Election Day….Find the Cake!

I may be unusual in that as a child I would sometimes lay awake stressing about the cold war, acid rain, and other issues potentially threatening the future of mankind. Being sensitive, also, to my parents peace of mind I didn’t want to bother them or anybody else with my spiraling thoughts-

So, mostly,  I carried my fears alone.


Now, I have no trouble speaking out and I understand that keeping it all in is not particularly healthy, but I still hold a fierce desire to protect those I love from heart-ache.


My 11 year-old son is my kindred global worrier and will sometimes come home concerned about some teacher’s dire warnings about the hopeless state of our environment or current affairs, and I have to talk him through it,

reminding him that there are very clever people working very hard on our biggest problems and that he may even have his own contribution to make someday –


though silently wishing in those moments that the message, still acknowledging that relaying evidence and information is crucial,  had been more around inspiration and positive call to actions.

For how can we ever deny our impressionable and listening children the idea that there will always be hope and that there is good and important work waiting to be done in our world?


At least six times I have sat down to blog about the political climate here and in the United States as it has very much been on my mind, and at least six times I have scrapped much of what I wrote,

realizing I was criticizing, complaining, judging and obsessing.


Somehow, I needed to separate myself from all of the endless chatter and find some light, some reason,  some quiet,          before I could say anything at all.


What I have come to realize, too, was that every single time I have expressed fear and disgust around the state of our politics and future,

I have sent the message to my kids that their future is something to be feared rather than anticipated.


Shortly after my mom died, I had a vivid dream, one which I will never forget.

I was standing in the kitchen in the house where I grew up, though mom was clearly already gone. Suddenly, I discovered that there were cakes hidden in every cupboard, on every shelf, in every single available space…

beautiful, home-made, joyful and gorgeous, always more and more cakes, and they were mine, ours, to just keep finding and pulling out –


Birthday cakes, Wedding cakes, Holiday cakes, My-Goodness-Look-at-What-You-Just-Achieved cake, Life-is-Good-cake, Happy-Tuesday cake, We-Are-So-Grateful-Cake,


and then even still more cakes.


our most recent celebration cake


Though it feels as if I have read hundreds of political articles in the last few months coming from every angle, here is one I loved –

the Dalai Lama giving his bit on what is happening in the Western World right now:

Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel. This helps explain why pain and indignation are sweeping through prosperous countries. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies. ..This pattern is occurring throughout the developed world — and the consequences are not merely economic. Feeling superfluous is a blow to the human spirit. It leads to social isolation and emotional pain, and creates the conditions for negative emotions to take root.


What if I put my energies towards the things I know make me brighter, stronger, and less fearful  –

stretching, reading, walking, eating together, putting down my phone, talking to kids, playing, laughing, drinking tea, writing, making wonderful plans…..   ?


Then, spreading  kindness, and contributing where and when I can.


And yes, using my  voice for positive change,

but how much stronger and more effective my voice is  when it comes from a place of compassion and self-awareness.



And remembering to keep on finding the light, the cakes, the reasons to celebrate,          the joy.


This is the seventh version of this post. Finally, I think I have it.












On speaking out, our house of Gryffindor, and looking up

On Speaking Out

Two weeks ago, I wrote about dyslexia, a complex issue which we deal with in our household every day.

After writing about it, I noticed a Facebook friend had written a post about her struggles around educating a new crop of teachers about the accommodations that her son requires to be successful.

I shared my article with her, and she shared this fantastic new find with me…..


The author Ben Foss, is identified as having dyslexia himself, and discusses his personal journey and offers wonderful perspective. He writes,

‘Whereas most other books or ‘experts’  will promise a cure for your child, I’m here to say that there is no disease. In the mainstream dyslexics are the minority (1 in 10), but that doesn’t make us less valuable. We just do things a little differently. To use a commercial metaphor, it’s like we’re Macs, whereas the majority of people are PCs. This book – and your mission as a parent – is about moving the model for your child from dyslexia as disease to dyslexia as identity, an identity we can all be proud of.’

His position is brilliant and so accessible.

Last week I spoke about dyslexia in the context of ‘acceptance’, and Foss clearly promotes this sort of attitude as being both necessary and healthy.

Doesn’t this apply to everything? So often,

once we claim something, own it, and speak to it,

its gripping power over us fades away. Isolated in our houses and runaway minds, everything seems bigger and harder and scarier,

but just maybe outside our doors supportive communities are waiting to be formed,

and partnerships and positive alliances are possible.

Though we may fear we are alone in our struggles,

the reality is that there are people everywhere who are going through the very same things.

If dyslexia affects your life or someone close to you, please pick up this book, and feel free to comment or message me your thoughts.

