You Already Won the Lottery

A Story:

One of our family members who lives in a prairie city in Canada, called me the other night with this story. It goes like this:

“I was in the lineup at the grocery store where everyone talks to everyone else, even when social distancing. I had an older man behind me, and on impulse I picked up two lottery tickets, turned to him and asked:

Do you think these are lucky?

He paused, looked me straight in the eye and said this:

‘You are young,  beautiful and you look healthy. You have already won the lottery.'”

Yikes, she said, it was like a whack on the side of the head. I will never forget those words.

And here I am, telling you now, because they contain such wisdom. I will not forget those words either.

Now this. My Mother is in the hospital with a broken hip. She fell Sunday evening, was operated on Monday afternoon and is now recovering from it all. The worst part is the physio as it is excruciatingly painful. The second worst part is Covid 19 since my sister who lives nearby is not permitted in to see her. Have I mentioned my Mother is 100?? Only kidding. I have told you at least 100 times. Third worst part is I am 4600 KM away and even if I got on a crowed airplane I cannot see her. Fourth worst part is her hair. “It’s a disaster, she said. “Please tell the family not to video call me. I look a wreck.”

I am now sounding a little cavalier. But this scenario is no joke and it is actually horrible for my Mother. She had recently bought a beautiful, sturdy, burgundy-coloured walker, with a comfortable seat. It seemed the answer to an occasional wobble when walking outdoors. And it was a place to sit for a breather. She believes she tripped over one of the wheels, when turning to place a bag of delicious Sonoma Valley, Washington State cherries,  on the counter. Is that not ironic?

Let me tell you a little more.

This morning, I received an email from Mom to send out to my extended family.  (my sister was able to drop off her I-pad with the concierge yesterday) This is what she wrote.

“Thanks to all of you for your heart warming messages. It is so thoughtful of you. I am being well cared for. The best thing about the hospital is the heated blankets, especially on a cool rainy day, like today. I am grateful for all your support. Everyone is exceptionally kind here and I love you all very dearly, Eileen, Aunt, Mother, Grandma, Friend.”

So, in spite of the pain, her vulnerability, her loneliness, and the fact that she is going through this with no family member in the room, she refuses to give in to self pity. She can cry. she can ask for what she needs. She can say no to what she doesn’t want. But she will always make sure she notices the way she won the lottery: her family and friends; the medical team; her iPad so she can write an email and the warm blankets. These too are part of her reality and they don’t get subsumed by all the “what if’s and if only’s.”  She is a realist with a wide angle lens.

 “If It’s Raining and You Have an Umbrella Use It.”

This week’s Webinar  at Wellspring Calgary is called “If It’s Raining and You Have an Umbrella, Use It.” Sometimes it rains and there is no umbrella. Or maybe the umbrella leaks or blows inside out with a gust of wind. There isn’t always an antidote to our pain and suffering. But if there is something to be done, it’s best to do it. My sister and I have now found an advocate in the hospital,  for our Mother. We can’t be there but we know that Heidi is now paying attention to Mom and cares about her. She is our umbrella. And Mom takes the pain medication and does the dreaded physiotherapy. They are two things she can do to restore her mobility and interdependence. And her learning to use an iPad when she was 90 is paying off in spades in this last decade. Consequently, she called me to night on audio face-time. I asked about the physio. “It was horrible,” she said, “but I think it might have been a teeny bit better than yesterday. I’ll try and keep going for now and reassess a bit later.”

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”- Mary Anne Radmacher


Note 1:) Heidi, our wonderful advocate told us today that Mom met every surgical marker on time. “None of  us can believe she is 100. The entire floor is awestruck. Her mind and reasoning are  fully intact and no different than our own. How can this be, she proclaimed? And she is so kind to all of us. We have simply fallen in love with her.”

Note 2:) This day, where we woke up once again, is the lottery, don’t you think? When we sit up, look around, and take it all in, we are bound to see that we too have already won the lottery.

Note 3:) Thank you, thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my blog. You are a gift in my life. Stay safe out there and enjoy your precious lives. Take nothing for granted. Give away all your best words to those you love, while you can.

Note 4:) The deepest bow to my Mother, for her courage, love, humility, steadfastness, and grace under adversity. She is my inspiration. The pink dogwood in the banner is for you, Mom.


Break the Mirror

Break the Mirror

In the morning

After taking cold shower

—–what a mistake—–

I look at the mirror.

There, a funny guy,

Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,

—–what a pity—–

Poor, dirty, old man!

He is not me, absolutely not.

Land and life

Fishing in the ocean

Sleeping in the desert with stars

Building a shelter in mountains

Farming the ancient way

Singing with coyotes

Singing against nuclear war-

I’ll never be tired of life.

Now I’m seventeen years old,

Very charming young man.

I sit down in lotus position,

Meditating, meditating for nothing.

Suddenly a voice comes to me:

To stay young,

To save the world,

Break the mirror.”

Nanao Sakaki from the book, Break the Mirror, Blackberry Books


I love this poem.

When I was going through chemotherapy, I found it disconcerting when I saw my face reflected in a mirror. Who was this person? Where was the one I recognized as me? It was more than the absence of hair that bothered me. Rather, it was something about my eyes. I couldn’t see myself there, which I noticed after the first round of chemo and more so as treatments continued. I remember questioning myself: Whose eyes are these? Is this me?

