Pure Imagination

A few weeks ago, we hiked the spectacular Crypt Lake trail. Even though we have lived part time in Waterton for the last 5 years, we had not yet done this hike. Not only is it well known as being one of the park’s more challenging hikes, but it also has some famous tricky sections such as a ladder climbing up into a natural tunnel, followed by a narrow cliff with cable attached.


I had been quite successful in talking myself out of it for quite some time.


I am afraid of bears.         It seems dangerous.         The kids might hurt themselves.

I am worried about my heart.              What if one of us fell?        The weather could turn.

Also.                   Only really good and experienced hikers do this kind of hike.


I am very good, so good,  at this kind of talk.


However, after visiting my dad, an avid outdoors-man, and talking to him about it  and watching you-tube videos of 7 year olds making the trek with solely their Barbie back-packs on, I decided it was        probably safe.


As it turned out, it was. The day we chose for our hike  was a hot mid-August Saturday that stayed hot and sunny, and there were literally boatloads of people,

which made the chance of being devoured by a bear relatively non-existent, as I am sure they were the nervous ones.

It didn’t feel particularly dangerous either. I am not generally afraid of heights and am pretty limber so the obstacles were fine as long as you didn’t look down.


Nobody fell.


And my heart kept up beautifully.   Yay, heart!


Sitting at the lake having lunch, Dan and I commented to each other about how easy it is to build things up in your head, make them so much bigger than they really are.


In Scotland this Spring, Dan had a marvelous opportunity to do something that many people dream of, but few get the chance to do. It’s his story to tell, not mine, so that’s all I am going to say about it.

Except that…..he almost didn’t do it. Because he didn’t think he was good enough or prepared enough or a bunch of other things that only he knows.

He did it, though, and had one of the most rewarding days of his life.


It seems so silly to talk ourselves out of things when we can do anything really,

the possibilities before us are as wide as the sky.


And, is everyone really more talented and capable than us –

regardless of how prepared they may look with all of their gear and confidence. Or maybe it’s just guts.


I am looking forward to courageously and joyfully moving forward this fall into new territories and adventures, even if all I have on me is my Barbie backpack because really,

as sung by one of my all-time favourites, Gene Wilder (rest in peace beautiful man) who masterfully played Willy Wonka –


Keep watch this week for an announcement regarding my Fall PeaceCard sessions. I have spent the last few months pondering what they should be all about, and I am super excited about how it’s all come together and what’s in store.

Happy Fall!
















travel lessons and coming home

As many of you might be aware, last month we returned from a pretty significant trip (to us). Since coming home from Scotland, I have been mulling over exactly what it is I want to say about our experience. However,  rather than saying anything,

I have been gently lulled away by the events of early summer: a family reunion, some work, obsessively reading the Outlander series, worrying too much about politics etc….and so time has passed and  I have said nothing.

It’s time to write again, though, even though I often resist getting back to my computer. For me, experiences seem to need to simmer and percolate for a while so I can draw out what is actually worth being said.

Perhaps it is the introvert in me that always needs time and space, much of it, to simply make my own sense of things. I have also been thinking lately about the idea,

that sometimes we can honour experiences and events  by not talking about them.


Nevertheless, here are the golden nuggets from Scotland that are asking to be published, lessons learned both across the waters and after coming home….

People are kind everywhere, people are hurting everywhere

It’s so obvious, but there it is. We have been so tempted as of late, to find way too many differences among us.  However, the more we travel the world, the more that we ultimately realize that throughout time and space, we really are in so many important ways, the same.

We love, we despair, we rejoice, we grieve. We laugh, we reach out, we make ourselves vulnerable,

and, in our own ways, we all hope for a better world.


Food is a gift

I am so curious about food, food prepared with delight and love never fails to bring me joy.

Food, to me then, is often what I am most curious about when I travel. How cultures prepare their food, where they find their inspiration, reasons for giving importance to certain foods, particular creative quirks, new ways of combining ingredients, new movements and philosophies  around food –

all of this deeply inspires me.



Breakfast is my favourite meal. How yummy does this look?!?


Seriously delicious seafood pasta dish at Jamie Oliver

At the tiny and quaint Kilted Lobster, for instance,  we were greeted with absolute hospitality, our kids as well. We truly felt welcomed into their space with open arms, as if it was their honour to feed us. The kids bravely tried an appetizer of delicate pigeon and haggis. Dan and I ordered the special, which was a half lobster with perfect green beans and a glass each of champagne. Simple, lovely perfection.

At the Gardener’s Cottage we celebrated Father’s Day with a brunch of the best meatloaf I have ever eaten served on top of heavenly sweet brioche topped with homemade Hollandaise. When I peeked behind the restaurant/cottage afterwards,

I saw a gorgeous rambling garden, a big wooden work table, a bbq, a true farm to table set-up in the very heart of a city.


