“Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem.  The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.”  Joseph Sugarman

When surrounded in negativity, it can be hard to see anything positive.  The more you fall into negative space the more negative your life becomes.  A vicious circle and it can feel never ending and take you to a place where you don’t see any light.

My childhood was filled with negativity, so many negative dynamics shaped my environment and dictated my daily emotions even though the dynamics were completely out of my control.   As a young child I knew that the dynamics would not change and I had to find a way of facing the dynamics and figure out a way to check out and find my positive space.  I spent a lot of time outside, we lived in the city but I found nature in fields and parks and spent my days either finding spiders and snakes or just hanging out.  It was here I found my light and each night I went to sleep, I knew that the light was waiting for me in the morning. If I couldn’t get out of the house, I found happy spaces in the house – it is how I survived the negativity swirling around me.

I would like to say that I continued to be positive and never checked into that negative space, but as I journeyed on in life and became a teenager, rebellion took over and I found ways to be with negative people in negative spaces.  However, the light was always just a throw stick away and eventually I found my way back there again.

Now raising two teenage boys I find myself with negativity swirling around me that seems to be out of my control.  I really try not to be negative but the very nature of living with two teenage boys going through incredible hormonal changes can be extremely negative.   At times my 16 year old when faced with a problem,  can only see the negative side of the situation and when I try to bring forth the positives that can come from the struggle, I face rebuke and confrontation.   All of this is normal as our family faces continuous growing pains, but I find myself looking for my positive space by venturing out into the fields and the parks again to refresh myself in the light and find joy in watching insects, looking for snakes and feeling at one with nature.

Nature and time to myself replenishes my soul and allows me to breathe giving me the freedom to be who I am meant to be all the while pondering the problems that I’m faced with in relationships, friendships, home and work and with each problem I ask myself “what can I bring to the table to make this situation work?”

Amazingly when I give myself the space, I am less reactive to the negativity in my life and I am able to put myself into the shoes of the people I’m dealing with leaving me with less anger and more love allowing me the opportunity to connect, truly connect with the people I love.



“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”  Buddha

It seems like my whole life I have watched people build a life of material objects to fulfill their happiness.  They will obsess over material things and get what they want only to be bored and move on to something else.  It’s not that I don’t value the material things in my life – I do.  However, the obsession with having the right look, the right car, the perfect furniture and the shallowness of thinking I am superior because of what I have in a material way has never been me.  My husband and I are blessed to be able to afford the house that we live in and I enjoy the fact that I have a roof over my head,  but when I really look around, I see four walls, four walls everywhere.  I don’t think this house represents  who I am as a whole person,  nor am I going to find some bliss of happiness by spending a ton of money to fix up the house to make it appear as if I live in the pages of magazine where surely no one could live happily as magazines display a perfect order an order I don’t believe exists.

The older I get the more I am simplifying my life.  I am simplifying my life in every way.  I eat simple, cook simple, play simple and love simple.  I follow paths of simplicity by simply enjoying nature, enjoying simple laughs with my children and my husband, casual conversations that don’t necessarily lead anywhere other than simple enjoyment of another person.  I want to take the time to get to know people, not what they do for a living, how much money they make or what kind of car they drive.  I really don’t care for any of that and the truth be known I find it incredibly boring.  I want to know what a person likes, what makes them laugh and who inspires them.

Interesting because in this social media frenzied world everyone is talking about how perfect their lives are and living with abundance but their interpretation of abundance is full of material things to make their life rich and abundant.  The truth is we could live with less than half of the material things we have and live an incredibly rich life.  The more we have the more baggage we carry and the more baggage we carry the less our spirit soars.

If you are thinking I have a house with hardly any material things, check yourself because I have way more material things than I need.  I live with my  husband, two children and  a mother-in-law, all who carry emotional baggage that translates into material objects.  I want it all gone and if I had my way I would back up my truck and trash it all, but I have to respect other people’s personal property and honour their wishes.  As time moves on and I have started to live in a more simplistic state, I am finding that slowly but surely the pack is following.  In the last five months my husband has been on a roll to get rid of his clutter and material baggage and my youngest is almost ready to give up the rest of his childhood toys that he no longer uses.  Matt and I have gone through his toys and gotten rid of most things but he is having  a hard time letting go of his lego – several huge boxes of lego.  I keep telling him that another child would be so happy to own this lego and he might as well let it go and make someone else happy.

A natural order as the energy flows from an older child down to a smaller child bringing both to a happier place.  My son doesn’t quite see it like that yet, he sees it as letting go of a period in his life that is gone and he’s holding on to that period with everything he’s got.  Slowly he is coming around as we talk about letting go and moving on, plus he sees that if he gets rid of all that lego, his personal space would open up giving him more room  and freedom for his paints, more room to draw and be creative using a different medium to broaden his artistic ability.

