Unexpected Stillness

Early Morning

I greeted the day at 5:00 AM, on the westcoast. Not a sound. I check my phone and notice it’s no longer charging. Across the room I see no light in the bathroom. Was it on an automatic timer? I am confused. As I stumble across the room for a light switch, I realize nothing is working. There is no power. How could this possibly be since there is no wind or storm? Nothing even brewing.

How can I now do the work I had planned to do? Thoughts race around.

In the meantime my feet wander towards the door and I step out onto the deck, to be greeted by the exquisite beauty of pre-dawn light, across Georgia strait. If that weren’t enough I have the coastal mountains for a backdrop. What could I do now except sit down and bask in the emerging show from Nature’s theatre.

For two hours and a bit I watched, with the stillness broken only by the unique cry of the eagles and the flutter of hummingbird wings. No hum from the fridge through the screen door. No ding on my phone. All was still.

The Light Changes

As the light changed I noticed the glow on the trees and even caught a glimpse of the parade of raccoons coming up from the beach. As I strolled around the property I was greeted with golden glows falling on a pot of hydrangeas, or a barely noticed corner of the garden. I nodded at the stone Buddhas and waved at the prayer flags waving at me, up beside the Labyrinth.

Back to the front deck to watch the sun come up and paint a path of golden sunlight across the water.

Nothing got done that I had planned. Yet the unplanned stillness and beauty of this morning enfolded me like a cape of the smoothest silk. An unexpected gift of the most priceless kind. Time. Beauty. Nature.

Why does it require a power outage for me to enjoy this gift? Must every hour be filled with what needs doing? Or can I/we simply take the time to bask in the summer’s morning light and be still for awhile.


How It Might Continue by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Wherever we go, the chance for joy,
whole orchards of amazement—

one more reason to always travel
with our pockets full of exclamation marks,

so we might scatter them for others
like apple seeds.

Some will dry out, some will blow away,
but some will take root

and grow exuberant groves
filled with long thin fruits

that resemble one hand clapping—
so much enthusiasm as they flutter back and forth

that although nothing’s heard
and though nothing’s really changed,

people everywhere for years to come
will swear that the world

is ripe with applause, will fill
their own pockets with new seeds to scatter.

From Naked for Tea (Able Muse Press, 2018) as read on Gratefulness.org

As we come closer and closer to the end of August I hope you too have a few mornings of stillness and beauty. Consider making time for timelessness. See what happens. I will purposefully try it again tomorrow.


Note 1:) I hope you revel in these last days of August and get to be outdoors with nature’s healer. This afternoon I carried on and went for a forest walk through a trail of 150 year old cedars.

Note 2:) You may be interested in a first or second listen to Pico Iyer’s Ted Talk, on The Art of Stillness.

Note 3:) The photos are from beautiful Gabriola Island, BC.

Note 4:) Thank you for showing up once again to read my blog post. It is always an honour and a joy for me. Warmest wishes and see you next week, Trudy


Early Morning Rides and Walks

Since my return from the Maritimes I have continued getting outdoors earlier in the morning. For those of you who haven’t tried this, you are in for a treat. The quality of the air,  the light, the lack of noise and the stunning beauty of all the flowers. It’s true that the environment matters. Yet in Canada and elsewhere,  for all of our complaints, we have a plethora of parks and green space in our cities. Free for our enjoyment.

Right now, I seem to stop a hundred times on a walk or a bike ride because of one more beautiful blossom or the way the sun lights up a tree trunk. Yesterday, or was it Monday, I was gobsmacked when I came upon this scene. In my ten years in Ottawa, with an eye always peeled for the great blue heron, I have not witnessed this particular posture. It was a wondrous moment.


“Waiting is not mere empty hoping; it is an inner certainty – The I Ching

It felt like a privilege to be part of this moment.  Even though I always wish I had my camera with me, I never do when I am biking, and, still, my iphone does a good enough job. As I live longer I am convinced that the beauty of the natural world is our treasure trove for what ails us. It offers inspiration, solace, wonder, beauty, comfort, reliability, rest and peace. And the science is illuminating what we already know.

A Study

In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study, published last June, showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold.

The effects were robust, cutting across different occupations, ethnic groups, people from rich and poor areas, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

“It’s well-known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and well-being, but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” White said. “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”

The study by White and his colleagues is only the latest in a rapidly expanding area of research that finds nature has robust effects on people’s health — physically, mentally, and emotionally. Excerpt from an article published at The Yale School of the Environment

This summer I have been more determined than ever to take advantage of this beautiful time. Partially due to Covid, and partially due to turning 75 and realizing that the number of summers I have left are in decline. The burgeoning science on the benefits of nature is robust, but the science isn’t necessary to convince me of the benefits. I experience it in my mind/body/spirit. As for the two hours, it is a guideline. I suggest as much time as possible. Like when I was a kid and summer meant being outside all day long.

We can’t all be outside all day anymore, but we can get out everyday.

Take this morning. Weather didn’t look good but my friend and I went for a 50 minute bike ride. No rain came down but it was hot and humid even at 8:00 and it was misty. “A soft day” the Irish might say. The English would probably say it was “good for our complexion.” I would just say that it was delightful. Not many people around, incredibly beautiful and breathtaking flower beds planted by the National Capital Commission. Wooden Japanese style bridges to ride over, mostly flat and curvy pathways, a few small hills, and bird song. These morning adventures get my day off to the best possible start. Better than any cup of coffee and I never miss a good strong, black coffee. I also never want to miss another early morning in summer.


