Ikigai and Illness: A Guide to Living Fully with Purpose, Meaning and Joyful Moments

The Time Has Come

The time has come, the Walrus said,

To speak of many things:

Of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax –

Of cabbages – and kings –

And why the sea is boiling hot –

And whether pigs have wings.  by Lewis Carroll

I have written a small book, (55 pages)  the title of today’s post. It is now up on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and in a few months it will be a small print book as well. I mention the latter because a few people who knew this was coming want the paper versions to give away. The ToDo Institute published the book and I thank them. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for their director Gregg hounding me, there would be no book.  However, now that I did it, I’m glad I did.

I’m not exactly sure how this works, but it appears that Friday is launch day, and so far one 11 year old grandson, in the know, proudly told me that he bought my book and will read it.  Just in case you want to download the book the introductory price is $2.99 on the US site and  $3.69 on the Canadian site, and you don’t need a Kindle. You can download the free app for your phone or tablet. In fact I like it better on my phone, so far. Before I forget – there will be a special weekend price that’s even cheaper.

So that is it. That’s my news.

I want to say that it is actually scary to write a book, even a small one, and put it out there. It is easier to hide our light rather than to let it shine. But time is short and everyone reading this has their own gifts to share with the world. Our circles of influence may be small but if we can be a light to even one person than let’s do it. Let’s be bold, and brave and write, paint, draw, sing, build, quilt, cultivate,  create, cook for the neighbourhood, and care for…that thing that you love that makes you YOU. That something that may help someone else.

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, We will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”   ― Guillaume Apollinaire





Note 1:Canadian Site  Ikigai and Illness

Note 2: American site Ikigai and Illness

Note 3: This is the longish weekend that stretches between Canada and the US July 1st and July 4th. It seems to me we all have much to reflect on with the hope and the resolution that as we go forward we can make a better world for all. 

Note 4: And let’s not forget that in the midst of sorrow there are always helping hands, points of light, humor and joyful moments.  When we can’t see the light, let’s turn our own up and be the light for someone else.

Note 5:) Good grief, it is time to say goodbye, Trudy. Thank you, dear readers. My deepest gratitude to have such wonderful people showing up here week after week.  Don’t miss summer. OK. See you next Wednesday.



Summer – Another Reason to Celebrate Joyful Moments

A Wonderful Morning

Today is the Birthday of one of my readers who is also a dear friend. Lucky me, I got to go on a 30 K bike ride with her, first thing this morning. Blue sky, sunshine, light breeze and the heat was just right. I love Birthdays, as some of you know by now,  and treat each one as a great privilege. It is an added bonus to be strong and healthy and I don’t take it for granted for one moment. Furthurmore, I will celebrate with delight these days and  bike rides and special moments.

As of tomorrow, I will be fully vaccinated. I received my 2nd shot two weeks ago, which makes my immune system at the ready to rebuff Covid 19 and its variants. At the least it should keep me out of the hospital and at the best I should be able to visit my wonderful cousins in the Maritimes, by the end of July. I look forward to the drive, the chaos, laughter, and love that always accompanies these joy filled reunions.


It seems everyday I have something to celebrate from the time I wake up. For instance: my grandchildren’s convocation (virtual), end of terms, and generally speaking making it through this challenging time. The beauty of nature. A note from a friend. A moving piece of music. The radiance of a tree;  a stone wall covered with a rambling rose; a glimpse of a yellow finch or the red-winged black that streaked through the air at eye level in front of our bikes this morning. And my weekly retreat hour in Emma Rooney’s Forest Bathing Studio. It takes me immediately to a slow and gracious time.

Coincidentally, I also read an article in Tricycle about the complications of joy –  celebrating, taking joy in the joy of others and enjoying the good things in our own lives, when so much is wrong with the world. Is this selfish and thoughtless to readily love the world and its inhabitants, when so much misery exists?

Daisy Hernandes:

wrote an intriguing article on her own struggles with joy, especially around the term mudita, which means taking joy in the joy of others. She suggests that if we can’t take joy in our own lives right now that it may be worth practicing mudita- taking joy in the joy of others.


The complicated relationship we have with joy came to mind last year when so many people were dying from COVID-19 and when so many Black lives were lost to police brutality. Friends repeatedly said a variation of the following: “I’m good. I feel so guilty saying that. I know everything is awful, but I’m well.” Their voices would drop in volume by the end of the sentence as if to say I don’t deserve to have you take joy in my joy. I might even be a terrible person for enjoying my life in the midst of so much pain.

