It Feels Like Home

Do you have places that feel like “home?”

It may not be the place where you currently live. There are several places I know I could live – but the one where I consistently feel most at home in Canada is Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Saturday morning my granddaughter and I woke up in Vancouver. We left -35 Celsius and stepped out into +6 Celsius. Now I know that for those of you living in places where the sun actually works,  plus 6 C is nothing to brag about. But for us, we were over the moon with no snow, no boots, no sheepskin mittens plus signs of spring.

Signs of Spring

As we walked down the hill towards Olympic Village and Burrard Inlet we spotted snowdrops in bloom, daffodils and tulip shoots; buds on a magnolia tree…even a pansy. I could feel spring fever sneaking up on me and brightening my spirit. The air was amazing, the coastal mountains were glistening and I was sure I could walk all day long, so great was my delight.

Everywhere we looked we saw walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages.

It has been a decade at lease since I was here in January and I had convinced myself that grey and rainy days were all one could expect. Not true. Grey and overcast with fog in the morning followed by sunshine and blue skies in the afternoon. However, the  forgotten memory was the ease in which we could step outside and go for a walk with the magnificent  backdrop of coastal mountains. This is not to be taken for granted.

21 Days of Hopefulness

Sometimes in life we all need a lift. Returning to a place that feels like home, can work its magic. Naturally going to a brand new place is exhilerating but during these times it is easier to stay inside our own borders. And although familiar, we see it as if for the first time. Seeing new sights, hearing new sounds, doing different things, interacting with new people all inspire a fresh look at the world, and each day something to look forward too.


Travel is one of the recommendations for people struggling with cancer, in fact, most illness. It’s not always easy yet it is almost always rewarding. Our immune systems, as reflected in our spirits, get to light up and shake off the dust of inertia and weariness.

I love being with my granddaughter on this adventure and intentionally noticing the beautiful gifts of nature. We are creating memories that will be with us for our entire lives. It’s a bit like playing hookie or colouring outside the lines. And we get to do this with our wonderful extended family and friends who are all eager to play with us.

Making Memories

Sometimes life invites us to put aside the practical and to revel in the beauty, love, and fun that warms our hearts. Reminders of the wonders of life and why it is necessary to cast off, now and then. I have regrets in my life but this won’t be one of them.

Making memories with my beautiful granddaughter for 21 days is the reason I am here. Let’s not postpone important things.

“Time is not money. Time is life, Time is love.” Thich Nhat Hanh (October 11, 1926 – Jan 22, 2022)


1:) Photos – banner photo Sophie; yellow frog and Tree Top Walk Uncle Rob; Water taxi -me

2:) “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, 

3:) Thank you for visiting my blog, week after week. With deep appreciation and all my best wishes for your health, restfulness and moments of joy. See you next week, Trudy

Anything Can Happen to Anybody at Anytime

When I was going through my treatment for cancer there was an evening when my spouse told me about an unusual sensation in his right leg. For several days it had felt as though cold water was being poured on his foot and calf. It sounded like some form of neuropathy to me and I told him so.

Unfortunately for him, I chose that moment to climb up on my soapbox and announce, “the one thing I have learned since my cancer diagnosis is that ANYTHING can happen to ANYONE at ANYTIME.”

I then went on to list the possibilities, all of them bad: car accident; stroke; heart attack; cancer; ALS; financial ruin; being caught in a hotel room as a cyclone goes through. You get the picture.

He begged me to stop and added that he thoroughly regretted mentioning his leg to me. And then we laughed.

It is however no laughing matter, because it is true. It is life, and in a single moment we go from this to that. It’s not always so dramatic as the items I mentioned and it can also be worse. Our life can change radically in one moment, through no fault of our own.

I believe that part of the shock and the pain we suffer from goes beyond the event itself, which is already enough to cope with. The disbelief we are left with is often that we could never have imagined “this thing” happening to “us.”

To me.

We can imagine them happening to others. We know that is true. But in our heart of hearts we believe ourselves to be exempt from the unacceptable.

The important thing to add to this very universal experience of life, however,  is this:

You can handle it

As Oliver Burkeman (my current favourite writer) says: “you’ll cope.”

