I Woked Up Today –

I know nothing about enlightenment and I do not pursue it.

I have, however,  read about it so I am aware that it has  something to do with waking up. As for myself some days I am more awake than others but never in the way I have read about it. However, I came close in 2008.

It happened like this. I was going through an extremely difficult part of my chemo and my son from Vancouver and my daughter and two year old granddaughter Sophie from Ottawa, flew out to spend a week with me.The first morning after their arrival, I woke to the sound of Sophie calling out: Nana. Where are you?

I stumbled out of bed and padded across the hall to where she was sleeping. I opened the door and there she was standing up in her crib and practically vibrating with joy.

Nana! Nana! I woked up, she exclaimed, her sweet face ablaze with happiness. And in that instant I woke up too with a surge of joy, laughter and love that has carried me through ever since.

My enlightenment was not the kind the mystics describe but it was oh so perfect for me. After all these years, when I wake up I already know my day is off to a good start no matter what else is going on.

This old memory arose in my heart today as I was out walking with a friend. The sun shone and the great blue heron lifted off across the canal with his majestic wingspan in all of his glory. And I remembered that moment when Sophie declared that she woked up. And I am grateful now as I was then.

Everyday that we wake up we have an opportunity to do at least one lovely thing for ourselves and for another.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

author, distinguished professor of Psychology and Management, and thought leader, had this to say on “waking up.”

“Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to. Creative individuals don’t have to be dragged out of bed; they are eager to start the day. This is not because they are cheerful, enthusiastic types. Nor do they necessarily have something exciting to do. But they believe that there is something meaningful to accomplish each day, and they can’t wait to get started on it. Most of us don’t feel our actions are that meaningful. Yet everyone can discover at least one thing every day that is worth waking up for. It could be meeting a certain person, shopping for a special item, potting a plant, cleaning the office desk, writing a letter, trying on a new dress.

It is easier if each night before falling asleep, you review the next day and choose a particular task that, compared to the rest of the day, should be relatively interesting and exciting. Then next morning, open your eyes and visualize the chosen event—play it out briefly in your mind, like an inner videotape, until you can hardly wait to get dressed and get going. It does not matter if at first the goals are trivial and not that interesting. The important thing is to take the easy first steps until you master the habit, and then slowly work up to more complex goals. Eventually most of the day should consist of tasks you look forward to, until you feel that getting up in the morning is a privilege, not a chore.”

― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (1934-2021)

Please carefully note that Mihaly is not talking about the treadmill or just being more efficient and productive. He speaks of something to look forward to.

Children and certain adults are great examples.

Sophie at two was aware, in her own way of the joy of waking up. My friend John who died twelve years ago was also aware of this great privilege. In a phone conversation shortly before his death I was telling him about a particularly great day.

He gently reminded me that they are all good days. “You woke up,” he said. And I agreed. When I hung up from our talk, at that time, I thought about Wu Men’s little poem written hundreds of years ago that I love. I pass it on once again. A little gift for today.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
Wu-Men (1183-1260)


Note 1:) The seminal work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.  You pronounce his name like this: (Me-High  Chick-sent-Me-High) Once you know, it’s easy.

Note 2:) Rumi has a special suggestion for what to do with a day. I think of it as an invitation to mend our fences when appropriate. “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Note 3:) For those of you who enjoy landscape photography here is a link to this year’s winners I spotted this first in The Atlantic but I prefer the original site where you have more options.

Note 4:) Thursday is American Thanksgiving. To all of my friends, family and my American readers. May you have a lovely day with family and friends and may you take the time to celebrate with each other and count your blessings. I send all of my dear readers my best wishes and so much thanks. Warmly, Trudy

“Our challenge is not to choose between the fragility and strength of life…” by Mark Nepo

“Our challenge is not to choose between the fragility and strength of life but to cultivate our wonder by holding both in our heart.” Mark Nepo


I have been a fan of Mark Nepo, poet, philosopher, and  storyteller, for two decades. Mark is someone who had a rare cancer in his 30’s and it woke him up. This poem is longer than I would ordinarily post but it has much to say that is important. If you read it aloud slowly to yourself, at least twice, you may be surprised. I will also record it on Sound Cloud and the link will be in the notes.

This poem needs nothing else.



