Reverse Bucket List

Recently, my friend mentioned a book or a podcast she had listened to that introduced the notion of a “reverse bucket list.” My ears perked up because a bucket list was never on my agenda, but this sounded interesting. So, I went looking.

I didn’t find exactly what she heard, but I did find a great little article on this idea from Angela Labonte, who wrote a post in the Hebrew Senior Life Blog. And I learned more about Hebrew Senior Life, the only senior care organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Moreover, it is where they conduct influential research and train more than 1000 students each year.

My curiosity was piqued, and I had to keep reading. Honestly, I was blown away by the variety of living communities and the diversity of incomes that they accept. But I digress. I really want to write about the reverse bucket list. Yikes!

Let’s start with the definition:

A “reverse bucket list” starts with the gratitude we find in examining our previous accomplishments and fulfilling experiences. “ As opposed to a bucket list that is full of “aspirational experiences you hope to accomplish in your lifetime. There is nothing wrong with bucket lists; many people have them, and I, too have things I would love to do.

A reverse bucket list is a different idea. Rather, like Oliver Burkeman suggests, we keep a done list rather than a to-do list. I like that too. Both of these, paradoxically, can remind us of our important purposes in day-to-day life.

When I asked my mother what her best birthday was on her 80th birthday, she unhesitatingly said, “This one.”

“Why,” I asked.

“It’s all been so much better than I could have imagined,” she replied.

And that is one of the benefits of looking back at things you have done and accomplished and seeing them with fresh eyes. Imagine all that we got to do up to this very moment – this or this or this… gratitude bubbles up, along with those memories.

Simon Sinek, a well-known author, speaker, and thought leader, has a short video I just discovered on a reverse bucket list, and for him, it is the gratitude aspect that makes the difference.

Reverse Bucket List

To write a reverse bucket list, we might need a little reflection time to recall important events, milestones, people, moments, travel, volunteering, and accomplishments we are proud of and that we like.  But I decided to jump in right now with you.  Whatever comes to my mind in these next few minutes, I will write it down.

  1. I took an unannounced 45-mile (72 Km) bike trip when I was 13/14. I was in big trouble with my parents, but still look back on it with pride and pleasure.
  2. I received the entire collection of Carolyn Keene mystery books at Christmas when I was 10. I was over the moon.
  3. I am lucky to have had the sweetest and best teacher on earth, a nun, Mother St Janet Marie.
  4. Being introduced to poetry by my mother at a very young age and having one teacher after another who watered and nurtured my predisposition towards poetry, which continues to be a source of significant inspiration and solace today.
  5. I fell asleep in the car while my father drove long distances on holidays. I recall loving the sensation of drifting off.
  6. I loved being old enough to walk to midnight Mass at Christmas with my family on a cold, crisp winter night.
  7. My medical team, when I was diagnosed with cancer and was lucky enough to know a significant number of things that would help me go through it.
  8. Learning to fly a plane – imagine – ( a Cessna 152, and I did my solo.)
  9. I cycled the 300 km Cabot Trail two years after my last treatment. I could challenge myself at 65 in an unlikely way, yet I did it. And it was significant.
  10. I moved to Ottawa to be part of the everyday life of my youngest grandchildren. I could never have predicted it, and I will always be grateful that I did this.
  11. Walking the Nakasendo Way in Japan with friends. Hard to imagine.
  12. Meeting Dr. Itami and Japanese friends in Asia and on this continent. Thanks to whom I have my life’s work. Unimaginable what had to come together for that to happen.
  13. Getting to see the sunrise on Haleakala.
  14. I saw the sunrise on Gabriola Island for my son’s birthday last July.
  15. Getting to live where I live is a miracle.
  16. Flying to Vancouver last Dec to bake cookies for my son and daughter-in-law. How lucky that I got to do that.
  17. Seeing the full moon from my bedroom window and the red cardinal through the window in my study.
  18. Most days I have owned my Toyota – 5475 days, it starts when I turn the key. Recently, it didn’t because I left my flashers on for two full days. But that was an operator error.
  19. And friends and family peppered across the world. People I cherish and I am in touch with. People I love, and they love me. What it has taken for me to know all these precious humans?
  20. I saw and held my twin great granddaughters in Calgary last month while I watched my grandson and his wife as parents. Mind-blowingingly wonderful.

You can see there is no end to this, both big and small. I won the Mother lottery the kid and grandkid lottery. I am still breathing, standing, walking, thinking, writing, teaching, laughing, getting to participate and contribute in life, and meeting people I could not have imagined in advance. All this beauty and wonder and significance. I meet amazing people in my workshops and programs and through this blog. I could write for days and fill tablets with everything I have seen and done. It is unbelievable. And this is just a first look.

