Thursday, July 1, 2010

Clean Sweep

I find joy in getting rid of stuff! I advertised a bunch of stuff on Kijiji today, all of it for free and most of it is already gone and all of it is spoken for. I love to recycle. I think it's wonderful that people will drive to my house and take away my junk!

Getting rid of stuff is like losing weight. I think our possessions weigh us down and clutter our minds. I stood in my garage tonight looking at all the extra space and plotting what I could eliminate even further.

I read an interesting article recently about "buying green". The author suggested that instead of buying green, we just don't buy at all. What a concept! I wonder if sometimes we buy things just for the sake of buying things?

There is a certain joy in unencumbering ourselves.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I don't generally find joy in things, however, I do find a lot of pleasure in the thrill of the hunt and the bagging of the bargain.

I have wanted a bird bath for my entire adult life. Whenever I looked at them, they were beyond my budget. I didn't want a cheap plastic one - I wanted a cast concrete one that would last.

Today I found a used bird bath on Kijiji for about 30% of the cost of a new one.

What I love about it is its green verdigris colour with hints of copper showing through. It has some design detailing that I find pleasing to the eye.

Buying it has helped jump start my  creative juices on how I want to landscape my backyard. I needed it as the catalyst for my ideas.

Also, I daydream about birds actually using my birdbath, so there is anticipation of joy in the future.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Iris of the Year

Today my irises bloomed. They are a delicate lavender shade. Once upon a time I actually collected irises. I had irises from many different gardens of friends and neighbours in a huge variety of colours. It was like a friendship garden. I knew where every iris came from and they brought me much pleasure.

One morning about 6 am, I sat on my front step and watch an iris open from a tightly wound bud to a full bloom. It took about an hour and was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever witnessed in nature.

I think it's time to start another iris collection. Time to increase my joy!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Flower Pots

I sat out on my deck today, the sun was shining, my flowers are beginning to bloom and I saw several delicate white butterflies flitting about. Flowers bring me such a sense of serenity and peace, I am so grateful to have a south facing backyard and to have the ability to fill it with beauty.

I found this piece of artwork and absolutely fell in love with it.

Self-taught artist Art Fronckowiak is dedicated to the traditional romantic landscape. His interplay of light and shadow, bright and dark colors bring a sense of peace to his floral architecture and scenic beauty that is temptingly bucolic. His use of acrylic oils lends a modern touch to his otherwise feel of Europe’s Barbizon master painters, as well as the American Hudson River period and an Old Florida style, reminiscent of Herzog, Inness and Bierstadt. Focused on the historic relevance and attention to detail, Fronckowiak conjures sentiment for times past.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hand Made Love

When it rains I'm cleaning out my home office.  As I cleaned out a box from the bottom of the closet I found a stash of hand made mother's day cards from my children when they were younger. I always wondered why I should keep them, now I know. They brought tears of happiness and fond memories.

I'm so glad I kept them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Today as I drove across the Bow river, I saw a field full of sorrel horses. Every year about a month before Stampede, the Shriners bring into the city their beautiful horses and pasture them just below where I live.

I don't know what it is about horses, but I love to look at them. Seeing them run through a field all together lifts my heart in a special way.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

mommy and daddy

I am enjoying having my parents visiting me. I am so grateful that they are here. My dad always fixes things around the house and helps me sort out technical stuff on my computer. My mom brings me books and interesting things to talk about.

It's a pleasure to have them here for this week. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Receive Service - Receive Joy

Today my daughter phoned me up and offered to come help me plant my sweet peas. I didn't know I needed help until we started stapling up the netting on the fence and realized it was a two-person job. I guess I've always had help in the past. She did all the stapling and planting while I supervised and separated plants.

She was feeling down and decided she would fill her week with service to others this week (and no she doesn't read my blog!) I recently wrote about giving service as a way to add joy to your life. Today I found out that receiving service and allowing others to help you also brings you joy.

I am so thankful for her help as it would have taken me hours and hours to do what we accomplished in two.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hard Work for Lots of Joy

I spent the past two days preparing and planting flowers in my flower pots on my back deck. Today I sat out in the sun and read, surrounded by my flowers. My mother questioned why I do so much work with my flowers and my simple answer is: "because they bring me so much joy."

