’s Restaurant in Winnipeg. We live one street over from the establishment and can see the restaurant from our living room window. Neil Young is at the far right.

November 12, 1945, is the birthday of Neil Young the famous singer-songwriter who began his music career in Winnipeg. When Dave and I first moved to Hong Kong we heard Neil Young give a concert at a special venue right on the city’s iconic harbor. We heard him sing Harvest Moon under a huge full moon.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen was born on November 12, 1866. He was a Chinese statesman, physician, and political philosopher who became the first president of The People’s Republic of China.

Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í religion was born on November 12, 1817. The Bahá’í has more than 7 million followers around the world and they believe in peace and unity among people of all cultures, races, nations and religions.

If I spent a little more time I could probably find more connections to people born on this day. Looking for these was actually a great way to draw up memories from my past and think about them again. Do you have a connection with anyone born on November 12?

Other posts………

Matching The Winnipeg Art Gallery and The Nelson Atkins Museum

Visiting Friends in Chicago

David Bowie In My Neighborhood

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Lest We Forget in Winnipeg

Lest we forget young men who lost their futures.

Read about the statue of Andrew Mynarski in Vimy Ridge Park in Winnipeg

Lest we forget young women who lost their lives.

Read about the statue of Canadian servicewomen on Memorial Boulevard in Winnipeg Manitoba.

Lest we forget civilians who were the victims of war.

Read about the sculpture tribute to Holocaust victims on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature

Other posts………

A German Prisoner of War Camp in Manitoba

Canadian Soldiers in Hong Kong

Remembrance Day Through My Camera Lens

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Filed under Canada, History, Reflections

Five Years Ago

One of the neat things about keeping a blog is being able to go back and see what you were doing in the past. This morning I went on a little trip down memory lane to see what I was doing five years ago in September 2017. It struck me that almost all the things I was doing I couldn’t be doing now during the pandemic at least not in the same way.

obi kahn

We enjoyed Burger week in Winnipeg. Our favorite burger was at the Schwarma Kahn restaurant run by former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Obi Kahn. Here he kindly agrees to pose with me after I’ve enjoyed my burger.

My friend Esther and I had one of our sketching afternoons at the Folio Cafe.

I hosted a huge celebration for my husband Dave’s 65th birthday.

We attended the art show opening of our friend Les.

I was super busy giving tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery of a new exhibit called Insurgence- Resurgence featuring Canadian Indigenous artists.

We visited Iceland with my sister and her husband.

We also did a cycling trip around Lake Konstanz in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

September five years later has been much different. No travel abroad. No large gatherings in people’s homes. No tours at the art gallery. Worries about social distancing. Anxious about whether the people around me are vaccinated.

Many good things have happened this September too and I am grateful for them, but I look forward to a year when my September will look more like it did five years ago.

Other posts……..

Glacier Hike

56 Kilometers Under Our Tires

Meet You At The Folio

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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

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