We live in such exciting and interesting times. Technology, connectedness, and advances in education are granting us infinite possibilities to empower every individual to reach her or his fullest potential,

so that we are now poised to create a better world for all,

where no one feels any shame for simply being who they are.


original artwork by Olivia

Fun fact: 35% of American entrepreneurs are dyslexic.

Our House of Gryffindor

There are two stories that have particularly captivated the hearts and imaginations of our household,

and inspired more Halloween costumes than any other,

Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter.

George has been a cute baby munchkin, Olivia has been Dorothy at least twice (maybe 3 times?) as well as the heart-searching Tinman,

IMG_3689 copy

and after my mom died I splurged on a pink Glinda the Good Witch costume,

suddenly smitten with the concept of traveling around in a protective and magical bubble.

The famous Harry Potter has had at least as much influence in our house. All six books provided the backdrop to Alex’s childhood. She lived and loved Harry Potter and his adventures with all of her being, and still does,

and George appears to be firmly set on a similar track.

Last year he was the spitting image of Harry, Olivia was Hermione, and Alex and Ry were also from the house of Gryffindor and this year,

our independent and deep-thinking boy has decided to shift to the darker side and emulate Harry’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy. How fun is that?!

Being an English major, I could go on and on about the symbolism and importance of these western world myth-stories, but

let’s just simply say that it’s fun to dress up and step outside of ourselves for a day,

and feel different,

more powerful, magical, and courageous,


why not?

Looking Up

Last week I had a fancy echo stress test on my heart which involved me exercising on a treadmill with the goal of getting my heart rate up as fast as I could get it, and then quickly jumping off whilst maneuvering over the mess of wires that I was hooked up to, and then onto the bed perfectly adjusting my body so that the tech could take pictures before my heart rate slowed down.

This was all a bit worrisome and stressful for me, even though it all ended up being fine,

but it still used up a good day and a half or so in worry time.

Right after the test, we made our way out through the convoluted maze of the hospital and out the doors to find our vehicle,

then Dan pulled us in another direction to check out this view….


Later, George told me that he had noticed that very spot before my test and had even pointed it out to us, but we hadn’t heard or paid any attention to what he was saying.

How do we miss this stuff?

And, what a reminder that this is the sort of comforting beauty that we can find everywhere when we remember to just

look up.


It has been a difficult week in Canada, and our hearts collective ache,

but there are beautiful stories of love and connection already surfacing, as they always do, from times of tragedy. These small and simple stories of love and decency and kindness are the only way to ever find any sort of sense in it all, as we are pulled again into remembering

who we are and who we want to be~




















history of our costumes and why? what we need to be -top 10!

God only knows

A song in honor of creating thing stogether – my project launched SOON!!!!!




On healing, giving thanks, and dyslexia


This past week, I lost a least 100 pounds, or so it felt like.

In an unexpected and terribly powerful swoosh of love, I somehow was finally able to let go of an inner demon that has haunted me for a good ten years. There is no need to delve into the specifics, but just know that this was a fear/worry that in many ways was always lurking underneath even my most sincerest of  smiles and happiest and buoyant of days.

After a couple of recent sessions with a therapist healer/friend of mine as well as two separate conversations with two different highly intuitive women that both know and love me so well,

this 10-year-old daunting monster effectively and suddenly melted into a wimpy Wicked Witch of the West puddle.


monster drawing by George

Here’s the thing. Sometimes healing takes time, sometimes even years and years and years, and we may begin to feel that we will always be trapped and stuck and hurting,

Yet, often we just need to have many layers of experiences before we can be truly ready to let something big go.

Then….sometimes the letting go is quick and dramatic as it was for me this week, or sometimes it is slow and steady….

BUT, peace is always available to the willing, the persistent and the open-hearted.

That, I know.

Giving Thanks

I will never forget my neighbour once saying to me that she never quite got over the feeling of being in loving awe of her children. Every new phase and age holds precious gifts.

I remember, too, my mom saying that mothering a 30-year-old was as interesting and wonderful as mothering a child,

which makes sense to me now as our Alex is in her 20s and our relationship with her only continues to evolve.

So, on this weekend of giving thanks and whatever the particulars of the relationships in your life,

may we celebrate all of the ages and phases of all of our loved ones and  again reaffirm the notion,

that in whatever form it may find itself in,

family is everything and abundance is only ever really about love.

wedding table


I am on a bit of a quest to begin talking about dyslexia and parenting sensitive kids.

Though I taught elementary school for almost 10 years, it has been my mothering experiences that have really forced me to look at these issues from the inside out.

We desperately need to have real conversations about the related  and complex challenges that many kids and parents face.

Just this week I heard personal stories of three local families that are  struggling with their middle-school aged children having major anxiety related to sensitivity or a learning disability.

When I am discussing dyslexia, please note a few things:

1) I am speaking from the perspective of an educated parent who has done her research but I am not an expert.