And then at the Glennfinnan House Hotel we ate in the dining room of our Highland inn, feeling as if we were encased in an old world of giant wood-burning fireplaces, plaids, dark wood and rich colours,protected from the driving rain and a sometimes forbidding landscape. We ate smoked fish, sausages, potatoes, porridge,

heartier foods stemming from a landscape where people need warmth and rich sustenance.


History is so messy, present times are messy

My god, we have not been good to one another.

We forget, sometimes, our brutal and horrific pasts. Gory accounts from medieval times still haunt and shock (just ask my kids). Rivalries and wars, unthinkable crimes, and betrayals among nations are as old as time. Though we cannot use this is an excuse, that events have always been dark and challenging,

we do need to see that we have made some progress and acknowledge how far we have come.


We cannot escape ourselves and it is good to be together

We have a tendency to expect much of ourselves on holidays,

that we will see every sight, try every great restaurant, that every experience will be favorable, that we will all be on our best behavior, that we will come home completely rested and renewed.

These unreasonable expectations can create frustration and resentment as well as prevent us from simply being open to what happens. I have always struggled with expecting too much from vacations, and this trip was certainly no exception. However, this time I was able to reach a point where I felt a great deal more acceptance around the idea of simply letting things unfold


Letting things unfold.

and enjoyed the experience of just being together in a new and beautiful place.


All over the world, we need green spaces/ beauty

Dan and I often measure the worth of a city according to its green spaces and walkability.


                      Beauty and nature heal, restore hope and calm.  

Edinburgh, in particular, is bursting with green spaces and everywhere people are walking and enjoying the precious bits of sunshine that gift this perpetually wet country.



It seemed generally, too, that their gardens, buildings, displays, museums and homes were quite often altars to beauty,

thoughtfully and carefully arranged.


Yet perhaps it is also the case that when we are discovering a new place we look up more, we see the beauty that’s right there for us to see.


Many times in Scotland people said to us ‘we would love to see Canada’ and we would think to ourselves, ‘yes, but do you know how beautiful this place is too?’


And so it always is.


Olivia, inspired, bought tulips for our little kitchen in the apartment we had rented


We can always find ourselves, a little more

All those rituals that I learned and lived in my grandmother’s home;

making tender, buttery shortbreads and big, dense fruitcakes at Christmas

constant summer tours of the garden and her yard: her precious roses, lily of the valley

eating rich stews and dumplings for family dinners, savouring sticky toffee pudding while tucked in beside her on the couch

standing in her bedroom excitedly trying on the red plaid kilt she bought for me

drinking sweet milky tea together in her kitchen in the afternoon,


and of course I would think that teatime is the loveliest and most civilized ritual of all

Parts of me that I thought were me but were grandma, were Scotland, all along.


We think back through our mothers if we are women.     Virginia Woolf


Yes, and our grandmothers too.




and in every church (kirk), I lit two candles

And coming Home is good.

And now, understanding myself more,  I can suddenly see things at home more clearly too.

I look up,

and I see my beautiful kitchen with so much light streaming in and I am inspired  to cook again.

We see our mountains and lakes, too, and are reminded that, my goodness, they are so very magnificent.


I am reminded, too,  that there is such love here to bask in, from family and friends.


And…I have many projects and ideas simmering as I re-work plans and new directions,

but I feel less desperate, less ambitions, less in a hurry, more here, more grateful. Dan tells me he feels the same.


Coming home is good.



5 People I Admire

After hearing Chris Hadfield speak at a Leadership Conference in our community last week, I found myself thinking about well-known people that have inspired me. I am not always particularly in touch with pop culture, and I am certainly forgetting about people in all sorts of fields that I have looked up to, but here are 5 people that have been on my mind lately.

1.This man is so wise. Certainly, Chris Hadfield is technically and scientifically brilliant, but he is also funny and grounded and kind. What I admire most, though, is his clarity and perspective. This is a man that can hoist up a little girl on one hip and explain how chicken soup is made in space, but he can also remind us all in such a clear and unarguable way that we are all the same, we are in this together, and that we need to take care of the earth and each other. These simple truths coming from a man who has looked at our world, at us,  from a perspective that only a few have experienced.

2.  Ok. You might be tired of me bringing up Harry Potter. But. We at our house (well, mostly George and I) are still in the  throes of a re-visiting of the Harry Potter books, for me, largely inspired by this FB post about Alan Rickman that describes another wise man who displayed such joyful integrity to his art, and also knew how to listen.

3. How I have always loved Jane Goodall. Always. And here she is at 80, more beautiful than ever. Someone said to me once that gentle strength is the best kind of strength. Jane Goodall emanates a gentle strength and a sweetness of spirit that sees and fights for good, for nature, and for our collective positive evolution.

4. And Meryl Streep, oh Meryl Streep, another fierce woman that I have loved forever. To me she is unapologetically herself and I adore that authenticity that she has continually exuded and brought to her craft. She is unapologetic about aging, too, and seems willing to own all of the complex aspects of herself.  She’s also always struck me as particularly playful.

