Category Archives: Reflections

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

 

 

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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 Beatriz.baby-blanket.jpeg
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

Nostalgia

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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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Four Ground Rules For Good Communication

I spent most of yesterday at a strategic planning session for the Winnipeg Friends of the Library. I sit on their Board of Directors.  The facilitator who was leading our discussion gave us four ground rules at the beginning of our day. I thought the rules were excellent guidelines for any kind of interpersonal interaction whether with family members, friends, new acquaintances or work colleagues. 

Visiting with my brother, my Dad and my nephew

Be flexible and open-minded to the ideas of others.

My husband Dave talking with a friend

Be honest

Dave and his cousin talking with a Huron leader

Be respectful.

Me and my husband Dave talking. The girl behind us is on her phone. 

No cell phones

Other posts……….

What is Your Body Saying? 

Real and Messy and Honest

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice- What Might We Have in Common? 

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Looking at the Positive

Someone posted this meme on Facebook this week along with the comment that things in our world are spiralling downward. They wondered what had happened to kindness, respect and lending a helping hand in our world.  I responded to this meme which I think is probably being promoted by those who have strong opinions about the abortion and assisted dying issue by saying……….

“It is important to keep in mind that things are improving. The abortion rate in Canada has been steadily dropping for almost a decade now. The infant mortality rate in the world has been cut in half in the last two decades.

There has been a steady increase in the number of hospices and death doulas in North America. These services help families as a loved one’s life ends and the opportunities we offer seniors for quality of life would be envied in many countries of the world I have traveled to.

As to your comments on this meme- my experience has been that most people are basically kind and respectful. A recent study showed that 90% of people will stop to help a stranger they see in trouble. I know we still have a long way to go but I think it is important to not only look at the negative but also the positive to give ourselves hope and faith in a brighter future.”

I think that rather than wallowing in ‘how bad things are’, and I will admit I can easily do that too, we would be better served by taking actions that give us hope. If you think life in the womb isn’t being respected advocate politically and in other ways for free birth control, more comprehensive sex education in schools, more daycare spaces and financial support for struggling post-secondary students. These are all well-researched ways to lower the abortion rate.  Give money to organizations bringing better health care, prenatal care, vaccinations for childhood diseases, better sanitation facilities and clean water to places in the world where too many children still die.  These agencies abound and we can support them with our donations. 

My husband taking his Dad for a walk

If you are worried about seniors you can volunteer at a nursing home or make sure you are visiting aging relatives as often as you can. You can advocate for more services for seniors in your community or volunteer to offer those services using your skillset. You can raise money for a hospice in your community or provide support to a family that is dealing with the terminal illness of one of its members. 

And as far as kindness, respect and lending a helping hand goes- teach those values to your children, make sure they see you behaving in that way. Find opportunities to highlight, applaud and thank people who do extend kindness, respect and a helping hand. 

I don’t think things in our world will get better if we paint a dark picture and fail to look for goodness, light and forward progress. It’s there.  We just need to see it and talk about it and keep things moving in a positive direction. 

My Facebook connection who posted the meme respectfully read my comments and she responded in a positive way, seeing the value in my sentiments.  I appreciated that. 

Other posts………

Good News

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