2) My daughter is vivacious and capable and happy. She has dyslexia and she is highly sensitive, but these things are only parts of what make up the wonder of her being. She is fine with me writing about dyslexia, because she wants people to understand what the world feels like for people like her.

3) I use the word dyslexia for lack of a better word. It is a blanket term that can mean all sorts of things to different people. Depending on who you talk to and where you live, dyslexia is either the proper term, layman’s language, in vogue educationally or not. Regardless, it is usually used to talk about kids who have trouble learning how to read, spell, and may often struggle with math, despite having at least average intelligence. They are often bright sensitive kids who just learn differently and they often shine in creative areas.

The 2 biggest awarenesses that I have had in the last 5 years about dyslexia have been, ironically, about how I need to frame things.

1) Kids with dyslexia need to feel accepted.

They spend a colossal amount of time and energy having to catch up, work harder, and create their own innovative ways of coping. They are smart enough to know that they are different and this causes them no end of grief. Moving through a world that emphasizes academics can slowly and surely chip away at their self-esteem, so what my daughter needs to hear from me is,

‘I love you just the way you are. To me, you are perfect and I would not change a thing about you.’

2) Kids with dyslexia need to have their worries validated, because to them their worries and struggles are very real.

This morning when I dropped my girl off at school, I said to her,

‘I know this is hard. I want you to know that all of the things that you worry about are totally real, and I support you.’

That’s it. I could see her face, her heart, her soul,            relax,

completely ~

all because I didn’t say this time,

‘You will be fine. It’s not that bad. It’s not a big deal. Just don’t worry so much about it.’


There’s so much more to say, and there’s tons of hope and light in it all,

but for now let’s call this conversation opened.


I am reading this right now and highly recommend it. Beautiful, powerful insights!

Happy, happy weekend of giving thanks and celebrating abundance!




On middle school, a big move, and a new bed

On middle school

September arrived with a bang, as I knew it would.

Though it can admittedly be a love-hate relationship I have with being busy, mostly I enjoy having days that are full of activity and purpose.

That first morning where I am finally home alone in front of my computer sans kids with a full cup of tea by my side,

ready to work on my own projects and catch up,

is heaven.

George was very quickly happy and settled with his new teacher but Olivia and I found ourselves dealing with the realities of

another year of middle school.

This year’s transition was easier than last year’s as she is in grade 7 now,

but sending my daughter off to school can feel a bit like sending her to the wolves to possibly be devoured every day (especially if I am to believe her version of things),

This is all despite the fact that Olivia goes to a fantastic middle school that I admire in a thousand ways and even affectionately refer to as ‘the Disneyland of schools’,

so high is the staff’s level of energy, creativity, and commitment to kids.

Still, it’s middle school.

I don’t think I really need to launch into an explanation of why this is a crazy and complex period of life.

I read a quote in the September issue of Real Simple that said it so well, ‘Negotiating the politics of middle school girls? If ever there was a situation where a mother was utterly powerless, this was it. ‘                            Jenny Rosenstrach

It’s a whole new and complicated world of sudden higher academic and peer expectations, all to be navigated during the most awkward of stages in the most socially ruthless of places.

yes, and yet….

We are headed into the third week and our girl is okay, despite some anxiety.

She has found a few solid friends,

her little net of safety.

She loves her options this term, and we are again in the process of firmly creating this year’s plan to manage accommodations for her dyslexia (a whole other massive topic that I will write about soon).

It’s still hard though.

These are the parenting years of beginning to let go after only just figuring out how to hold on to her properly,

and she herself wants to be treated like an adult one minute and nurtured the next.

It is a roller coaster of managing her needs and reactions, moods and feelings,

and my own too.


It sometimes seems as if I write about all sorts of topics but there are only ever a few poignant themes,

one of them being

trust ~

Trusting that all will be well. Always.

She/we will get through middle school, of course,

and we will also revel in the lightness of it all too – the unbridled energy, the consuming dramas, the huge passion, the humor,

and the inevitable life lessons for us both,


A big move

I have often thought about how, when you lose a mother,

part of the grief is dealing with the reality of no longer getting to be a daughter.

Mothering when you are beautifully mothered yourself is easier, more companionable,

and is almost like a team-sport ~

Mothering without a mother is learning to stand on your own.

Please understand that there have been infinite gifts from my mom’s death, one of them for me being

having to stand on my own.



I heard news this past weekend that my dad and stepmother, Elsie, are moving away.

In a multitude of ways, this news hit me hard.

My father and my step-mother love me very much, love all of us very much,

but I have realized this week that it is time for them to go.

They need to stand on their own too, build a new life together, experience change and rejuvenation,

release and renew.

With their big news, it was hard for me not to feel as if I was being abandoned again, but I am wise enough to know that there is

really no such thing,

and that we must all stretch and grow

or whither.

