The Tyranny of Positivity


Negative Nellies – that’s the term people use to describe those embroiled in negative emotion. But is that fair? Are we judging people before we know what life is like for them? For example, my husband is very sick. Lately he has been battling a cough that makes it next to impossible for him to sleep at night, and consequently, me as well. He has a slew of health issues and is on several medications, which makes taking something for the cough problematic. Medications can interact with one another to make a bad situation even worse. It’s hard not to be negative when you’re sick and not getting the rest you need to recuperate.

And for me, lack of sleep combined with worry has made battling my negative demons even more of a challenge. Sometimes the societal demands to be positive when just putting one foot in front of another seems like a herculean task. Speaking for myself, it feels cruel. I am tired! So, can we cut one another a break? We don’t know what is going on in the lives of others. Can we set aside the judge’s robes and the demand for positivity?

Yes, positive emotions are easier to live with and a positive attitude is preferable to a negative one. Yet, we are all only human. Sometimes life is hard. Placing demands on people to be positive when we don’t know their situation or what issues they may be struggling with, is, frankly, inhumane in my view. Kindness and compassion will go a lot further to help people become more positive than the judgment and labeling of them as ‘negative nellies’.

Let’s be a little more gentle with ourselves, and with one another.

Tell me a story


IMG_5692 b n w blank page

That there is brutality in this world, of that there can be no doubt. It is recorded in billions of stories and published all around the world. That there is cruelty, torture, murder, and killings galore is also well documented. People are facing starvation, wars, homelessness, abuse of every kind, political corruption, and much more. I have been reading a lot of stories just like these. But you know what? For every bad news stories there are millions more good news stories.

The stories of every day people doing their best at home and at work to serve others in so many ways. Like bus drivers that smile a good morning as they drive people to their destinations. Like care givers who feed, bathe, and provide for  babies, children, the sick, and others in their care. Like farmers who work in all kinds of weather to bring us food. These are just a few examples, but you get where I’m coming from. Every day heroes who help us make it through another day, week, month, year. No, they don’t often make the news, unless something unusual happens, but they are the stuff of life. They are the reasons we can keep going.

Tell me a story about a special someone in your life, somebody who brightened your day today. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please, will you share your “good news” story?

Feel the fear and do it anyway – zip lining at Marble Mountain, NL


 

Photo credit: Jess Molnar

Several years ago, I was studying journalism at the local college. In the second year of the program we were sent to cover the Canadian Student Leadership Conference. It was an interesting experience, not least because during the conference we were treated to a free pass on the zipline at Marble Mountain. We had been split into several teams to cover various aspects of the gathering and it was my team that was chosen for this dubious assignment.

There were four of us on my team. I had planned to interview and photograph students from across Canada who were taking part during my trek up the mountain. One of my teammates was supposed to participate in zip lining while trying to capture photographs of the experience – she chickened out. That left us with a decision to make: who was going to bite the bullet and take the plunge?

Now, I had always had a huge fear of heights and initially I was adamant it would NOT be me.  However, one of the team was already fitted with a Go-pro camera that was attached to a helmet and she was geared up to go. Another member was struggling with the flu, which knocked him out of the running, so that left me!

I finally consented, for the good of the team. After all, I am nothing if not a team player. I remember praying earnestly that I would live to see another day and asking the Creator to take care of my husband and children. I would not look down. I concentrated on the harness that would fly me through the air and gauging the strength of the cables above that I would be sliding on. They seemed secure. I remember trembling as I stepped off the platform. I had never been so nervous or anxious in my entire life! However, by the time I stepped off the second platform (the zip line zigzags across a deep fjord) I was really enjoying myself and was yelling at the top of my lungs: Whoot! Whoot!

Coming in for a landing Whoot Whoot

Thanks to happenstance I overcame the fear and enjoyed the experience immensely. Part of the assignment was to write a story about the experience, which I did. I was pleased to hear my instructor chuckling as he read it. I learned a lot that day, not least of all was to feel the fear and do it anyway.