What this short exercise does for me is show me, with just a sprinkling of my life moments, how amazing it has been.  And it reminds me that I want more of this. The desire for life is strong. And it goes fast. I don’t want to waste it doing the things that aren’t meant for me to do.

And yes, there are things that I would love to do,  but if they don’t happen for reasons out of my control, it will be ok. I get to enjoy, now,  thinking about the possibilities. And I get to see how so many unexpected and unremarkable tiny events brought me to where I am right now, exactly where I want to be.

Now that I have done a dry run, I will do this a few times. It was a lovely exercise in remembering and a reminder that I still want to do things while I am still breathing. And that I can do them right where I am.

Maybe some of you will try it? It is a heartwarming thing to do. Even the little I did with you has inspired me – how I want to spend my time.


1:) Simon Sinek short video

2:) “Everybody is Talented, Original, and Has Something Important to Say” Brenda Ueland

3:) “We’re just humans: flawed and beautiful and longing for love. ” Susan Cain, from her book Bittersweet

4:) The photos are from a recent stroll in my neighbourhood. The more unusual one with grays and blacks caught my attention because it looks like the outline of a woman with a hat and a gown. It was part reflection in the remaining water in the canal after they drained most of it, coupled with the discolouration of the canal walls. It intrigued me.

5:) Thank you a thousand times for stopping by. It is a gift to me. May you all have moments of joy, meaning and love.  Warmly, Trudy


Trust in Life and do our part

Trust in Life

I have a great trust in life against all odds, even though I see that life isn’t always fair – sometimes not in my favour and many times in my favour. Furthurmore, I don’t believe for a second that things always turn out for the best. Even though, like my Mother, I think there is a high probability that something better is around the corner. It seems to me that our will has serious limitations. On occasion, like the Greeks, I am convinced that destiny has a very big hand in my life. Every so often, we are stretched beyond our capacity and don’t always learn from our mistakes. Still, I unequivocally trust life. Whatever that means.

It is not just a sense, but it is my experience. I am trying to say that for every challenge, even if I am not up to it, someone or something is there to accompany me along that narrow, rocky ledge. I rediscover and strengthen my resilience and perseverance through the company of others. Frequently, those others are not anyone that I have met. Yet, through their writing, I find something that resonates and inspires.  Furthurmore, in 77 years, I know from experience that this is true for me. Especially when I get it all wrong, I can still keep walking, one foot in front of the other.

Anything can happen

Life is messy, complex and unpredictable. Anything can happen at any time to anyone. So, my wish has always been to have the strength, courage,  adaptability, and kindness to respond to the needs of the situation.  Sometimes I am up for it, and sometimes I am not. That, too, is part of the human condition. We never ignore the inevitable problems of being alive but understand at a fundamental level that learning to meet the problems as they are and change what can be changed is good mental and physical health. Also, to recognize our great good fortune to have people to love who love us back, meaningful things to do, and the awareness to spot joy and beauty wherever we are. Even better,  to cast our net wide and scatter moments of joy through our smiles and small courtesies to others.

This past week, I have experienced beautiful moments that caused my heart to flutter. They are here in my photos. Yet, an important thing to recognize is that they may not resonate with you at all, even though my heart skips a beat when I spy these moments through my lens. Each of us is attracted to beauty in our own way. And we get to discover what that is by noticing what grabs our attention.


1:) Musicians that those of you in my webinars and programs already heard this month, but having fallen in love with this family, I want you all to meet them. The Kanneh-Mason siblings. All seven of them are brilliant and classically trained musicians from the UK. Here is a Bob Marley piece they arranged called Redemption.

2:) A tiny poem by yung pueblo from his book Clarity and Connection

“know your sources of rejuvenation

the amount of solitude you need to feel fresh again

the activities that strengthen your creativity

the people who light up your spirit.”

3:) I appreciate each and everyone of you soooooooooo much. Thank you for showing up here and recommending me to others. I have the loveliest readers to be found anywhere. Best wishes to you all. As always, Trudy

PS: Thanks to my poet friend Jan Falls, I found a new quote.

In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.–Blaise Pascal


Stopping to Notice

On Sunday, I took a long walk on a glorious day. I went out looking for beauty, particularly the last hurrah of the ginkgo trees. I had no destination in mind, just moodling along. Thus, I wandered along the Rideau Canal through the farmer’s market and past the bare branches of the ginkgos. I unhurriedly chased the light, and when I spotted these shore birds, I took the stairs down to Colonel By Drive to get a closer look.  These ordinary gulls are nothing special, yet I found them interesting and stopped to watch how the light caught their feathers and produced reflections, which gave me pause to stop, stare and admire.