Jill Shepherd, (a Buddhist teacher) though, insisted that mudita was necessary right now. ‘It’s precisely because there’s so much suffering in the world that I’ve needed to make the effort to turn toward non-suffering, toward gladness or joy, in order to restore myself so that I can face life’s challenges.’ She was right. Joy can be restorative. It can be akin to a good meal: nourishing and necessary. This made me reconsider…”

Life is full of difficulties. It comes with being alive and there are no exemptions. Or at least I know of none. My experience shows me that when I can notice the joyful moments that are also  in the world, I am better able to manage the challenges.

This poem offers a good reminder of things to remember.

Go into this week
with the attitude that
your peace,
your health of mind,
and your heart
mean more than
getting everything else done.
That your smile matters,
That feeling rested matters.
That holding the hand
of your loved ones matter.
So pause lots,
function at a pace
that doesn’t pull you apart.
Honour the things that
make you feel good inside,
the things that make you feel alive.
Give time to those things this week.
Make time the gift it is,
by giving it to what really matters to you.

— S.C. Lourie of Butterflies and Pebbles


Note 1:)  The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful. Brother David Steindl-Rast

Note 2:) The summer season is short. I find it beautiful with a certain carefreeness that I don’t experience at any other time. Let’s not miss it and only notice summer after it is gone. I invite you to notice something beautiful each day of this summer season. You might jot it down. Your summer treasures of 2021.

Note 3:) Thank you for clicking here and reading this blog post. I am honoured and grateful to each one of you. May you have a lovely week and if it is a difficult one may you give yourself a tiny break by still noticing one beautiful thing each day. This does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, to be a “positive thinking” person.  Rather, I see it as realistic thinking. The truth is, life can be devastating and we must  face that head on and do our best to work with what is, and grieve our losses. Yet, it is true that there are  many beautiful things to notice everyday and by teaching ourselves to pay attention to one of them we may rediscover our grit, a moment of joy, and even the wonder of being alive.

Note 4:) Thanks to Robert-Collins on Unsplash for the joyful image of the children.

How Might I Do This One Thing Now, if I Knew It Was the Very Last Thing I Would Ever Do?

A Few Musings on Mortality

Let me start by saying that I love my life and I want it to keep going. I am in no rush to die.

Nevertheless, life and death are a matter of great importance to most of us.  We get it- that we won’t live forever but what we rarely get is that you and I will also be one of those people, who don’t live forever. We absolutely understand when someone we know and love undergoes a devastating illness that they might die before their 30,000 days are up. Yet, it is much harder to experience that someone you love leaves the house healthy, fit, and full of life and they don’t return at the end of the day.  Accidents of all kinds happen on a regular basis and people die. What is even harder to imagine is that it can happen to us – you and me.

Death and dying are trending, after being in the closet for decades. Not just the reality but the conversations. There are workshops and books, blogs and articles, webinars, and chat rooms, where we can go to discuss this significant end time of every life. But I don’t think we really get it until it touches us.

Sometimes when it comes close,  we make bucket lists. What are things you want to do before you die. We reflect on what matters most and attend to our behaviour to see if it is in sync with our values. We get our affairs in order and go through the checklist of the right things to do so we don’t leave behind a disaster when our turn comes. Still, life and death seem like so much more than a bucket list.

There’s an old joke where a patient sues his doctor. It goes something like this.

“I’m suing you Doc. You told me I only had a year to live, and I blew all my money. Look at me. I’m still alive well past my expiry date and now I’m broke. This is your fault.”

I have always wondered about that deadline (pun intended) My specialist wouldn’t offer up his opinion on expiry dates. “Nobody knows for sure, “he claims. “I have seen it in my own patients in both directions.  I say, live your best life now, while you can. Noone knows how long you will live. So, if you get a prediction, here is my advice:

Don’t believe it.

We all need to get our affairs in order no matter what.

But is there something we can do even though we don’t know our date of death. Something that won’t leave us poverty stricken because we went crazy. Or some way to come to grips with our mortality and not live-in constant angst.

I think there is. We don’t have to drain the bank, but we can assess our circumstances and see if we do have  dreams and see if we can find the means to do it. Not waiting until we retire, but soon. Is it possible, without abdicating all our responsibilities?

But the thing that is really in front of me these days is this:

If I can remember that at some unexpected time, unbeknownst to me, I will be doing and or saying the very last thing I will ever do, how might I do it?

How would I use my words? Would I use them as gifts or weapons? And whatever I do, whether it is humble or revered by world standards, what quality of attention can I bring to that act, even something like doing my taxes. Most of our moments are ordinary ones. So, it makes sense to me to do my best with everything. And to become conscious of my words. Pause, before I say the first thing that comes to mind.

For example, someone I loved died. And a close family member’s last encounter with that person was a terrible argument. This became a painful human suffering.

