Grumpy Bird

I was talking about this book, Grumpy Bird,  today, and recalling how important it is in my life. Three years ago I wrote this post and decided to re-post it here today as  I gr umped about the weather. When is spring going to finally come and stay, I complained.

Children’s books are my treasures. I  love both the illustrations and the wisdom contained therein.

When I was going through my cancer treatment, I kept a blog called Joyful Wrecks.  I decided on the name to illustrate my experience that although I would be looking for joyful moments, and working to create them, I recognized that there would also be moments when I felt shipwrecked.

At that time my granddaughter, Sophie, was two years old, and she had a book that we both loved called Grumpy Bird. (by Jeremy Tankard) The book began like this:



When Bird woke up, he was grumpy
He was too grumpy to eat.
He was too grumpy to play.
In fact he was too grumpy to fly.
“Looks like I’m walking today,” said bird.

One morning when I was feeling down, I remembered the book and on a day when my spouse asked me how things were going. I answered,

Looks like I’m walking today,”I declared

What I loved about the metaphor, however, was that I could still walk (do something) just like Bird.

Part of being a joyful wreck was that there were, and still are, times when we all feel wrecked. I remember a time when my right arm was painful because of my “wrecked’ veins from multiple attempts to insert an IV. In fact, one of the chemo nurse’s looked at my veins and said, “I see we are doing what we do best around here, ruining veins.” And we both laughed.

It’s not always easy to co-exist with discomfort and still perceive that today is a precious gift, especially since we are conditioned to retreat from what we don’t like or fear. Yet it makes all the difference to the quality of our everyday life. Right now. In this minute.

There were times my arm hurt; I felt nauseated and I wished I felt differently. I wished I didn’t have cancer. Yet, I still woke up. How good was that! I got up on two wobbly legs. I sat down with my spouse and had a bowl of cereal with a sliced banana. The birch tree outside the dining room window was wearing a beautiful leafy green dress and the birds were singing. The air smelled sweet and had a quality of spring exuberance that was almost palpable. In that very moment life was perfect.

Dr. Morita told his patients, “When climbing a mountain you can give up a hundred times a day, but keep your feet pointed up hill.”

Living well with illness is not about consistently feeling great and simply overlooking the difficulties. It is about not falling in a hole and staying there and allowing our illness to define our life. It means not putting our lives on hold or wrapping ourselves in the cloak of the victim mentality. That mentality says: “life is hopeless and I can do nothing.”

Living well with illness is about taking action, small steps, even when not in the mood. We keep our feet moving and pointed uphill.

In the midst of our illness, we’re finding funny stories, learning, resting, moving, creating, helping, questioning, weeping, smiling, being angry, loving, caring, showing up, saying yes, saying no, getting another opinion, getting things done, enjoying, appreciating, taking a nap, and finding meaning and purpose while we can. Come to think of it, this sounds like what everyone is doing, including those who don’t have a serious illness.

Why not live with outstretched arms? What do we have to lose? We’re all terminal — we are all going to die one day.

Why not use these living breathing moments to say YES to life! Discover your talents and cultivate them; remember your dreams and act on them; use your gifts to cheer one another on. We never know our impact on the lives of others. We do know that when we live fully, we are more alive.


1:) Another reason I like this book is how bird’s friends came to support him. They were not tying to cheer him up or give advice. They just joined in and walked along side until he was ready to fly again. Of course I also think a walk is a great antidote for everything.

2:) Sometimes when I have a tough day, an unexpected element enters the picture.   A call comes, or maybe  an email or a word from a stranger or loved one that suddenly turns things around. I am so grateful for those moments and I hope that I can be that person for someone else. I think these elements are in all of  our days but we can easily  fail to notice.

3:) “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson  I appreciate this sound advice – “finish each day and be done with it.”

4:) The next time we meet it will be May. I am attempting to discover little known areas in my neighbourhood with their own beauty and charm. Finding new ways to stroll home. Thank you for coming by here. Please post in the comments or email some of your favourite children’s books and I will post them with delight. Each day is a new page in our book of life. May you enjoy it. Warmly, Trudy

When It All Seems too Much

An Invitation for this week

Make a list of things that lift your spirits and do one every day.

If at all possible, get outdoors for at least 20 minutes every day -preferably a park, a garden, green space, or near the water.

Look up when it gets dark and see if you can identify a planet, constellation, satellite, and gaze at the moon.

Make a list of people you like who you have not been in contact with and reach out to at least one of them.


Consider the basics:

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Food and water
  • The company of others

A Second Invitation

Choose one thing from the basics to focus on this week. Pick the one that needs a little practice and zoom in on what would be of most value to you if you would do that one thing every day. Don’t go overboard. See Examples:

Sleep – Go to bed at the same time every night this week

Food and water – maybe you need more vegetables – add one extra vegetable each day to your plate or two extra glasses of water each day if you are not getting enough. It’s up to you.

You get the picture

Whenever we are struggling, whether it is with illness, caregiving, loneliness, or fractured relationships… it is important to see ourselves playing an active role in our own treatment and our own life. Don’t wait for others to solve our problems. Read, research, ask questions – investigate and take action.  Don’t overlook the basics. They appear so obvious and ordinary, yet they are easy to neglect and they play an outsized role in the quality of our everyday life.

