My Mother, the Nun

Alright, my mother isn’t, and wasn’t ever, a nun.  She grew up wanting to be one, but life has a way of trading dreams on people, and I was the first trade-off.

Her life wasn’t anywhere close to a serene cloistered order.  I wrote a little about that in a post called ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’.

Her adult road didn’t include even following the tenets of her early faith.  The closest to church involvement was the annual search for one that held summer camps for kids.  That was her summer break and our free annual vacation.

What she ended up doing mostly was working 12 hour days in emergency first-aid and security detail.   A few years into this industry, she’d re-found her faith, but it could never be used as any kind of vocation. Those 12 hour shifts were an economic necessity and there are few comparable offerings in the faith field.

So, it was long days until retirement at age 71.  By then she wanted only to putter, and maybe volunteer a little.  She’d already started going to church regularly again, and she helped the Reverend here and there.  Their pleasant working relationship became true friendship. She had no idea this would cause her earliest reveries to swell again.

One day the Reverend made her an offer.  Would she like to be a lay-reader?  She would only have to study some, and practise the rituals in assistance for a while.  She was instantly transported to places of long ago innocence.  Her sixty something year old dream, a little re-shaped, finally got her to that place that was always meant to be.

Mom vestments October 2013-2

Kicked the habit, made good in
My mother,


Blogger and author JT Weaver posted a challenge to write stories in the 270 word range. For some of us, this is like requesting a brush-cut after we’ve been used to only a trim up to the hips. In the end though, it’s made me appreciate the less is more doctrine even more.  JT’s challenge idea was inspired by the “Hemingway Challenge” and Abraham Lincoln’s succinct Gettysburg Address of 270 words:  (2014 – 01 – 11- the-270)

P.S. This exercise also taught me that WordPress includes the captions on photos in their word count. I did not.

Never Dare A “Jurnalist”

So, there I was, all comfy in full – – mode.  I was happily reading in said football free zone peacefulness, when all of a sudden, I felt an instant flash of heat swell up from deep within.  At first I couldn’t tell if it was because I’d reached another poignant moment in Ned’s book, or from an overdue hot flash, or from the jarring fact that my own disheveled mug suddenly appeared out of nowhere onto my laptop screen.


Ned Hickson, Journalist & Author

True to his threat, Ned Hickson published my review of his book.  For those unfamiliar with this hilarious journalist, author, and part-time volunteer firefighter, I highly recommend his blog, ‘Ned’s Blog’ for a daily shot of hearty smiles and laughs, and of course it goes without saying that at least twice a day, in only merest homage to football, I whip out and flail the biggest golden pom-poms around his book, ‘Humor  at the Speed of Life’.

Enlightenment by Ned

Official #1 (and only) Ned Groupie.
I follow him (virtually) all over the world.

Have a look and a laugh at how he put my review together, and then maybe also consider ordering his book. I guarantee you’ll work up some heat with all the ha ha’s.  Click on this link to see the review:

Cheers to the Super Bowl winner, whoever you are.


Beware of Bloggers, and Other Success Warnings

Recently I witnessed two prominent blogs, each followed by several thousand readers, cause disturbing ripples across the blogging community.

Although I’m fairly new to this arena, I did have contact with both of these bloggers, but it was minimal, and so I watched the dramas unfold from the safety of the periphery.  Nonetheless, it left me unsettled and a little disconcerted.

Writing gifOne of the blog-sites fully imploded due to revelations of wide-spread improprieties toward other bloggers that included bullying, coercion and sexual harassment. That site’s owner/writer ended up closing down that blog and all its associated webpages, but it had run for quite a long time prior because the harassed had been intimidated into silence.  The other had to deal with a very strong backlash regarding a post in which he called out another blogger as less than worthy of public acclaim.  This one also closed, but only temporarily, presumably to lick wounds and regroup.

In both cases, regardless of how much damning proof there was, there remained for both of these bloggers a strong base of supporters who were willing to excuse and even completely overlook the accusations toward these, their heroes, and for many, their  ‘on-line friends’.

In retaliation of the revelations, these supporters were also more than willing to demonstrate their solidarity by writing the victims and/or injured parties and their followers to demean and belittle them and the charges, some even issuing threats. This is a pretty strong example of when people don’t like to admit they’ve made a mistake – especially about someone they look up to. Especially one that questions, “Was I a sucker”?

Each case reminded me of the often repeated cautionary tales that we speak to our kids about when it comes to internet usage – whom to associate with and what we choose to post online.  It also reminded me that we have to re-think how we make heroes out of appearances of success.

In the blogging world, a successful following and  wider readership is attained through, in large part, making mutual blogging contacts and following each other’s work,  but like our warnings to our children, we also need to be more discerning about with whom we choose to support and associate.