“I Will Never Do Chemotherapy”

The Stoics are known for thinking through the worst possible outcomes in life so they won’t be taken by surprise. As Burkeman points out, however, there are limitations in what all you include:

It risks implying that nothing catastrophically bad could ever really happen. Whereas the anxious person knows, if only subconsciously, that it could. Public humiliation won’t kill you, but in fact it’s always the case that the next hour or week or month could contain a bereavement, a terrible accident, or a shattering medical diagnosis. So the attempt to reassure yourself that nothing too appalling is coming down the pike will always run up against the gnawing realization that actually you can’t be sure.”

Take an unexpected cancer diagnosis. I had thought through many possibilities that could rain down on me, but breast cancer wasn’t one of those. No family history, no lifestyle factors, no symptoms, no risks that I could see. I did forget the two top risk factors, however, being a woman and being over 50.

So when my daughter said, “Mom, you always said that if you got cancer you wouldn’t do chemo, and now you are doing it. Why?”

My answer: “I never thought for a moment that I would get cancer. So I guess it was easy for me to make that proclamation.” I then added, that with my own research and advice from my medical team it was clear to me that my best chance of staying alive was chemo. This didn’t negate other non-medicaL things that I could do, but I also needed chemo. So, with new information, I changed my mind.

And indeed I could cope! And coping has nothing to do with ease or learning to like it.

There Can be Worse Things Than Cancer

It slips off the tongue too easily even if it’s true- you can cope. Unfortunately, sadly, there are things that will take a lot more time to learn how to cope with. I am not in favour of comparing suffering. We all suffer from the misfortunes of life in our own unique and common ways. For me, nonetheless, there are things that I can imagine to be worse than what I went through, without minimizing my own suffering. My heart goes out to EVERYONE suffering.  The sudden death of a loved one; prolonged death of a loved one; serious accidents; mental illness; loss of sight, hearing, limbs, and a devastating diagnosis of any illness…so many things. Coping doesn’t mean getting over something. Rather, it can mean learning to live with something. We never get over the death of a child. We learn to co-exist with it as we continue to live our lives.

Each Other

Part of coping and part of learning to live with requires others. I know I sound like a broken record but we cannot live in isolation. When we are impacted by the burdens of our lives, one of the ways we cope is getting help from each other: family; friends; professionals; strangers…and we need to let them know we need help. We also need to be discerning and pick and choose who we get help from. Not all help is helpful.

No one is exempt from suffering.

We are all in leaky boats going out to sea. Some of us have bigger boats and finer equipment. Yet, in a small group of friends, a wise and wealthy friend startled us with his reply to this question.

Q. “What would you buy if money were no object?”

A. If money could buy it, I would have it. The problem is that what I want most, money can’t buy.”

There was a sudden silence in the room and I think all of us received a wake-up call. No one is exempt from suffering.

And so, here we are. With things to be thankful for alongside all of our sorrows.

And I suppose Michelle Obama is speaking the truth of her own experience when she writes, “grief and resilience live together.”


1:) The banner photo was taken a few years ago on Gabriola Island on an “anything can happen to anyone” kind of day. Not photoshopped – just how it was. A magical moment. The title of this blog post can also mean good things can happen too, even though that’s not what I focused on.

2:) TED X The Three Secrets of Resilient People with Dr. Lucy Hone, Christchurch, New Zealand. This talk is important. It is from lived experience not just academic research. It is about 16 minutes and I recommend you all listen through to the end. Dr. Hone is the Director of The New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.

3:) For any of you who are currently struggling please know that I bow to you in your pain and sorrow and my hope is that step by step you make your way through and alongside in whatever ways you can, to hold on to life.

4:) With boundless gratitude to all of you. You are simply the best readers of a blog, anyone could have. Warmest wishes, Trudy

PS If you haven’t read Oliver Burkeman’s latest book, Four Thousand Weeks, I would fix that as soon as possible. (and no, I don’t get a commission) haha Thought I better say that as I talk about it so much.


