Changing our Minds

A Winter Lesson

I was reminded of an important lesson this past weekend –  changing our minds. I mostly grumble about winter although I continue to live in this climate. And, honestly, there is much to grumble about. However, Saturday morning I didn’t want to shovel out my car and instead walked to Bank Street to a favourite cafe. I noticed something odd the minute I opened the door and stepped outside.


It was beautiful everywhere I looked: the brilliant blue sky; the sun lighting up snow-covered trees; the quality of the air; the mild temperature and not a wisp of wind. When I began walking, the thick carpet of snow was not slippery- no ice.  As I rounded a corner a flock of adorable birds flew onto a bush an arm’s length from where I was standing. It was wondrous. And I was brought up short because in those moments I loved winter. This was a feeling and it will pass soon enough. But it was also a visceral childhood memory of how I had loved winter and how this morning I loved it again. And I was flooded with thoughts about winter like how it can build resilience and many other desirable traits.

A reminder of looking with fresh eyes rather than assuming how awful x is.

When I chose to accept chemo after my diagnosis I recognized that this was a change of mind. I had previously and confidently proclaimed: “if I ever get cancer I won’t do chemo.”

I thought you said…

my daughter chimed in, when I told her about my treatment.

“I didn’t think I would ever get cancer,” was my answer. And I went on to talk about the research, the interviews, the questions, and the reading, all to discover why I needed chemo. It was my best chance. I henceforth saw chemo with new eyes; I was one of the lucky ones, where treatment was available. Don’t get me wrong, chemo was harsh and if you don’t need it you don’t want it. Yet, here I was, with this thing I was against, and it turned out to save my life. I see that differently still, and I am grateful that I got to have it.

Wishy Washy

When I was a girl, changing my mind wasn’t considered a quality. Rather, it was a black mark against anyone’s character and described as wishy washy. It often lead to getting up on a moralistic high horse and not getting down. It could lead to any number of life-changing actions that you felt obliged to follow through on.  All kinds of implications, when you think about it. Furthurmore, it was and is,  a rather perfect recipe to fracture relationships.

I change my mind with additional information

We can change our minds about people and situations: tell me more; maybe I was wrong; maybe you are right; let me think about this; I made a mistake. We don’t have to hold our ground on everything.  We have all been exposed to petty and tiresome arguments. I’m not sure why we think they are important but I assume conditioning. “Once they make up their mind, they don’t change it.” Often at great expense to those around them.

Great news

We can change our minds at any age. Age is not an excuse. Every now and then it can be interesting to question our own beliefs about everything, especially about what we think we can or cannot do. It can be fun to change our minds: learn to swim at 75, like my Mother; travel alone; start a new hobby; write a book; paint a picture. You might want to change your mind about yourself and what you think you are capable of.

Stay curious, try new things and live your life, while you can. Change your mind if you want to and surprise the family.


1:) First a big thank you to a reader who has become a friend. The surprise gift of a book of poetry, written by her, called Bits and Pieces by Pat Scanlan.

2:) A nature video (thanks to Emma Rooney for introducing this to me) some of you may like The Healing Forest

3:) I was invited to teach a Living Well with Illness program for two organizations in BC: Naramata and Sorrento.  They asked me to post their link to the program and I am happy to do so.

4:) May you find ways to have a good week. And may you find the strength and courage to face difficulties. All my thanks and best wishes, Trudy

13 replies
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Helga, my dear friend, this is the joy of ageing. A little freedom; a bit of spontaneity and the delight of changing your mind. Think of my mother who was terrified of the water yet took up swimming at 75 because it was good for her arthritis. And she went up in a hot air balloon at 91, to celebrate my birthday. Enjoy your life and sing while there’s voice left. Thank you. Always, Trudy

  1. Pat
    Pat says:

    Happy the book arrived. Mailed from Vancouver Island on Dec. 24! Interesting blog Trudy. I want to travel however I am now 81; insurance is very expensive and I have become limited in my physical abilities since Covid. I have travelled all over the world by myself but now am putting up barriers. Fresh eyes, fresh approach and acceptance of what I can do if I choose to get myself back to Italy, Norway, and Ireland. Three places I love and would like to see again. Oman and Abu Dhabi beckon as well. Not sure if I have the courage to travel alone but I think I might find a way! Courage.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Pat: Travelling by yourself doesn’t necessarily mean being alone, although it can be. I see it as saying yes to life. It may be travelling to the local live theatre; or joining a small travel group; or taking a train ride to visit a friend. Or going to Victoria for lunch. It’s really a state of mind, don’t you think? It is thoughtful of you to send your reflections either here or by email, after you read my blog. Saying yes to life can involve risk but never recklessness. Keep writing your poems. That, by the way, takes courage and I congratulate you. Gentle hugs, Trudy

  2. Jean
    Jean says:

    Haven’t heard that term for a while,wishy washy,annd it was not thought of as a desirable trait.thanksTrudy,for reminding me that changing our game plan is a great step forward.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Jean. I just read this excellent article in the NYT and I am clipping a segment for all of us here. Coincidentally, it is about changing our mind. One of the misconceptions about older people, according to Regina Koepp, clinical psychologist and founder of the Center for Mental Health and Aging in Burlington, Vt., is that “they’re rigid and they’ll never change,” she said. “That’s not true. Older people are not more rigid than younger people. Those are personality traits, not age traits.” Yet even older adults have internalized this narrative, Dr. Koepp said, “because they’ve heard it their whole life.”
      To age exuberantly, you must actively recognize your “internalized ageism” and fight against it, Dr. Koepp said. Saying “yes” as often as you can, she added, “is in effect saying ‘yes’ to life — being curious and exploratory, being part of community. Magnusson, states: “I’ve found that having a closed mind ages me more quickly than anything else,” she said. Before she refuses something — a dinner, an art show, buying a leather jacket — she asks herself: “Is it that I can’t do it, or I won’t?”
      “Give it a try, whatever it is,” she said. “Maybe you’ll go to a party and be the last to leave because you’re having such a good time.” I asked Magnusson when she last shut down a party. “A week ago,” she said.

      This of course, doesn’t mean you always say yes; no is an acceptable answer. It would be fun to experiment, just the same. Thank you as always, Jean, for your involvement in this blog. Best, Trudy

  3. Sabine Kaspari
    Sabine Kaspari says:

    Thank you Trudy, again your words meet exactly the needs of our time – and the film is beautiful. Living at the edge of the National Park Bavarian Forest, I am gifted to being able feeling the sensation of the forest’s healing power each day:-) Stay healthy, dear Trudy!

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Yes, Sabine. You have Nature at your doorstep. I have walked in your forests or rather your area and they are very special. You are a bit of a garden elf yourself. Big hugs across the sea. Trudy

  4. Janice+Falls
    Janice+Falls says:

    I know what you mean about grumbling about winter – the ice, the bitter winds, the shovelling. And I also know what you mean about suddenly being overtaken by winter’s beauty, especially after a fresh snowfall, brilliant sunshine in a deep blue sky, and those sweet little birds flocking together in the bare branches – trust you to capture that moment. Thanks for the reframing reminder. xoxox

  5. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    I always go away to ponder your thoughtful words. This was woven as loving artistry.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift with us Trudy.
    Grateful to find you, friend.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *