I have known since I was in my twenties that life is fleeting.  Working in hospitals, having the honour to be at a person’s last breaths with their family surrounding them or in some cases just hospital staff bear witness to those last breaths.   All the trappings of life fall away to just that moment.

There is a peace in that moment.  There is  the realization that things that we think are important, money, power and climbing the ladder to success, fall away.  There is bargaining for more time, or a prayer to end the suffering.  We hope to see the people who mattered to us in life and hope that we mattered to them too.

This knowledge has changed me.  My parents both died young and still years later I think of all they missed.  Sixteen great grandchildren and counting, family dinners, weddings, lazy days and busy ones too.  They are always with me and in this manner, live still.

We have no guarantee as to the number of days that we have left.  We live far into the future, though the ground shifts like teutonic plates. We plan for years, though in a blink of an eye, time is whittled down to seconds, days or months.  Our plans shift to this new reality, and life is stripped to its basic.

We hold each other a little closer, the sky bluer, the sun brighter.  We take a breath and  then another because we can.  Our bucket list shifts, we remove items that  aren’t possible anymore and look at the list closely.  Is any of it really necessary?

We hope we have made a difference, that one person breathed easier just because we existed.  That we left our mark, were good people, someone to count on in a pinch.  We say sorry to the people that we have wronged, accept an apology from those who wronged us and live with a clean slate.

I’ve lived this life since my twenties.  I know that life is fleeting–really know.  Somedays I’m better at this, somedays I fall short of the mark. Still,  it is a gift to know.

Not my Circus, not my monkeys!

The other day I was talking with my daughter about my latest ensnared drama.  She politely listened, and then wise beyond her years, said, “Mom, not your circus, not your monkeys.”  I chuckled at the time at this Polish proverb.  She then reminded me that I have my own circus and my own monkeys.

I thought about my circus with a sigh.  Despite being the ringleader, I felt a failure at dealing with my monkeys.  The lure of another circus where the solutions seem so obvious, fixable and tidy draws me close.

Still, if I were to be honest, nothing is ever so tidy, it just seems thus without the facts, history and complexities that make each situation unique.  While my solution may have tangible results, rarely would it be sustainable.  Immersed, I feel important, critical to the show.

In a quest to help, I walk away from my own circus where the monkeys are now running amok.  I rob the ability for others to learn how to deal with their own monkeys,  to create their own unique solutions, where they are aware of all the angles.  Its nice to help, though when we become the central ringleader as opposed to a mere bit player and in effect care more, we take away their ability to learn, to grow.  Too soon, the monkeys act up and we find ourselves the ringleader of several circuses in town. Large portions of our day are consumed.


We all like to be included and part of the circus, though I’m now content to sit in the bleachers, enjoy my popcorn and learn a novel approach to tackle a situation as I watch the situation unfold.

When the lights dim,  I’ll go back to my own circus, whose monkeys I’ve known so very long with a new skill.  The show must go on!


Becoming Wiser

There are so many things that I wish I knew sooner. With the passing years, wisdom is not guaranteed with the accumulation of birthdays.

These are the things that I know now and wish I knew sooner.

Delaying gratification

My 3 year old grandson has learned this lesson, as he holds his new mashem in his hand and carries it around for hours before finally opening it to discover the character within. I marvel at his ability to wait. It is the anticipation that is sweeter than the reward. It is the dreaming, the planning greater than the last moment of discovery. It is the saving for a home, the work done to achieve a goal, the imagining of the gift before its opened.
How many years I wasted, how many moments hurrying from one thing to another. Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland I always felt late for a very important date. I robbed myself of the present while pushing the clock further into the future. Too soon it passed, the girls grew up with families of their own, my parents died, friends moved away. How I wish to have just one hour back from that time, though am careful to stay in the present, building new memories rather than reliving the past.

