Zoom Challenge from Japan

I am a sporadic facebook user, although I have worked at paying a  little more attention since Covid-19. After a busy Wednesday, I took a quick look through FB, and much to my delight I saw this message directed to me from the Mont Blanc Project in Japan.

Canadian Rocky Mountain members use zoom to challenge a meeting over the ocean with you.

I immediately accepted the challenge and will start the zoom ball rolling with my friend and translator par excellence, Yoshie.

Many of my readers read about this adventure, last July, when this special group of mountain climbers arrived in Calgary from Japan. They came to hike in the Rockies and spend a day at Wellspring Calgary.

It was so delightful for me, Nancy Wright, and all the wonderful members, volunteers and staff at Wellspring Calgary to get to spend time together, with our Japanese guests. You can read more on my blog and I will link to the posts, in my notes. In summary, it was full of joy from beginning to end.

For now, a reminder of their inspirational purpose:

to demonstrate to themselves and others that you can live an active, purposeful and joyful life while ageing  and while experiencing serious illness.










The timing seems perfect for three reasons:

  • I am thinking everyday about old friends
  • I had a call this week with one of those precious friends
  • An intention to make time to follow through, by getting in touch and staying in touch

I can testify to my delight when I heard the voice of my friend and immediately saw her face in front of me. And we were not on zoom. And I felt that small and unexpected leap of joy when I spotted the zoom challenge to Trudy on FB.

Our friends and family make our lives worth living. Old friends, scattered across the globe and new friends whom we are lucky enough to meet in our 70’s. Dear  friends and family who are part of our everyday life. And for me, all the wonderful people whom I have had the privilege to meet, through my life’s work, including right here, on this page.

I have been thinking so much about the question, “what matters most?” And the answer changes at different ages and circumstances for each of us.What matters most to me is not the same as for my 14 year old granddaughter or  the 31 year old who has just received a diagnosis of cancer.

This has nothing to do with comparison and everything to do with our life stages and contexts. It is worth it, however, no matter your age to consider the question. And then take a peak to see if you are acting on and with “what matters most.”

Don’t save your best till last. Be bountiful with your words and actions, while you can.


Note: 1) Yesterday on my walk with Rowan at 7:15 AM he said, “Nana, let’s say what we like about each other. We can go back and forth. If one of us repeats what the other one said, they need to say a second thing on that round.” And so it went, walking along the canal, with flowering trees and hundreds of tulips  and beautiful flowers in bloom. Telling each other what we like about that person. What a way to start the day.

Note: 2) Here are some links:

A joyful music video put together by the cast of the Broadway Play, Beautiful.  It made me smile and a tear welled up over the incredible response from the entertainment and artistic community to brighten our days and cheer us on. Thank you!

Links to blog posts with my/our Japanese friends:

The Mont Blanc Effect

The Universal Language of Generosity

Harvard Study (80 years of continuous research on the role of relationships and community in healthy and happy ageing) 

When the study began, nobody cared about empathy or attachment. But the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.” — George Vaillant

Note:3) Find the beauty everyday.  It is always there even in the midst of grief and sadness. 

Note: 4) Thank you for dropping by. I appreciate you all, dear readers, more than you could imagine. Hugs all around, Trudy







Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

Is it a weed or a flower?

When I was a girl, about the age of my youngest grandson, who just turned 10, I came upon a field of beauty. I was on my way home from school and  took a slightly different route. To my surprise, I saw  a big field of yellow flowers. As I came closer, I stopped in my tracks to admire all that beautiful yellow stretching out in front of me. The owner, caught my eye, and I called out to ask if  I could pick five flowers for my Mother. To my happiness, he told me to go ahead and pick all the yellow flowers I wanted. Although I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity, I gathered up a good bouquet and hurried home.

My Mother kindly placed the dandelions in a beautiful short vase and as happy as I was, my heart sank, when I later overheard an adult use the word, weeds. “Dandelions are weeds.”

So the question is, when is a weed not a weed?

There are two points of view:

Wikipedia describes a weed as a plant that is considered undesirable in a particular place.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described a weed as a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered.

Consider the lowly dandelion. Imagine my surprise, 35 years later, when first visiting Austria in the spring, and seeing untouched fields of dandelions, in the orchards, especially the wine fields. It appears that the dandelion has a more favourable image in Europe, and in folklore medicine was considered a reliable tonic, amongst many other things.

All of these memories returned this morning, during a beautiful walk in the experimental farm gardens, with my 14 year old granddaughter. We rounded a corner, and in the next instant, was a field of gold. She kindly joined me in my enthusiastic praise for the humble dandelion.

