On what it is to be brave, how I almost burned the house down, and an invitation

On what it is to be brave,

There have been times in my life when people have told me that I was brave, that I  was strong….when I divorced, when my mom died, when I had my heart surgery.

I didn’t feel particularly strong or brave in any of these instances.

In fact, people’s encouraging words in part frustrated me because it felt like I had no other alternatives. I was simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving through my days, my life, doing my best to work with the hand I had been dealt.

What courage, I thought, is there in that,

not realizing that this ordinary brand of courage, this gentle strength, is momentous in its own quiet but important way.

And ironically, I now hear myself saying and thinking these same words to friends who are struggling with or facing their own life-altering events,

‘You are strong, you are brave.’

And I mean these words. And yet these friends deflect my sentiments in the same way that I once did.

I now realize, though, that it in fact takes tremendous courage to simply move through a life. And when it is done with honesty and open-heartedness, I am in awe.

In such lovely and ordinary ways, we are brave.

For example,

My friend who is terrified of flying still gets on that plane because she cannot deny her yearning to explore and travel the world,

and she who is grieving her spouse or parent does so with authenticity, expressing her tears, her anger, her laughter, despite the fact that our culture does not like to talk about grief.

This woman says what needs to be said in that meeting, what no one else will say, even though her heart feels like it will pound right out of her chest when she begins to speak

or another friend doesn’t speak up, because sometimes it is better to be kind than right.

Another woman says no to joining the committee, despite her overwhelming feelings of guilt and obligation, because she knows it is just too much

and she who is overwhelmed asks for help.

My friend leaves her marriage because it is the best thing, the only thing, for herself and for her kids

while another stays in her marriage for the same reasons.

And this one follows a path that few understand or support, yet with deep determination he keeps doing his art and persists in his vision, his passion,

whilst another takes a job because it will pay the bills and that is the bigger priority.

A  mother I know watches her child walk right into a difficult situation even though it breaks her heart but she knows her child needs to navigate this particular storm on his own,

and this friend uproots and moves away because she knows deep inside that it is the right next step for her, even though it means leaving so much.

Another has the courage and confidence to shine when the moment asks for it, but  also knows when it is time to stand in the background in a supporting role.

This woman shows real and uninhibited exuberance and delight in her daily encounters despite this world that presently seems to favour cynicism and guardedness,

and he who has worked for so long in pursuit of his goal finally reaches the finish line and accepts his rewards with grace, while another friend understands when the time has come to walk away.

My friend who has cancer shares with us all her reasons to smile and describes the cherished places where she finds gratitude and hope, just as she expresses her feelings of helplessness and gripping fear,

and another brave soul silently processes the news of her illness because that is her way.


We               are            brave.

How I almost burned the house down

My dear life-long friend and I were recently able to get away on a quick and much long-anticipated weekend getaway. I was finally able to see the vacation home that Charlotte and her husband have built along with 3 other couples, a lovely getaway in the mountains.

After arriving Friday evening we awoke Saturday morning eagerly anticipating our day of cafe breaks, walks, and early Christmas shopping. While Charlotte was showering, I went downstairs to put the kettle on for my tea. Mindlessly, as this is one of the most routine behaviours of my daily existence, I filled up the kettle with water and put it on the gas stove. I then grabbed my phone and dialed Dan and the kids to have a quick chat, and see how their night had been.

As I was chatting with Olivia, I began to smell a combination of smoke and burning plastic. I looked over at the stove-top, and noticed that the entire bottom of the ELECTRIC KETTLE, exposed wire and all, was on fire.

Yes, readers , I put an electric kettle on a gas range and almost burned the house down, and not even my house, but my friend’s house that she shares with 3 other families.

As I was throwing bowls of water on top of the stove, I was half-panicking, half-imagining how I would tell everyone what I had done. And as the smoke alarm was going off, I was weakly calling  Charlotte’s name, not really wanting her to come down before I had attempted to peel off the hard pieces of melted kettle off the burners.

The most embarrassing part of this whole story, though, is that neither Charlotte nor Dan were entirely surprised by what I did,

but            they both still love me.