Note 1:) A favourite essay by Neurologist  Oliver Sacks who writes with wisdom and poetic flair. “I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.” Dr. Oliver Sacks

Note 2:) Note the golden bee in the banner photo. I took this on a walk with my cousin in Hampton, NB. If you click on it you can see the intricacies of the bee and also what looks like a newborn baby bee to the left of him. I only noticed it when I posted the photo today. Here is one stanza from a  poem by Antonio Machado that I am grateful for:

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Note 3:) I realize that I must sound like a broken record this summer. The truth is many people are suffering. Taking time/making time to spend time in nature is life giving. Look around. Take it in. Rest your eyes. Take heart. Consider making it a practice like yoga or meditation or going to the gym. Try it and see what happens. Let me know, OK.

Note 4:) I have received several messages this week telling me how this blog is helpful to them or someone they know. Thank you for letting me know. That’s what I was hoping for in a very ordinary way. I appreciate everyone of you who takes the time to read what I write. It is my privilege and my joy to do so. Warmest August wishes, Trudy

A Million Things are Going Well…

How are things?

This morning I wrote to a friend in answer to this query by writing “a million things are going well and a few things have been disconcerting.” Is that not the case with many of us?

Yesterday I was on the road again after a wonderful two week holiday in the Maritimes. So many wonderful things went well from safe travels, time with my wonderful relatives, good things to eat and drink, laughter, love and the beauty of nature.

The Unexpected

And the unexpected can happen. It is not unusual that we can ignore certain difficulties in life (you are free to insert yours) until they become personal. But when they do, they loom large and are layered with emotion. At those times we may notice how our minds tend to create one scenario after another, each worse than the one before.
And yet, if we stop for a few moments and assess the facts as they are, we can see that our brain machine has gone off the rails and is stuck in the groove of worst case scenario. Still, it is important to look ahead, especially if there is some preventative measures we can take. If  we get stuck in the catastrophe groove we may forget to focus on “facts as facts” or even overlook what we can and need to do.


At times like this I try to remember to look back. What actually happened when the sky fell for me? In the end did things work out? Was there something I learned? Is there a takeaway to do something different the next time?
Every action or non action we take in life has consequences and ripple effects. We can’t move or speak without leaving a trail. Some of those ripples are heartbreaking. Some are mind blowing. Some are brilliant. Some are life changing. Many are selfless. Some ripple with regret and remorse. This is how life is for humans.
However, once we take action, each one is written in stone. We can’t change the past. Yet, we can change the future by what we do today. We are learning machines and we ourselves can learn from our own mistakes. And the next time something similar happens, we can do something different. Going forward we can do what we can to remedy a situation and than use our precious lives to reconsider what we will do differently, the next time, under similar circumstances.
Life is not linear, from my experience. Things come and go. As Pema Chodron says, “they come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting their be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery for joy.”
Take heart! As long as we are still breathing we have the chance to influence our ripples.


Note 1:) Here is the sound of the Atlantic ocean from Duck Pond Beach in New Brunswick.

Note 2:) A wonderful poem, thanks to Janice Falls that I found on my favourite poetry site Heart Poems




Safety Net

This morning I woke
thinking of all the people I love
and all the people they love
and how big the net
of lovers.
It felt so clear,
all those invisible ties
interwoven like silken threads
strong enough to make a mesh
that for thousands of years
has been woven and rewoven
to catch us all.
Sometimes we go on
as if we forget
about it. Believing only
in the fall. But the net
is just as real.
Every day,
with every small kindness,
with every generous act,
we strengthen it.
even now, how
as the whole world
seems to be falling, it
is there for us as we
walk the day’s tightrope,
how every tie matters.
– Rosemary Wahtola Trommer
Note 3:) The photos are from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
Note 4:) Yesterday was my travelling home day and we arrived safely back in Ottawa. Thank you for continuing to kindly read my blog. I feel very lucky to have such wonderful readers. No more travelling on Wednesdays. See you next week. With appreciation and warmest wishes, Trudy

Something to Think About

Travelling Day

Today is another travelling day as I move on to Nova Scotia, to visit, in particular, my 97 year old amazing Aunt Ruth. I will find her at her cottage on Brule Beach, most likely riding her golf cart to the nearby bakery for her supper. Feisty, kind, smart and full of life she lives independently and without complaint. Furthurmore, if any of you dropped by and told her you knew me, you would be invited in for a cup of tea. Warning – be prepared to have your ear talked off and to fall in love. If I am lucky, a few of my cousins who have cottages nearby may also be around. Lucky me.

Since there is no WiFi at Aunt Ruth’s cottage I am writing a short post before I leave, so I can send it from my phone, in the morning.

Wake up Grateful

Coincidentally, I am reading a book called Wake Up Grateful, by Kristi Nelson. Kristi is the executive director of the Network for Grateful Living and has her masters in public administration from Harvard. she is also a Stage IV cancer survivor and near the end of her book she writes these words.

“Surviving cancer taught me to notice all that is available here and now, to see beyond the myth that more is better, and to make a practice of not taking life and love for granted. The harbinger of joy is to focus on noticing, appreciating, sharing more of what is already given and present. Absent that capacity for appreciating what is, more of anything ultimately ends up neglected or as landfill. It was clear to me: life is meant to be savoured, for as long as we are able, as often as we are able, in relationship to as many experiences as we are able…life is a gift. Everything is a surprise. The ordinary is extraordinary…it is never too late…say yes to life.


Note: 1) Now I will soon be off. Thank you for tagging along  on my summer holiday. I appreciate your company. I hope you too are having some magical moments this month: moonlight, stars, fireflies, sunflowers, gatherings with loved ones, forest walks, swims, kayaking, laughter and love. Don’t miss these days.  Warmest wishes, Trudy

PS Even when things are going wrong there is always something to be grateful for. Kristi writes something like – gratefulness doesn’t protect us from the vicissitudes of life but it really helps us to navigate them.