How I wish to be the weight that I was when first I thought I had a problem. How important to opt  for health over a pant or shirt size. The time spent trying every fad and mainstream diet, fighting for a body not possible to maintain. Years spent looking into the future of the day when the scale told me my worth and giving the scale the right.
How I wish to have understood sooner that less is more. I spent my younger years filling my home and space with things. Each larger home and space filled to capacity. In my downsizing years, I have liberated so many items that seemed necessary when purchased. My load is lighter now, as I am surrounded by items that I truly love. We don’t really own anything, as we all know we can’t take it with us.

These are just a few things that I’ve figured out over the years.

How about you?

Martyr, not me

My father died 28 years ago, more than half my life and still his words echo.  He told me never to be a martyr.  At the time I had no idea what he meant, the word not in my vocabulary.  He explained its meaning sharing vivid examples that have stayed with me all these years. His lesson, chart your own course, be yourself, resonated.

Many moments his words reverberated as I discarded the path of least resistance in search of something more.  I left a marriage that did not feed my soul, my wings effectively clipped and embraced the life just beyond.  The decision led to the opportunity of building a new home in the country, training and running a marathon and facing my fear of being alone.  Turns out, you can never be alone as long as you don’t  lose yourself.

I left a relationship that was toxic and embraced the not plus one category.    Trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole sapped my energy and my soul wilted.  This decision led to meeting my husband and the life that we would create just beyond this choice. I learned a relationship should be easy and not exhausting.

I left a job that paid well with great benefits for many reasons, not least was a toxic co-worker who worked hard to make my work life miserable, its effects spilling over into my home life.  The goal was retirement, though I realized I wasn’t ready and worked to educate myself, and build my own successful company. Work should seem like play and it is once again.

There are many moments in life where the path of least resistance seems the easy choice.  Situations where we can wrap the cloak of martyrdom around us like a warm blanket and remain in place, comfortably uncomfortable.  We can even tell ourselves that we are the better person, though in the course of a lifetime it matters little.  Inertia, chips away our authenticity and makes us less, not more.  We cheat ourselves and in many cases prevent the people we are being martyrs for from moving forward to their most authentic selves.  It is a full circle that leads to defeat.

We have only this one life.  My parents died young and working in healthcare taught me it can all be gone in an instant.  We must not waste this gift, for at the end of life no one will applaud us because our souls died for useless causes. Likely, no one will spend a second thinking of what we sacrificed.  It is the work of life to have meaning, purpose and to become our best selves.  I have much to learn, though I thank my Dad for his wisdom so many years ago.



Remaining human


We used to meet for coffee, lunch or share a long letter across the miles.  The conversation was lively and included all aspects of our life and the greater life around us.  We shared pictures we could touch and hold and marvelled at how everyone had grown or changed.  We were excited to get the mail and find a handwritten letter.  We would wait until our work complete,  make a cup a tea, get cozy and savour the words of dear friends and family.  The letters were thoughtful, complete with full sentences, complete words and spell checked using a dictionary.

The first days of Facebook, we were treated to updates daily and sometimes moment to moment.  It was fascinating reading, mundane for certain.  Still, an honest glimpse into the human existence in real time.

“going to the gym”

“back from the gym”

“going shopping”

“back from shopping”

Facebook evolved with the ability to include photos.  How wonderful to share in the joy across the miles perusing photos of  marriages, births and exotic locations in our bathrobe.  Our life paled slightly in comparison.  We learn by posting our own happy updates that this is not real, it is our best foot forward.  Our updates while joyful and exciting are only a small part of our life. Like a photograph it tells a sliver of the story, though few ask for the rest.





We enjoy cat videos in a way we cannot comprehend.  We discover and play games.  Some friends play along with us, and its cool to compete, though I wonder if they know how competitive I am?  Other friends threaten to unfriend us to block all requests for virtual lives, crops and livestock.  They are unaware of how to block the requests while keeping the person.



Some of us, needing contact, affirmation, post provocatively, begging us to respond by coaxing for more information.