Look, we are all humans and suffer from a variety of short comings along with all of our astounding traits. We can’t be at our best all the time. Who doesn’t say hurtful things now and then or do a careless job?? There is no cure for imperfection and who would want one. Human Being’s aren’t robots.

I am just thinking out loud here.  One extraordinary thing we can do is to strengthen our attention skills so that we notice more. To cultivate a conscious awareness of myself and others so that I can activate more of my best self in this next decade. Especially my words.

I don’t want my final words with a loved one to be an argument. Sure, we can argue but I can develop some intellectual and emotional humility and avoid needing someone to agree with me, to prove I am right. I can say I’m sorry first. I can love more.

This is one of the things I appreciate about living for 75 years. There is so much that I can overlook now. So much I don’t need to prove. Many new things to learn.  And I can relax and enjoy the ordinary every day ups and downs of life without agitation.

I can be more generous with my words. Who cares if I look a little foolish? We are all on our way out so for this last stretch I want to be say YES more and I am hoping to leave more useful and kind ripples than the other type. And when I don’t, I hope to catch myself faster and try again.

Life is short. So, let’s live fully while we are here and never take tomorrow for granted. Sing while there’s voice left and remember our friends and relations are GOLD.


Note 1:) This is a wake up poem  by Marie Howe. She wrote this after her last dinner with her brother, before he died. The Last Time

Note 2:) This morning I cycled 30 k with two 11 year olds and one 12 year old. One of those boys is my grandson Rowan. They did a fundraiser for helping to build wells in South Sudan. I am so glad I said yes to the invitation and didn’t miss this memorable but ordinary moment chance.

Note 3:) It’s an amazing gift to have a chance to live. Enjoy it. Our minds are always dividing the day into what we like and what we don’t. A favourite yoga teacher suggests we adopt a more neutral position. There will always be both in our lives and we can resist becoming too attached to either. Enjoy someone else’s garden without having to own it. Wonder exists on every corner and we can point it out. That’s a lovely legacy.

Note 4:) Thanks for reading my musings today. I am so keen to reexamine how we can live fully, knowing we are mortal, and not throw sticks at our own hearts for what we consider our failures. Kindness may well be the medicine. As we treat others with kindness we may well treat our self with more kindness too. Nothing wrong with leaving a kindness legacy. Warmest wishes,Trudy

PS The banner photo was taken by Gottfried on the west coast of Canada. And the sweet bouquet by Sonya, on the east coast.

“Take a Second to Bask in Vaccine Serenity”- Emma Rooney

 Today  is the day

that I received my 2nd shot, and I am over the moon grateful. In Canada we had a supply issue and therefore chose to get as many 1st shots in arms as we could.  In most cases we delayed our 2nd shots for up to 16 weeks. Now, our supply is consistent, plentiful and the 2nd shots are coming earlier than anticipated. As a consequence we do not take this opportunity for granted. Of course there are delays and booking problems – nothing is perfect. However, when I got up this morning I knew whatever else may happen,  I was full of joy and appreciation.

The morning, however, continued to get better as our heat came down enough to be beautiful and bearable. When I arrived at the hospital,  looking for parking on a side street, a stranger flagged me down. He gave me his parking space, his ticket with plenty of time left on it, and a sparkling eyes smile. That’s where we find smiles these days, in each other’s eyes. Once I walked the two blocks to the entrance, I was greeted, and welcomed straight in. No line-up.

The clinic

The highly organized system they use at the Ottawa Hospital – Civic Campus – was impressive both times I visited. I was ushered to my spot 12 minutes early and had a lovely visit with nurse Mary who told me she had returned to work six months ago to help with the vaccine rollout. After I thanked her and let her know how thoroughly delighted and grateful I was, she said this:

“This has been the best place to work. Everyone who shows up is happy to be here and in the past six months I have received more thanks and words of appreciation than I did in my entire career. I love coming to work and being part of this team to get everyone vaccinated.”

If it were not for my mask, every single person who saw me would have noticed my beaming smile. I could not contain it. However, earlier, when I parked my car and was walking towards the clinic I was startled to notice the depth of my emotion as  tears welled up in my heart and a few sprung loose through my eyes. It was clear to me how completely fortunate I was to receive this vaccine when most of the world has not received a first shot, and many will never have one.  I thought about the scientific miracle that these vaccines were developed so quickly and with such collaboration from scientists around the world. And my heart was overflowing  to every single person who had a hand in this. And to every single person who had a hand in getting the vaccine into arms.

Forest Bathing Studio

I was back home before noon and had a chance to pause and quietly celebrate this occasion by attending my second Forest Bathing Studio event. When it was recommended to me by a lovely woman who had attended a program I facilitated at Wellspring Calgary, I wondered how this could be possible. Forest Bathing indoors?? To my surprise it is a beautiful, mindful, and gentle program  designed and delivered by Emma Rooney, a Creativity Facilitator who is inspired by art and nature and informed by many years of formal study.