Yesterday I dug out a long flower bed against the south facing fence to plant sweet peas. I've had sweet peas at every house I've lived in for the past 20 years. This will be the first year I have them here as last year I stained the fence where they're going to go so that I could put up the netting and not have to take it down later.

Out of all the flowers I grow, Sweet Peas bring me the most joy. I love their vibrant colours, their delicate petals and most of all their blissful fragrance. I love that they grow in abundance and I can fill my home and office with bouquets, and give away bouquets and still have more and more.

Sweet Peas are like joy, the more you pick them, the more they grow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Joy in Service

Over the years I've found that there is joy in giving service to others. So when Tim McPherson called me this evening to ask me if I would help serve at the Seminary graduation dinner, I said I'd be happy to help. He was shocked and stuttered and said I was the first person to say that.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”  Rabindranath Tagor
 Is this a secret that only a few select people know about?

Want to increase your joy? Give service to someone else. Simple as that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Joy Seeker

Yesterday's little experiment of actually asking myself what I could do to increase my joy was a bit of an eye opener. I have been operating on the premise that you keep your eyes open for things that bring you joy and when you do, it's a lovely bit of serendipity.

So how about actually doing things to bring yourself more joy? Actually making a plan and following through? It's a whole new level for a joy seeker such as myself.

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. Henri Nouwen
Did you choose to feel joy today?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just Sittin

This morning I asked myself "What is one thing I can do today to bring some joy into my life?" I found it a rather difficult question and pondered  for a while. Finally I wrote down: sit on my deck and enjoy the sunshine for 10 minutes.

I was looking for something simple. When I got home from work, I realized that the sun was almost past my deck and I better hustle my butt out there if I wanted 10 minutes of joy.

So I sat out in the sun. My mind was all over the place and it was really hard to pull it back and try to enjoy sitting there in the sun. I obviously have lots of work to do to learn to enjoy sitting still in the sun without making lists and planning and reviewing!

Isn't this deck lovely? Today I bought all the bedding out plants to turn my deck into my own private garden of eden. I'm excited to start planting, flowers always bring me joy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Story Telling

We live our lives by telling ourselves stories about what is happening. It's our way of explaining events to ourselves, to gain understanding and make meaning of our lives. We rely on previous stories we've told ourselves to define our new experiences. We learn how to interpret events from our family, religion, culture, friends, media, I expect the list of influence is long.

An interesting technique I learned in college while taking my professional writing program was to take an existing story, for example Little Red Riding Hood and rewrite it from a different perspective, perhaps the wolf's or grandma's.

This can be applied to our own stories. Perhaps we've told ourselves the same story over and over again about something that happened in our past. We know it off by heart and it never varies. It explains why things happened from one perspective - ours.

I'm finding it fascinating to rewrite my stories with new perspectives. To look for the good things and the joyful things in my sad stories. It is possible to find joy in any situation, sometimes it takes a lot of digging, but it's there to be found if we choose to look.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Da Big Apple

I don't take enough vacations! I came back late last night  feeling so much joy and happiness from spending a lovely holiday with good people. I have renewed motivation to move forward with a new direction in my life.

I realize even more today that we either create our lives or live passively and let circumstances and other people direct our lives. I might as well create the life I really want, rather than wallow around waiting for something to happen.

I love New York, what an amazing city! The people are so friendly and I felt safe. It's a city that never sleeps. We were out late every night, and so, it seemed, were everyone else. The subways are full at midnight. I enjoyed people watching, there are so many to watch!

I will definitely be going back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Grand Adventure Begins

I'm off on a grand adventure to see Washington DC and New York City. I've never been before. My bags are packed and I'm ready to go.

 Don't know if or when I can post to my blog but if I get a chance I will as  there are many beautiful moments out there to enjoy.