I thought about one of my reader’s comments referring to last week’s post where he wrote this – “…I am reminded of the metaphor of using a torch (I think you call them flashlights!) when we go out into darkness. We then see things in the torchlight. Those things we see were always there, but we didn’t see them until we shone the light. We all have a torch – we just don’t remember to turn it on!”

It was with this in mind that I wandered last Sunday. Shining the flashlight of my attention over the landscape and cityscape. I spent about three hours, and when I returned, I felt renewed. While the weather is reasonable, I suggest these kinds of meanderings. Take time to get lost right where you are. See your neighbourhood with new eyes. If we were to take a holiday, we would do just that – playful, restful, carefree wanderings.  So why not right where we are?


1:) A little joy with these kids and Playing for Change music video – Celebration

2:) This is a new quote to me about doing things you love. Thanks to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, and his weekly newsletter. “

Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello calls you to find what grips your soul: (some similarities with ikigai)

“You must cultivate activities that you love. You must discover work that you do, not for its utility, but for itself, whether it succeeds or not, whether you are praised for it or not, whether you are loved and rewarded for it or not, whether people know about it and are grateful to you for it or not. How many activities can you count in your life that you engage in simply because they delight you and grip your soul? Find them out, cultivate them, for they are your passport to freedom and to love.”

3:) My little bird is one of many I showed you last year at this time; it is so commonplace, and yet, there is such a beautiful chorus when they are together.

4:) Just a short little visit with you tonight. I hope you are doing well and making memories for yourself and others. Enjoy your days. Thank you for coming by here and sending me encouraging words. How lucky am I!


A Shower of Colour

Banner Photo thanks to  Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

Thirty Seconds of Awe

Yesterday, I stepped outside close to 7:00 AM and was gently showered with beautiful leaves swirling down.  I looked up; it was like a translucent cloud, filled with leaves and was now spilling them from the sky. It was an extraordinary and indescribable 20-30 seconds of a leaf-fall, and then it was over. I had never experienced this before, and I was awestruck, and, furthurmore, I was immediately filled with delight. All smiles as I climbed into my cold car.

Before I went outside, I was not feeling much joy; on the contrary, I talked to myself about what I could do to brighten November. And just like that, an unexpected gift changed my day.  Another reason to step outside.

One can’t plan for these experiences. After all, I have lived here for almost 14 years, and this really was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. However, we increase our chances of witnessing nature’s beauty when we take our bodies outdoors. And something about the morning seems filled with a particular kind of wonderfulness –  light, air quality, fewer cars.

“For most of us, knowledge of our world comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”
Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Awesomeness of Our Fellow Humans

Since I seem to be writing about awe, I have to say that even beyond nature’s magnificence is the unequivocal awesomeness of our fellow humans. I know it is easy to miss when the news is filled with the horror and corruption of our fellow humans, but we must remind ourselves that kindness is rampant in the world. When I look at my direct experience,  I am repeatedly awestruck by the consistent kindness of people in my/our lives.

Dachner Keltner, the author of the book Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life, learned this in his research –  “What most commonly led people around the world to feel awe? Nature? Spiritual practice? Listening to music? In fact, it was other people’s courage, kindness, strength, or overcoming.”
In November, which is a challenging month for me, as I adapt to the dark and the cold, I have invited myself to shine the light of my attention on the unnoticed beauty of these days and catch people doing kind things. Consequently, I hope to be able to say thanks more often and make specific notes every day in my journal on the beauty of the world around me and the beauty of the people who populate my life.


1:) The red mittens arrived yesterday; they’re a gift from my sister. I immediately wore them inside to warm up my cold hands; it was another unexpected gift at exactly the right moment. They are made from recycled wool clothing and are as cozy as they look. Thank you Gabriole.

2:) I confess to using lots of light in November – electrical and especially candlelight. Warm, colourful mittens and wool sweaters. All things bright and cozy.

3:) When we are living in difficult times, personally and worldly, it can be a challenge to find moments of joy. I love these words from Barbara Kingsolver –

“Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job or a limb or a loved one, a graduation, bringing a new baby home: it’s impossible to think at first how this all will be possible. Eventually, what moves it all forward is the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living.

In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing:  a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.”

4:) Thank you for stopping by to read these musings. May those waiting for answers receive them, and may all of you spot those moments that bring you joy. Warmest wishes, Trudy

PS Problems with AWeber tonight, so if you didn’t receive this on Wed night, that is the reason. Hopefully, all will be back in order shortly after they open in the morning.

