Monday, 14 November 2016


A lot has happened in the last week. In many ways, it doesn't feel like the same world as it was only days ago--but maybe I have changed and the world is the same as it always was. Maybe I just look at it a bit differently now.

A working relationship has turned out to be...not what I expected. Or perhaps my feelings are hurt and I am coming to terms with that happening, at this age, when I didn't know I could still feel so small and young and vulnerable. The relationship will continue, for now at least. It still fulfills a dream. But my eyes are open now, and I will look out for Number One. That said, I am comforted to know that where there is discord there is often growth. What hurts today will give me knowledge and experience tomorrow.

I attended a writer's retreat. I am so very proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and investing in myself. It was an inspiring, emotional and enlightening few days that part of me didn't want to see end. Yes, I missed my family. It was hard to leave. But even as I drove away I knew that it was good for all of us that I give the kids a chance to have time alone with daddy--a "guy's weekend". It was good for them to see (and do) all of the jobs that I carry out in a day to make their lives run smoothly. It was good for them to work together in the yard and go to town and spend every waking minute together.

It was very beneficial for me to retreat from the world for a few days after seeing Trump elected president. I don't want to talk politics here; I am not knowledgeable enough to argue and it's just too raw and personal. It's hard, though, to respect friends and family that can overlook his blatant hatefulness with the rationale that he might somehow help our economy here in Canada. If he doesn't manage to blow the world up first, that is. It's just gross. I can't talk about it.

So the timing of the retreat was perfect, as were the setting and the participants. Our facilitator spoke about uncertainty, both in terms of the election and the world and in terms of our feelings as emerging writers. How not to allow our uncertainty (of our talents and abilities and of where our stories might lead) to hamper our pursuit of the creative life. Our work might not be polished and professional yet, but it is ours and we should embrace that. The writers that I spent the weekend with shared some quotes that helped put all of this into perspective and I thought I would share them here, as well.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems, 1987

We heard of the death of Leonard Cohen, also, while on retreat. It was an interesting setting in which to contemplate the life and death of someone so masterful at putting feelings and observations into words.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"  --Leonard Cohen

If there is one thing that I have learned it is that I may not be able to control the reality happening around me but I can control my reaction to it. I can combat hate with love, impatience with understanding, fear with tolerance. Although it feels helpless right now, the path to take will reveal itself in time. What I take away from this past week, the good and the bad of it, is that we cannot be comfortable all the time. We won't always have work and life go our way. Plans and elections might go completely south. It is okay to be uncertain, and live in uncertain times. Great action and inspiring
relationships are born out of uncertainty.

"We are prone to fear. The world is a mass of confusion. Traditions are ridiculed. Mythologies are forgotten. True freedom is a curse. Natural disasters are unnaturally common. Celebrities have replaced heroes. Ideals have been replaced by images. Many are running scared and only too willing to embrace the forces that offer a respite from the winds of change. What can we believe in? God, country, ourselves? What can we be certain about? Death, decay, oppression? What are we willing to risk, defend, support and dream? What would we like to be certain of: life span, love life, finances, and security? Can we gain anything without giving something up? Is there faith without risk? If you knew without question what was going to happen next, would there be any real satisfaction in it happening? The greater the risk, the greater the faith. Embracing uncertainty is to say yes to life: to say yes to the death and destruction, the success and failure, the tragedy and the triumph. Lord Byron said that the great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain. The beauty of uncertainty is that it allows us to overcome our fear. It allows us to take risks so we can experience faith. A life without uncertainty is the end of the imagination; the death of the imagined; the negation of faith." -- Brian Hendricks, The Beauty Of Uncertainty 


  1. i'm so glad your retreat went well -- so very glad! and YES -- an excellent thing for your menfolk to see/do all that *you* do. :)

    i love that piece from Wendell Berry...probably because that's exactly how i feel right now -- full of bafflement and not-knowing what to do/where to go.


    1. Thanks, Mel. I feel like the work, sacrifice and activism of generations is about to be undone. I think it is not okay for me to say "I quit watching the news, it's too distressing". We all need to watch what goes on around us and speak up for the weak and those that will be singled out. We have a moral responsibility, but then, we always did. It's time to exercise that responsibility and talk a lot to our kids about acceptance and loving your neighbour.

  2. As an American and Christian, I am VERY grateful that God saved our nation from an evil woman who believes in abortion at NINE months. You, as a Canadian, have NO rights to comment on OUR choice for president or any other legal or legislative decisions in OUR country. Aren't you RULED by a 90-year-old queen who is TOTALLY out of touch with her SUBJECTS? At least we have the freedom to CHOOSE our leader.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Cate. You see, I think everyone has a right to an opinion. No, I am not an American but as a Canadian and citizen of the world we are so very subject to what happens south of the border. And we get dragged into your wars. And YES I do live in a constitutional monarchy. We vote for our MPs and MLAs and the Queen's representative (the Governor General) gives things a final rubber stamp of approval. I don't think the Governor General has ever held up a piece of legislation, though, as it is mostly a ceremonial thing. Not everyone is in favour of the expense/tradition of the crown but, myself, I don't think it's a bad thing. I'd rather see them reform the senate, but I digress.

      If you are interested in learning more, Cate, I'd be happy to have a discussion. Also, here is a little explanation of the role of the Queen in Canada's governance. Mind you, it's provided by our government-funded media outlet, CBC, so there's another strike against us, right?

      I see that you have a no-reply blogger account. Is that so that you can make comments without anyone finding out who you are? I hope you don't feel like you can't be yourself in this space. You see, that is what the post was about. Feeling uncertain about the future, about having a voice, and about dialogue with people that might not believe the same things. At one time I was so afraid of having internet trolls harass me on this blog that I could barely write anything. A few years later, I realize that my audience of 25-40 consistent readers are a largely encouraging, helpful lot. I am not afraid to talk about a peaceful, inclusive world. And if I get bombarded by trolls and haters my stats will spike, I'll put ads on the blog and maybe make a little money off this :) Seriously though, let's keep talking. You feel passionately about this, obviously, and I would love to hear more about your feelings on the election. We can't learn from each other if you we are unable to communicate. Have a great day Cate!

  3. Beautiful response! I wish I could be like you...but then I also don't because I am not sure that kindness always wins. Sigh.

    Moving on...I am sooooooo happy about the writers' retreat :-) You should be very proud of yourself for going. It was healthy for you and for all 3 of your boys.

    Love the quotes you posted :-)

    I am sorry to hear about the working relationship not turning out as you had hoped. But as always, take what YOU can out of it and do your best to learn from it.

    Have a good week!

    1. Thanks Pru :-) it's so nice to have something as positive as the retreat to carry me through other things that are less inspiring!