Two hours outdoors in the warmth of the sun did wonders for our spirits. Walking amongst the  flowers and trees and meandering the many pathways through the Arboretum provided the perfect backdrop for our easy flowing conversation about the world we now inhabit. The subject matter included loss, disappointment, hopefulness, laughter, possibilities, and  beauty. When we were ready to leave we were refreshed and enlivened.

“What is it about the garden that makes it such a place of healing? Perhaps we project hope into it each time we set foot into this place. ‘How wonderful this new plant will be, next season, when it comes into its own.’ we think. How truly amazing that anything will survive because it is too cold or too hot, or there is too much or too little rain. And yet survive it does…” Marjorie Harris

Of all the things we can do right now I think getting outside is top of the list. Whether we are sick, healthy, young or old, if we can possibly manage it, I hope we all do it. It is easy when ennui slips up behind us to ignore the things that we love to do. Things that will make us feel better and more alive.

And Now Our Heroines of the Week

We have all been clanging pots, for our front-line heroines and heroes, in our own communities, and you will see below why this is important. They all deserve special mention and I will name just two this week.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Chief Medical Officer, for the province of British Columbia in BC was honoured this week, for being the authority behind North America’s lowest death rate during this public health crisis. “…she was able to galvanize the public across the province…set into motion rapid mobilization and  containment and became one of the first in the world to develop a test. She was the scientist to lead the effort and had the authority to issue instructions. (she did this with persuasion, not a stick) PS: she is also the first to caution against complacency, at this time of opening up. We still need to hold the line. Excerpt from Bloomberg Press

Dr. Melissa Umphlett, a pathologist at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC received a special tribute this week  from the Chairman of the Hospital and her colleagues.   I am delighted to claim a familial relationship, with Melissa, since she is my cousin’s fiancee. (well, closer than 52nd cousin once removed :-)) Still, we are proud and grateful for Dr Melissa and Dr. Bonnie, along with the worldwide cohort of  medical, scientific and entire team of front line workers, we have come to count on. Melissa’s almost sister-in-law, sent me a copy of the award. I think it is important to sing the praises of these tireless workers and I am happy and grateful to do so.


Note: 1) If any of you. dear reader, have a shout out for someone, please send it on to me. When Melissa was asked about the award she said this: “On the days when I can leave work a little earlier, and get to hear all the cheering from the balconies, although it can be emotional, it is completely energizing. It is less about the recognition and just really, really nice to hear everyone cheering and being happy for those moments.”

Note: 2) This photo of the rare Himalayan Blue Poppy was taken in Vancouver on Monday, by my son Rob, at the VanDusen Gardens. I love the blue poppy and thanks to my Step Father I got to grow them for a few years in my garden on Gabriola Island.  This beautiful and unique flower arrived at the perfect time to pay tribute to these two leaders.

Note:3) Is it a weed or a flower? Is it better or worse? What will our new normal eventually look like? What if this or that happens?   No one knows for certain. We won’t be going back to what was, because life moves forward. Change is a certainty. The door behind our old normal is closed and as a series of new ones open, we will adapt.  I am of the mindset that there will always be moments of joy, love, kindness, opportunity and significance. “Let’s cultivate a curious and flexible mind. A mind that adapts itself to changing circumstances.”   From Morita Therapy

Note: 4) I received such lovely comments and emails this week, and I appreciate them so very much. Please know that you can ask for things too. I would love to hear what you think and do and what you wish I would do here. We learn from each other. See you next Wednesday, and in the meantime, take care. Enjoy your days. Warmly, Trudy

PS It is Thursday afternoon and one of our readers sent me this lovely photo of a dandelion, taken two days ago. He couldn’t post it in a comment so I am doing it here. You will need to click on it to see the light. Thank you GM

Here Comes the Sun

It is evening time in Ottawa on the 13th of May and the sun is shining in my window as I settle down to write a few lines. Lots has happened this week with different provinces, states and countries opening up in a variety of different ways. I wish us all well as we venture forth with awareness, intelligence  and fortitude.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, CMO of British Columbia, suggests we stick to a small and consistent circle whose contacts we trust; short visits, unless you are outside, and no sharing of food or drink. Don’t change that circle up over the coming weeks but commit to protecting and caring for each other. And please continue to stay home as much as possible.

Sounds like sensible advice to me as we monitor what happens, and also encouraging that while we wait for the vaccine we can already have a little more freedom.

I have a new poem:

The Raincoat

When the doctor suggested surgery

and a brace for all my youngest years,

my parents scrambled to take me

to massage therapy, deep tissue work,

osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine

unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,

and move more in a body unclouded

by pain. My mom would tell me to sing

songs to her the whole forty-five minute

drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-

five minutes back from physical therapy.

