Saturday, 14 October 2017

Beauty Quest

This week, I’ve been on a beauty quest.

I ran out of room in last week’s blog  when I asked, “Is there an antidote to despair?” I talked about hope, faith, awe, action and community, but I didn’t mention Beauty. Beauty, I believe, can also be an antidote to despair.

And so this week, I decided to look for beauty wherever I went. I was encouraged in my quest by the words of Goethe: “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

There’s a sense of the beautiful implanted in the human soul! That’s a fine thought, and I think it is true. When I see something beautiful, I feel uplifted, and being uplifted is an antidote to despair.

Finding something beautiful in nature, when I take my walks, is not difficult. Everywhere I turn I see beauty: lime green leaves with sun shining through them;


 a tiny bird flitting through the underbrush; lacy mushroom caps perched on ivory pedestals.


And finding beauty in children isn’t hard, either. At our Thanksgiving feast this week, I watched two-year-old Grace seated between her two adoring grandfathers; they were passing tickles to each other and laughing uproariously. Grace took turns cuddling with one, and then the other, and there was no disguising the great joy she took in knowing she was greatly loved. Delightful and beautiful on many different levels. 

I picked a bouquet of the last flowers in our garden: beautiful!



I stayed up late reading an enthralling novel that ended with hopefulness: there’s beauty in words, too.

A group of homeless folks often gather in front of or inside the library in our town. I watched one bedraggled man limping across the street towards the group, and another man stood up and held out his arms. The welcoming embrace was long and warm. I realized that there is beauty in community and welcome and caring, no matter what it looks like to my middle-class eyes at first glance. And there’s beauty in growing a little bit in my awareness of that. Growth is beautiful.

I went to a concert – loved listening to the music, which transported me to other places in my imagination. It was a beautiful feeling.

Then I came across this...well, beautiful...quote, written by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and a mystic. One day, while standing in a crowd at a busy street corner, he unexpectedly had an inner vision about the people around him:

“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts ... the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. ... [The glory of God] is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.” (From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)

There’s a lot there to think about.  I am beautiful. You are beautiful. WE are beautiful, each one of us.

If we believe it, and treat everyone we meet as a beautiful point of light, immeasurably valuable, wouldn’t that banish despair?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Giving Thanks in the Dark

How do you write a Thanksgiving blog after a week like we’ve just had, filled with news about the tragedy that is Las Vegas?

How can you be lighthearted and channel your inner child at such a time as this? It raises all the old questions you thought maybe you’d settled long ago; or at least, you’d decided that you could live with not knowing the answers – questions like, What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where is God in all of this? Now, the horror has stirred up those questions again.

And yet...it is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and it will be soon in the USA. How do we give thanks in troubled times? Perhaps we want to curl up in a ball and hide in the dark, waiting for the world to end. Perhaps we want to hand in our ID card that says we are members of the human race. The thing is, yielding to despair will never help anyone, including ourselves.  Is there an antidote?

I spent a few days poking at that idea. Surely if I could find the right answer, if I could find the definitive antidote to despair, it would be so helpful. (Don’t you agree? And I’d be rich, too!) Turns out – surprise, surprise! –  I couldn’t ... but, hallelujah, there are glimmers of light shining in that pit of darkness, and those glimmers, I believe, can see us through.

Ann Lamott says it begins with hanging on as hard as you can to any remaining shred of Hope and believing that good will prevail in the end:  “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up ... hope appears if we truly desire to see it.” For Ann and others who share their wisdom and inspiring, uplifting  words, I am thankful.

Look up, says writer/activist Belvie Rooks, who worked with at-risk youth in California. As part of her work, she took her youth groups out to watch the stars.  Rooks observes that "awe and wonder are part of the antidote to despair." By being in nature, we become aware of the immensity of the cosmos, which changes our perspective on what’s happening around us. We are all connected and we belong to each other. For this beautiful world, and the wonders we see around us, and for the people in it, I am so very, very thankful.

BiG starry night sky | by IronRodArt - Royce Bair ("Star Shooter")
For others, action is the answer to despair. Do something! Do anything that will add to the sum of goodness in the world. Give money, or join an organization, or volunteer. If we all do our part, and if we find like-minded people to join us,  we will hold the darkness at bay, both in the world and in our own hearts. And for those many people who actively work for a better world, I am thankful.





photos from a project by an elementary school in Indiana
Robert Emmons, who has written a book about the subject, prescribes Gratitude: “In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.” Aha! I am thankful for a reminder that Thanksgiving Day can help us combat despair. (And I am thankful for a friend who posts a gratitude on Facebook every day – cool idea, eh? A good antidote to the despair we see posted too often.)

And then there’s trust. I have come to the space in my own heart where I have to let go of the ego part of me that says, “It’s all up to me.” It’s not easy to let go. We all want to fix the hard parts of life, and fix them  NOW! Fortunately, that’s not up to us. What a burden that would be. Personally, I have come to trust that a higher power is holding this world in loving hands, that the creation is renewing itself even as I write this, and that I’m not sure what the outcome will look like, but it will be good. For that, I am deeply, unutterably thankful.

We need them all: hope, faith, gratitude, action, love, trust, and a relationship with the natural world around us. And we need more than that: we need each other to fight against the nay-sayers, the boo-birds, the doubting voices in our own heads that whisper negatives in the dark. We need to encourage each other and hold each other up when times are tough.

Together we are stronger than the sum total of our individual lives. We will hold hands and we’ll do it together. For that I am most thankful.

photo source:  123RF Cultural Stock photo


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Fill 'er Up

I had a blog ready to go last week. I wrote it on Wednesday, then looked at it again on Friday. I tried tweaking it, but by Saturday evening, I gave up.

