My Mother’s Love

My mother and I had a challenging relationship.

In her view, I was always criticising her for not being the mother I wanted/needed her to be. In mine, I felt like I was never the daughter she wanted/needed me to be.

As we both grew older, the tensions between us eased, but finding harmony in a relationship where we felt comfortable and free to be ourselves was a constant journey into acceptance.

When she died at 97 years of age a couple of weeks before COVID lockdowns began, we’d reached a truce. As long as I didn’t try to get her to talk about the past, which in her mind was me just trying to make trouble as I always did, we had a modicum of peace between us. It was a tentative peace, one she was not willing to put to the test, Which meant, we never spent time together alone. Which, for me meant, we never talked about the things that mattered most.

At the time, wished it could have been otherwise, but my desire to ‘clean up the past’ was to her, a recipe for pain and more hurt. Silence was our companion, the boundaries of which were not safe to cross.

After her death, she began to ‘visit’ me whenever I was in the bath. I was a tad confused and consternated by her choice of venue. She’d arrive, dressed up á la Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany fame, long ebony cigarette holder in one hand, a martini glass in the other.

You are not my mother, I told her. My mother would never be so daring.

She laughed (something I did not recall my mother doing very often in life) and replied that on this earthly plain, the burdens she carried weighed her down so much she could never be find her lightness of being.Just as she could never be the mother I wanted (needed) her to be.

That shut me up.

My mother admitting she might have failed me?

I didn’t dare say it out loud.

It didn’t matter. She laughed at my thinking.

I’m spirit, she said. I can see through all those bubbles you pile on top of you in the bath to hide your naked body and, I can read your mind. Don’t worry. On this side of life, there is no judgement, only Love.

I wrote a lot about my mother’s after-life visits. They were healing, comforting and above all, loving. They filled in the missing pieces, smoothed out the rough edges and built a pathway to understanding, forgiveness and acceptance.

My mother’s and my relationship was exactly as it was meant to be. It was the starting point of the journey that brought me here, to where I am today, grateful, accepting and loving of the path I took to get me here, to this place where I am today.

No matter its hardships, no matter my falls, my tumbles, my getting lost and losing my way, it was the path I took. I cannot change the path behind me, just as I could never change my mother.

There were a thousand paths I could have taken, a thousand things my mother and I could ahve done differently. It doesn’t matter.

It is not the path I took nor how angry or resentful of my mother i was, or how I much I judged her lacking (and wished I hadn’t) that counts today, It is how bright the light I shine on my path, how much joy and love I dance with on my journey from here that makes a difference.

My mother taught me that. After she was gone.

My mother gave me life.

For nine months she carried me in her womb, praying for my safe arrival.

She did not intend to make my journey hard or difficult. She did not intend to hurt me or cause me to doubt who I am or my worth. And she did not purposefully or knowingly do the things she did that caused me pain.

Like me, she did the best she could with the tools and resources she had. She struggled. She fell. She got back up and tried again.

She hurt. She bled. She cried. She despaired.

Yet, through it all, no matter how difficult the road she traveled, no matter how dark the night or bleak the weather ahead, she never quit doing the one thing her mother’s heart told her she must do – love the child that was me, no matter how much she did not understand, agree nor approve of the road I was on. No matter how hard I fought against her. All she could do was love the only way she could. Her way.

My mother wasn’t perfect.

But then, neither am I.

What my mother was is the one thing I can never deny, she was the woman who gave me life. She loved me as best she could no matter how difficult I sometimes made her journey.

I am grateful.

I am blessed.

And,above all, I accept, she did the best she could in the life she gave me.

And in that life she gave me, I have come to know the truth about who I am. I am not the stories I’ve told that kept me walking in the pain of believing I was never enough for my mother, the world, or myself.

I am not the things I’ve done to prove my biggest fears about how undeserving and unworthy I am are true.

I am me, because of my journey and the way my mother loved me. I am awakened to my birthright of worthiness. I am awakened to knowing, without a doubt, I am a miraculous expression of divine love and amazing grace.

My mother taught me that.

A mother is not born in giving birth. She is forged in the crucible of life’s trials and tribulations teaching her with each painful and uncertain step, to become a vessel of love that can never be broken.

It is my mother’s womb that carried me into life. It is her love that could never be broken, no matter how much I found it lacking, wanting or deficient, overwhelming or too needy, it is her love that continues to shine on the path of my life today.

For, though it is her womb that nurtured me into being, it is not the womb that connects and binds us. It is Love.

To all the mothers, however you arrived at the threshold of motherhood, no matter how far the distance between your heart and the ones you love, may you always know how beautiful, special and divinely graced the world is by your presence.