So, if you see me randomly bursting into laughter in the grocery store aisle or while waiting to pick up my kids,

I am probably just remembering what I did.


Despite the kettle mishap, we did each manage to find beautiful new boots to buy.

An invitation

I have a few projects on the go right now, and often wonder at when and how they should intersect. They inevitably do intertwine, though, and so it feels right to extend an invitation to my readers to my PeaceCard evening slated for an evening in late November.

For at least the last ten years, I have imagined such mini-retreats~ times set aside for honest connection, meaning, and simple and artful play. I know so many of us crave this, and I also know it lacks in many of our lives.

Women have always gathered. My mother and her friends used to gather so often, whether to quilt and craft, or talk and plan. This is women’s play and it is essential to so many of us, to our well-being. To find out what I have dreamed up for this first evening of its kind, please message me for the details.



On this is all I will say about politics, connection, and last week’s hero

This is all I will say about politics (for now)

I am going to tell you a little secret about me. I am not much of a joiner.

It’s actually hard for me to admit this because it feels somewhat like claiming a lack of commitment which isn’t at all true. I can be fiercely committed and loyal. 

I have always felt, though, that there can sometimes be something slightly dangerous about identifying too much with a particular perspective or stance. If we become too patriotic, too zealous, too enmeshed with a group,

we sometimes end up leaving out other people, other views, other valid ways of being in this world. It can all get       a little too ‘us’ and ‘them’, though often             

that is the place where we feel the safest.

It happens to all of us, and certainly me too. I speak to this but I have been guilty of sitting up on my high horse     a thousand or more times.

Since the beginning of time, though, that is exactly the point where it falls to pieces. We make it all black and white, see things at face value and forget to look harder in the depths for the clarity and understanding beneath. Feelings are hurt, resentments breed,   wars start.

We forget that we ALL have our burdens to bear and for the most part, we all want the same things.

Love.     Connection.     Peace.

I speak to this perhaps because talk of the upcoming election is everywhere. I will not speak up for a specific party here, or speak down to another one. I do, think, however, that the challenge is to really make this about seeking to understand the issues,

identifying the leaders that truly speak to our hearts and minds at this time, and sifting through the rhetoric and the drama and the posturing until we find the place where we are simply most aligned.              Then vote.

Undoubtedly and thankfully, we will forevermore need to gather and form groups and associations and parties and work for positive change and, to be honest,

there is little that moves me more than people working together to create beautiful initiatives in this world, inspired events, important societal or environmental change.

My hope, however,  is that when we form our partnerships and alliances we can always remember that

It’s not about ‘us’ and ‘them’.

It’s always about ALL of us. 


Recently, I saw a video documenting people who offered up a minute of eye contact to passers by on busy streets. I have seen other versions of this project executed in different ways, but it always ends up being deeply moving to watch people just seeing each other.

It strikes me that if I was, for an entire minute,  to stare into the eyes of someone who I felt I didn’t understand or that I was at odds with,

something  in both of us would inevitably shift.


Even just imagining it feels a little transformative.

Last week’s hero

Last week, the hero of our story was George.

He had decided that he would agree to have his head shaved for the Terry Fox Run event hosted by his school and he stayed resolute in that decision.

It was a beautiful and ambitious event for a school that is known for celebrating Terry Fox’s legacy. Thousands of kids, teachers and parents came from all over our city to walk together, cheer on the memory of Terry (even his dad was in attendance) and raise money for cancer research.


When it was time,

George marched up onto the stage with the other brave volunteers and quietly let the stylist shave his hair all the while wearing a sticker announcing that ‘he was running today for Grandma Carol‘.

My beautiful boy who has always had a gorgeous head full of blond hair that I have loved to smell, kiss, ruffle~

afterwards walked back to where we were sitting (a little shakily),

          completely bald.

All at once my heart both broke and grew.

I have long since given up on the idea of finding a one and only hero who always acts in a way that is brave and true and good. Few, if any of us, are capable of that.

But we do get little opportunities, scattered throughout our every days, to have heroic moments.

Yay George, for accepting and rising up to yours.