Salutogenesis – an old and neglected word


The word salutogenesis comes from the Latin salus (meaning health) and the Greek genesis (meaning origin). The word caught my eye in an article by Nigel Crisp, in Prospect Magazine,  How Aristotle Can Teach Us  to Build a Better Society:

There is a long (but often neglected) western tradition of interest in salutogenesis, the origins of health, which is concerned with understanding the causes of health as opposed to pathogenesis, the origins of disease. This is in some ways the precursor to what is today called “social prescribing,” an approach which sees clinicians prescribe gardening, swimming, singing and other activities instead of (only)pharmaceuticals, making use of the health-creating benefits of each. This is not about prevention of disease but the creation of health—the causes of health not the causes of disease. It takes the positive, not the negative approach to creating the conditions for people to be healthy.

Nigel Crisp

I had not heard of Nigel Crisp so I looked him up and stumbled on this introduction at Harvard:

Lord Crisp is an independent crossbencher in the House of Lords, where he speaks mainly on issues of international health and development. Lord Crisp was chief executive of the National Health Service in England between 2000 and 2006, and permanent secretary at the UK Department of Health. The National Health Service is the largest health organization in the world…Previously he had been Chief Executive of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital NHS Trust, one of the UK’s leading academic medical centers. Lord Crisp chairs Sightsavers International—a charity which promotes quality of opportunity for disabled people in the developing world; is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement; a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Harvard School of Public Health; an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.

Health-creating activities always pique my interest. As you know from reading my blog these are the kinds of things I love to promote. The non-medical things we can do to support our well-being in conjunction with our medical treatments.  Furthermore, I naturally gravitate to studies of what works rather than what doesn’t work. I confess the article sent me sailing down the rabbit hole to Crisp’s most recent book Health is Made at Home and Hospitals Are for Repairs. (It arrived today.)

Up Our Chances

It seems to me, in life, with all of its difficulties, joys, and sorrows, health and otherwise,  focusing on what we can do to enhance our daily lives is our best bet. It’s why playing an active role in our own illness is the first guideline of Living Well with Illness.  We can’t get along without medicine but medicine needs our active engagement too. Whether we are talking about cancer, heart disease, or mental health when we do things that are health-creating we up our chances of reducing unwanted side effects and improving our condition.

I don’t use the word prevent because it easily becomes a blaming word. It implies we can actually prevent X if we do y and z. And since I know so many people who did do y and z and still got X, I no longer use the word. I absolutely believe, however, that we can reduce our risks when we engage in health-creating activities. For myself, I experience an improvement in the quality of my everyday life when I move my body, get enough sleep and eat reasonably well. Not to mention the many creative activities that absorb and relax me/us.

And I observe that we can’t wait for the perfect time. There will never be time left over nor a time when conditions are perfect for us to implement some life-giving opportunities. We need to take charge of ourselves and figure out what makes our lives better. And the important thing is to do it even while life is throwing us curve balls. By now, you know I am never talking about utopian visions of how to live. Rather I am talking about the messy, stressful, sometimes dysfunctional and ordinary and amazing lives that we all have. And working with that. Changing what can be changed. Creating joyful moments. Learning something you have longed to do.


Noticing the things you do that make you feel better, is a good place to start. And with things as they are in your life, taking action to do the something you can do. Only you can figure this out. Take a step back from yourself and see what is working. Who are the humans in your life who fill you up rather than drain you? You may want to make more time to keep the company of those who are health-producing for you. Laughing is a sure sign.

I am convinced that we are all doing the best we can, with what we know, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  And we may need a tiny nudge, now and then to enjoy new possibilities.

Blessing – by  Carrie Newcomer on

May you wake with a sense of play,
An exultation of the possible.
May you rest without guilt,
Satisfied at the end of a day well done.
May all the rough edges be smoothed,
If to smooth is to heal,
And the edges be left rough,
When the unpolished is more true
And infinitely more interesting.
May you wear your years like a well-tailored coat
Or a brave sassy scarf.
May every year yet to come:
Be one more bright button
Sewn on a hat you wear at a tilt.
May the friendships you’ve sown
Grown tall as summer corn.
And the things you’ve left behind,
Rest quietly in the unchangeable past.
May you embrace this day,
Not just as any old day,
But as this day.
Your day.
Held in trust
By you,
In a singular place,
Called now.


1:) A snippet from a beautiful book for children and adults called The Blue Hour by author Isabelle Simler.