May you know how miraculous you are, in all the radiant beauty of your unique expression of your love. And may you know, deep within you, that the Love you share so selflessly and with such devotion, no matter how it is received or felt or rejected, is exactly the Love the world needs now.


The bittersweetness of it all

If I had a photo of the finished loaf you’d see the love and laughted embodied in its imperfect not very risen substance.

I made bread with my grandchildren last night. Their mom and dad were out on a date and my granddaughter decided, as we’d just picked up a bag of fresh milled flour from Flourist that afternoon, that NOW was the time to create.

All of us.

Her. Me. Her brother.

Her brother had missed out on the first loaf we’d made as he was at school. I was on my way home today and we wouldn’t be able to do it all three before I left.

“YiaYa,” she proclaimed in the imperial voice of an almost three year old. “We must make bread.”

“But you’ll be going to bed soon,” I reminded her.

“No. We must make bread. T (her brother) didn’t get to make it last time.”

Disuading an almost three year old to take a different course is like trying to convince a bad case of diahrrea to stop with just your mind. It ain’t happening.

And so, an hour and a half before bedtime, I hauled out the fresh bag of flour, mixing bowl and cups, yeast, salt and honey and we began.

Oh my! What a beautiful mess we created.

It’s a good thing their cleaner was coming today!

By the time we were through there was flour everywhere, which the children thought hilarious as evidenced by their enthusiastic sweeping of flour across the counter (You don’t want the dough to stick, my grandson informed me. At 5 he is very convinced there is a right way (and wrong) to do everything. The right way is always preferrable unless, of course, its reading his newest story-book about a fish and a crab who can’t get to sleep because the fish won’t quit talking, 3 times, from end to beginning.)

The whole bread-making affair was accompanied by gales of laughter but it was our combined bent over convulsions of laughing when I plopped the ball of dough into the food-processor for kneading and the machine started dancing across the counter and I started racing after it desperately trying to hit the off switch that put us over the top of the laughing richter scale (after I finally made it stop, of course!)

These are the memories I hope they remember. I know I will.

The joy of two pair of tiny hands enthusiastically punching down the dough. Again. And again. And again. And again. Ok. I think it’s good now. NO YiaYa! More!. OK. One more punch. No YiaYa! More! Until all that’s left is a flattened rubbery sheet of weary looking bread dough which ultimately, given the state of the final product, was unable to find enough breath to rise again.

Well, the bread may have come out relatively flat (ok – it definitely wouldn’t meet the height restrictions of any bakery I know of! But it tastes good – just ask my daughter who had to sample it fresh from the oven hot.) – In the end, the laughter and fun we shared was worth every unrisen grain of gluten stretched flour.

I am at the airport now awaiting my flight home.

My heart if full. My heart is sad. My memories taste sweet mixed with a scent of bittersweet sadness that it will be two months before I see them in person. Two months before I receive the incredible warmth and tightness of their hugs and hearing, in person, their beautiful voices yelling, YiaYa!

There’s no volume control on a 3 and 5 year-olds voice level. And I don’t care. It’s all beautiful, messy, life-giving and heart-filling to me!


One way I’m going to douse the bittersweet sadness is to coach at Discovery Seminars for the next 5 days starting tomorrow morning. Colour me excited!

I want to grow old as if aging is as exciting at 70 as it was at five

Some say age is irrelevant. Some say it’s everything. Some, that getting older is hard. Others, that it’s not for the weak of heart, spirit, or mind.

I say, age, and aging, are what we make of it.

We can’t not age. Our bodies change and grow older with every passing day. And while we can’t stop the aging process, we can cultivate a young-at-heart state of mind no matter our age. We can consciously choose to remain spirited, open-minded, and mindful of how we see ourselves at every age, because, no matter how old we get, we always have the power to choose to not make our age the measure of our journey, but rather make our journey the measure of how we live our age.

I want to be as excited and enthusiastic about getting older as my grandson approaching his fifth birthday, counting each sleep left before the ‘big day’. I want to treat every day as the best day to be alive because reaching five, or whatever age I achieve, is the best age to be in this moment, right now.

I want to fill each day with memories to cherish and possibilities to fulfill. To stuff all the things that make my heart dance into each moment, unfettered by worry and confusion about what it means to be turning 70, or 80 or any other age I claim as mine. I want to dance wild of heart, living every day as if the question, “How shall I best live this day” is the only question I need to live into, every day.

