Christmas moonlight in Parksville

A Shift of Perspective

Moonlight glow Christmas 2018 – photo by favourite and one and only son, Rob Gaudet

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ― Ellen Goodman

There is value in this thought of Ellen Goodman’s, and as this year draws to a close and I enter a reflective time I want to offer a suggestion.  Rather than even looking at “potential,” what about setting aside some time with paper and pencil to record a laundry list of things we did this year that gave us satisfaction. The actions we took that we are proud of.

I am not talking about pleasure, happiness, easy or getting our own way. Rather, I am speaking here of things that may have been hard, challenging, or risky. Things we didn’t even want to do but needed to be done and we rose to the challenge. The times that we overcame “resistance” or “fear” or “inertia” to start or stop something that we deemed necessary.  I might add, things we even desired to do and were still a struggle to begin.

As a consequence of doing them we experienced satisfaction, meaning, relief, joy, delight…and we could say to ourselves, “good work.” I did it.

I can imagine that we all have something to write down. No life is free of challenge. No life goes along smoothly from day to day without disruption. Once in awhile we can be our own disruptor and tackle the task or the situation we have been ignoring. And then we have the heady rush of completion, or, if not finished yet, we see the light at the end of that tunnel.

Why not devote a little time to this idea. I’m going to do it when I finish this blog post. I have a few things already surfacing as I write these words. And I will use the encouragement of what I did do, to pick up the pieces of what needs doing in 2019.

I have reconciled myself to the fact that my inbox will never be empty.  I will never be able to do everything or even repair everything in my life that is calling out my name. Instead I am going to celebrate small victories.  This won’t keep me from attempting all kinds of things that I think are important but it will allow me to honour the effort, which is the only thing we can do anything about.

I say, congratulations to all of us, for the things we did, or, in some cases, did not do in 2018. The conversations we had; the books we read; the meals we cooked; the problems we solved; the help we offered; the thank-you’s we gave; the apologies we offered; the kms we walked; the harsh words we avoided that one particular time; the times we said yes;  the times we said no in order to say yes to some other purpose; the tasks we completed; or started; the sock drawer tidied up; the excess  we gave away; the laughter and kindness and tears we brought to the table – our vulnerability.

Let’s be kind to each other including ourselves. This is nothing about deserving. Who deserves anything, the good or the bad, when you think about it? As I have said before, quoting Hafiz, “No more throwing sticks at our own heart.”

Let’s end our year not just counting our blessings or emphasizing what we neglected, but noticing the things we actually got right. Let’s encourage each other along, including ourselves.

Note 1: A want to acknowledge the hydro men and women who have been working tirelessly around the clock to restore power to the 700,000 residents, on the coast and lower mainland of BC,  who lost power one week ago this morning. They and their families need our deepest appreciation for this endless effort over the holidays. And they are working still. The estimate is that by New Year’s Eve they will be done. A deep bow!

Note 2: Because of the lengthy power outage my small family moved to the seaside town of Parksville where we had our Christmas gathering. Grateful for the warmth, light, and Christmas dinner provided. My son Rob took the photo used here, of the beautiful moon reflected on the ocean in front of our suite.  Thank you for reading my blog posts! Warmest greetings to you all, and see you next year, Trudy 


A Small Steadying Sail of Love

Early morning winter light on Gabriola Island – December 18, 2018


  A Small Steadying Sail of Love: a small book of poetry 

On the back of the cover, poet,  Nancy Gibbs Richards writes: “When a sailboat is in dangerously heavy weather,all the sails that move the boat forward are taken down, and a very small storm or steadying sail is raised. The purpose of this small sail is not forward motion, but to keep the boat headed into the wind so that it will not capsize. It is my hope that, for you, who open the pages of this book, these words and images will become a small steadying sail of love in your journey through life.”

 This book came to me one poem at a time,  from a friend, when I was in rough waters,  followed by the actual book a few weeks later. The seven poems I have copied out for you here, are amongst my most favourite and I have added some photos to accompany them. These small verses truly were my steadying sail for a time and I was grateful to have received them.

This season is not joyful for everyone. There are many where the lights and good cheer exacerbate their deeply personal sorrows. I am thinking of you, in particular, as I write this post.

 All except one of the poems is untitled and I pass these gentle words on to you. They are short little poems so it will take you only a few moments to read them. If one speaks to you, copy it out and read it again. For those who need them, may they be a balm for the soul.


On seas of grief

my boat and I

weather storms

of terrible sorrow

with a small

steadying sail of love.


The comfort of friends

There is evidence 

threaded throughout my life story

 that I have been strengthened

 and guided at every turning.

 Now is the time to trust

that this will continue to be true.





I cannot save the world

or heal another’s hurts,

but I can offer

one small act of kindness

 at a time.



In this time of waiting

 and not knowing

how things will unfold,

 may you find a pool of calm,

a place of peace and rest

deep within your soul.


It is a challenge

to accept the truth

of what no longer is possible.

 and yet embrace all that still can be.



 This also is true:

it may be possible

to meet

in a place of tenderness

with a person

whose troubles trouble you.


Can You Hear Me?

We are separated by the wild river

of all that is unspoken.

With this small rock

I throw the first line across.

Tie it securely.

Let the building of the bridge begin.


Note 1: I recently arrived on the beautiful west coast and love walking in the rain everyday. Yes, its true. My skin is unwrinkling with all the moisture and the loveliest part is that it doesn’t turn to ice. And you see from the photo that even on rainy days, there is the beautiful golden light that arrives early and although it doesn’t last long, it is pure magic while it shines. Warmest wishes to you all, Trudy

I Want to be Remembered for This

Four years ago, when I was baking special Christmas cookies called Basler Brunsli, made from almonds, chocolate, sugar, egg whites and spices (hmm, I guess this makes them gluten free as well as delicious) my grandchildren Sophie and Rowan were close at hand, faces aglow, as I removed them from the oven. They were four and eight, at the time.