Always humor If we orient ourselves towards humor, we can find many opportunities during our day to have a chuckle or a smile. And it simply improves our well-being. It isn’t just joke telling but more often tender storytelling that makes us smile or laugh.

All of these suggestions can fit into our daily lives. Play with them. Make them your own. Enjoy.See what happens.


1:) Lord love a duck – for those of you who enjoy ducks here is a five min video of BC’s beautiful ducks. It is also an opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits of nature when you are not able to get outdoors. Watch here.

2:)I Know a Cure for Sadness by Hafiz

“I know a cure for sadness:

Let your hands touch something that makes your eyes smile.

I bet there are a hundred objects close by that can do that.

Look at beauty’s gift to us-

Her power is so great she enlivens

The earth, the sky, our soul.”

3:) Thank you, all of you, for coming by to read these scribblings. I am honoured to have your company. May you not resist the abundance and hopefulness of spring. Where there’s life there is hope, someone said. Warmest wishes, Trudy

April 13, 2022 – Memories of our Wonderful Mother

My Mother was born April 13th, 1920, and died July 26th, 2020 at 100 years, 3 months, and 13 days. She died full of love and gratitude for her life, surrounded by her immediate family and with nothing left unsaid.  One thing that my entire family – siblings; cousins; first cousins once removed; aunts, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and outlaws – would agree on, is how fortunate we were to have been part of her kind, loving, inclusive, and wholehearted approach to everyday living.

Three Years ago when Mom was 98, she did her 2nd annual Marathon walk ( 5 K) with 35 of her family from all over the continent. This was in the month of May in Ottawa . The 1st annual was held in Nova Scotia, the year before, where we did the 10K walk together.  Always followed by an after-party with medals, laughter, and lots of celebratory toasts, this was not a race for us. This was walking to the pace of the slowest walker and having a chance to be together and visit while being active. Several of us would go on to walk and run the 1/2 and the full Marathons the next day. So much fun.

And the point here is, if it were not for Mom, this wouldn’t have happened. There was little interest in doing this crazy thing when we first suggested it.  However, once everyone heard that Mom was coming and she would walk, well, everyone who was available said YES. And it began like that.



29798 was Mom’s bib number and we loved it because it was her 2nd marathon and 97 and 98 were her ages the years she participated.

The after-party included family from New York City; Virginia; Maine; across Canada from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia.




The Gift of Years

Mom lived 100 years and you can detect her good spirit, love, and joie de vivre shining through. When I once asked what she thought about her life, she said, “It was so much better than I had expected.” Anytime I tried to pin her down to her best year, she would always say, “this one.”

“I go to bed happy and I get up happy, ” was her common refrain.

So what is it about my Mother that we all adored? There are many things but I think it comes down to these:

“She had the gratitude thing going,”

As my friend, Meredith pointed out. “Life  doesn’t have to be easy in order for your Mother to be grateful.”

In fact, my Mother believed that things would get better around the corner and she went looking for exactly that. And guess what? She found it. Mom continually shone the spotlight of her attention on what was going right and what was “good enough” about all the people in her life and turned a blind eye to our flaws. Thank goodness.

One of my acquaintances who barely knew my Mother said this. “When I am with your Mother I feel completely accepted. I’ve never had that experience before and it is the greatest gift.”

Yet, she wasn’t a pushover.

She stood up for what was right. When she was 95, a new company bought the seniors building where she lived and she didn’t like the way they treated management. She wrote polite and strong letters; she spoke up at town hall meetings, but nothing changed. So she went looking, for a new place to live, and moved. She wanted to live where all people were treated with respect.

Her age never entered the equation, only what was controllable and what was not. The bottom line, if she couldn’t do anything about it she accepted it, without complaint. If there was something she could do or influence she did it, without drama or righteousness. She simply took appropriate action and moved on.

Like an unwanted guest,  Covid 19, interrupted her big celebration at 100. Yet, her comment when we realized there would be no party: “imagine a guest like that crashing our big party. But my Birthday will still happen; I will still turn 100. And now we get to have a different, once-in-a-lifetime party.”

Life-Long Learning

And this very willing and curious woman, was alone in her apartment, instead of with 75 of her favourite people at the Union Club in Victoria;and she did turn 100. Disappointed, yes, but no complaints; rather, she invested time and effort into learning and practicing video conferencing and video chat tools so she could be with her family online, in a zoom room. None of us  have ever once heard our Mother say, “I’m too old for that.” She did every single thing she could do,  with grace and appreciation. And with the finesse to accept a hand if she needed it.

Her lifelong learning included learning to weave at 65; swim at 75; watercolour at 80; use an I-pad at 90 as just four examples. and she went up in a hot air balloon with me and my two adult kids for my 65th birthday. She was 91. You get the picture. Don’t ever believe that possibilities are scarce as we get older.