How could I know
creating and surviving
were so close

a membrane apart,
a pulsing, glowing film.

How could I know
each day
the last
the first

and beneath
that tension,
if we wade below it
like the surface
of a sea, a chance
only coral
can feel

and there
we grow
so thoroughly
that breaking
and healing,

and surviving,
first and
last are
one, the

the tensions
of psychology,
beneath the
pockets of doubt,
beneath the
prospect of
days to be lived
or not lived,

a moment
so calm
it is

and I smile
through my
whole body
just to have
a body,
just to have
this orchestra within

that plays
to no conductor.

Will you believe me then,
that like the Zen monk
who finds wisdom
in his fears,
who hears more
than he can say,

will you believe me
that no matter what
is shucked or diagnosed
or bled, I would
trade places
with no one,
with all.

My purpose,
at last,
to hold

My goal:
to live
a thousand years,
not in succession,
but in every


Note 1:) Here is the link to the Mark Nepo poem For That

Note 2:) Some music to follow the poem. Gluck: Dance of the Blessed Spirits “In Gluck’s 1762 opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ ballet moment is flute-heavy and beautiful. Pluck it out as a standalone piece, and allow the juxtaposition of the mournful slow melody with the light ‘minuet’ dance transport you to another place entirely.” Classic FM London, England

Note 3:) And a little humor from our sufi friend Nasruddin: “

Nasruddin was sitting in the coffeehouse drinking coffee with one of his friends. They were talking about this and that, and Nasruddin’s friend asked, “Just how old are you, Nasruddin?”
“I’m fifty years old,” replied Nasruddin, taking a sip of his coffee.
His friend thought for a moment and then said, “Fifty years old? Really? I’m sure that’s what you told me when I asked you your age several years ago.”  “That’s right. I said I was fifty years old then, and I’m sticking to my story!” said Nasruddin. “I’m a man of my word; you can count on it.”  (Attribution: Tiny Tales from India by Laura Gibbs. Version: July 8 2020.)

Note 4:) Thank you for coming by  to read my scribbles. And in the case of today, the beautiful writing of Mark Nepo. I send my warmest wishes to you all and the hope that you are finding bright moments in every day. With appreciation, Trudy

Remembrance Day – repost

Remembrance Day

In November 2010 I was in London England with my friend Nancy. Of all the things that grabbed my attention,  one that surprised me was the extraordinary number of visual tributes to the Unknown Soldier and all  of those men and women who sacrificed their lives during the wars. It was overwhelming to see all the white crosses with red poppies, covering entire sections of public and church land. All commonwealth countries observe a date close to November 11th or on the 11th, as we do in Canada, since the end of the First World War. It is a moving tribute to honour and express our gratitude to those who lost their lives and sometimes their sanity to protect our freedom.

Traditionally, the poppy is worn from November 2nd to the 11th and that is what I recall from my childhood. It acts as a reminder to not take freedom for granted. And to understand that people died, usually young people, on our behalf, in those brutal wars. Over time I have also added civilian casualties to my remembrance.

With that in mind, I will bow my head for a moment of silence at 11:00 am, on the 11th day of the 11th month.  As do the school children, who often hold beautiful ceremonies with their hand drawn art work, songs and short plays in order to remember. And in order not to forget.

Remembering Others

This day prompts me to also take stock and remember my family and friends who have died not though war but through illness and old age. I have anchored this practice of remembering to the 11th of November.    I think it is helpful  to have little ceremonies and rituals to remember our loved ones. The days flow by so fast and one year becomes ten. Many people I love have died in this past decade and November 11th is my visual cue to privately remember everybody. And it is a cue to make sure I care for the living, while I can, and to let those living, beautiful and beloved people know they are cared for.

A Reflection and Doing Exercise

My friend Patricia recently introduced me to a particularly practical, memorable, and delightful exercise, which is a tribute to those who have been instrumental in our lives. It goes like this and it too involves remembering.

“Make a list of the 20 people who have influenced your life. They can be people you know as well as public figures, artists, writers, teachers, etc. Some may no longer be alive. You get to decide who is on your list.   After doing this exercise I asked myself “What needs to be done?” And I saw that I wanted to write a few letters of appreciation, to those I could, telling of their influence.”

