Monday, February 22, 2021

Monday: Miscellany of Musings

"You’ve got to live this life with joy, I’ve learned.
You’ve got to transform the ugly stuff into love."

Do you ever wake up in the morning to find your thoughts going in a half dozen different directions? I often try to capture these motley fragments in my journal; they are the Liquorice Allsorts mix in words. Many bloggers would aim to select one as a theme and create a post around it. But, let's just say, I'm not quite normal on that front. I'm more of a letter writer kind of blogger—several paragraphs of this and a few lines of that, newsy chatter and various quotes, all wrapped up with an affectionate sign off. I don't much write real pop-in-the-mailbox letters anymore, I think, because I basically pour out my heart and creative energy here, there's not much left for paper versions. I still write cards and notes, just not those long Jane Austen chronicles anymore.

So, in my usual fashion, I've brought together an 'allsorts' collection for you on this Monday morning. I always have the hope that, amongst the assortment, you'll find your own favourite soft morsel for the day, thus making your visit worthwhile.

ONE: Lassitude (n): a state of physical or mental weariness; lack of energy

I came across this word lassitude while reading from my poetry stash the other day. Having only a vague idea of its meaning and to better understand the poet, I looked up the definition. I was amazed to find the word perfectly described my state of being this past week: physical or mental weariness; lack of energy. Yes, that's how it felt, more mental than physical, although not sleeping through a few nights didn't help.

So I spent time in the company of books. I read a lot and tried to fill my thoughts with good vibes, beautiful imagery, and cheerful messages. With the weather much warmer, I resumed my walks around the neighbourhood which made me feel more alive. So, when I woke the other morning and noted the weary presence had lifted from my shoulders, I was happy, to say the least.

I have said on numerous occasions that in my own world, my own life continues to unfold gently and pleasantly, even in the midst of dipsy-doodles we must navigate during the pandemic. Because there are so many sad things going on around us, I do sometimes wonder if being happy going about my own business is being too thoughtless of others. In my defense, I do care and will often whisper prayers for the pain others are going through, hoping things will get better for them. These words by @Iconawrites on Twitter confirm to me why we must keep as cheerful as we can:
"Being joyful is not the same as being naïve or frivolous. It does not mean you are not aware the world is burning (or freezing). It means refusing to let the darkness consume you until you are too weary to fight back. It means steadfastly choosing hope.
Smart girl. With my heart refilled, I get up, dust the lassitude remnants from my shoulders, steadfastly choose hope, and once again pick up my reason for being, in the words of author Shawna Lemay, to transform ugly stuff into love. I always hope that my pink frosting cheerfulness trickles out and makes someone feel a little less overwhelmed.

TWO: Longing, Longing, Longing

I'm longing to see my mom again in person, face to face, to hold her hand and hug, hug, hug her. It's been almost a year now since I've visited Mom in her home. Talking on the phone is all fine but it's not the same, is it? I'm missing all my family, as many of us are these days.

I'm longing to meet with dear friends, to enjoy a cup of tea at the kitchen table or over a hamburger at the local eatery, where we laugh and share a chat, and not worry about masks and social distancing. 

I'm longing to enjoy some 'wild fun' again, by which I mean having a proper visit to our lovely library and not just pick up the book on hold and scoot away quickly—when we can browse book shelves at our leisure, share space at a library table with fellow book nerds, flip through piles of magazines, and breathe in that bookish library smell.

THREE: Links I'm Enjoying

Sometimes I want something deep and moving to listen to or watch. Other times I just want something light and easy on the mind. This past week I bumped into these YouTube videos and I enjoyed their gentle rhythm so much, I had to share.
1. Arne & Carlos from Norway. They are Scandinavian textile designers and authors. What really caught my eye was their video on making a simple crazy quilt patch square. I do love crazy quilts; they made it look so easy, it almost tempts me to get out some scraps and ribbons and play. From the handful of videos I've seen so far, already I feel a part of their quiet and gently creative world. They also chat about knitting, books, their life in Norway.

2. From there I connected to Kate at The Last Homely House. I slipped into her online world watching her make a Scrappy Log Cabin Pillow in its gorgeous colour scheme. In just an hour, she had a finished pillow to give to a friend. I'm not a quilter, but I had great fun watching her do what she loves. She and her beautiful kitty live somewhere in north England. Click HERE for Kate's intro video.

3. Jacque Pépin American Masters video series. I love his French accent as he shows folks how to make some lovely recipes, I believe, from his own kitchen. In this video he makes his famous crepes. Quick and simple with his own tips, I always feel inspired and hungry after watching him.