Love of Family

Her love of family was without measure. It was the number one most important thing in her life. She beamed out love like the brightest star and it came with no strings attached. No guilt trips; no complaints; just so happy to be with her family and we all counted. The 52nd cousin once removed was always important. Well, that is a slight, but only a slight exaggeration. And you didn’t have to be related by blood. You could be related by heart. The golden thread that runs through all of our lives is not reserved for blood relatives. The connections in our family life run deep and wide. The word family has a broad definition.

To have a Mother like ours who was filled with love, generosity, gratitude, curiosity, initiative, creativity, resourcefulness and the wisdom gleaned from her long life, was to be inordinately blessed. How to thank her for being there forever? There are not enough words! My goal is to be more like my Mother as I live longer. Her adopted children- Sheila and Jim, from England have declared her a National Treasure, and my sister Gabriole and I are delighted to share her with all of our friends. Mother had enough love to go around. May we continue her legacy.

Remembering you on your birthday sweet Mother. Your 100 year legacy was a gift to us all and you inspire us still. You continue to make the world a better place.

Mom’s Pearls of Wisdom

The most important thing is the support of family and friends.

Keep some younger people in your life; especially the children.

Don’t hold grudges –  leave past disappointments and hurt feelings behind.

Don’t hurt others by word or deed and apologize immediately if you do.

Don’t be jealous of others.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t expect too much.

Lend a helping hand whenever you can and be kind to others especially those who are having difficulties.

Do your best to stay healthy: eat well but don’t deprive yourself of a treat.

Exercise is important every day – either aerobics or going for a walk.

Never be afraid to try new things and continue to learn new things.

Concentrate on the positive and don’t grieve over things you cannot do anymore.

Be grateful for what you have and enjoy every day you are alive.


Note 1:) Pink and white dogwoods are Mom’s favourite and I thank Shutterstock  for having what I needed. And she also loved this song. Press the arrow to play and enjoy.



Note 2:) This reminds me of Mom, one in a million.

Note 3:) Thank you for reading this far and getting to know a little about my Mother. She, of course, was a faithful reader of my blog. I appreciate all of you. Warmest wishes and may you enjoy this Easter and Passover time. Trudy

Note 4:) a few memories: When a loved one dies, besides missing them we miss the way they were with others. My Mother did not know this sweet addition to the family – Sophie’s dog Sasha – our new family member who arrived five days before Mom’s birthday but she would have loved her.


















Follow the Trail of Yes

I borrowed my title from Tricycle’s Daily Dharma

– short synopsis emails that show up every day in my inbox. I always end up reading the ones where the title captures my attention. A couple of days ago the title was Saying Yes Wholeheartedly and when I clicked to read the article, a different title, Follow the Yes Trail, grabbed my attention even more.

The article made me think of one of my favourite words, ikigai.  It reminded me of how powerful and delightful ikigai is when we give it time and attention.

Reflect on these questions, especially as they relate to your everyday, ordinary life.

  • what grabs your attention?
  • makes you feel most alive?
  • lifts your spirits?
  • gives you energy?
  • provides solace?
  • brings a smile to your face?
  • spontaneous joy?
  • and meaningful moments

Oh yes:

What do you have that is more than you need? For me, it is books and pens and beautiful paper. This tells us something about ourselves.

And what about the people in our lives? Who do you love? Who are your kindred spirits? What do you love about your family and friends? We don’t need to pretend they have no flaws, rather, for now, just focus our attention on the things you like about them. The ways they have helped you and supported you. The quirks of personality that make you laugh. A look perhaps. an endearing habit. It is amazing how we can take our liking for granted and our criticisms too. And it is easy to complain about what our spouse or teenager or neighbour isn’t doing and forget why we like them.

Of the things you love and the people you love what do you miss out on because you are too busy? Can this change?

In our culture we often co-exist with overwhelm and we forget what it feels like to wholeheartedly dive into the moment where pleasure, joy, and delight can spontaneously arise. If we allow the time.

I love this line of thinking in the Tricycle article:

If you have a new idea you want to express, just do it. What is holding you back? We may think: it might not work. I might mess up. Don’t follow those voices. Just do it. Start right away. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you. If something works, great! If not, that’s fine too. It’s much more fun to live life joyfully than to always be afraid that something may not work.Things don’t always have to turn out the way you planned…just say YES!..follow the trail of yes…

(this next bit resonated with me)

…I don’t want to be the obstacle to what life is offering me. I say, Let’s do it!..don’t dwell on what didn’t happen, or what could have happened but didn’t…Take the leap and say yes!

(excerpted from Spontaneous Creativity by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche)

And you all know that there are times to say NO. Important times. We aren’t talking about formulas here. Just ideas. Things to try and see what happens. And today I loved thinking about the exuberance of Tenzin Rinpoche. It is springtime and the season of exuberance.


1:) I have a Billy Collins poem because it is spring and because April is International Poetry Month. The title is linked to the source.


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day
2:) And for a wonderful experience I suggest the collaboration with the AUSLAND Couch Choir. AUSLAND is the acronym for Australian sign language. Please watch through to the end. When it goes silent, nothing is broken. That is how it is meant to be.  You Are the Voice

3:) Be friendly to yourselves and enjoy the spring. With my heartfelt thanks for showing up here, Trudy