A Reminder to Slow Down – no rushing


This is an updated repost of my blog from four years ago, published right around this time of year. I always need a reminder myself and maybe you do too.

No rushing

After many decades of living, I now aim to reclaim the spirit of “no rushing.” To become more like my Grandmother who worked hard every day but seemed like the one who was not busy. How did she do that, I wondered. She, who had no modern conveniences, prepared all of her own food, after planting, weeding, harvesting, and canning the fruits of her labour, still had time to entertain her grandchildren with rollicking stories of the “olden days,” as she finished knitting another pair of socks or crocheting a new runner for the hall table.

I don’t believe in unnecessary comparisons. Times are different now, and I get that. We don’t organize our lives by the seasons or the setting sun anymore. However, I do believe there is wisdom to be learned, through the experience of those who have gone before us. And I now believe that my Grandmother gave herself wholeheartedly to whatever she was doing, in the circumstances in which she found herself, and as simple as those tasks may seem,  her life had meaning.

In other words, when she was picking wild strawberries, she wasn’t wishing to be doing something else. She didn’t expend energy wishing things were different than they were.  She had no notion that life should be easier or that it should be designed to make her happy. It seems to me in retrospect her main purpose, beyond providing the basics, was to make sure she was adding to the joy, beauty, and happiness of those who were in her circle of influence. And lending a hand whenever she could.

I am a busy person, with many things I want to finish while I can, and I have a wealth of interests. All the books I want to read will not get read. Nor, will I finish all of my tasks. We don’t know how long we will be around. When my expiry date arrives, I will leave unfinished business behind. What I know is that I want to do what I can do now, without being frantic and without demanding the impossible of myself in the way I use to do. I want the people in my life to know that I have time for them in the here and now. I want to have time to moodle.

importance of water for the brain Japan walkExperiment

I am experimenting, especially, as my own energy is at a lower ebb and December is coming, along with deadlines. Maybe you want to consider designing your own experiment.


  • What are the three important things that need doing today? Do them.
    • Write my blog
    • Strength training program
    • New Nature Journaling four-week program started this evening (the theme is water and watercolours)
  • Lower my standards in two ways:
    • Perfection is an idea and a myth and can keep us from doing something we would love to do, for fear that we can’t measure up. In order to take the Nature Journaling course I have to let go of perfection and show up not knowing what to do.
    • Do less of everything. Let go of FOMO. We all miss out on all kinds of things, and that’s life.


Lowering your standards isn’t about sloughing off. It is about being realistic. You don’t have to do it all. You can’t do it all. It is about picking and choosing what is important and/or meaningful to you.

  • Instead of the gourmet meal for 20, do a simple delicious meal for X. (unless the feast is what you love doing)
  • Ask for help. We all like to help. You are not alone.
  • My daughter likes to, or, is willing to iron the tablecloths and wrap gifts as long as I give them to her early. And so I do.
  • Can’t face cooking the big dinner. Order the entire meal from a hotel or grocery store that specializes in creating these delicious dinners. We did this one Thanksgiving and everyone was happy. We shared the cost there were leftovers for everyone to take home.
  • Gift-giving is a wonderful tradition if you keep it simple and feasible. I sometimes give away a possession that I own and love, to someone else, whom I love. It is a lovely way to continue to enjoy something precious when you view it from a different angle.
  • Writing a few cards: it is evident to me that we all love getting especially chosen and handwritten cards, from people we care about. The gift of expressing our admiration and affection while we are alive is not to be underestimated. These gifts are treasures.
  • Start early. Everything takes longer than it seems. Avoid the last minute whenever possible.
  • Take time to dream. Allow the mind to wonder. Moodle. Every 60 seconds does not need to be filled with productive activity.

Freedom from Ourselves

In the meantime, when we can start letting go of our own self-imposed constraints and open up to the wonder that is this moment and can still do something for others and for ourselves, we are free. We are free to love and laugh and wholeheartedly engage with life on our terms and in the manner within which we find ourselves now: free to make mistakes and start over. Time to learn new dance steps.

Fighting with what we cannot have and regretting what we cannot change adds to our suffering and angst. Living, fully living, and giving our time to what we can do now, gives us unparalleled freedom to flourish in this moment. And guess what, when we stop doing so many things out of habit and custom, we are free to do more of the things we love without rushing. Freedom indeed.


Note 1:)We are now in the latter part of November. The last two months of the year are busy. And why I suggest that we “lower our standards,” is because I don’t want you or me to be criticizing ourselves and beating ourselves up for all that we couldn’t do. “No throwing sticks at your heart,” as the poet Hafiz writes. Make time for joyful moments.