In the beginning, after my hair fell out and my head was shaved, I made a point to look in mirrors. I didn’t want to be startled by myself or be afraid when I caught a sudden glimpse in a mirror. I quickly adjusted to my loss of hair, but it took months for me to spot my spirit, which was no longer reflected in the mirror. At that time, I knew someone who had a transformative holiday when she spent an entire summer on a boat. It was not the boat that was significant but the fact that the boat had no mirrors. For two full mirror – free months she was intact, whole, and good enough. She declared it a highlight in her life.

I am not suggesting that we break our mirrors, but I too learned that I am not just what I see reflected back at me. Maybe we all could use a mirror break from time to time. May we all learn to look at ourselves and each other, beyond our skin and hair and see the true nature of what lies beyond them.

A deep bow to Sakaki, for this poem. Nanao Sakaki died in Japan at the age of 85. (1923-2008)


Note 1:) This poem popped into my mind tonight and truthfully, this is the way I often write my blog. I discovered this poem in 2008 around the time my hair was coming out and I put it on my old Joyful Wrecks blog immediately. The last time I reprinted it and with permission, was in the ToDo Institute Quarterly, Thirty Thousand Days.

Note 2:) I zoomed into Wellspring Calgary today for another joy-filled and gratitude-filled webinar encounter with members, staff and volunteers.

Note 3:) On my daughter’s block we had a lobster porch party tonight. This is an old neighbourhood in the Glebe where most houses have porches, and those porches are loved even more during this time of Covid-19. It was great fun, excellent lobster and all I had to do was show-up. That was happiness.

Note 4:) Thank you for stopping by. I wish I could greet you in person but I am grateful and honoured to meet you here once a week. Stay safe and enjoy your life. This is not a contradictory statement. Both are possible. Warmest regards, Trudy

Optimism of Uncertainty

Howard Zinn

Historian Howard Zinn (1922 – 2010) wrote in an article for The Nation, in September 2004, called The Optimism of Uncertainty. His words hold promise for today as well.

“An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. “

I resonate with these words of Howard Zinn. I have no reason to doubt him, because this has been my experience of life.

I continue to encourage everyone to balance our media consumption with  sunrises and long lingering sunsets. And, don’t forget full moon viewing. This latest one was called a strawberry moon;  my favourite, amongst a few choices, on the list.

Strolls, beautiful music, gardens, talks with favourite people, children, laughter, naps, and of course your serious work and obligations too. I just don’t need to remind anyone of those things. We already have lots of practice.

This is also a time to rush slowly, (if you must rush at all) don’t you think. Keep your eyes peeled for moments of beauty, joy, insight and wonder. Best to take nothing for granted.

Generosity and kindness is everywhere.

Take heart. Please always ask for help when you need it.



Note 1:) Last Friday night the Zoom call with my Japanese friends was so much fun. It was wonderful to see them all and be together in a zoom room. We will happily do it again. Thanks Yoshie and Nancy for your teamwork.

Note 2:) For any Leonard Cohen fan, I posted a link to The Anthem, from his Live in London tour in 2008. He was 74 and took up a demanding tour, with no rancour, having lost almost all his fortune to an unscrupulous financial manager. “I have several people who count on me,” he explained, “so I need to make up these losses.” I love this entire performance and want to share this one song with you. The Anthem

Note 3:) Thanks Rob, for the photos.  (Vandusen Gardens Vancouver) I love buttercups and poppies, especially this unique red and white one.

Note 4:)  Trusted Resources for Unlearning and Transforming Racism on

Note 5: ) Thank you all for coming by. You know that I appreciate you and I never grow tired of telling you so. See you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy


If I Diminish You I Diminish Myself – Archbishop Desmond TuTu

In 2004 I had the great gift of spending a few days in Vancouver, listening to the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. In summary, it was a profound experience and for all the wise words I heard, I took away the following:

  • “Never resist a generous impulse.” Dalai Lama
  • The concept of Ubunto, “to be human we need other humans.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu


Today, my friend and colleague Patti Morris posted this explanation of ubunto on her Facebook page. It seems to me that this week I need not add any more words to the millions of words out there. Words can be used as gifts and as weapons. These words are a gift.

“In my culture the highest praise that can be given to someone is “ubuntu” … a central tenet of African philosophy: the essence of what it is to be human … People with ubuntu are approachable and welcoming; their attitude is kindly and well-disposed; they are not threatened by the goodness in others because their own esteem and self-worth is generated by knowing they belong to a greater whole … No one comes into the world fully formed … We need other human beings in order to be human.”  – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If I diminish you, I diminish myself.

Poignant words from Martin Luther King from 53 years ago.

For those who are telling me to keep my mouth shut, I can’t do that. I’m against segregation at lunch counters, and I’m not going to segregate my moral concerns. And we must know on some positions, cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there are times when you must take a stand that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but you must do it because it is right.

We can all learn from these people of wisdom and action.
May you all be safe and healthy and may we all grow in awareness of what is needed now.
I will see you next week. With appreciation and love, and sorrow too, Trudy