2:) Health-creating activities are often small pleasures. Here is a lovely 4-minute video from The School of Life in London called Why Small Pleasures Are a Big Deal

3:) A hundred thank-yous for stopping by here. I feel like the luckiest person every Wednesday – another thing I do that does not feel like work and revives my spirits. Let’s sing while there’s voice left. Warmest wishes, Trudy


Restfulness – Simplicity

Always this beginning:

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 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 am interested in restfulness as we enter this year. It’s a bit of a quandary that at a time when we are predisposed to hibernate with a need to curl up in front of the fire there are many demands to exercise our will in all manner of goals and resolutions for the New Year. Common ones are to eat less and exercise more, get started on the unfinished projects from last year and create BIG new goals for 2022. I am reconsidering all of this and looking at the first three months differently. Possibly as a time to cultivate restfulness.

Restfulness doesn’t mean feet up and doing nothing. It certainly doesn’t mean laziness. Rather I see it as wisely using our time to do the things we need to do while leaving enough space in between each activity so we are not agitated.  Rather than booking our calendar back to back and relying on our will to see us through why not try something different. How about adding rest notes throughout our day, not just at the end.  Maybe we take 5-15 minute intervals, (without turning this also into a task-oriented life) in order to actually enjoy this wonderful gift of waking up. In order to enjoy our contributions.

I’m thinking of the pauses we could interject to breathe, gaze out the window, read a poem, scribble in our journal, close our eyes. A mindful walk through the day where we aren’t running to catch up but rather walking and noticing the beauty of the sights and sounds. Being present to what unfolds.

Your important work will still get done.

The longer we are bound to our desk chair the harder it is to pause. To take three breaths. To stand and stretch our legs. Little breaks can help us to accomplish our important tasks without breaking our backs or our psyche. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has a good definition of overwhelm: he defines overwhelm as “life is unfolding at a pace that I find unmanageable in my psyche and in my nervous system.” If that is the case we can do something about it.

Life is a banquet with so much to choose from. We can’t have it all without serious indigestion.  I want to savour a few things this year that I love by saying no to other things that I would also like. It’s all about limited time. I’m not good at any of this but I want to experiment.

To Be Present

I know my heart is wanting simplicity and meaning, and restfulness is part of this. Poet and philosopher David Whyte claims that we aren’t meant to work 8 or 9 hours a day through will. For instance, it takes no will at all for me to prepare and present my Friday webinars at Wellspring Calgary because I love doing them. I am preparing a conversation and finding a poem and music to complement the topic. All things I love. Friday is my Wellspring day and it is topped off by spending an hour with wonderful people.  I don’t take on competing purposes that day and I am rested and rejuvenated and filled with delight when the day is done. It allows me to be present.

When we can do something like this we can give the best of ourselves. And as Whyte also says we get a glimpse of what we have already been given.

In the spring when the sun is coming up early and the evenings are getting longer and the earth is coming back to life is time enough for considering some of my more audacious goals. I might take advantage of spring fever instead of demanding constant service from my willpower. Will power is important but we demand a lot from it and I want to modify my thinking a bit – give it a break.

So, my wonderful readers, each day is a new day. We don’t need a new year to make any changes we are curious about and I have no idea what is best for you. The truth is, YOU are the expert on you.

As for me, this new year, I am aiming for a few more contemplative and meaningful moments without rushing. Restfulness. I am curious about the possibilities.


1:) Once again we are in difficult times. Like the others, it will pass, but not without angst and suffering for many. Please, take heart! May you stay safe, yet, not isolated. We all know ways to do this now.

2:) “There may be a good reason to move quickly. there is never a good reason to rush…what happens if you soften and slow, just a little bit? Feel how that changes your experience. Your sense of yourself. Your capacity for ease in the moment.” Martin Aylward, “The Art of Slowing down.”

3:) I am honoured and delighted to start off 2022 here with you. Please accept my best wishes and my thanks for your generous and encouraging words and know I so appreciate them. A thought – if you have a favourite poem or two you would like to share, you are more than welcome to send me a copy. Warmly, Trudy

PS the photos: Both from Gottfried’s library. The banner was taken in Yellowknife in January 2003 (I think) and the second one from  Gabriola Island looking across the coast Salish Sea in the general direction of  Vancouver.