“I’m sad”

“I’m mad”

We can’t help but try to get more of the story and yet that is the story.

We view many “selfies” of our friends and wonder why we need to see the same poses so many times.  Perhaps they are afraid we will forget them?

Gradually, the advertising that we have been free in the cancellation of our satellite service appears on our page.  We notice an item we looked at just yesterday flash on the side of the page imploring us to pull the pin and buy.

The sensationalistic news stories that sell papers and begin the evening news insert themselves into our news feed, their video running automatically. Years ago I  had walked away from this type of news in favour of understanding the story from all angles, through careful research and reflective thought. I learn how to shut off the automatic video, though the pictures remain etching into my psyche as I scroll, compelling me to view.  Its too late, I’m altered.

A news worthy item is posted and immediately its believed and shared and liked and commented all within the space of moments.  It becomes the truth, spun to suit our cause or belief.  Many famous people have died more than once on our news feed, the sharing rampant.  Once discovered the celebrity still walks among us, it is radio silence.  We are fed and full of the information.  There is no standard to uphold, no journalistic integrity, the truth less important than the story itself. There is too much to read, not enough time to search for answers as quickly one story is replaced by another, our news feed changing moment by moment.  We are changed.

We used to be gullible and now know that the baby will not get a new heart if we collectively like, and that Bill Gates will not share his fortune if we all share. We do not have that sort of power, there are limitations.

Polite conversation in the past omitted discussion of Politics and Religion and now we are bombarded with both on a daily basis. All sides of every debate seem to be represented in my group of eclectic friends.  It is interesting, a controversial post is shared or stated, followed by the requisite likes, an opposing stance incites, the lines are drawn.  Emotions run high, disparaging remarks are posted, slurs follow, all with a shield of relative anonymity.  It ends in bloodshed as friends are blocked, posts removed, the carnage remains.

We need to search and understand the entire story from all angles.  We need to understand the latest atrocity, political stance or religious persecution and search for the rest of the story before we shout and share our opinion. We need to be seekers of the truth, not the flashy story that goes viral.

We laugh as we view Pinterest fails and know that we are not alone.  We do tests that showcase how bright we are, though know that they are rigged to display us in the best light, prompting us to share.

We listen to Musicians that we might not have discovered, hear Orators speak on subjects eloquently and are changed.  There are many positive moments as we scroll and perhaps this is the best use.

Still, we need to have real conversations with each other to learn the many sides to each important issue from many different points of view.  We need to meet in person unplugged and search for meaning in our friendships.  We need to be there for each other whether in sharing the joy of the moment or the sadness.  We need to remain human.

As for my Facebook page, I’m happy to have it crowded with happy cat videos and what’s right in the world today.


Hurry scurry

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Style Icon.”

My personal style is hurry scurry. Whatever I do I try to do fast. I love to read but rather than relishing the words, I skim. I walk fast, talk fast, think fast. It seems as though life is a race and yet I know we are all moving to the same target, the end.

I married a man who moves slower, savours the written word, thinks before he speaks and as such is thoughtful. He lives each moment content to be in the moment and present.

As I rush along becoming more frantic, the list of must do and have to do stretching into the abyss I pause and remember why I married him, to learn. I sit down, breathe a full breath, put my feet up and for this moment I’m still

Advice to my Younger Self

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Powerful Suggestion.”

Ten pieces of advice I wish I would have listened to and heard.

1.  On relaxation

Life does not need to be a  series of “to do” lists.

2.  On dreams

Follow them.

3. On kindness

Be kind with  words to yourself

4.  On fear

Face fear head on, don’t shrink back, like all bullies it will retreat

5.  On being alone

You will never be alone as long as you don’t lose yourself.

6. On advice

Sit with it, sort, separate, keep, discard, recycle

7. On friendship

Be there, it’s the centre of everything

8. On drama

Save it for the movies

9. On negativity

Trash day is Tuesday

10. On life

Be present. Live now. Tell people what they mean to you.  See the world like a child.