I am slowly writing these letters over this past few years.


Note 1:) I am thinking of John McCrae, a Canadian soldier, poet, and physician who wrote the now iconic poem, In Flanders Fields. The first stanza goes like this and is why the poppy was chosen for Remembrance Day.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
 The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Note 2:) I have the loveliest of readers on my blog. Yes, YOU! I so appreciate you.  For those of us in Ontario we have been treated to a beautiful autumn that is still going on. Lots of people out and about, which is truly wonderful to see.

Note 3:) Please take care, take heart, and stay safe. For those of you who are suffering, remember that all things change. Nothing stays the same forever.  We humans seem to be able to rise to what is needed. Sometimes we can’t and we ask for help. We all need help throughout our lives. Do your best to get your daily intake of the great outdoors.  Everyday. Warmest greetings and best wishes. See you next week, Trudy

Limited Time and Beauty Everywhere


I was asked for one thing that brought me pleasure today. Without hesitation I proclaimed, “the beauty of autumn leaves.” If memory is reliable I don’t recall so much colour  at this time of year. Each morning this week I walked the same loop in my neighbourhood and was deliriously overjoyed with what I saw. Because the time is getting short to enjoy this beauty, I chose to make it my priority even if it meant being late for other things.  I also knew that I couldn’t count on those leaves being there tomorrow. And the other things would get done.

The seasons are now a priority for me because I can realistically see that the number I have left are shrinking. So, I blame (credit) Oliver Burkeman for neglecting my “work” and getting outdoors.

Here is an excerpt from his book, which inspired me:

“…(in speaking about purchasing something) if something feels like a priority now, it’s virtually impossible to coolly assess whether it will still feel that way in a week or a month. And so we naturally err on the side of spending—then feel bad later when there’s nothing left over to save.

The same logic…applies to time. If you try to find time for your most valued activities by first dealing with all the other important demands on your time, in the hope that there’ll be some left over at the end, you’ll be disappointed. So if a certain activity really matters to you—a creative project, say, though it could just as easily be nurturing a relationship, or activism in the service of some cause—the only way to be sure it will happen is to do some of it today, no matter how little, and no matter how many other genuinely big rocks may be begging for your attention.

After years of trying and failing to make time for her illustration work, by taming her to-do list and shuffling her schedule, Jessica Abel saw that her only viable option was to claim time instead—to just start drawing, for an hour or two, every day, and to accept the consequences, even if those included neglecting other activities she sincerely valued. ‘If you don’t save a bit of your time for you, now, out of every week,’ as she puts it, ‘there is no moment in the future when you’ll magically be done with everything and have loads of free time.’

This is the same insight embodied in two venerable pieces of time management advice: to work on your most important project for the first hour of each day, and to protect your time by scheduling “meetings” with yourself, marking them in your calendar so that other commitments can’t intrude. Thinking in terms of “paying yourself first” transforms these one-off tips into a philosophy of life, at the core of which lies this simple insight: if you plan to spend some of your four thousand weeks doing what matters most to you, then at some point you’re just going to have to start doing it.”


And that is exactly what I started on Nov 1st. Walking every morning and appreciating the beauty in my neighbourhood is a priority. There is never  time left over.

What is a priority of yours that you don’t make time for? When once again I made a realistic and heartfelt plan of my priorities I also discovered that I have more to do than can be done. This becomes a form of radical acceptance where I realized I can’t possibly do everything I want to do. So what more needs to come off my list? And along with that is the simple truth that there will be  things left over at my departure. As I look at the bookcase facing my computer I see the many books that will be unread. Yet, I will always have too many books. This is part of my blueprint.

And the challenge of picking and choosing may be something like “is it as important as my books? Or, is it as important as being outside enjoying the beauty of nature and moving my body? Is it as important as being with my friends and family?”  Priorities change as we live a long time. Our awareness of time changes. Creative endeavors loom much larger in my life now than they did 20 years ago. I am so curious about this end zone. And I want to make time for it.

I also want to show you a few photos of my walk this morning, in gratitude for the pleasure they gave me. It is the variety that takes my breath away, on a morning in November in the Glebe.


And I am grateful to all of you who stop by here each week. It feels a bit like a conversation  with kind and delayed responses.