“Now, You Must Promise Me to Start Using It Right Away.”

This week I was going through an old blog looking for an article I wrote 11 years ago. Although I didn’t find the article, I found this post that I wrote almost exactly ten years ago. To my dismay/surprise I realized that I could re-publish this post right now because nothing has changed.

It went like this:

“Today I was going through a cupboard of drawers, sorting cards, pens, note paper, stamps, receipts etc. when I came upon some beautiful journal’s I received this year and haven’t used. Later on in the evening when I returned to this re-organization, I also found a wonderful reminder of what to do with these books, from my friend Patricia, who wrote the book Improv Wisdom an all-time favourite of mine.

This note had accompanied a beautiful journal she gave me on one of my  Birthday’s and I had kept it tucked away in a safe place and happily rediscovered it tonight. This is what she wrote:

“Now, you must promise me to start using it right away.

Don’t wait for something ‘special‘ to put in it. That way it will sit on a shelf forever. (I know, I have a half dozen blank books unfilled). Keep it as a ‘nothing special‘ book…jot down recipes, to-do lists, poetry; clip stuff and paste it in. Don’t make it a precious book. Use it by the telephone to write down notes or addresses. Find some way it gets USED! Promise it won’t be kept for some high purpose. Make it a lowly thing that gets used a lot.”

Her note continues with an assumption: “Good! Use it. I’m delighted you’ve started. Now keep on using it. Don’t stop to answer: ‘Is this worthy of the book?‘ Nonsense, if it strikes your fancy, add it. My friend Dalla has kept an ‘everything book‘ going at all times. She pastes and writes and scribbles…putting phone numbers, recipes, quotes, diary entries, poetry snippets…whatever is passing through her life at that moment. She keeps them by year or date. It is a great way to use such a book. Please do use it for everyday things. They are important.”

I continue:

Good grief! This is  the reminder I need. Tomorrow I will paste on the front page of Patricia’s beautiful book this advice, and follow-up with the stack of little paper treasures sorted on the guest bed. I wonder if you have beautiful untouched journals stashed away.  If so, what on earth are we saving them for?

Thank-you Patricia for this timely advice. I can hardly wait to get started on using my wonderful books.”


Present Day – Here’s the rub:

I just now opened a treasure box of things I brought with me to Ottawa and there it is, this lovely book. Safe and sound and barely used. I did paste the note onto the front page and place a few beautiful items, loosely, inside. I also scribbled a few commonplace things onto three pages, but I must have got cold feet, as it all came to a grinding halt.

Deciding is not doing. How many times did you decide to do something, and not do it? Of course, not everyone is like that. My daughter being one of the latter.

So, I brought the book out. It is sitting on my desk now, beside this computer, with a glue stick and a pen at the ready. By using the book every day, I honour my friend’s gift. There is no shortage of poems,  quotation’s, images or fleeting glimpses of insight that pass through my day. I will write them down at day’s end.

It can be my commonplace book until it is filled, and then I will start on other slightly used books in that same chest.

This isn’t a chore but rather a joy. A fun thing to do. A chance to write down serendipitous moments that can be memories for later years.

I bet we all have lovely things that are tucked away. Time to bring them out and put them to their rightful use.

What are you not using?  Your watercolour brush, guitar, a half-finished poem, family photos, samples of your pottery class that you loved but didn’t get back to.

Perhaps the time has come to re-discover the treasures tucked away in your own cupboards and bring them out to see the light of day. You may find treasures to pass on to someone else who would love those watercolour brushes, if you are not ever going to use them again. Many possibilities.

It could be fun giving new life to old things.


Note:1) I had such a good day with a friend visiting the National Art Gallery, and seeing an amazing exhibit called Abadakone: Continuous Fire. This is a series of presentations of compelling contemporary international Indigenous art, from 40 Indigenous Nations and 16 countries.

Note 2:) Do not grasp at the stars (alone), but do life’s plain common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” Lord Houghton

Note 3:) The photo today is a gift from the same friend Patricia. It is a Japanese folkart called Etegami.