The Uncertainty of Not Knowing

Waiting for bad news

Getting bad news about our health can be devastating. Waiting to get the news from tests,  probes, and puzzled experts is fraught with anxiety and stress. Also, and especially when all we hear is “inconclusive – let’s just wait and see.”

In the meantime, the rash is now all over your body. The pain is worse. You can’t sleep. And you wonder if you will see your next Birthday. It is not only stressful and fearful; it gets to be embarrassing. The numerous calls to the Doctor, the visits to the emergency, and the tears falling unbidden are part and parcel of living with this kind of uncertainty. There is not much worse than waiting and waiting and waiting to see how bad the bad news is.

As bad as it feels at the time, it is part of the human experience. We were built for this, too. As nervous as it makes us, we can survive the waiting and the not knowing. But here’s the important thing. We don’t just sit by passively, hoping for the phone to ring. We do our investigation.

I know all the useless, if not harmful, information on the web. Nevertheless, that’s not all there is. I often will check out something on MD Anderson, the Mayo Clinic or other trusted sites. They have useful patient information that doesn’t scare you to death but can shed some light on a certain group of symptoms. We can also be the annoying patient once in a while and go see our Dr. yet again.

Playing an active role:

Learning to be proactive with our own health needs is not being a hypochondriac. Sometimes, we must keep knocking on doors to get to the bottom of the mystery. More importantly, while we play an active role and find different ways to sit and move and rest to minimize the pain and the fear, we can ask for the company of another human who we like. It’s great when that person is close at hand. But that is not always possible. Sometimes, we rely on words of comfort delivered by phone or text.

The relief of knowing:

Finally, the day comes when the bad news you were sure was coming arrives. The difference is that we now go into structured action. More tests get set up, additional appointments with specialists, and a course of treatment, if you are one of the fortunate ones, gets presented.

For some, no active treatment will be available. But there are still ways to improve the quality of life. The relief, even with the bad news, is this. “At least now I know what I’m up against.” How many times have I heard those words uttered through tears and fear? I think about those waiting to hear. My heart goes out to them.

If you are one of those people, there are so many suggestions I could offer while you wait. But I wouldn’t dream of writing them here as though “at least” you could do this. We honestly don’t know what it is like for person X  to live with this kind of uncertainty.

No advice giving

Well, maybe two exceptions. Play an active role. Turn over all the stones. Make the calls. Perhaps a second opinion is in order. Ask for company and/or help when you go to appointments. Even if you live alone, you don’t need to go through the whole thing by yourself.

OK. There is a second thing I want to say. Above all, when someone is waiting to hear, it isn’t helpful to say to them, “I’m sure it will all be okay. Don’t worry.” It is better to say something like –  “You must be very worried. I hope you get some answers. Can I do something to be helpful?” Or do something. A bouquet of sunflowers can help.

I know several people waiting for answers. I’m thinking of you and you and you. It’s amazing what we humans can sustain. How resilient our bodies are. How strong and resourceful we are. How our bodies want to help us get back to equilibrium.  And sometimes, we need to let the tears fall for a few minutes or a few days.

I have a poem written by Rosemerry Trommer where she writes about the waiting…

I can tell that she has been there, and that she is fully aware of what is not in her control.

Waiting the Diagnosis

I bow to the ache of it,
the deep inner eating
away at itself, I bow
to the shivers, the gooseflesh,
the waves of nausea and pain.
I bow to the unnamed,
to question, to dark.
And I bow to the fear
that swells in small spaces
and the vast quiet
that dissipates the fear.
I bow to every other human
who hurts and I bow
to the yellow flowers tonight
blooming in the muck
where the river used to be.
I bow to the ache, goddammit,
I bow to it, and I bow
to the reluctance to bow to it,
bow to the longing to shove
it all away, and I bow,
hush now, just bow.

 I leave you now with a small, gentle poem from a little-known poet whom I like.

In this time of waiting

and not knowing

how things will unfold,

may you find a pool of calm,

a place of peace and rest

deep within your soul.

by Nancy Gibbs Richards from A Small Steadying Sail of Love


1:) Take heart.  And always be kind to yourself.

2:) A big shout out to those earth angels that always appear just in the nick of time to be the light and the strength for someone in need. You are the best, and you are everywhere.

3:) I wrote about this four years ago and wanted to re-use some of it today. Thinking of all of you waiting for answers. May they come soon. With kind thoughts and all my best wishes, Trudy (the banner photo is one I took this morning from my bedroom window. So beautiful.)

PS I forgot to mention last week that I am teaching a program during November at the ToDo Institute. For furthur information you are welcome to click here.