Joy is all around us, we just have to open our eyes and our hearts to see it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poetry in Reality

I am reading a book called "The Joy of Appreciative Living" by Jacqueline Kelm. I am only two chapters in but I am fascinated by her topic. This morning on page 23 I read this:
We can find whatever we want in any situation, and whatever we choose to notice is fateful. All is present in every moment, from love to fear, good to bad, beautiful to ugly, joy to sorrow. Whatever we focus on from the unbounded possibilities defines our experience. In this sense reality is like poetry; it can be written in any manner conceivable and is open to infinite interpretations.
I've been learning this for a while, but I still find it to be profound. To think that two or more people can experience the same event and perceive it in totally different manners, yet each person believes that their reality is the only correct one. It's a wonder we can communicate with anyone!

The more I focus on and look for the beautiful moments in my everyday life, the more I find them. I'm beginning to find it challenging to select just one thing to write about each night as my days are full of joyful little simple moments that lift my heart and carry me through the mundane and crappy things of life.

For today, I will select the scallops I ate for dinner at The Blue House Cafe. They were cooked in a coconut and caper sauce that had Deb and I swooning.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tea and Toast

I dropped by a friend's home unannounced this evening. I was in the neighbourhood and took a chance that she might be home. She was and was happy to see me.

I don't remember ever dropping by unannounced to anyone. We have to plan everything it seems.

She made me toast from her fresh loaf of homemade bread and smeared it with creamy honey. She also brewed me some vanilla and hazelnut tea.

It was simple and unplanned yet wonderful. My heart is warmed by the tea and more by the friendship.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Make Me Happy

It's interesting to figure out that you cannot make anyone else feel happy. Each person chooses their own interpretation of your actions and decides to be happy or not. Happiness is always a personal choice.

Understanding this allows you to do your best for others, and then let go and not be emotionally invested in whether or not they choose to be happy.

It also makes you realize that no one can make you happy or unhappy. No one can get inside your heart and push the happy button or the miserable button. It's pretty shocking to realize that if you are unhappy that you have chosen to feel that way.

There are bad things that happen to us and pretending they're not or ignoring them is called denial. I'm not advocating denial. I'm suggestion that we can accept that a situation is bad but also look for possibilities for change and growth, strengths to be gained and opportunities to reach out.

Our personal lives are created by our attitudes and choices. Change your thoughts and change your life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Mayflower Blooms

The Mayflower bloomed today. I was sitting on the deck at lunch time reading and finally the beautiful perfume registered in my brain. It's thick and heady and so fragrant.

It's so amazing how quickly it happens. Yesterday when I was out in the yard working, there was no perfume, no flowers blooming. Then poof, today they all open up and gift the world with their unique blessing.

It's amazing how each living thing is designed to fulfill the measure of its creation. It just goes about doing what its supposed to do. It doesn't get hung up about whether its perfect enough, or whether its big enough or beautiful enough. It blooms where its planted.

Oh to be like the Mayflower tree, content to bloom where I'm planted and to fulfill the measure of my creation.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I found an interesting quote today:

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.                                                       Henry David Thoreau.

I think about that a lot. That our conscious endeavors can actually change our life. Or perhaps our perception of life. Every single day stuff happens. It's not the great stuff I'm talking about, it's the annoying, frustrating stuff that everyone gets to deal with. I expect we all get about the same amount, equivalent to whatever our tolerance level is. Everyone's ability to cope is different. Things that you can handle easily might slay me, and vice versa.

However, it is our own attitude towards things that creates the life that we lead. Focus on the bad stuff and it becomes bigger and more important, until it takes over and becomes the center of our existence.

Focus on the good things and the same thing happens. Our perception of life becomes centered on what's good and lovely and right, and our ability to deal with the bad stuff increases. It becomes less important and less central to our everyday existence.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Today I drove to Golden, BC. It's a small mountain town about a 2 1/2 hour drive away on the western side of the Rocky Mountains. Of course, I had to drive through the majestic Rockies, they were as beautiful as always.

Golden's spring seems to be about a week ahead of ours. The tulips and daffodils were all blooming, the cherry trees in full blossom. As I returned to my own neighbourhood, it was as if spring had arrived while I was away for the day. I saw a pink blossomed bush in full bloom just around the corner from my home. There were clumps of pale yellow daffodils in the yard by the mailbox. The lilac bushes in my yard are covered in tiny green buds that will soon be fragrant bouquets by my bedside.