Note 4:) Today is the last Wed in November. Hard to imagine. I can only continue to say thanks to you for opening the Wed email and clicking on “read more.” A deep bow of appreciation to you all. I wonder how you are all doing dear readers. Best wishes and warm greetings, Trudy




A Few Good Words

“Instead of trying to discipline your mind with ill will, fault finding, guilt, punishment, and fear, use something more powerful: the beautiful kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness of making peace with life. “Ajahn Brahm

I read this quote this morning and this is now the third place I am posting it. It seems that the longer I live, the less energy I have for fault finding, including my own. More and more I want to live, like these words from the Irish poet John O’Donohue:

I would love to live life
like the river flows
Carried along by the surprise
of its own unfolding.


Note:1) I am loving November. I understand that we started winter early but it is such a nice one. Cold but not bitter. No rain. Rays of sunshine and beautiful sunsets and clouds.

Note:2) It cannot be said enough, how important it is to have your people, on whom you can rely. Come what may, when you have that you have everything you need.

Note:3) Thank you for showing up here week after week. Warm regards, Trudy


Taking it One Day at a Time

One day at a time

is really the best way I have found to deal with the intractable difficulties of life. Dr. Itami’s, Meaningful Life Therapy, which my work is based on is “present centered.” What can I do today?

I recently came across this 7 minute video from Alain de Botton. Many of you will know him already. He is a Swiss-born British Philosopher and author,  and according to his bio , “He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a ‘philosophy of everyday life.’ He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries.

Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education.”

For a change of scene I suggest that you take 7 minutes and watch this video. The School of Life does a fine job with their graphics to illustrate the spoken commentary. I have enjoyed several of the topics over the years but this one is new to me. I think you will enjoy it and relate to this fundamental truth of taking our life, one day a time.


Note 1:) Welcome Winter. (I am going to take it one day at a time this year rather than fearing five months of cold and ice) Yesterday evening, crisp and clear, the night sky was dominated by an exquisite full moon. It accompanied  the kids and me all the way home from math class, a 40 minute drive. This morning I looked up info on this “full frost moon,” also known as the “snow moon.”

Nasa refers to it as the “beaver moon” and they added the words “spectacular,” to describe the 2019 display. They have traced the name back to the 1930’s and one interpretation is that the Algonquin named this moon because mid-fall was the time to set the beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.”

I find it interesting that each full moon has a story. What I do know is that the brilliant display  of this November moon was a gift of our brand new frosty winter.

Note 2:) A shout out to my Mother at 99 and one half years old, who has been recovering from a setback this past few months. Her mantra is “do what you can to help yourself.” She has been researching how to regain strength and is focusing on some extra protein, vitamin C and walking.  “I want to do my part to be as healthy as I can for as long as I am alive.”

Note 3:) I had notes from several people last week that you enjoyed the video on the Japanese Bowl. Thank you. Scribbling away, day by day is part of my Ikigai – a reason to get up in the morning. The fact that anyone reads what I write is an extra special gift. With a heart full of appreciation, Trudy

A Japanese Bowl


or “golden joinery” dates back to the 15th century and  is a method of mending or patching broken ceramics that makes them even more beautiful and valuable than in their original state. I also like to think that it can be a metaphor for our own cracks. Our perfectly imperfect humanness.

These different ways of “seeing” in the Japanese culture touch a deep well of joy in my heart.

Here is a lovely western/eastern blend of the art of kintsugi, featuring Peter Mayer and sent to me by a friend, about this time five years ago.

(Instructions for viewing: when you click on this Utube link it opens the video. When it ends, there is an x on the upper rt hand corner just outside of the video screen. Click that and you are right here.)

Japanese Bowl by Peter Mayer


Note 1:) For anyone struggling with illness who is interested in the online program I am facilitating for the ToDo Institute, look here for furthur information. It begins this Friday and is a four week program.  They accept late registrations.

Note 2:) I have a full plate this November so I am using it to see that I become more skilful with getting enough sleep; my hour walk in nature; and time to have a conversation with a friend. My teaching, writing and grandchildren always rise to the top but I can neglect other important things. So far this month I give myself a C. I aim higher for next week. Not because I should do those things but because I want to. I find it fascinating that out of 24 hours it can be challenging to consistently have a one hour walk.

Note 3:) I was lucky to have had beautiful weather for the last two weeks between Ottawa, Calgary, Gabriola Island and back again. The most beautiful fall I have ever experienced. Thank you for reading this blog and recommending it to others. It is always exciting when I receive notice of a new subscriber. I love your company here. Your kind words are always appreciated. I wish you a beautiful week and hope you do better than me at getting your one hour walk in nature everyday.