PPS Thanks always and forever for stopping by here. I appreciate you one and all. And last but not least, another shout out to all the wonderful people I spent time with in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer. You could not have been more welcoming, kind, or filled with encouraging words. A warm and deep bow to all. 

Warm and Welcoming Alberta

Here I am in beautiful Alberta having completed, as of tonight, a public talk, a weekend retreat for Wellspring members, and an afternoon program. I started in Calgary last week and today wended my way north, driving three hours to Edmonton.

Mind you, I wasn’t driving, rather I was driven by my dear friend and colleague Nancy. The truth is, I have been supported every step of the way by loving colleagues and friends, even before I stepped off the plane.

 It is hard to explain the profound impact of seeing beloved Wellspring members, once again, in person. And new Wellspring members that I have only known on Zoom for three and a half years. There they were, standing before my very eyes! Plus brand new people who I met for the first time, on this trip.

What a privilege for me to get to spend time with all of these wonderful people and to pass on what I have learned over the years about Living Well with Illness.

Tonight, as I write, I am sitting on a chair in our hotel room in the small city of Red Deer writing this post on my phone. Everything has fallen into place when in reality all kinds of things could have gone wrong – tech issues, weather issues, other drivers …(we escaped the first snow storm of the year and a probable accident by seconds.) how lucky.

And such kind and thoughtful people in every program and everywhere we went. Tomorrow will be the last program on this trip, here in Red Deer.

And of course I did meet those beautiful baby girls – my great granddaughters. I got to hold Evelyn all morning on Monday and Isabelle all afternoon. Talk about happiness!! Tomorrow night we will meet again, and have another two days together before I return to Ottawa. Besides the amazing twins it is a joy to see their parents in action – heart bursting moments.

Now dear readers I will say goodnight. This day was perfect, and it was long, and it is time for sleep.

I leave you with a poem by Carrie Newcomer called Three Gratitudes. I found this thanks to

Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.

And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,

Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.

Click here to listen to the poet, Carrie Newcomer, read her poem

Thank you so much for stopping by. Three gratitudes out of hundreds that I have is getting to visit my friend’s mother who I also love, three times. Experiencing the prairie fields covered with snow and the light and the shadows creating magic outside my passenger window. And seeing the incredible art and art studios in The Edmonton Wellspring House. And always the people. It is always the people, fellow humans who make life worth living. (I know that is four😊)

All my best wishes, Trudy

Guess Who I Get to See This Week?

I will fly to Calgary early in the morning for two special reasons – to meet my beautiful great-granddaughters, Evelyn and Isabelle, for the first time, and to do in-person programs for my beloved Wellspring. How lucky can I get…10 days of joyful opportunities and endless possibilities.

So, tonight, I will not write a blog post as I still have several things to do. ( I am attempting to be realistic.) Life often has other plans than the ones we carefully craft and I am thankful to be able to respond. Usually, my karma is to have a sleepless night, before I fly, but this time I am attempting to modify that trend, in a minuscule way. :-))

“Little snail,

slowly, slowly,

climbs Mount Fuji

by Issa (1762-1826)


Thank you so much for stopping by. I will see you next week from Calgary, actually Edmonton on Wednesday. I hope these little ones (10 and 1/2 weeks) make you smile. All the best, Trudy







Uncontrollable Events


Recent world events do not leave us much wiggle room for optimism. Every day, from one continent to the next, terrible things happen that affect us. It can be beyond devastating when our loved ones are in the firing zones – everything becomes more pronounced. And it isn’t only weapons of mass destruction, but it includes climate change, financial uncertainty, and fear of what the future may hold for our children and grandchildren. The erosion of trust and confidence in our institutions and elected officials is exacerbated by fake news and the influence of commercial influencers. No wonder so many people are sleepless, suspicious and at the same time, lonely.

Rilke describes it well – “as if standing on fishes as if the ground had a life of its own and were swimming away underneath (us).”

This sounds pretty dire coming from me; I know that. And it isn’t exactly what I mean, either. I am a realistic optimist, but I am not an everything will turn out ok kind of person. Furthurmore, I am discouraged, as the news worsens, and especially because I know people impacted by all this awfulness. I am finding it challenging to write my blog post today for fear that anything I say will be trite. Nevertheless, my default is to start where I am, right where I am sitting, vulnerability and all.

Worry is natural.