The Empty Bed


In the empty bed

Sound asleep I stretch out my hand

Seeking you, but you are not there

Panicked, I awaken to check on you

Aw, false alarm, you are merely answering nature’s call

I think of the day to come when you are no longer there

So many close calls, too many times, leave me anxious

Worry over that, which I cannot control, is a wasted effort, I know

But it is a hard road to travel, this path we are on

I try not to give it too much thought or too much energy

But in the dead of night, in an empty bed, it is hard not to dwell

On a life without you and what it may mean

Life has not been what we envisioned, nor what we dreamed

Yet, still and all, I would not change a thing

We’ve had many adventures, you and I

And in the end, we cannot know

Who will be the first to go

So once again I banish maudlin thoughts

And fight off macabre things

We are here now, you and I

And that means everything

The Conversation


The conversation 2

 

“Come, rest upon my petals here and tell me of your story.

Where have you been, My little friend?”

Said the flower to the moth

“I roam high above, where you can never go.

I visit plants and trees and flowers sweet everywhere I travel,”

Said the moth to the flower.

“Oh, to fly up high, to soar upon the winds.

To not be planted in one place, to see beyond the wall.”

Sang the flower to the moth.

“Aw, but you are treasured, for your beauty and your scent.

No worries about foes like birds that would eat you, if they could,”

Said the moth to the flower.

“There are pros and cons to every Life,”

Continued he to she. The moth thought to comfort her with his words so wise

And yet the flower pined and pined for freedom to travel far.

“It’s true, I am admired, and watered every day, but if you think me safe right here

You know not all my visitors,” replied the flower,

“For there are bugs that chew my leaves, And spiders everywhere. Not to mention

honey bees That feed upon my nectar.”

“Aw, so you serve this world,

Nourishing the pollinator,” the moth cried out.

“Oh silly moth, I know the truth – that you as well

Pollinate us flowers,” she answered,

“And so, you see, we have need of thee.

When you brush your soft, soft wings

Against my little petals, you do more than tickle me

Like some ethereal feather. And when you chance to nibble me

And drink deeply of my nectar,” she shyly whispered, “you too carry my

Essence to continue seed production.”

The moth stretched out his wings and proudly strutted his stuff

He thought about all the good he did and didn’t remember why

Venus flytrap chewed up his kind, that naughty, naughty flower.

It was because the caterpillar he once was did damage to her leaves

and ruined her every finery….

The flower knew this, but did not say, for his friendship she treasured

After what seemed a lengthy pause, the moth did once more speak

“We each do our part, to bring beauty to this world, and I will speak to north wind

And ask him when you’re ready, to blow your petals far above the wall so you can see

The wonders of this world,” the moth proclaimed.

And so, it came to be, that during summer’s warmest days the flower bloomed and blossomed. But in the fall the north wind kept his promise and lifted high her petals. She traveled far beyond the wall and lived at last her dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questioning the Moon


MOON resized

Peeking through the cloud cover

Witnessing life on earth

Earth’s faithful companion

Orbiting through space

Were you there, Sister Moon

When life first formed?

Did you watch as the first creature

Crawled slowly from the sea?

In your ever-lasting cycle,

in your orbit around our world

Did you witness the dinosaurs

As they prowled the hills and plains?

Did your winking face gaze down upon

The planet and can you tell us why

All life on earth was wiped out

As cold air masses froze the land?

Oh, ancient wonder in the sky

What drama have you witnessed

What stories could you tell

Of all the changes

On this, our blue-green planet

That you follow faithfully

Sister Moon, do tell us

Advise us if you can

On how to save the planet

This jewel of blue and green

That humans have made obscene

Garbage in our oceans

Choking off all life

Pollution on all fronts:

Land and sea, and sky

Oh, beauty of the night

Tell us if you please

How can we save our planet?

Our home, our heart, our life force

For we need your wisdom

We are lost, we have forsaken

The knowledge of our forebears

Remind us now

How fragile

Life truly is

And let us find better ways

To live upon this miracle

Ruminating on Autumn


IMG_5487

Autumn is just about upon us. The days are growing shorter. As summer draws to a close I feel sad. Sad that I did not make the most of the warm season. Sad, I did not languish longer under the blue skies and hot sun. Isn’t that just life – to take the days for granted as though they are infinite. But like summer itself, life is short. We tend to take it for granted until something terrible happens. Perhaps that is the silver lining and the lesson in tragedies – they make us aware of the fragility of life.