So, I whole-heartedly wish them happiness, fortune and peace

and look so forward to watching their new lives unfold,

all of our lives unfold.


A New Bed

Sometimes, I am a little wary of the things that I find myself writing about….a new haircut, jumping in the lake, beans in brownies….

Perhaps my ego expected my articles to be more earth-shattering than mere descriptions of the trivialities of life.

Yet, as this peace project continues, here is what I continue to realize….

This is all there is, and these are the things that ultimately matter.

When I am eighty, I may very well find myself retelling with deep fondness my memories

of George and his friend making up after a fight by bumping tummies,

of how I looked forward to the lilacs in the Spring,

or of how I never minded my kids taking sick days.

These will be the stories of my life.

This week my unexpected heart-swelling moment occurred the morning after George slept his first night on a new mattress that he had helped us pick out~

To be clear, he is sleeping on the floor,

we haven’t even gotten it together enough yet to buy him a new bed to fit a double mattress,

but I had been promising him for months that we would move him into a bigger bed to fit his growing body.

So, when I went into his room to wake him up for school that first morning after he had slept on his new mattress,

I found him lying there awake with the BIGGEST grin on his face.

He said, Mom,

take off my covers and LOOK at me!

And there he lay,

arms and legs splayed out as a 9-year-old boy-starfish,

delightfully reveling in all of his glorious new-found room.

These, I am so certain, are the sweetest moments to savor.

















On dangers, our Canada, and bear grass….


The other night I had a dream that hundreds of little black birds were swarming around me, pecking at me, pursuing me. I felt the relentlessness of their pursuit but I wasn’t completely terrified, rather I felt a sense of just giving in and giving up.

When I woke, the dream felt heavy and ominous. I am, after all, a woman who looks for signs in everything.

Hundreds of little blackbirds trying to attack me… How can that be good?

This dream came after several days of holidays with Dan’s family. We all reunited in Waterton over the Canada Day long weekend and then drove together to Montana, where Dan’s brother and his wife have a holiday house.

Life has been simpler and more relaxed this week…..big dinners, sleep-ins, family walks and games, swims,

all surrounded by the gorgeous bounties of summer,

seasonal fruits and berries, wildflowers in full bloom, and warm days and evenings.

Last night, however, my summer reverie was violently disturbed when George crashed his head into a signpost while playing tag with his cousins after dinner.

It was, ironically, the loveliest of evenings. We had just finished a wonderful meal celebrating Dan’s parents’ anniversary and were all meandering through the park.

Suddenly, though, I found myself cradling my sweet crying boy in my arms, panicking inwardly about how severely he had been hurt. He seemed to recover but at 2am Dan and I made the decision to go into emergency as George had started vomiting.

12 hours later we still had not slept and had made yet another trip to emergency to have it finally determined that George had in fact suffered a mild concussion but would be okay.

These are the very worst kinds of hours as a mother.

They are the long hours when I try to hard to appear brave and calm, but am terrified.

These are the long hours when I talk to my mom in my mind non-stop, asking for support and strength.

These are the long hours when I know for sure that nothing matters more to me in the world than the health and well-being of these precious beings, our children.

Hundreds of blackbirds swarming…..perils dive-bombing me from every direction and I am so so desperately and completely powerless and vulnerable.

On a family hike earlier this week a few of us were talking about how it’s not usually the dangers that we work to protect ourselves from that end up being the problem. At the outset of the hike we were alerted by a warning that bears had been hanging out in the area,

but our most dangerous moment was when we all sat down to rest for a few minutes beside a hill and inadvertently triggered a mini avalanche of rocks.

And on the day of George’s head injury we had taken the kids to the skateboard park in the morning and watched them repeatedly zoom down ramps of steep cement,


It was a sign on the sidewalk that evening that ended up changing our course.

Driving to the hospital this afternoon, however, I made my peace with it all…the kind of peace that I have to make over and over and over,

because my gentle covenant with this life is constantly forgotten,

I am not in control. I surrender. It is too hard to hold so tightly onto my fears and anxiety and panic. I just can’t do it.

I cannot stop this swarm, nor can I predict which one will end up scarring me and unfolding more pain or more of life’s dark bits.

However, beyond and higher is the vast blue sky, billowing clouds, the sun,

a safety and trust and a broader perspective that I have to believe is sustainable and true and real,


All is well. All will be well.

Our Canada

What a joy it was again to celebrate Canada Day in Waterton. The bike parade in the morning was an absolute delight,

a spectacle of kindness, laughter, joy, innocence and fun,

with the Rockies sparkling in the background.

Our Canada. My goodness we are blessed.


Canada Day Bike Parade at Waterton Lakes National Park

 Bear grass

Oh yes, and speaking of wildflowers…. the stunning beautiful bear grass is in bloom, a flower I get so excited about.


‘you belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere you feel free’  Tom Petty