Clearly, we can’t turn it on and off like a light switch, and when terrible things happen, why wouldn’t we worry? Our brains are designed to focus on problem-solving and find ways to overcome the problems. We want to reassure ourselves about the future and do what we can to have a good one. The problem, however, is so much of what we worry about is out of our control, besides the world stage,  politicians and the weather…

Take other people, including those we live with, our health (yes, our health), the unexpected expenses, the loss of a job, a phone call that changes everything… Don’t get me wrong, there are myriad ways in which we can influence outcomes, including our health, but we cannot prevent, control or guarantee results.


Uncontrollable Future

Much of our worry is fueled by our desire to control the uncontrollable future. We want certainty and guarantees. And sadly these are not available to us. As Oliver Burkeman writes in Four Thousand Weeks, “you can never be truly certain about the future. And so your reach will always exceed your grasp…  a surprisingly effective antidote to anxiety can be to simply realize that this demand for reassurance from the future is one that will definitely never be satisfied—no matter how much you plan or fret, or how much extra time you leave to get to the airport. You can’t know that things will turn out all right. The struggle for certainty is an intrinsically hopeless one—which means you have permission to stop engaging in it. The future isn’t the sort of thing you get to order around like that, as the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal understood:

‘So imprudent are we,” he wrote, “that we wander in the times which are not ours…We try to [give the present the support of] the future, and think of arranging matters which are not in our power, for a time which we have no certainty of reaching.’

Yikes! It is so true.

I also found this excerpt from Darlene Cohen to be a good reminder when we are in a vulnerable and emotionally laden situation. Of course, without practice, we can’t turn this better response on and off, which is why we may want to work with the smaller everyday intrusions on our plans that can sometimes send us into a tizzy. Handling the “grain of sand in our shoe” teaches us how to scale the mountains ahead, one foot after another.

Here is Darlene’s reflections:

Many of us tend to bombard a difficult situation with a compulsive and blind effort that buries its particulars in all the flailing about.  Making much too much effort all the time in every situation is not only exhausting, but it is a way of avoiding true engagement with our lives.  We’re so involved in our response, we can’t tell what’s actually going on in the situation we’re reacting to.  This strategy has all the earmarks of panic.  We strive and we struggle and apply ourselves utterly, which eliminates all opportunities to actually experience the often distressing hills and gullies of a demanding situation.  
My own experience of doing this is that it protects me from feeling my fear at not being able to handle the situation; I can’t bear to actually feel that twinge of terror that seizes my stomach, especially if the outcome is important.  
A big part of what you must learn if you’re to be less worried about controlling everything is how to let go of your compulsive need to feel in control.  You might be better off making the effort it takes to learn when to stop making effort, when to allow things to just happen.”
– Darlene Cohen

This also is True

We do keep trying and making an effort, but maybe Cohen is right. There may come a time when we need to allow things just to happen. Take health. Even when we do everything right according to our best information, we can still get sick, have an accident, grow old and eventually die. However, when we live moderately,  we improve the quality of our everyday life, and when we have a health challenge, we are in a better position to work with it. When we do our part, we up our chances of better outcomes but no guarantees. And a day will come when we may decide that the right effort is no effort and to stop the treatments that aren’t helping us or to decline treatment.

Present Moment”

I like this final reminder that Burkeman gives us: “much of what you value in life only ever came to pass thanks to circumstances you never chose.”

Having said all this, it is important to acknowledge our common humanity. We are not unique in the world of worry and wanting security. This is the human condition. I did a little research on the state of the world through the eyes of history. Sadly, we have never had world peace. There are always wars and trials and tribulations.

So, this takes me straight back to where I always land. We can’t count on tomorrow; life is the “full catastrophe,” and our best bet is to do what we can, where we are. to cheer each other on. Be a little kinder,  lend a hand and never forget to do what we can do. Laugh often and love much as my friend says. Spend time in nature to rejuvenate and notice the gifts all around us. Today and every day is a precious and special day. Let’s make the best of it.

Thank you for reading along. Best wishes for you and your loved ones, Trudy


1:)”This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.” Leonard Cohen

Savouring Autumn Days

Today’s post is a lightly edited reprint from Thanksgiving, two years ago. In Canada, we celebrate this special holiday early in October, during the height of autumn. Of all seasons, I am most thankful for this one. And I just spent last weekend at my friend’s tree house by the lake. Her six-year-old grandson named it thus; I think he is on to something. This beautiful lake house is full of windows, and you see stunningly gorgeous deciduous trees everywhere you look.

As the seasons change, sunlight, moonlight, a hundred shades of green, multi-coloured foliage (ooh, the oranges and red this year), bare boughs, and snow all create their own magic at the lake. It feels like you are nestled into a tree house, even though it can sleep 18 kids, grandkids and assorted relatives and a couple of dogs. It is, in a word, magical. And this past weekend, pre-Thanksgiving 2023, I had the joy of savouring the splendour of all this beauty. This autumn is the most spectacular that I can remember.