Note 2:) This is American Thanksgiving week and from what I understand it is the most important and busiest holiday of the year. I recommend that you take a pause and read this beautiful letter that 95-year-old, Brother David Steindl Rast, composed for this year’s celebration. For those who are interested here is the 2022 letter.

Note 3:) Thanks to Patricia Ryan Madson for her watercolour postcard called Just Show up. I appreciate the access she has given me to her delightful small paintings. Likewise to Gottfried whose photography I frequently use and don’t always give him credit. (Although not today):-))

Note 4:) As I write these posts, I am always aware that I don’t know the circumstances of each reader. I do know that the world is trustworthy, even when it seems like it is falling apart. Any suggestions I ever make or imply are done with the complete understanding that you know best what you need to do. Take what you want and discard the rest. My very best wishes to everyone celebrating American Thanksgiving, and, equally, I send best wishes to the rest of us. Thanks for reading these musings. See you next week, Trudy



Only This Moment Now

Many children… delight in the small and inconspicuous. Rachel Carson

A Sense of Wonder

I am aware of this childlike sense of wonder in two global giants of our times. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Last night I watched the documentary released this year called Mission Joy. In fact I have seen it twice and I am struck by their sense of wonder and playfulness, while at the same time devoting themselves to the demanding work of the world. Both have suffered extreme hardship yet when they are together they play like children. And their camaraderie, gentle teasing, and kindness underscore their compassionate and wholehearted love for the world. Serious but not somber is an apt expression when speaking of these two.

This morning was also filled with wonderful moments. To start things off was the article in the NYT about the ripple effects of the Danusha Laméris poem, Small Kindnesses. I first copied it here in Oct 2019,  but will do so again, to refresh your memory.

Small Kindnesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.

And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.

We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

Is this not a special poem? Apparently, I am not the only one who thought so. The NYTimes, published a piece this morning:

“Small Kindnesses: A Collaborative Poem by Teenagers Around the World. After 1300 teenagers told us about the small kindnesses they appreciate, the poet Danusha Lameris wove their answers into verse… the poet has a message for everyone who participated…’the smallest things we do just might matter a great deal. I am moved by the realization that simply speaking a name, giving a wave, or offering a space in traffic could change someone’s whole day. Or More.  …thank you for showing us ways we might lighten the load for someone else, and for showing us how to notice the goodness already around us everyday.” 

 I so hope the NYT will allow you to read it without a subscription. I have used a gift link from my account and fingers crossed it will work. The link

This is news worth reading and will renew your faith in the goodness of people, especially these young people. It reminds us all that it is the small things that carry such weight, and whatever our circumstances we are able to participate.

The First Snow

Secondly, I had to face the first snow. Since I do not have “the mind of winter,” as poet Wallace Stevens puts it I need to work hard not to retreat to a cave someplace and sleep until spring. I love the beauty of a pristine snowfall, especially when it is light and fluffy.  But I would now prefer to admire it briefly, perhaps on a mountain top, or from a cedar house beside a frozen lake, for one week. And then I would go home and tell others how gorgeous it was.


Still, here I am and there is no escape, so once again I vow not to complain, (too much) and wear my base layers. However, today I was in for a surprise. Not knowing anything about dogs, I learned from Sasha, the family dog, that canines love the snow. I did not know this. I was there when the door to the backyard opened and she had her first taste of snow. Without hesitation, she bounded into that white stuff with glee and happiness: falling down, sniffing and tasting, frolicking about, and watching the snow fall in what appeared to be amazement.

She was mesmerized and so were we.  My granddaughter made her a special bed in front of the fire and she came in, curled up, and nodded off. Even with no desire for cold and snow, I could not contain my enjoyment of watching her. We learn lessons about having fun from dogs and children.

A Young Girl

Shortly afterward I dropped two boys off at school and as I was driving home I kept spotting these trees with red berries now dusted with snow. I finally had to pull over to take some photos. A little girl with her mother was shoveling snow on their walkway and I asked permission to take photos. The little girl looked up at me and said “I know another fun thing you can do in the snow. Watch me.” And she flung herself down on the ground and made a snow angel. I can only say that all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings flooded my being and made me forget my cold hands holding my phone. We continued to chat for another minute about the “fun” of snow. And of course, I remembered how I too loved winter as a child.

Treasure once-in-a-lifetime moments.

We don’t have to like them all. That would not make any sense whatsoever. But still…if we look wider and closer, there are so many moments that are treasures, no matter what else is going on. The lessons from all these teachers: Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu; the poets; the children and the puppies is to enjoy what is at hand. It isn’t complicated. Yes, life is hard, but as my friend, Emma says: “look out your window, or go outside and spot three things each day that catches your attention that you love or enjoy. Write them down. Maybe make a sketch.”