The shift is happening, we are all on the path to abundance through a  more simple life.  I also have to learn patience because the life shift is not happening fast enough for me but I know that shifts in lifestyle and attitude take time and in order for me to truly find abundance in simplicity, I have to respect everyones personal space and property.  A lesson in humility for me as I continue on this journey we call life..









“While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about”  Angela Schwindt

Trying to get my youngest son away from his video and computer games is excruciating and painful.   Matt will play video games all day and night if you let him.  He starts playing a game and you can see the transformation taking place.  He is like a drug addict on crack and I tell him that all the time.  I get mad when he refuses to stop and I’ll say “you are like a crack addict getting your fix.”  He gets really mad at me and says “I am not, I can leave this game whenever I want.”  I say “then leave the game now, turn it off.”  “Let me just finish this, only five minutes left.”  “No, turn it off now Matt.”  “Let me just finish this” he says with his voice raising.  At this point I demand that he turns it off and then we get into a physical struggle while I grab the controls and he desperately tries to stop me.

Exhausting and I can see why parents just walk away and won’t deal with it because it is a challenge.  Simply put, I see my job as a parent to stop my children from doing things that are bad for them and guiding them to a better life.  Even though I don’t mind them playing video games and computers, I think there should be a limit and when the game takes over their lives to the point that they don’t even want to go outside or do anything else, I stop the game and kick them out of the house.  Matt, especially, will stand outside in the doorway and say “what am I supposed to do?”  It’s like he’s a lost puppy without the controls in his hands.  ” Go exploring, look for spiders, put on your blades and go rollerblading, ride your bike, shoot pucks, play football, lie in the grass and watch the clouds, grab some other kids and play hide-and-seek but whatever you do, do not tell me that you have nothing to do!”  I then slam the door and leave him to himself to figure it out.

Why is it I feel guilty as I walk away from the door and complete housework or whatever task I have to finish?  I hate to use the line to the boys, “when I was young I walked miles to school and back” like my mother did, but when I was young my mother never had to kick me out of the house, I ate breakfast and ran outside to find my friends, stayed out there until lunch and then after lunch I was outside until dinner and then after dinner I was outside until bed.  My feet were constantly black and I can remember being in the bath after a long day of playing and my mother complaining how dirty I was and she couldn’t tell if  she was scrubbing away dirt or my skin as I was very brown and freckled from being in the sun everyday.  I grew up in Montreal and the cold winters did not deter me either.  On weekends and after school I was outside for hours building forts and playing games.   So what have we done to our children with video games and too many conveniences?  We’ve taken the wonder out of our boys and the imagination out of our girls.   The good fight between myself and Matthew is interesting as he always fights like crazy to stay in the house in his addicted, deprived state and slams all kinds of things in anger as he leaves the house and stands outside with his shoulders hunched and his hands in a fist because he is furious with me.  When I check back on him 15 minutes later, he is smiling and happy and either blading, shooting pucks or playing with the other kids.  I then have the difficult task, as my mother did all those years ago, of getting him to come in to eat. I also like him to get out for walks and I force him to come with me and it’s the same never-ending language between us, he is always mad and won’t talk to me for at least  the first 10 minutes of our walks and then something will grab his attention and then my boy wonder comes back and he will talk my ear off asking me about anything and everything.

Once after work I was going for a walk and it was just the two of us at home that day and he was, of course, playing video games.  I said “Matt I’m going for a walk to the park and you’re coming with me.”  No I’m not, I’m staying here while you walk, I don’t want to go for a walk.”  “Nope, you won’t even own a video game if you don’t come with me because if you don’t come with me for a walk, I’ll change the game-plan and pack up all of your videos and games in a plastic garbage bag and drive everything to the nearest Salvation army and donate it all instead of going for a walk.”  He glared at for me a little while and then abruptly got up and grabbed his runners all the while slamming a few things around in a frustrated,  furious motion because he knows I’m good as my word and I would do just as I said.  We get to the park and I love walking there because the trail leads you through a forest and it feels so good to breathe in the woodsy smell and be around so much greenery.

We start out and Matt is not talking to me, walking with his shoulders hunched over looking very unhappy.  About five minutes into the forest Matt’s natural curious nature takes over and he stops at every flower to ask me what kind it is and every tree to look beyond the path and stops to pet every dog that goes by and has a little conversation with the dog owner.  I’m now trying to be patient because my walk is entirely screwed as I’m not walking at a pace consistent with working out. Finally we get to the end of our walk and I’m way ahead of Matt and he stops to look in a grove through the trees and he’s yelling, “mom come here, come here.”  “Matt, what is it, I can’t stop to look at every bloody tree, I want to get my walk in plus I’ve got to get home and cook dinner as your dad and Brendan should be home by now and I don’t want be eating dinner at 8:00 this evening.”  Impatiently, he says “mom just stop and come here now.”   I walk very quickly toward him with the demeanour of a very pissed off impatient woman and I get there and he says “look through the trees mom, do you see it?”  I look through the trees and I see trees and I say to him “no I don’t see it, we’ve got to go.”  “Mom”, he laughs, “I can’t believe you don’t see it.”  “Matt what are you talking about as I stare into the trees and all I can see is trees.”  “Mom are you serious, you really don’t see it, look closely mom and breathe while you are looking, I know you will see it.”  I stop and breathe and look again and then I saw it and I couldn’t stop seeing it.