I don’t want to feel like I’m crawling towards some finish line looming ominously like a dark cloud hanging low upon a not-so-distant horizon. I want to invite Lady Death to be my welcome companion. To run with her through fields of wildflowers blowing in the wind, to stand in silent companionship under a warm spring sun and feel its warmth on our upturned faces as we soak in the glorious nature of this day. I want to know that Lady Death is not lurking in the shadows waiting for some, indecipherable to me, signal that says, “Time’s Up!” but is dancing with me in the rain, catching raindrops on our tongues and splashing barefoot in mud puddles, arms wide open as we spin and leap with abandon. I want her to be my best friend. The one who comes and sits with me when I am scared of what comes next, encouraging me to stand up and live unafraid of whatever does come next.

I want to live as if dying is not the end of living, just the end of life as I know it. That, in living this life the best I can, I can trust Lady Death to take care of whatever glorious mystery lies beyond it, in its own time that doesn’t matter to me.

I want to live wild, free, and magnificently alive right to my last breath no matter how my body carries me across death’s threshold. A threshold I am confident will arrive in its own sweet time, saving me from having to discover whether or not I had a ‘best before date’.

Because I know, deep within my body, that I don’t have a ‘best before date’. I only have dates with my best days ever, days, not to be used up, but used to the fullest of my ability, no matter my age.

I don’t want to be used up by life. I want to use up life bite by scrumptious bite, savouring every morsel of life as if it’s some delicious meal inviting me to consume it to the very last delectable drop.

I want to live this life as if it’s the only life I have to live because it truly is the best life I’ll ever have and celebrating my birth date with as much enthusiasm as my five-year-old grandson celebrates his, is the best way to say as I blow out all 70 of my candles (and however many more are yet to come), “Thank you for this amazing, magnificent, glorious life. It is the best gift I’ve ever received. And my wish is on this day and every day, I use it well every day of my life.



I am in Vancouver, consumed by Love. Breathing in joy and laughter.

In the presence of my grandchildren, there is no space for uncertainty or fear. There is only Love.

Yes. The world feels off-balance. Battered by a multitude of woes that sometimes feel like they can steal my breath away. There are so many over which I have little or no sway. So many things to give my attention to.

And all of it fades as I listen to the sweet voices of my grandchildren. See their loving faces and hear their laughter.

All of it matters yet in their presence, future concerns wane within the glow of their presence. Nothing can dim, Love.

I am breathing. Love in. Love out. Love in. Love out.

I am breathing.

Worldly concerns will still be there when I get home and so, like Scarlett O’Hara viewing the devastation of Tara, I tell myself, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

The world matters. Their futures matter. What I do right now matters most.

I fall, breathlessly, into Love.

Live Well. Stay Connected.

I love this photo because it is full of joy — and my granddaughters desire to get moving written all over her face! 🙂

When my 97-year-old mother passed away in 2020, three weeks before the first Coronavirus enforced lockdown, we were able to celebrate her life with family and friends. Grief and gratitude for this woman who had given so much to everyone were present. We were fairly confident the virus wasn’t.

For our family, the passing of our matriarch was a shared experience that enriched our lives and brought us closer, not just with one another but with our many friends, most of whom had known our mum and loved her for her gentle ways and many kindnesses.

In the final two weeks of her life my mother was never alone, never without a loving presence sitting at her bedside, talking, reading, sharing, laughing, caring. Sometimes, friends dropped by to say hello, and good-bye. It was a loving, peaceful farewell made even more beautiful because we each knew that we belonged within the family circle my mother had woven and stitched and patched and repaired throughout her life.

For older adults, having a sense of belonging is vital to physical and mental health. Yet, too often, social isolation and loneliness shadow their days and nights, leaving them exposed to many diseases.

The CDC reports that “Although it’s hard to measure social isolation and loneliness precisely, there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk. Recent studies found that:

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.    Source

I have often wondered how my mother lived such a long life, and aside from severe arthritis, a relatively healthy life.

My mother was seldom lonely.

She made it her mission in life to befriend strangers, to surround herself with people about whom she cared and who cared for her. She lived connected to a vast network of family and friends. And though there were times we worried about her mental health and her ability to cope with life’s ups and downs, her resilience and ability to make meaningful relationships where ever she was, her habit of always giving back in whatever way she could, kept her safe and secure to her final day.

Many older people are not so fortunate. Nor connected. As we age, so too does our close community. This can lead to feelings of loss, loneliness and isolation. These feelings can be exacerbated by life circumstances such as transitions to retirement and accompanying loss of identity, ill health, loss of a spouse or friends, mobility problems, vision and hearing loss, lower income, residential changes, and changes in access to transportation.

And, when we’re feeling lost and alone, when we fear we have no one we can safely reach out to, our mental and physical well-being are at risk.