I know I sound like a broken record and I had planned to write about something different today but how could I postpone the beauty and joy of last night and the wonder of a poem about simple kindnesses written by 1300 young people?


1:) Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring published in 1962 became one of the most influential books in the modern environmental movement. One of my most beloved books that I think everyone should read especially parents, grandparents, and teachers, ( I really mean everyone) is The Sense of Wonder, which is where my opening quote is from.

2:) In honour of our beloved Mike who died in 2010, and loved this Bob Dylan song, sung by Joan Baez. He actually loved everything she sang.  In two days it would have been Mike’s 76th Birthday. Forever Young

3:) Sing while there’s voice left,  and thank you for continuing to drop by here. A thousand thank you’s and see you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy

Les Petit Bonheurs – Small Joys

Small Joys

As some of you know I am captivated by the small joys that are part of all our lives. And I am compelled to share a few of mine from this week and suggest that you may want to look at some of yours. It is a lovely practice and it sharpens our attention skills, causes us to smile more often, lightens our hearts and inspires hope.

What got me thinking about this happened on Monday morning. After seeing my grandson Rowan off to school at 7:30,  I hopped in my car to go home. No sooner had I gone half a block when a call came in from my son-in-law asking me to turn around and come back. I immediately thought something must have happened, but instead, he said: “I bought you a Grande Americano at Starbucks, so pull up and I will pass it to you.”

I know it is not earth-shaking, but on that Monday morning, I was surprised and delighted. It tasted like the perfect cup of coffee and I was smiling from ear to ear. They say (whoever they are) that it is “not what you do but the way you do it.” And so my enjoyment was more than the coffee;  it was the unexpected; the phone call; turning around and seeing my son-in-law and Sasha, the family dog, standing on the sidewalk beaming in my direction with an arm outstretched holding that steaming cup of coffee. My entire Monday just kept getting better.

A reason to get up in the morning

A few days later, out of the blue, my grandson asked if I enjoyed coming over at 7:00 AM five days a week. I answered, “yes, I do.”

“I’ve been thinking about this,” he said, “and wondered what you would do if you didn’t come at that time?” I paused and said, “maybe I would just sleep in longer.”

“Ah ha,” he exclaimed, “and that would not be good for you. Your coming over to be with me is a reason to get up in the morning, and that’s a good thing. Right, Nana??”

He had more to say and it went something like this. “I think it’s good for your brain. You know we talk about things, have breakfast, I play the piano, you do some French on Duolingo, and sometimes we do mental math or wordle together.  Nana, it’s important to always exercise our brains, especially older brains, and do things every day that bring joy. And besides, I like you coming every morning.” And we exchanged a knowing glance.

Here is the point

I could consider this a chore, but why would I want that kind of suffering? Here I am: fortunate to now live in Ottawa, healthy, and able to participate in these joyful moments five days a week.

Another delight last Thursday, was a two-hour bike ride, with a friend. The weather was beautiful with blue sky, and sunshine and it felt like early September, not November. We got to enjoy the falls (see banner picture), stop at a tennis club for lunch, and spend almost four unexpected glorious hours outside. It was a mini holiday on a bike.

Life is hard, from time to time, for everyone. Paying attention to small joys opens our hearts, eyes, and minds to see more clearly the reality and wonder of this day, with its endless flow of beauty and surprise.  The practice of noticing gives us a chance to expand our view. And with that, we rejuvenate and become more cheerful and content.  I heartily recommend this daily practice,  for ourselves and as a way to be a small joy for others. In the end, it is the sum of small joys that counts the most.


1:) Photo of coffee beans on the tree thanks to Rodrigo Flores on Unsplash

2:) When my Granddaughter Sophie was seven, she came home from school with a completed project titled, Les Petits Bonheurs. (small pleasures) This project was a booklet where she had illustrated a “small joy” on each page. I was so touched by the wisdom of her teacher and the small joys that Sophie had written and illustrated that I decided on the spot that I would do the same. That was over nine years ago and it has faded away, the actual recording of a daily sketch and a joy. It seems like a good time to revive the actual practice.

3:) Take a moment to have a walk through Kew Garden and listen to an excerpt from Herman Hesse on trees. Watch here.

4:) Thank you for coming by today. You bring with you a wheelbarrow full of joy for me. See you next week. Warmly, Trudy


Fallor ergo sum – I err, therefore I am.

“Fallor ergo Sum – I err, therefore I am.” Saint Augustine 4th Century CE

One of the dilemmas we all face is that we don’t live up to our own standards and expectations. It is painful, once again, to see myself, make the same old mistakes, bite the hook, and succumb to righteousness, defensiveness, or something like, “mistakes were made but not by me.”