She’d say, even my voice sounded unfettered

by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,

because I thought she liked it. I never

asked her what she gave up to drive me,

or how her day was before this chore. Today,

at her age, I was driving myself home from yet

another spine appointment, singing along

to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,

and I saw a mom take her raincoat off

and give it to her young daughter when

a storm took over the afternoon. My god,

I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her

raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel

that I never got wet.      – Ada Limón 

There is something about a poem that can sum up in a few words  what may otherwise take a book or more. I am filled with gratitude and  appreciation for our poets. And for all those who have cared for us.

And I am indebted to all of you, dear readers. Tonight I will bid you an early adieu and remind all of you to do your best to get enough sleep. That too is one of the important ways we can take care of ourselves right now. As important as sleep is I know too many people who are sleep deprived and have not been able to solve the sleep koan so I don’t like talking about it for fear of creating more anxiety. So, do the best you can. There is lots written on sleep hygiene seek help when you need too. Should anyone want some resources, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email.


Note 1:) Here Comes the Sun by the Camden Choir in the UK

Note 2:) Thanks to my friend Janice for The Raincoat. She is my poem guru.

Note 3:) With warmest thank you’s and appreciation for all your kind notes and comments.  Keep  on washing your hands and don’t touch your face. We aren’t out of the woods yet. Take care of each other. Warmly, trudy




Fresh Strawberries at Midnight

Aldous Huxley wrote the novel “Brave New World.” Toward the end of his life an interviewer asked: “Dr. Huxley, perhaps more than anyone else alive, you have studied the great spiritual traditions of the world. What have you learned?” Huxley replied, “I think we could just be a bit kinder.”


It is interesting how life goes. After my Mother’s 100th birthday bash I said that I would stop talking about my Mother. However, this week my friend and colleague Barbara, from New York, wanted a zoom visit to talk about my Mother and the role she played in my worldview.  We invited another newer friend as the three of us had been working on a webinar, The Gift of a Long Life.

During that conversation I was asked for some examples of my Mother’s kindness. And without a second thought I told them this story.

Fresh Strawberries at Midnight

It was June and it was strawberry season. It was also the season when I was finishing up Grade five and my new best friend, Peggy Jane was finishing grade six. We were having our first sleepover at my house and I was happy. Peggy and I were kindred spirits who explored the world through books, and imagination and here we were in my four poster bed surrounded by Vogue magazines that my New York aunt gave to my Mother each year at Christmas.

None of us were really interested in the fashion.  Mother considered my Aunt a little  frivolous to give this magazine as an annual gift to a housewife, in a small Nova Scotia town. I, on the other hand, loved it. My friend and I pored through the treasure trove of the back pages, reading every word about the boarding schools in Switzerland and France and other parts of Europe that sounded perfect for us. (side effects of being voracious readers)

As the clock inched close to midnight, the two of us laughed and talked about the schools we would choose, the books we loved, the diplomatic and literary careers we would one day have. We both felt the ease of kinship and simple joy that only two young enthusiastic girls can have.

Our contentment, however, was suddenly interrupted by the sound of my Mother’s footsteps on the stairs. Peggy Jane looked at me, concerned, assuming my Mother would be angry that we were still talking and laughing after midnight. To her surprise, my Mother knocked on the door, opened it, and presented us with a beautiful white tray laden with small sandwiches made from homemade bread and filled with freshly picked and mashed strawberries. There was a single rose in a crystal bowl on the tray, linen napkins and a glass of milk for each of us.

“I thought you girls might be getting hungry,” she announced and to my friend’s amazement, she placed the bed tray between us and went back downstairs.

I remember, still, how my heart was full of happiness and pride to have a Mother so kind. Years later  I met my friend who had a successful career as a national librarian. She had travelled far and wide throughout the world,  and she reminded me about that night and how it had become one of her most treasured memories.

As for me, I felt happiness deep down in my bones as well as in my heart and fully knew in that moment that I had won the Mother lottery.

Of course Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday and I am one of the lucky ones who still has a Mother at 73. This is amazing in and of itself. So I used this lovely visit with my friends, as an excuse, to tell this story. Thank you!


1🙂 Here is a pertinent and fun piece of music for you from Vancouver with vocalists from other choirs too. Phoenix choir.

2:-)Be kind; be calm be safe – Dr. Bonnie Henry 

3:) And enjoy your new freedoms. Here in Ottawa, as of today,  we can sit on the grass in the parks.  (not on a bench and no play structures or sports) No gatherings of more than 5 and still physical distancing if not from the same household. And we can kick a ball around. This is all worthy of celebrating. Let’s work to keep this going, by doing our part.

4:-) We are opening up but not going back to normal. Our diligence is needed even more than before. With spring in the air and a weariness of this unnatural way of living, it is easy to forget how important a role we all play, in keeping the Covid-19 tide at bay. To keep opening up will require our cooperation. Hang in there.

5:) Thank you all for showing up here. I will see you next week.