So, I was awestruck in gratitude and wonder for the quiet and splendour wherever I turned my head. The scale was so heavily weighted in my favour.

As I wrote, two years ago, if you ever want to do a reality check, based on your own standards, turn your attention to what is going right, and how you have been helped in your lifetime. These things are easy to miss because problems demand our attention. They require us to do something.  Things that are going well or how we are helped can easily slip through the cracks or fade into the woodwork. Not that we are unappreciative, but we can easily miss the ordinary.

Life is Something Like the 84th Problem

There’s a story about a farmer who came to see a sage, and to tell him about his numerous life difficulties. He told the sage about his farming troubles– drought or monsoons made his work difficult. He told the sage about his wife, for even though he loved her, certain things about her could use some fixing. Likewise with his children – yes, he loved them, but they weren’t turning out quite how he wanted.

So, he told the sage all of this, and when he was done, he asked the sage how he could help him with his troubles.

And the sage said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”

What do you mean? You’re supposed to be a great teacher!” railed the farmer.

To which the sage replied, “It’s like this: all human beings have 83 problems; it’s a fact of life.”

Sure, a few more problems may go away now and then, but soon enough a few more will come. So, we’ll always have 83 problems.”

To which the farmer indignantly responded, “Then what’s the good of all your teaching?

To which the sage replied, “My teaching can’t help with the 83 problems, but perhaps it can help with the 84th problem.”

What is the 84th problem?” asked the farmer.

“The 84th problem is that we don’t want to have any problems.

That Wide-angle Lens

If the power goes out or the hot water heater breaks down, we notice how great a shower feels because we are now deprived. I think about my computer and how it helps me to do my work, write this blog, meet up with friends online, pay my bills…order a book or put one on hold at the library. Many known and unknown people are responsible for me having a computer on my desk. And if the internet stops working for a day…Yikes! Who gave us our first job or taught us to read? Or who saved our lives with surgery, medicine, or other life-giving opportunity?

One walk around the block this morning was filled with beautiful colours. And the people who smiled and said hello also brightened my day. I’m not speaking of rose-coloured glasses, but rather that wide-angle lens. A way to capture the whole scene and not just what needs fixing, solving or learning to live with.  Bringing some balance to the mistaken view that if you do everything right, nothing will go wrong. Rather, even when things go wrong, as they inevitably well, many things still go right.

I find it remarkable that we have a national holiday to celebrate what we are thankful for.

Each year at Thanksgiving dinner, we have a tradition of speaking about what we are grateful for. This includes the youngest through to the oldest. However, in the last twelve years or so, we added a small tree (some years it was paper, now it is metal) and a stack of handmade construction paper leaves, in fall colours,  where we each write out what we are thankful for and attach our leaf to the tree.  Before dinner, we each read aloud what we wrote. It is a special ritual that our family and friends look forward to.

 If we want to decrease suffering, gratitude is pretty much a foolproof method of doing so.

My friend Patricia  sent me this quote from one of her artist friends, and I think it is perfect for just this occasion:

I want to spend the rest of my life rejoicing in the beauty of this world and finding a million ways to say thank you.” by  Anne Schrievogel


Note 1:)  A special thank you to Dr. Jinroh Itami, and his teachers, thanks to whom I have something to offer and to live by.  I am always grateful to Wellspring Calgary, The ToDo Institute, and all the wonderful people I am honoured to spend time with through my work. This includes you, dear reader. And to my precious family and friends, including inlaws, outlaws, and my 42nd cousins once removed.

Note: 2)  I wish my Canadian readers a special Thanksgiving weekend. It is my favourite holiday and allows us to count our blessings formally. You, dear readers, keep me company as we navigate this tender, wondrous and oftentimes difficult life.  Your encouraging words are heartfelt and appreciated. Please accept mine, as we cheer each other along.  A deep bow. Warmly, Trudy 

PS A little extra from the well-loved Brother David Steindl-Rast A Grateful Day

The Gods Must be Crazy

Everyday Is the Best Day

From a long time ago, that movie title – The Gods Must Be Crazy- came to mind this week. I sat down to write an article for Thirty Thousand Days and I called it Everyday is the Best Day. My first few sentences went like this:

Dr. Shoma Morita proclaimed that every day is the best day. And Dr. Jinroh Itami proclaimed that this expression best describes Meaningful Life (MLT) concepts. I happen to agree and consider that it also fits the program Living Fully/Well with Illness. Although a noble sentiment, this is difficult to apply in daily living.