There in the grove was this magical formation of spider webs, spider webs like I’ve never seen before. There must have been 50 spiders in the middle of every intricate web.  It was like a city scape of beautiful webs and spiders.  There must have been 10 feet of spiders and their webs and as the sun shone down the webs glistened and danced in the light.  My boy wonder saw the whole magnificent sight immediately, I walked right by it and never noticed as a matter of fact if I was walking through the woods I would have crashed right into that spider city.  Boy wonder is standing in the grove staring at the spiders and smiling.  He says “mom don’t they look beautiful in the sunlight and you missed it mom, you missed it because your mind is always far away, you need to be more here now.”

My boy wonder was essentially telling me the same thing I’ve been telling him, stop wasting your life away and notice the nows and let all past and future go and enjoy the moment because this very moment won’t happen again.  The chances of seeing a spider phenomenon like that again is unlikely, so I stood for quite a while with boy wonder while we talked about the webs of nature and how spiders and all creatures are important.  Matt taught me a lesson that day, he taught me not to underestimate my children, he also taught me to get out of my head and enjoy my surroundings all this from my video addicted boy wonder.






His name was Wayne and I met him years ago at Manning Park, BC.  My mother-in-law has a cabin in Manning Park and my husband and I spent many weekends at the hill when the boys were younger teaching them how to ski.  Wayne was the bus driver, he drove guests from the hotel to the ski hill daily many times a day.  I never really had a chance to stop and talk to him at length as he was always dashing from here to there.  I would run into him on the way out of the cafeteria as he stopped for a quick coffee or on the way out of the ski school office as he gathered up his passengers.  Every time I walked past Wayne he would give me a huge smile and stop for a second to ask how I was doing, how Drew was doing and the boys – never once did he not stop.  After our ski day was done we would all pile into our vehicle and head down the narrow mountain road back to our cabin only to drive by Wayne in his bus as he was heading back to pick up the last group of skiers to take them back to the hotel.   He would whip right past us but not without a big smile, honk of the horn and a greeting.  That was Wayne, he was a bus driver during the winter and in the summer he worked in the park’s campgrounds.   While camping at Manning one summer, a staff vehicle pulled up to the site across from us and I noticed it was Wayne.  When he realized it was our family he gave us a big warm smile and came over to ensure we were all well.   After talking to Wayne you were always left with a special feeling, Wayne just had that way about him.  He was genuine, he wasn’t kissing your ass, he wasn’t phony, he wasn’t trying to find out the latest gossip, he was just a really nice guy.  A couple of weeks ago I was saddened to hear that he suffered a heart attack and passed away.   Wayne’s memorial was this past weekend and my mother-in-law attended.  When she got home, Sunday afternoon, she told me that the memorial was packed with people, “wall to wall of people” she said.  Staff members, customers, people from the area, people from far away – they all came.   My mother-in-law said that some of the staff of Manning were surprised that so many people came.  I burst out laughing and my mother-in-law laughed right along with me.  Society can be so trivial at times, people are impressed with positions, money, fame and so many people are only kind to people who can get them somewhere.  Wayne didn’t care who you were and he never worried about positions or money.    He genuinely liked people and people genuinely liked Wayne.  I didn’t even know Wayne’s last name until the memorial was announced on Facebook, but when someone mentioned Wayne at Manning  you just knew what Wayne they were talking about.  As my mother-in-law was waiting to enter the room where the memorial took place, she recognized the man standing beside her.  This man has been coming to Manning Park from the States for a ski vacation for years.   “I’m surprised to see you here” my mother-in-law said.  With tears in his eyes he said “I had to come.”  Wayne built a life out of love, kindness, simplicity, honesty, empathy, compassion and people came.


good friday collage

The simple cross you see in the collage was made by my son a few years ago.  In our house there are a couple of celtic crosses hanging on the walls.  The cross I like best is the one my son made.    Made out of clothes pegs all of it –  including Jesus.  A boy’s simple representation of a man who simply had a message “love one another as I have loved you.”  The flowers represent renewal as I plan to use this weekend to rest, renew, pray, worship and contemplate.  To all a joyful and blessed Easter.