Yesterday I sent  a note to Emma letting her know that I might miss her session today, because of my vaccine appointment. The title of this post is part of her reply.

“Don’t rush,” she said. “Take a Second to Bask in Vaccine Serenity.”

It struck me as a beautiful prompt – to take a pause. To not miss out on the extraordinary ordinary, by quickly getting on to something else.  I chose to take that second or rather 3,600 seconds to mark the occasion, by visiting her gentle Forest Bathing Studio. I did get back in time. I knew I would find poetry, meditation, an invitation to pay attention to what is outside my window. As well as enjoying a sensory experience through that small window. A little scribbling, book suggestions, something to think about and the lovely company of a few others. No performance pressure whatsoever.

I hope you will all spend some of your moments basking in the serenity of a special, although ordinary, event. Taking the time to take it in, and even wondering what your life might be like without it.


Note:1) Emma Rooney’s website  has a great deal of information, but for starters here is the Forest Bathing Studio and a little about Emma.

Note:2) I am fortunate that my study is on the third floor with a north facing window, with French style window doors that open in. Light, shadows, rustling leaves in several shades of greens, along with bird songs are my workspace. And today, when I stood at the window, the most incredible fragrances wafted upwards. There is so much to enjoy even when life isn’t going according to plan.

Note:3) Please accept my deep appreciation for taking the time to read my blog and sending me such thoughtful and kind words. May you enjoy these precious days. Warmest wishes, Trudy

A Favourite Spot to Simply Sit and Be

 A Favourite Spot or Two

I can imagine that we all have our favourite spots. Probably a few. My current favourite is at the Arboretum in Ottawa. (yes, I am here again) There is a bit of a lookout where I can look across and down and see several different types of trees, water, a bridge, pathways with people walking, yet not too busy. Lots of green and the rustling of leaves. Bird song.  Not exactly a Vista but perhaps a small v vista.

In front of the stone wall, at my spot, is a stone bench that follows the curve of the wall and I like to sit there. This is where my worries vanish for a while and I can take the time to think my thoughts, feel the sun on my face and listen to the birds sing. I often get to smile at a child scrambling up the hill or call out “bravo,” to an older adult who impressively runs up. Nothing dramatic goes on there but I may listen to a bee buzz or lazily watch an ant at work, or spot a butterfly, or simply observe – notice the changing scene – always different each time I show up and slow down. I have no need to identify anything but I often have the need to photograph the scene, so I do that. I bask in that spot with no cares in the world.

Joseph Campbell

Campbell was one of the earlier proponents of having a special place and going there on a regular basis. A place where you allow yourself the privilege of simply enjoying your surroundings and having some daydreaming time. Outdoors in nature, is an obvious choice. However, it may also be a sunlit screened porch and a cozy chair at your cottage. A place where you can doze off and drift away for awhile. And sometimes when you “wake up,” so to speak, you have the answer to a quandary or a brand new idea – all without struggle.


The Japanese revere nature and in the 80’s they instituted something called Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing.  This was created to counteract the adverse effects of the tech boom.  Much has been written of the beneficial effects of time spent in the forest both physiological and psychological. Therefore, I included links in the notes to a couple of interesting articles. You don’t have to go to Japan to take advantage of this and you can make a point of taking a walk in your own forest, arboretum, or park, and take full advantage of the many benefits.

Something to think about:

  • Nature itself is the best physician. – Hippocrates
  • Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  – Rachel Carson
  • I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.  – John Burroughs

Trees, flowers, water, sky, clouds, and stars are all part of what bring me joy. I suppose I sound like a broken record but I love the tune and never grow tired of it. And I am sure that all of you love nature too but sometimes even the things we love, we forget to spend time on.  So this is just a reminder, as I sing to the choir, not to miss the ever changing performance just outside our doors. It is good healing medicine for everything that ails us.


Note 1:)  There are hundreds of articles on Shinrin-yoku from universities, the NIH, National Geographic, NPR, you name it. If you go searching there will be no shortage of reputable articles. But I chose one from the Ontario Parks, because it was simple, accessible and contains all kinds of links for those looking for both the art and the science of the health benefits of nature.  Ontario Parks Service

Note 2:)  Here in Canada. we are nudging up closer to relative freedom as our vaccination rates soar and our infection rates take a deep dive. This is still a slow process but once again there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Note 3:)  Many thanks for stopping by and for all of your heartfelt comments last week. I am honoured to be here every Wednesday and to have you show up. With appreciation, warmest wishes and may you all enjoy your days. Trudy