Sophie, leaned over and  quietly said this to her younger brother, as he eyed the tray of small, chocolate bears. “Rowan, you need to know that Nana turns a blind eye to the cookies at Christmas.”

At that moment, I felt pure delight if not enlightened. Like I had done something so supremely good in the world that I hadn’t even been aware of. As I looked into the faces of these dear children, I was grateful to be the one who “turned a blind eye to the cookies at Christmas.” They were unaware that I had overheard the conversation. I thought then, as I still think now, that is enough for me. This is what I want to be remembered for.

And it isn’t completely about the cookies.

It is about the confidence they have in me that at Christmas time they can enjoy these special little cookies with ease and joy and on their own terms. When I open the freezer and see crumbs scattered and the container not fully closed, I smile to myself.

Am I worried that they will eat too many and get sick? Nope. I’m not. It hasn’t happened yet. My confidence in the ritual of certain traditions and the knowledge that chocolate is also a vitamin (vitamin CH) allows me to celebrate their joy.

And that is one of several reasons why I love Christmas. I also understand why Christmas gets a bad rap.  I mostly avoid those aspects by staying out of malls, not being caught up in the excesses of it all and concentrating on small things that mean something to me and my family. I claim my own traditions and ignore the rest.

The Christmas tree is another example. In the darkness of November and December, in our northern climate, we need to warm our bodies and souls. Lights, candles, fireplaces, good food and a beautiful green tree in the house does just that, for me, along with the good company of loved ones. The fragrance of the noble fir transports me to a wondrous place the moment I come in from the cold and my senses are greeted by that old, familiar smell.

As we decorate our tree, we dedicate the first few favourite ornaments to others, and say why. It turns the process into a reflective and fun event as we sometimes have tears and laughter in our remembering. After a couple of rounds we go back to finding just the right spot for whatever decoration we hold in our hands and then at random times one of us pauses (me, in this case) and says, “I want to dedicate this beautiful star to my friends in Calgary,” as an example. The children always remember their family who live in different areas of the country so Grandma and Grandpa, Opa and uncle Rob, Jonathan and Michael and Great Grandma and so on…they eventually all get named. If not this year, next.

Don’t get me wrong. I too can be overwhelmed at Christmas, and I still love it. This year, however, I have thought about a quieter Christmas. I will be out west, and we will be a small family gathering with time to sit and admire the tree and contemplate all the beautiful memories strung from bough to bough. There will be wonderful music and comfortable chairs to curl up into where we can read for a few hours. Maybe have a nap for those who like such things. And always the tree to glance at, in all its splendor.

Several years ago, a new friend was dismayed that I had a real tree in my home at Christmas.

“It must be a very small one,” she commented.

“No,” I said. “It is always very tall and beautiful.”

There was silence.

Despite her disapproval I could not disavow my love for the Christmas tree. I like to think the tree enjoys being in our home where it is so deeply admired and appreciated by all, every single day.

And so, the holidays have arrived, and all of us arrive with our own traditions of bringing light to the darkness.

However we choose to spend this time may it be with love and joy and yes, sadness, too for all of our losses. May we say yes to what is important and meaningful and no to the things that no longer matter to us.

I do urge you, nonetheless, to celebrate all that is good in your lives and not succumb to the cynicism and despair that can so easily gather in a crowd of sorrows. Find your people, those whom light you up, and be that light to others.

Warmest wishes, Trudy

Note 1: the big people in my family are just as excited about those cookies, so when I go out west on Saturday, the recipes come with me. I turn a blind eye to the adults too.

Note 2: Every year in December I haul out this reflection by GK Chesterton because I love it. It is a unique perspective on Santa/life/reality…you may enjoy it too. The photo of this tree was taken in Quebec City last December. Roaming around the old city was a fun filled afternoon with delightful surprises around every corner. This is my favourite image from that day. And here is Chesterton:

“What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.

As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation.  I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking.  I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it.  I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them.  I had not even been good – far from it.

And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . .  What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.  I have merely extended the idea.

Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking.  Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.”  G.K. Chesterton

Japanese Bowl blog Post

A Japanese Bowl by Peter Mayer and the Art of Kintsugi

A few weeks ago I wrote about Wabi Sabi and the beauty of imperfection.  This short video, which came my way five December’s ago, is in the same vein. It was the gift from a friend who had received it from a member of her book club. I showed it to my family, shortly before Christmas, and we were all a little welled up. I suppose because we all could relate in one way or another. Each year in December I like to pass it on.

In this Japanese tradition of repairing old pottery, my friend described it thus:

“It is called Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with seams of gold. Kintsugi repairs the brokenness and the ageing of the vessel in a way that makes the container even more beautiful and valuable than it was prior to being broken.  Peter Mayer a folk musician from Minnesota wrote a beautiful song that refers to the beauty and metaphor of this art.”

Here is his u-tube video…it has a  melodic  introduction and I suggest listening carefully to the lyrics as they tell a story.

May we all cherish our own cracks, as we come to the end of  another year.
(Please make sure you have the sound turned up. You can watch this full screen by clicking on the square in the bottom right hand corner, once you start the video. You can revert to a small screen at anytime by pressing your escape key.)
Note1: Let’s be gentle with all of our cracks. We all have them. They are part of life.  Let’s sing while there is voice left. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and I will see you next week. Warm wishes, Trudy