In Living Fully with Illness, we speak of the naturalness of death, much like tornadoes, hurricanes and so on. I view our frailties and our failings, with that same understanding. We are humans, not robots. Therefore, when we make mistakes or break our vows, it is not helpful to be against ourselves. If we can learn to just step back and bring a quality of impartial self-awareness, we can notice what happened and see if we can do better the next time. Furthermore, we can bring that same quality to our judgment of others. We recognize that we are all humans, in the same boat, and our job is to help each other keep the boat from capsizing.

I love how Pema Chodron describes our human dilemmas.

She sees them as an opportunity to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. This is what she says:

“be patient with the fact that you’re human and that you make these mistakes. That’s more important than getting it right.”

How about that!  Of all the articles that Pema has written this one has been the most helpful to me and I hope you find it useful too. Here is an excerpt:

Oops, I did it again

“I’d like to stress that one of the things you most have to be patient with is, ‘Oops, I did it again!’ There’s a slogan that says, ‘One at the beginning and one at the end.’ That means that when you wake up in the morning you make your resolve, and at the end of the day you review, with a caring and gentle attitude, how you have done. Our normal resolve is to say something like, ‘I am going to be patient today,’ or some other such set-up (as someone put it, we plan our next failure).

Instead of setting yourself up, you can say, ‘Today, I’m going to try to the best of my ability to be patient.’ And then in the evening you can look back over the whole day with loving-kindness and not beat yourself up. Your patient with the fact that when you review your day, or even the last forty minutes, you discover, ‘I’ve talked and filled up all the space, just like I’ve done all my life, as long as I can remember. I was aggressive with the same style of aggression that I’ve used as long as I can remember. I got carried away with irritation exactly the same way that I have for the last…’ If you’re twenty years old, it’s been twenty years that you’ve been doing it that way; if you’re seventy-five years old, it’s seventy-five years that you’ve been doing it that way. You see this and you say, ‘Give me a break!’

You are Human

“The path of developing loving-kindness and compassion is to be patient with the fact that you’re human and that you make these mistakes. That’s more important than getting it right. It seems to work only if you’re aspiring to give yourself a break, to lighten up, as you practice developing patience and other qualities such as generosity, discipline and insight. As with the rest of the teachings, you can’t win, and you can’t lose. You don’t get to just say, ‘Well, since I am never able to do it, I’m not going to try.’ You are never able to do it and still you try”

Our efforts add up

“And, interestingly enough, that adds up to something; it adds up to loving-kindness for yourself and for others. You look out your eyes and you see yourself wherever you go. You see all these people who are losing it, just like you do. Then, you see all these people who catch themselves and give you the gift of fearlessness. You say, ‘Oh wow, what a brave one—he or she caught themselves.’ You begin to appreciate even the slightest gesture of bravery on the part of others because you know it’s not easy, and that inspires you tremendously. That’s how we can really help each other.” (this excerpt is from the article in Lion’s Roar called The Answer to Anger & Aggression is Patience by Pema Chodron)

These days it can be easy to wake up grumpy. Many are suffering physical and mental distress. The last thing we need to do is “throw sticks at our own heart,” as Hafiz says.

Let’s do our best, and at the end of each day, put the rest aside. We can never go wrong with gentleness and kindness. Each day is a brand new 24 hours. Let’s always start fresh and work with that.”

“Seven times down, eight times up.” Dr Shoma Morita


1:) I made a few slight changes to this post that I published, almost two years ago, for Thirty Thousand Days. I stand by Augustine’s statement. Our mistakes, lapses, neuroses, and quirkiness is what make us human. I don’t know where the notion came from that we were supposed to be flawless. It’s a lifelong journey of discovery and how lucky we are to still be on it.

2: ) I took these photos in the past seven days in my neighborhood. We are having a long, warm and sunny autumn. It is now November and we still want to be playing outdoors.

3:) I started an exercise program at Carleton University two months ago. I  found no joy in it whatsoever until this week. With the exception that I admire and like the instructor – someone of my vintage who is still fit and strong. I would like to be more like him without doing anything. haha, What I am wanting to tell you is that there are things we need to do to maintain functional strength and flexibility as we live longer and/or are living with illness. (at any age) The point is that we don’t have to want to do it or even enjoy it. Just doing it is enough. The pleasant surprise today was that I finally warmed up to it. In other words, (good grief) when you know you will benefit from some activity don’t give up too soon. And for the first time in several months, I have no hip pain. Now that gives me joy. OK. I will get down off my soapbox, but while I’m here don’t forget to drink plenty of water, thirsty or not.

4:) Something to think about. The world dear reader is devastating, in every place we look. But this does not mean that we need to be devastated.

5:) Armloads of appreciation for all of you who keep showing up. You are the best. Warmly, Trudy