In the pursuit of success, we too often, and easily, make heroes out of those we see as triumphant.  We hope to be able to tag onto their success and open opportunities for ourselves.  At least, that’s how it supposed to work and really, that’s how the world has gone around forever.  However, applauding success doesn’t require falling down in worship.

The last few weeks have served as a tough reminder to many of us to remember to be responsible for what we say publicly, or be willing to take full responsibility for the results, and it is also a reminder to behave; act with decent propriety and respect.

In the interest of general face-saving and self-preservation, we should also pay attention to that old adage of listening to our gut.  Follow our heart in what we want to say, but definitely pay attention when our Spidey senses start tingling while we’re writing, reading, or in a discussion.  Let’s face it, in this realm, we really don’t know who we are be-friending. If we back-off from something that feels wrong, that’s a win.  Maybe we will miss out on a chance to step up a notch, but it’s far more likely that there will still be plenty of opportunities to grow.

The last thought I took away from all these events, is yes,yes, yes it is OK to stand up for yourself, respectfully, when you’ve been wronged.  Even in the blogosphere, no one is too big to have to own up to bad behavior.


The Question That Changed My Entire Life

I was twenty-nine and about to enter my second mid-life crisis, (the first one was at twenty-one – but that’s another story). As I took stock of my life I knew I was free-falling into the stereotypical void of meaninglessness.  My world was focused on making money and projecting the right image.

At the time I was working in the finance industry as a finance broker; it left a lot to be desired in the soul side of life.  While I enjoyed the benefits of decent pay, and a closet full of great shoes, it didn’t fill much in the fulfillment soles. (Ya see what I did there?)

How things looked was a top priority for the industry goals. It was fairly regularly preached that the need to look successful was imperative. The required image included  job title, personal appearance, home, and contacts.

I remember one well-meaning colleague seriously imploring me to buy a car that was, at a minimum, the oldest model of a Mercedes that I could afford rather than a brand new Toyota.  That was far more conducive to achieving that highly desired image.  Pointing out the obvious differences in comfort levels for me netted a baleful stare of incredulous disbelief in my sanity.  That was pretty much as deep as life was.

Falling Girl, by Scott Sona Snibbe

It was about that time that I really started to question the point of life and my purpose within it.  Not long after, I came across a magazine article that lit an inner spark.  Considering the importance it was to play in my life, I can’t believe the title escapes me. Anyway, it was about the question, the one that literally began the turn-over of  my life:

“When you die, what do you want people to say about you at the service”?

I sat back and sifted through all the tributes I could remember.  The ones that I recalled most were those folks who were spoken about with great respect and even reverence for what they gave to the world, and the grace with which they lived.  That’s how I wanted to be remembered too.

Then the next sentence simply said, “Now go make those words real”.

It gave me immediate focus.  What I at least realized then, was that what I wanted to be became less important than what kind of person did I want to be. It was a general goal, but it offered seemingly thousands of possibilities. A huge weight of dejection was replaced with a huge light of hope.

It led me to know that I had finally found my soul, but I was in an industry that didn’t have one.  I knew it would soon be time to move on. My questions of how were answered as my perception and approaches evolved. Many opportunities came my way as a result.

My eventual path started, and startled, with a variety of unexpected voluntary roles from ambulance attendant (never saw that coming),  to board director for policing support. I got the chance to write for pay, and eventually, ran a fundraising foundation for a regional cancer research and treatment centre  (worst job ever, but that’s another story).

The point is that it doesn’t matter where you start from, you only need to change how you see things. Look inward and around at what you have at hand.  Be thankful for at least that much, then look for ways that it can be used to help someone or something else – especially at those times when you feel least able. I can only ask you to trust me on that, but it would be more useful for you to try it once or twice.

I’ve seen it start out in simple ways like the guy finally able to say the words, “I was wrong”, and another who started a food bank drive at the company she worked for.

I can see it being things like starting a business or charity to help whatever need in your heart, or a finance industry that encourages genuine savings by offering genuinely decent saving account interest rates.  It’s never too late to change direction, after all, all it is, is changing your mind about what you need.

R.I.P. Me

R.I.P. becomes Live more in Peace

How do we want to be remembered?  The advice was simple, on the face of it, but the results took me to wondrous places that I had no idea I wanted to be. It’s a bit scary for me to try to imagine now what my world might have been if I hadn’t had that magazine intervention.

One last word on this advice, a meaningful life isn’t perfect either – far from it.  The only perfect expectation is embracing the knowledge that our best work is about giving the best we have at the moment.

So think about your end for a bit, and then go live up to your service.  Works for me so far. Usually.


Written in reply to the WordPress weekly writing challenge: What’s the best, or worst, piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?