We live in a diverse society. Not just gender, race, faith, sexual orientation and culture but age too. As in other developed countries, Canada’s population is aging. The number of Canadians aged 65 and older will rise from 14% (4.8 million) in 2010 to 25% (10.4 million) by 2036 (Statistics Canada, 2010). By 2056, 1 in 10 Canadians will be aged 80 or older (Martin-Matthews, 2011).

We are also living longer and continuing to make meaningful contributions to society well beyond the socially accepted retirement age of 65.

To ensure we capitalize on the age diversity that exists in society today, we must ensure our policies, programs, services and structural facilities are designed to promote social inclusion, connection and belonging. To capitalize on the significant contributions older generations are making and will continue to make for the common good, we must not limit their potential.

My mother was 97 when she took her last breath. If she had one regret, she used to say in her soft, lilting voice, it was that she hadn’t accumulated great wealth to leave behind for her children and their children.

She need not have any regret. What she left us is far more valuable. She left us knowing we belong to one another and an appreciation for the power of social connection.

My Grandmother’s Code Revisited

After two weeks with my grandchildren (and their parents) my heart is full. Of love. Laughter. Joy. Contentment. Wonder and Awe.

Before my grandson was born I wrote a Grandmother’s Code for myself to remind me of what I wanted my grandchildren to learn and know — not just about me but about being in this world.

As I played and chatted and soared on imaginary space ships to the moon and talked to trees in the forest and searched for crabs beneath rocks on the beach, I wondered, what am I teaching them? Am I teaching them about kindness? About diving deep into your imagination to explore what’s possible and to believe in your dreams? Am I teaching them to love fierce, live wholly, be present?

This morning, I went in search of my Code to check out how well I’d lived by its tenets. I’m grateful I did.

What do I want to teach my grandchildren?

I want to teach them that who and how they are in the world makes a difference because their being in this world makes a difference.

I want them to know that this world is a place of awe and wonder. That amidst the turmoil, pain and chaos, that kindness, beauty, creativity, compassion are essential. And that in all things, all places, all situations, Love is always the answer.

And I can only do that by living through:

The power of kindness.

The beauty of honesty.

The gift of creativity.

The exquisiteness of compassion.

The grace of Love.

By living these tenets in all ways and all things I am, I want my grandson and granddaughter (heck. make it the whole world) to know that you don’t have to do anything to make a difference. You are the difference you bring into this world. Make your difference be a reflection of all you are when you walk with integrity, act through kindness and do all things with a heart full of love and compassion.

Bliss Is…

I started writing this post several days ago.

That’s how bliss works.

It captures you in the moment, immerses you in joy and sends thoughts of all those things you need to ‘get to’ away.

I have been immersed in the bliss of time with my grandchildren for 10 days now.

Pure bliss.

And though tiring, the tiredness pales in comparison to the joy that consumes me when I hear their laughter, see their smiles and feel their tiny and small hands in mine.

At 3 and a half, my grandson is an ever-moving energized bundle of legs running, arms flying about like an airplane or rocket ship or break dancer breaking wild. He pushes a never-ending plethora of dumptrucks zooming across the floor and excavators digging up dirt all while racing his “boy-size’ Porsche car around the island chasing his 13 month old sister as she pushes her ‘her-size’ baby carriage gleefully in front of him.

There are cuddles and story-time and laughter and sometimes tears too and always, always, “Play with me YiaYa’s” galore and questions that can never be answered to his satisfaction like “What are you doing?” and “Are you finished your coffee yet so you can play with me now?” and “Where’s Daddy?” or “Why is mummy busy?”

There are walks in the forest to talk to trees and listen to their heartbeats and follow the story of their roots deep into the ground and stare up into the sky high, high above their branches and walks along the beach turning over every rock in an endless search for crabs and assorted sea life and digging in the sand and climbing up monkey bars and sliding down slides and taking rocket ships to many moons of many colours.

And through it all, there are rainbow ribbons of bliss weaving magic in the air all around and filling my heart to the roots of my soul’s craving for more time to savour the sacred nature of being their YiaYa.

I am here for a couple of more days. My planned trip to Gabriola for the weekend aborted as Covid numbers climb and playing safe means more than just making sure a little pair of hands don’t get caught in closing doors or as my grandson reminds me every time I buckle him into his carseat, “Make sure you don’t pinch me YiaYa.”

And, because I know my granddaughter will be waking from her nap soon, and my grandson will be returning from a walk with his mum, I let go of the need to check back on what I wrote and let it go. That way, I can come back again and again when I return home to savour the feelings of joy and love and bliss that fill every moment of time with my grandchildren and their parents.

This is bliss.