I have been thinking a lot about my brother. He was killed when an impaired driver crashed into his vehicle in November of 2016. Sudden death is always horrible. It rocks your world and turns everything upside down. I know I am far from alone in experiences such as this. What is it about seasonal change that brings out such maudlin thoughts? And have you ever noticed that there are far more deaths in fall and winter than the rest of the year? Strange.

But I don’t want to be a downer. Chris was a very funny guy. I miss him. However, I will cease to ruminate on the sadness his death brought and focus instead on his many gifts. He was also very thoughtful and generous with a sunny nature. I wish there were more people like him.

Yet, we are all unique with precious gifts of self to offer. Whether we are artistic, creative, or just plain kind – we each have a gift to bring. My sister says she has no talent. But she’s wrong. She has a wonderful gift for helping people. She works in the psychiatric wing of a hospital in a fairly large city. She is well suited to her work as she is endlessly patient and forgiving, as well as wise and compassionate.

Whatever work you may do. Wherever you may live. I hope you recognize your talents, and that others do as well. I hope you know you matter and your life does make a difference.  I hope you rock this world with loving kindness and that you know kindness! Until next time – Cheers!

Bashed and Broken


Broken BOAT resized

When you are broken

Like a boat dashed upon the shore

In stormy weather

When it feels you are naught but wreckage

And only a remnant of your self remains

When your surface has been worn down

By angry waves that toss you about

Like a ship upon the sea

When life has scraped and bruised you

And you feel you can’t go on

When your heart is torn and heavy

And the burdens weigh you down

Hold close this thought:

Nothing lasts forever

Not good times,

Not bad times.

Let hope rise up within you

For this, too, shall pass

And lessons learned in the valley

Will come to your aid one day

I pray that soon

Your suffering will cease

And once again you will feel

Sweet peace

Summer: Family and time to celebrate


“For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.” – Christina Rossetti

“I have wonderful shelter, which is my family. I have a wonderful relationship with my brother and sister; this makes me feel that I know always where I belong.” – Jose Carreras

I am so excited. My sister arrives for a visit this evening. Summer is wonderful that way – for the ease of travel. My sister is a year younger than me and growing up we were always together. Even as teenagers we stayed close, often sharing the same friends and social circles. She is my best friend, confidante, and source of support. She is just wonderful!

I am also looking forward to family gatherings with my brother and his wife and family. Their daughter is also visiting. I have not seen her yet as they have been on a little road trip exploring other areas of the province. I can’t wait to see her and her hubby and children. Family – that’s what it’s all about, right?

I am grateful for summer days; for bar-b-ques and long walks with my friend; for lazy days basking in the sun; for time to spend with loved ones and opportunities to celebrate life!

Today, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I wish you blessings of love and light. Cheers!

“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

On global warming


I have lived in Fort McMurray for nearly four years and every summer we are faced with smoke from forest fires from across Alberta, British Columbia, the prairies and Ontario, as well as the North West Territories. This summer has been no different. Last week the smoke was so dense we could smell it. It stings your eyes and throat and for people with health issues it becomes a situation where they are house bound.

Last year we had hoped to travel to B.C. but due to smoke and warnings from the health department we were forced to change our plans. My husband does have several health issues and I am sure we were not the only ones forced to alter vacation plans. So, what is my point, you may ask. My point is that besides the environmental costs caused by global warming there are many and varied economic costs as well. The cost to the tourism industry for one.

Of course, there is the huge costs to taxpayers as governments everywhere are faced with ever growing financial challenges from fighting forest fires to cleaning up after severe flooding and other so called ‘natural disasters’.

We take clean air for granted as well as clean, potable water. There is far too much we continue to take for granted. It is disappointing, to say the least, to see our provincial governments fighting against any real efforts to curb global warming, such as a carbon tax. At the same time, they are lagging in taking initiatives to deal with the fall out.

While partisan politics uses every instrument of technology such as mining data to help them shape their promises and their platforms and spend much of their time fighting one another the issues and challenges caused by global warming rage on.

I don’t have any answers except perhaps to say it is more important than ever to exercise your right to vote, in every single election, whether municipal, provincial or federal. Our future and the future of our young people and our very planet may depend on it.