FOUR: A Good Reason To Read Fiction  

Looking out at the world around us, I feel sad there seem to be so many folks who have little or no compassion or empathy for the pain of others, merrily pushing their way with nary a thought for the plight of fellow citizens, as long as their own needs are met. We can't solve that problem outright but maybe there is a solution in a round about way. They should read more to enlarge their inner horizons, because I do believe @Iconawrites when she says:
"Reading fiction is not a just form of entertainment. It builds empathy by exposing you to the inner life of someone else, and to experiences outside of your own. It drills into you - page by page - that other people are every bit as human as you are."
There... if you have ever felt a little guilty about indulging in your love for fiction novels, now you have a very good silence any nagging thoughts and read on, best beloved.💜📚

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Note: I'm going to take some time away from my blog. I want to focus these next few weeks or so on some projects I need to get done here at home. Time's a fleeting and I haven't made great strides on my winter projects yet. Yikes! It's much easier to focus when I don't have to split my time here and there—alas, I cannot multitask the way I once could. If I get too homesick for you all, I'll be back sooner than later. I'll work hard. In the meantime, be well and keep safe. 

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Wishing you beauty and heart's ease.


Credits: All photos are from

Thursday, February 11, 2021

On This Fresh Morning, A Little Mary Oliver

"it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world."

I woke in the wee hours last night to a pall of pandemic gloom in the air around me. I wasn't fretting or even thinking about it when I fell asleep, maybe I'd been dreaming about it, for the strictures loomed from the shadows when I woke. Struggling to get back to sleep, I finally gave up and came to my study where, sitting in the lamp's pool of cozy soft light, I felt an immediate lift in spirits. I wrote out a birthday card to a dear friend, selecting one of those gorgeous Papyrus cards I love, all floral pink and glittery—you'll see it further down.

Then I read lines from Mary Oliver's book of poetry Devotions and felt their lovely imagery soothe my mind. On these frightfully frigid days that dip near the -40°C/F mark with the wind chill, I've chosen not to go on my daily walks in the neighbourhood. Exposed skin freezes in minutes, so these past few days I've been madly pedaling indoors, not as much fun, but oh well! Thankfully, when I can't get out to embrace a bit of earthy nature, delving into Mary's poetry certainly helps. Her words almost make me feel like I'm right there with her, for her love and wonder of the physical world shimmers in every line. The book is my current go-to respite when I need a few minutes to escape from the craziness of our weirdly tilting world.

"Hello, sun in my face,
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety—"
MARY OLIVER, Why I Wake Early

These lines from Mary's poem offers a glad hint of the season to come, although my world looks a lot more like the wintry photo above. I giggled at the idea of the sun shining generously even on the miserable and the crotchety. Grace even for them, er, us (wink).

"I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time
when something wonderful has touched us..."
MARY OLIVER, New and Selected Poems, Vol 2

"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
MARY OLIVER,  Wild Geese

"Love yourself. Then forget it.
Then, love the world."
MARY OLIVER, Evidence: Poems

"Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us."
MARY OLIVER, Devotions

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"I learned from Mary Oliver how attention is a kind of love, how shining your mind’s light on a thing — a grasshopper, a bird, a tree — is a way of showing gratitude. I learned that poems do not need to be “difficult” to be intelligent, that poems can be both inspirational and investigative, that poems can be tender without being soft. I learned from her to own my wonder and to stay open to uncertainty." Maggie Smith, The Washington Post, January 18, 2019

If I had not been awake in the night, chances are I would not have found those graceful beautiful lines by Mary Oliver, or this lovely thought about her by Maggie Smith in The Washington Post. And, there certainly would be no post for you either. So, even for sleepless nights, I am grateful. Stay warm. Stay safe.  

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With love, I'm wishing you beauty and heart's ease,


Photo Credits: All photos, except the birthday card photo
which is mine, came courtesy of

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Six Life Lessons: I Shall Never Forget the Day

"The greatest discovery of my lifetime is that
by changing my attitude, I can change my life."

I have been sorting through cupboards and old files this past week. Found all manner of kitchenware and items I haven't used in ages, which are now neatly packed in boxes headed to the thrift store when the weather warms up. I've also been culling my bourgeoning file of blog drafts—over 200, if you want to know. Some drafts were easy to delete, their 'best before' date long expired. But others, the ones where my finger hesitates over the delete key because there are nuggets worth keeping, these cling like Saran Wrap, unwilling to be discarded, gently urging me to do something with them, like maybe you should finish and post them, girlie.

In one of those clingy drafts, I once made notes for myself—a little list of aha moments that, when I looked back, had been life changers for me. Like Mary Kay Ash in the quote above, I'd come to see that when I changed my attitudes, made different choices, my life changed for the better, into something softer and more graceful. Today I offer you this once languishing draft, now spruced up into a new post, and I hope that you will find it has been worth saving.

'I choose happy'

I shall never forgot the day when... as a young woman, I sat enraptured listening to Miss America 1980, Cheryl Prewitt-Salem, as she spoke at a women's conference. She was our keynote speaker that weekend, and she shared in one session about how we as women have the ability to choose to be happy—to be happy any time, any place, and in any situation. Yes, even on PMS days and when things didn't turn out as we wanted.

