When Is the Last Time You Did Something For the First Time?

The banner is a photo of Japanese friends pointing towards Mt Blanc

A few weeks ago I gave a webinar on this topic at Wellspring. The title  was inspired by Carol, a webinar participant. The spirit of the title is something I write about a lot, but the exact, precise, and economical language of this title is significant. When is the last time that you did something for the first time?

It was like a whack on the side of the head and  I immediately thought of my Mother.

When she turned 65, she began a practice of learning something new every year.

  • First year it was weaving: learning about design, yarns, and looms.
  • At 75 it was swimming not for pleasure but to improve her arthritis. Although she had been terrified of drowning since childhood, she took lessons and after a year she could swim, and it significantly reduced her arthritic pain.
  • At 80 it was painting, primarily watercolour. After her beloved stepson died, from melanoma, watercolour classes helped her navigate this new territory and brought her joy.
  • At 91 she went up in a hot air balloon for my 65th (she had to fly from Vancouver Island to Ottawa to do this)
  • At 92 she bought her first iPad and signed up for a 16-week program for seniors at the library. When it ended, she was the only one left.
  • At 97 it was her first marathon, where she walked 10 k with 45 members of her extended family, in Halifax, and required another coast-to-coast flight.
  • At 98 she learned to knit so she could make Harry Potter scarfs for all of her great grandchildren and some of her great nieces and nephews. (odd that she hadn’t knit before but sewing and crocheting were her skills)
  • At 100 she learned to use zoom, google duo, and other video conferencing apps. Thus, we could celebrate her 100th birthday on a cross continent zoom party.
  • At 100 yrs. and 3 months she learned how to say goodbye to her beloved family for the last time and to turn it into a celebration of love and life.

My Mother was an ordinary woman who grew up on a small farm in NS, and moved at age 55 to Vancouver Island where she spent the next 45 years. She left an unhappy marriage, handled her own divorce and started a new life.

“You are never too old to learn new things,” was her mantra.


Learning new things is fundamental to living well with or without illness.  And the research shows it is the fountain of youth for successful ageing. Anything that catches your fancy can be fun to learn: write, juggle, swim, draw, study a foreign language, knit,  fly fish, you name it. We don’t need to become masters of everything. And talent isn’t the secret. Effort, and practice is what helps us improve and everyone can improve.

Take drawing. All the teachers say, it’s not a talent, rather it is a learnable skill. Obviously, some people are talented and will go on to become professional artists. But here is the important thing: it is something we can all learn, get better at  and have fun with.

In my family, we all have sweet watercolour paintings created by my Mother. You wouldn’t find them in an art gallery, but you wouldn’t look at them and think ooh, how awful. They are charming, delightful and we all love them.

For those of you who hesitate to learn new things, there is evidence in the research,  with my Mother, and many others that  age is not a factor. (Age can be a factor if I want to be the world’s best pole vaulter.)

To learn new things, we need to consider not only what interests us but also to be open minded when we get an invitation to try something new. Consider saying yes to new things even with trepidation. When I first came to Ottawa my daughter invited me to join her in a pottery class. I was immediately intimidated. I love pottery but wasn’t keen on potting. It was fun, nonetheless. It wasn’t something I continued but it set me up to try new things.

When we develop the practice of learning new things, we get to create more memorable moments for our friends and family. Mostly because we cultivate a mindset of let’s try. The ancient Hawaiian’s had a saying: Try see. Try it – see what happens.

We all, at our core, are bold and brave and have something original to contribute. Why not do so while we have the chance? What are we waiting for? Why not splurge on life with each other while we have the opportunity? Carpe Diem is more than a saying. It is a way to live with outstretched arms, and when we do that we triumph over fear and take responsibility for our life.

Don’t close your own doors.

Truth is that life is short. What do you really have to lose by putting it out there – who you are and what you want to do or be? You may try something new and fail. Guess what?  Failure is always part of the package when we try new things and being willing to risk failure is a passport to living fully.

A question and answer from my grandson.

Nana, what do you think is the hardest thing about learning something new?

Not quitting. (he added)

Learning new things is important and we get to have fun learning for the rest of our days.

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” Seneca


Note 1:) I am on the lookout for inspiring pieces by others. This week I am giving you a link to a lovely piece by a friend and subscriber to my blog, Janice, who was invited to submit  to Poetry as Mindfulness in the UK. Janice has her own weekly blog called Heart Poems and I recommend it for people who enjoy poetry.

Note 2:) Anyone interested in reading more about this topic may be interested in a book written by Tom Vanderbilt called: Beginners:The Curious Power of Lifelong Learning,  published by Atlantic. I was introduced to this by Julie, a participant in my webinars. she heard an interview on CBC and thought I would like it so I pass it on to you. This link is an interesting review in The Guardian. 

Note 3:) Thank you for stopping by and you know that I love having this time together every Wednesday. With appreciation and all my best wishes, Trudy


Celebrating a New Chapter and A Warm Welcome

January 20, 2021

Today is historic. A new chapter. A fresh slate. You don’t need me to reiterate all the firsts.  Really, I simply want to honour and dedicate this day  to our American friends, relatives, and neighbours. And join them in celebrating their new President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

This inauguration is felt around the world, not just in the USA. Imaginatively, I  hear the collective sigh of relief and sense the renewed  hope for the future. There is no doubt, in my mind, that President Biden is devoted to bringing his “whole soul” to the Oval Office. And along with Vice President Harris, the first steps have already begun.