On The Day You Were Born

I was there for her first cry. First word. First step. First fall. First day of school. First heartbreak.

So many firsts to have had the privilege to celebrate with this amazing woman, my eldest daughter Alexis, who turns 35 today.

Alexis and Me

I remember hearing her first cry as they cut into my womb to lift her out. I remember feeling an emotion wash over me for which there were no words to describe. Love. Joy. Peace. Grace. It was all there and I was swimming in it and have been swimming in it ever since she came into this world, not kicking and screaming but with a delicate, soft cry that said, “I’m here. Now, give me time to adjust to this new environment please so that I can feel every sensation, sense every emotion and experience every molecule.”

Alexis was born with words written in her heart. Words that need and must flow. Words brimming with beauty that pour out and into the world awakening, touching, moving hearts and minds and souls to see and feel and know how beautiful, ethereal, mystical and real this life is.

She is a word warrioress. A poetry priestress and a heart diviner.

She’s also an exceptionally heartfelt, loving and kind woman. A mother now of my two favourite littles in the whole wide world, Alexis teaches me everyday about living from the heart, being fearless in vulnerability and finding light in the darkness.

Happy Birthday my beautiful, fierce, loving, creative daughter. You are the sun and the moon and the stars that make my world shine bright and fierce with love.

For Alexis

On the day you were born
I heard you cry inside my womb
and felt my body melt
beyond words 
beyond feeling 
beyond emotion
as I became consumed
by wild fierce love 
that poured 
like a waterfall cascading
into the deepest crevices of my soul
filling my body
with its sweet melody of love
as I fell
forever in Love with you. 

On the day you were born
the sun shone bright
and the trees whispered stories
of your arrival 
and the river flowed steady as a heartbeat
and the wind blew soft as a feather falling
and my heart beat
with the wonder
of the miracle
of holding you
cradled in my arms
forever in my heart

On the day you were born
I felt my heart burst
into a dizzying, daring beat
that has never stopped 
its song of gratitude
for the gift of you
and your fierce heart 
    that sews words into pearls of beauty
Your wild nature 
    that spins magic out of moonbeams
Your poetic soul 
    that sings songs into rainbows of magic
Your beautiful heart 
    that loves like there’s nothing else to give
for in your heart, there is only Love
to have, to hold, to give, to share
forever and always.

On the day you were born
I awoke
to the beauty of life
within the wonder of you
forever and always.

Joy. Gratitude. Life.

After driving through the snow-covered Rockies under a perfectly clear blue sky I arrived home Tuesday night, happy, tired, my heart full of joy and memories of time spent with my daughter and her family.

Yesterday, the ‘perfect’ spring weather continued to flow all around me. Warm temps. Blue sky. Fresh gentle breeze. The last vestiges of ice melting into the river.

This morning, it’s snowing, which, given that this is spring in Calgary, is not uncommon nor unexpected. Just not all that welcome!

And then I smile. Changing the weather, or even being upset about it, is futile. Acceptance is necessary. As is a good sense of humour. It helps lessen the burn of snow on Earth Day and white flakes masquerading as cherry blossoms falling. There are few cherry trees in Calgary – they can’t withstand our winters and the crabapples haven’t begun to blossom… so…no matter how I’d like it to be something else more ‘springlike’ this is snow. Period.

When I travel, especially by car, I take a basket of art supplies with me for those moments when I am inspired, (or as in the case of being with my grandchildren – not too tired) to create.

I pulled out my basket once while with my daughter and her family when my grandson and I spent an afternoon painting rocks we’d collected on the beach.

Painting with a 3-year-old is pure delight. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no worrying about whether or not this colour goes here or what should I do next. There is only the joy of the experience… for as long as it lasts.

And then… it’s done and you move on to the next adventure.

When my grandson went off to play with his dump trucks, I opened my Learning to Fly art journal and began to create — I only had watercolour paints, matte medium and gesso to work with which made it even more exciting. Limiting my supplies is always good for my creative practice. It invites me, as does painting with my grandson, to focus on the experience without getting lost in the options or plans of what to do.

Yesterday with the patio door of my studio open to sounds of the river flowing and birds at the feeder and sun streaming in, I pulled out my unfinished pages and began to create.

One of the things I love about the creative process is how, even when I don’t think I know what’s happening, magic happens anyway.

For me, that magic came with the words that wrote themselves for this spread.

“Tend to your dreams like a precious garden, feed them flights of fancy and your wings will grow stronger.”.

Like the weather, when I accept what is, joy, gratitude, love grow stronger in my life. And, when I tend to my dreams with tender loving care, my life is full of possibility.

Learning to clap is soooo much fun!