The idea startled me. I went home empowered. Until that point I'd basically allowed the moods and their swings to run things in my life. I didn't know I could take charge of how I felt on any given day, that melancholy was not boss of me, that I didn't have to wait for a mood to pass before I felt happier. As I established this new habit, it was a struggle at first, but whenever I remembered I could choose how I felt, I always chose happy. It became the pattern of my life.

'I'm not indulging in Blue Mondays'

I shall never forget the day when... I stood mindlessly waiting my turn in the cafeteria lunch line at work, when it suddenly came to me that indulging in a Blue Monday—a day that was depressing or especially trying because we had to return to work and routine after a nice weekend—was a complete waste of energy. I didn't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that buying into that socially accepted gloom around the proverbial water cooler, I was wasting one seventh of my precious life.

My mom once shared with me that she used to loved Mondays when she was raising her family. After the busy weekend, she'd send her kids off to school and her husband off to work, and she looked forward to the day ahead where she could just get busy with her own work. Ha ! It really is all a matter of perspective.

'Freedom to choose'

I shall never forget the day when... I discovered these mind altering words in Viktor E. Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

Frankl endured years of unspeakable horror in Nazi death camps during World War II. Through his own suffering and watching hundreds of people being defiled, demoralized, and tortured, he came to see that, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Those words blew my mind. They changed my life. If this man, in those circumstances, could still recognize and hold onto that last of the human freedoms—the ability to choose one's own attitude—surely I could, in my own little world, make such a choice too. How many times since that long ago day have I remembered the tiny space in which I have freedom to decide how I shall respond.

'Gratitude changes everything'

I shall never forget the day when... I first learned how to keep a gratitude journal from Sarah Ban Breathnach. In her book Simple Abundance, which I happily discovered back in the 1990s, Sarah shared how she started a daily notebook and wrote down each evening five things she was grateful about that day. Taken with the idea of keeping such a record, I found a pretty notebook and tuned in to the world around me, much the way an artist might observe her world, so I could have something interesting to write down.

Everything around me took on a whole new meaning. I began to pay closer attention to things I had been taking for granted. I began to see how rich I truly was. Although I never kept specific gratitude journals after that season, the exercise forever changed my life. I am thankful to Sarah for introducing me to this grace of walking in gratitude.

'Self pity is no party'

I shall never forget the day when... as a young woman, I'd watch my friends and siblings getting married, happy for them, but coming home to my single girl's bedroom feeling sad and sorry for myself. I'd mope around. Around that time I had been working on my attitudes. I used to imagine what heaven must be like in all its beauty, happiness, and perfection. It hit me one day. Heaven would not be a place where people had pity parties. Well, if it wasn't in heaven, I did not want any part of it in my life here on earth. (Based on the prayer of Jesus, 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven')

Self pity had been a buddy of mine. She used to come and sob with me, keep me company, but she wasn't helpful at all. As someone said, when you feel sorry for yourself, you exaggerate your misfortune, you experience a sense of hopelessness and victimhood. The day I slammed the door of my heart on it, declaring I would never host a pity party again, changed my life. Self-pity is addictive, and I remember it trying to come back in those early days, I had to be vigilant, to keep saying no. Eventually, with Divine help from within, I was free. I think I'm bearing truth when I say, I've never entertained a pity party since. If it ever showed its face, I'd just say no and it'd disappear. It's now been more than thirty years.

'With vitality and good humour'

I shall never forget the day when... my sister shared a little story she had read about Julia Child's mother. Julia described her mom as someone who lived her life with vitality and good humour. Oh, how I liked that, those words resonated, for that's how I wished to live my own life—with that sense of aliveness to whatever life brought and to face it with a cheerful, amiable disposition.

It was a habit I had to learn.

There was a time years ago when I used to remind myself at bedtime that I wanted to wake up with vitality and good humour. It was during a dark season. The words must have hovered in the air overnight, for they were waiting when I woke up—reminding me not to get up on the wrong side of the bed. To this day, I bring out those words on occasion, especially when I find myself heading to a gloomier frame of mind. I still feel their strength in my soul as I ready myself for a new day.

* * *

"Last weekend a young man asked me how I remain so positive.
'It seems all the negativity in the world doesn't affect you,' he said.
I had no more than a minute with the young man so I offered this:
It's all about where you choose to put your attention,
and I choose to be happy."

It's not about ignoring the hard, ugly stuff going on around us; it's just that in order for me to get on with my day with any semblance of grace and with a sense of beauty—for that is what most inspires me to get out of bed in the mornings—I must be selective about where I keep my attention. And like Jason Mraz, I choose to be happy. I choose to cast all my cares upon the Lord of the Universe and then get on with my day.

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On that note, I hope you enjoyed.
Wishing you a pleasant weekend.

Heart hugs,

Photos Credits: All photos from