5. OK. One last Harry Potter reference. JK Rowling~ her interview with Oprah in 2010  affected me deeply:

Forever changed by her mother’s death. Edinburgh. Magic and depth and soulfulness. Celebration of imagination and creative inspiration. Did I say this interview may have changed my life? I actually just watched it again to be sure. More on this to come…….

Love is the most powerful thing of all.           JK Rowling


Origami Unicorn made by George

When I saw Chris Hadfield speak last week, he also talked about how he has learned to really listen, and in so doing has realized that pretty much everyone has a story, has been heroic, has their own reasons to be admired. I agree. I could easily list so many of you, all of you really, and describe at length your particular qualities that amaze me.

So, to us!

Go forth, love, and be the very best you! In this crazy world, it seems that this is the very best and magical defense we have.





On tribes, The Red Dust Road, and a family tree….


Lately, the idea of tribes has been on my mind.

We all yearn for ‘our people’,

all of us looking to feel cherished, supported, understood, accepted,

and loved.

When I was young, my family tribe felt eternally fixed. There was my brother and I, mom and dad, our grandparents, and our aunts and uncles. We had a relatively small extended family and generally there was no need for extensions at our Christmas dinner table. We all safely fit, and it felt as if we always would. My grandfathers died, one while I was in Junior High, the other while I was in University, but other than that there were few changes.

At 22 I married and found myself living in a very small rural town away from home and attempting to understand my place in a new and different setting. These were people who had all known each other for a lifetime. Their ways were deeply entrenched in the land, their shared past, their common ways of recreating, and their intricate webs of personal histories and stories. I was an outsider,

but I still awkwardly found kinship,

co-workers and acquaintances took me under their wing…

I also found my first mentor there too, and made other solid friendships that I still treasure.

I came to love my husband’s family and grieved them when my husband and I divorced,

especially my mother and sister-in-law.

That tribe, for me, dispersed and changed abruptly when I left that small town.

I created a new life back in my hometown,

made new connections, re-connected with others, and let go of relationships that had run their course.

Now, so many years later, my family looks very different again, and the word tribe suddenly seems even more appropriate given our unconventional construct.  What was once simple and quiet is now often raucous, busy, and complex.

Our dinner table is often overflowing, and the extensions are pulled out of the garage.

This new version of my tribe includes my dad and my stepmother Elsie, my aunts and uncles and cousins,

Dan’s family -his parents, his siblings and their spouses and kids, his uncle Roy, his beloved cousins,

and Dan’s first wife Glenna as well as Glenna’s dad Bill.

More recently, it has also come to include Alex’s boyfriend Ry and his family

and Steve (Glenna’s boyfriend).

Also, I cannot forget my brother Jonathan and his partner Dannielle…

All of us intertwined now,

like our very own little small town of stories and unfolding dramas.

My beautiful tribe.

It has always, though, come down to peace and inclusion. That has been the

unanimous choice.

Circumstances in life are constantly changing for everyone and as a result our tribal memberships expand, contract, and are in an eternal state of flux. People die, marry, move away, form new relationships, come home.

This is what happens with tribes.

What really matters, though, is that there is an epicenter of love that remains, even after so many of the players have changed.

The heart of the storm needs to be that unconditional place of acceptance,

wherein all are welcomed through the front door and into the kitchen for dinner, a glass of wine, hugs, laughter and conversation,

while the kids play and squabble in the background ~

and there is that unspoken but palpable undercurrent of ‘we are so happy to all be together once more’.

So it has been throughout all of my tribal editions,

We may not always agree, our political persuasions may sometimes differ, our choices may not always align, feelings may sometimes get hurt,

but at the end of the day support is certain, and love trumps it all.

because together is always better.

So I am forever grateful that there is always more room at our table.


The Red Dust Road

I am currently reading a wonderful book, The Red Dust Road by Scottish writer Jackie Kay,


This is Kay’s own story of tracing and finding her birth parents, her Nigerian father and Scottish Highland mother. Kay’s sense of identity and family expands as she must weave in new histories, new places, and new extended family.

Her very real and accessible ways of describing this complex re-calibrating of family and identity positively brims over with depth and beauty.

Though I bought this book because I am drawn to all things ‘Scottish’ these days,

and though I have always known that there is an ancestral tribe and a profound connection to place that awaits me in the land of the Scots,

it was Kay’s emotional description of finally reaching her biological father’s Nigerian village that moved me beyond anything else ~

”The earth is so copper warm and beautiful and the green of the long elephant grasses so lushly green they make me want to weep. I feel such a strong sense of affinity with the colours and the landscape, a strong sense of recognition. There’s a feeling of liberation, and exhilaration, that at last, at last, at last I’m here. It feels a million miles away from Glasgow, from my lovely Fintry Hills, but, surprisingly, it also feels like home.”

Sometimes familiarity and finding a sense of home defy the laws of time and space.

Our Family Tree

Sometimes kids can describe it best, and distill the truths~


‘Family Tree’ by George, aged 7, from our kidart archives

Perhaps we are ALL a part of that tree.