In case you didn’t hear the amazing Amanda Gorman, the first youth Poet Laureate, a role created four years ago, and now the youngest inaugural poet at 22 years old – you can watch her powerful recitation here.

The speeches and videos are easy to find and  Biden’s address offers hope and inspiration and the call of duty to us all, wherever we live. And Lady Gaga’s renditon of the national anthem is exhilerating.

One thing we know is that the leadership of any country has a direct influence on the health of a country – may the healing begin.


Note 1:) Take care dear readers,  and may we all wake up tomorrow ready to pay attention to truth and beauty and what we can do to be the light, as Gorman states in her poem. Also, to remember, as John Tarrant reminds us: “We are born and we die. And in between we get the chance to keep each other company which is the thing that counts that most.” As for me, I simply say that we are here to help and be helped.

Note 2:) See you next week as I make a few changes here too. Warmest wishes and always with appreciation, Trudy

PS The banner is thanks to Patricia Ryan Madson who generously makes her collection of small watercolours  freely available. 


We all Need Sunflowers

Sometimes we need sunflowers in the middle of winter as a reminder of things to come when the wind blows cold.

And I think tonight about some special people in my life who are as radiant, beautiful and full of generosity and light as these sunflowers and I  bow deeply and silently to them.


I have written two full blog posts and discarded them both. This is all I really want to say, even though Thomas Merton gets the credit for saying it first.

Thomas Merton and his thoughts on ‘not depending on the hope of results

…it isn’t outcomes that matter. It’s people, our relationships that give meaning to our struggles. If we free ourselves from hope and fear, from having to succeed, (or change what can’t be changed) we discover that it becomes easier to love…We realize that we truly are in this together, and that’s all that matters…We are consoled and strengthened by being together… We don’t need hope. We need each other.”

I believe this to be true. Let’s do what we can to encourage each other on and find ways to bring sunflowers into each other’s lives. I think during difficult times we help ourselves by helping others.

 Thank you for your kindness and generosity, by showing up here each week. Please take care of yourselves during this challenging Covid winter. The vaccines are slowly rolling out and we still need to continue with our masks, hand washing and keeping our distance. However, over cyberspace you can consider yourself hugged by me. Warmest wishes, Trudy


Greetings for the New Year 2021

Aurora Borealis 2002 – photo by Gottfried Mitteregger on New Year’s Eve in Yellowknife

I am confident everyone here wishes each other a happier New Year,  and I say this with a measure of angst, sorrow and mostly hope, particularly in light of this difficult day in the US. We know we can’t predict the future. We do know nothing stays the same. Change is guaranteed. So I will go with the old cliche that in the case of uncertainty there is nothing wrong with hope.

 I especially hope that by the fall, everyone who wants a vaccine is vaccinated and that we will once again be able to come together and do what we can to make  this world a better place for all. I hope no one loses heart. I hope you all stay healthy. And I hope we have much to celebrate this year.

You already know that I love this poem for the New Year and this is the third New Year I have used it. I think of it as a poem for new beginnings:

Twelve years ago my friend sent me the following stanza by poet Marge Piercy from her poem, The Spring Offensive of the Snail. She also added this note:

“This is a great poem to start off the New Year. There is also a ceremony among some First Nations people, which involves throwing water over their backs seven times. In doing so, they wash away any habits or thoughts no longer beneficial for growth.  People forgive those who have harmed them and ask forgiveness of those they have harmed.  Now they are ready to start the year anew.”

“…But remember to bury
all old quarrels
behind the garage for compost.
Forgive who insulted you.
Forgive yourself for being wrong.
You will do it again
for nothing living
resembles a straight line,
certainly not this journey
to and fro, zigzagging
you there and me here
making our own road onward
as the snail does…”   excerpt from Marge Piercy’s poem

I hope that this new year will be filled with many meaningful moments and especially time with the ones you love. Don’t let go of hope. 

There is always a door:

It has been my experience that there is always a door. Help arrives during times of distress and great difficulty. Sometimes we don’t even need to ask for help. It arrives unbidden. And sometimes we need to seek it out. Knock on doors. Write letters. Make calls.

And, even with all of our pro-activeness, it doesn’t imply we solve the problem. We still get bad news. Yet, we often find comfort, strength and new information. It is important to seek out what you need. Sometimes the locked door opens, even a crack, and allows some light to get in. Sometimes it doesn’t and, yet, our efforts and the efforts of others keep us from being alone and can provide words of comfort.

2021 awaits us with, as of today,  359 brand new pages for our book of life. Let’s all live them fully, in the best way we know how. “Zigzagging (along) you there, me here…as the snail does.”

With love and gratitude and a thousand good wishes for you all. Trudy


Note 1:) I  am choosing to make  health a priority for 2020. Consequently, if I don’t put a disciplined effort into taking care of body and soul, I reduce my chances to continue to live a vital and joyful life for as long as I am still breathing. This was a priority last year,  and I didn’t do a good job. So, starting again, I have so far this year slept eight hours a night, walked one hour plus a day and drank a respectable amount of water each day.  Fresh starts, or as Pema Chodron says, “start where you are. You will often fail but never give up.” 

Note 2:) The good news is that a “new year” isn’t necessary to do new things or make changes. We get a new day every morning that we are lucky enough to wake up. Yeah!

Note 3:)  I thank you for the great honour that I receive each time you click on “read more.” I humbly appreciate you continuing along with me each week. Some musings are better than others and you are generous, dear readers, for so often joining me here, no matter what. I deeply appreciate you. You make my life better. Warmest regards, Trudy

PS  no matter how often I repeat this it is always deeply true.