Oh, how I love springtime.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I was eating breakfast, the sun shining brilliantly, when suddenly an orange butterfly flitted past my window. It wove an erratic path across the yard and lit on the cedar fence, almost blending into it.

I sat there crunching my cereal in a bit of a morning stupor but suddenly realized that I wanted to see the butterfly up close. I jumped up and ran outside, but I ran too fast and scared it away. It was beautiful and looked very similar to this one.

I stopped under my Mayflower tree and saw that the blossoms are almost open. Just a few more days until my yard is filled with heavenly perfume.

I'm trying to capture joyous moments whenever I can. It means living right in the moment and being here and not daydreaming the day away. It means jumping up and embracing beauty, even the fleeting beauty of a butterfly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Mother's Voice

Last night my daughter had to write a difficult 3-hour exam for her certification. As she left the exam she phoned me to chat. We talked for about 20 minutes then she was on her way.

This morning I read in the Calgary Herald this article:

"Mom's voice almost as soothing as a hug"
Getting a call from mom can be nearly as effective as a maternal hug for calming down after a tough event, according to a probe into the chemistry of human relationships.
Researchers measured levels of a stress hormone, cortisol, and also a comforter hormone, oxytocin, among 61 young girls who had to make a presentation in public.
The volunteers, aged seven to 12, were asked to do public speaking and then carry out an oral arithmetic test in front of an audience, according to the unusual experiment, reported on Wednesday by the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Immediately after the event, a third of the girls were physically comforted by their mother; another third received a phone call from mom but did not see or touch her; and the remaining third received no support but watched a neutral film for 75 minutes.
As expected, cortisol levels, measured in saliva, soared as the youngsters became stressed by having to address the public.
But within 30 minutes of the event, cortisol concentrations returned to normal among the children who experienced direct physical contact with their mothers.
Among the speech-only group, it took somewhat longer -- about an hour -- for cortisol levels to subside to normal. But among the no-contact group, levels were still more than a third above normal at the one-hour mark.
Similarly, oxytocin concentrations peaked highest among girls who were hugged, followed by girls who were given vocal support but no physical comfort. The surge was still prominent an hour afterwards.
But oxytocin levels remained very low and flat among the "no contact" group of girls who received neither physical nor vocal support.
The findings raise intriguing questions about human evolution, say the researchers led by Leslie Seltzer of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Oxytocin is famous as the "cuddle" hormone, a feel-good, trust-making biochemical found only in mammals.
Past research has found that the hormone is released on physical contact, helping to cement attachment between parents and offspring and between couples.
The new experiment confirms for the first time that this powerful hormone can also be triggered by words.

Isn't that amazing? Even just hearing a mother's voice can soothe a child. I guess that explains why I still phone my mother when I need a virtual hug.

This is a photo of my daughter and me at least 12 years ago. She posted it to her Facebook account on mother's day. 

We're still hugging after all these years, but isn't it amazing that I can give her a hug over the phone with just my voice?

What a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Today I found out that my brother and his wife will be in Washington, DC on the same day that I'm there. Considering that neither of us have ever been there before and that we didn't plan on being there at the same time, the coincidence is mind boggling.

Considering we didn't even know each other was going there and considering that I don't believe in coincidence, my mind has been spinning things all day long. There must be meaning and reason and purpose I tell myself. After all, we live in different countries and rarely see each other, once a year is frequent for us.

If wild leaps of imagination and jumping to conclusions were actual exercises I would be in extremely good shape.

However, after much pondering, I can see no cosmic reason why the universe wants me to have dinner with my brother except that it will be nice to see him and his lovely wife and catch up.

I still don't believe in coincidence, so I will take it as a sweet blessing and revel in the joy of being reunited with my family.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green Exercising

Well! Today I heard on the evening news about a revolutionary new way to feel good about yourself and experience more joy. It's called....Green Exercising!

Guess what Green Exercising is?  It's exercising outdoors!  Who'da thunk? Something so simple, and yet mankind has only JUST discovered it.

I exercised this evening but not outdoors, I wonder if I should feel guilty for not being green???

I like to joke and make fun of silly and ridiculous things. Looking for the humour in life is what brings laughter to our lips and joy into our hearts.