I knew this idea would be provocative and require unpacking, which I won’t do today. However, I didn’t know I would be put to the test almost immediately. Imagine my shock when I went to save my draft, later that morning and discovered that my entire folder was gone. This folder contained six years of work for an organization, including workshops, previous articles, webinars, and drafts of articles… I even had it in a red folder on my desktop to spot it easily.

On my desktop, was the first mistake. I knew better than to store important documents on my desktop. My son hounded me each time he visited, but I continued. In all these years, nothing had disappeared from my many different desktops.  So, I couldn’t quite believe it and kept staring at my desktop as though it might reappear as magically as it disappeared. My mind was already spinning out a  story of great inconvenience and wasted time while chastising myself. (despite my self-compassion program.) I was fully aware of the irony of my topic and this cosmic joke. Except it wasn’t a joke. That folder was gone.

Do what needs doing.

And so I began to do what needed doing while hearing the words – every day is the best day.  I had Google at my fingertips to search for what I might do. I followed all the suggestions, unhid hidden files, and looked in every obscure corner of my directories, all to no avail. And as much as I was distressed about what happened, I couldn’t help thinking that life was somehow teasing me. Not the idea that my article would be a hard sell, but the reality, right here and now, that my folder was gone.  So I had to shake my head, laugh, and turn over stones.

Next, I thought of my backup system. (You may have thought of that first.) And with my fingers crossed, I went to the cloud and signed in. I come from an era where backup systems were often complicated and a pain in the neck, particularly to restore one folder. But Backblaze came through. I had to reset my password and type in a code, and there it was—a simple and well-designed menu to select from.

Everything was there, and within minutes, I had my folder with files intact downloaded: no glitches, hair-pulling, or tech angst. I was beyond grateful to get my work back.

The next step was to move the rest of my important files off my desktop. Done.

The truth is that life gives us challenges regularly. It is normal. We use our wit, skill and all the help we can get to act on the things we can do something about. And when we have done that, it can also be revealing to notice all the help we received to overcome the obstacle or to lessen its impact.

Let me make a partial list in this case.

  • I was in my study, when this happened, which made it easier than if I were out of town.
  • I am relatively tech-savvy, although storing essential files on my desktop shouts loudly that I am not.
  • I can follow instructions and know where to find them.
  • I had a backup program – untested to date, but it worked like a charm.
  • I did not lose my mind over this.
  • I wasn’t on a fixed and immediate deadline.
  • I have had training on how to struggle without agitation. (Nothing works all the time.)
  • As I fretted, chuckled and worked, the sky was blue outside my window.
  • My fretting was interrupted by a call from a dear friend.
  • And I was alive and well and capable of managing this, whether I got that red folder back or not.

In a certain way, we live with the false notion that things should work for us. And that if we work diligently and do the right things, well, things will turn out. Many times, they do. But not always. The advantage of living long enough is learning that life is full of the unexpected. Change is inevitable.  We also learn that we can manage the things that fall apart. Not necessarily all at once. But one step after the other. And even in the darkest hour, we can count on our ability to do the hard things and/or ask for help. We don’t like disappointments, changes in plans, or getting sick. Some things are much harder than others, yet there are moments of goodness, beauty, meaning and joy if we pay attention. (without ignoring or pretending that our life feels like it is going to hell in a handbasket, so to speak)

My lost folder crisis was hardly earth-shattering, yet it was a tiny whack on the side of the head to remind me that when I blithely make a statement that something is hard to do, I must be prepared to experience it.

Be the Calm One on the Boat

When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.

–Thich Nhat Hanh  (I love this reflection of Thich Nhat Hanh.)


1:) “We can make ourselves miserable, or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same.” Pema Chodron

2:) A poem

Light and Dark by James Crews (I saw this on Instagram)

Half-awake, I lose myself in a pool
of late morning sun and leaf-shadows
flashing on the floor outside my bedroom,
what the Japanese call komorebi ~ light
and dark held in the same container
of a single moment, as we hold them in us,
learning to love equally a burst of joy
welling up like wind in the crowns of trees
and a sorrow that still weighs us down
like stones in the shoes, like swallowed clay.
Today, I stand here at the edge of both,
knowing that if I want to walk in the light
I’ll have to dance with the shadows, too.

3:) A beautiful 12 min film, Love at First Sight, for those who haven’t watched this.

4:) Thank you for your courtesy and your time. You can do so many things, and I am honoured that you chose to spend a few minutes here. All my best wishes, Trudy

PS All the photos are from Gabriola Island. The banner photo was thunder and lightning at Berry Point – a favourite spot. Thanks to Gottfried.