“I’m not sending it out, it’s crap,” I told the Resident Sweetie. “I am empty.”

(a New Yorker cartoon which expresses a very common phenomenon)
Scary business, being empty. You have nothing to say if you are empty. Sure, you can put out lots of words, but that’s fake news, and everybody knows it.

If a car runs out of gas, it can’t move until you fill the gas tank. If a battery is flat, it can't power anything. Batteries and cars can’t run on empty. Neither can I. “Inner emptiness comes from a lack of connection with your spiritual source of love,” says psychologist Margaret Paul in an article in the Huffington Post. (You can read the whole thing by clicking on this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/inner-emptiness_b_869421.html)

I noodled on that idea for a while, and realized its truth. I needed a fill-up, and I knew it.  So I went to the tried and true places that fill me up and reconnect me to my spirit and my spiritual source of love.



On Sunday, I went to church. Pulling your eyes away from your belly button and looking up, way up, is a good way to start.

While at church, I saw a poster advertising a book study on The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault. It sounded like a big stretch for my head and my heart, and so I signed up. Nothing like stretching your head and your heart to make room for new ideas, insights, and thoughts to flow in and fill you up.  On Monday, I attended the study. Wow. Yes!

On Tuesday, I took this new book, my journal and  my morning coffee to the dining room table and spent 45 minutes reading, writing, and thinking. Quiet reflection may not fill the tank, but it will show you where the empty pockets of your soul are that need filling.


 Then I put on my walking shoes, grabbed my cell phone/camera, and went down to the woods. How long had it been since I’d visited my sit spot? Too long. Just descending the path into the woods is like entering a temple. A special serenity and light suffuses you, and you are filled with a sense that you are just a small piece of something much bigger than you, something that is incredibly precious and loved by the Creator of it all.

And it was so beautiful down in the woods – the sun was shining through the lime green and gold leaves, the water in the brook was sparkling, and on its surface were little moving circles, created by waterstrider insects. I zoomed in on these almost invisible insects with my camera, and snapped a photo.

The result? Not at all what I’d expected, but beautiful in a new way I’d never seen before.







Now I began looking at the woods and the river with new eyes, and once those eyes were open, I saw things I’d never seen before. These new sights, sounds and smells filled me with delight.

A rotting tree stump became a piece of abstract art.


 The bridge wasn’t just a bridge, it was a home for a spider that had woven a shining web.


Why had I never seen the interplay of light and shadow on the path ahead of me?

And look: an enormous orange fungi right out in the open, and yet I’d never noticed it before in my treks along the well-worn path. Changing one's perspective opens the channels for inspiration and wonder to flow in.

There was more: Wednesday delivered a double dose of nourishment when the TWITS (book club) met – so much to talk about and ideas to explore! – followed by listening to four authors reading at an event. These creative folks sharing their thoughtful and often funny insights, stimulating me even further. And laughter is good medicine for the soul, too.

The week continued with more blessings, some sublime, some mundane: – deep discussions with friends, a successful morning in the kitchen with the RS canning pears, watching a delightful movie on Netflix (A Man Called Ove). When you begin to look at your life with new eyes, you see things that might have passed you by before. All these rich experiences that reconnect you with the spiritual source of Love  were there for the taking -- and yet, I was slowly starving myself.

 It's an old message we seem to need to learn again and again: take the time to stay connected with your spiritual source of love so you'll never be running on empty.

On Sunday, I’ll be working with the children at church. Perhaps I'll teach them an old song that's new again: “Running over, running over, My cup is full and running over.”

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Playing Hide and Seek


A few weeks back, I blogged about getting in touch with my inner child: the one for whom everything is amazing, wonderful, and worth checking out. And nothing is too silly to try out just once.

Then I created a self-portrait  to reflect the inner child at play and to remind myself  not to take life so seriously all the time.

I decided I needed to take this idea a step further. I should let my inner child write the blog. So I invited  her to step up to the computer and take over. “Have at it,” I said. “Say what you want. It will be fun.”

Big problem: it appears I have a recalcitrant inner child. I showed up at the computer every day last week, but she didn’t. Isn’t that just like a child – never wants to perform on demand, especially if the parent is wanting to show her off. 

What do you do when your child won’t come out of hiding? I called my friend Trudy. “Hey, Trudy, my inner child has disappeared. Have you seen her?” “Just a minute,” said Trudy as she laid down the phone. I could hear some rustling in the background, and I could hear her asking her cats Jack and Oliver if they’d seen my inner child. Then she picked up the receiver. “Nope, she isn’t here,” she said. “And now that you mention it, my inner child has disappeared too. I’m thinking they might just be hanging out together, in some dark corner, reading books and ignoring us.”

Well, that makes sense. Our inner children have been kept in the basement for so long while we’ve been busy being grownups, they’ve forgotten the sound of our voices. These poor little things could just shrivel up and die of neglect. This is not a good situation.  “When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names for hell,” says Brian Aldiss. Strong words, indeed! But there’s some truth in them.


looks like a pile of blocks, doesn't it?
I needed to know more about inner kids and play, so I declared a Google Binge Day. I researched what play was, how to encourage it, why we don’t do it more. Adult play, it appears, is serious business. Have you heard about The Strong? Me either. “The Strong® is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States...” It’s located in Rochester, New York.


Google will tell you about this museum, about university studies in play, about conferences focusing on adult play, and many more things. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming; lack of play is just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behavior among murderers in Texas prisons; playing together helps couples rekindle their relationship; play can even facilitate deep connections between strangers and cultivate healing. Etc. Etc.

What Google does not do is entice your inner child to come out and play. She just wouldn’t write the blog for me. I was stumped.

Just then, the phone rang. My son told us he was taking the beautiful grandchild Grace to swim in the river by our house and invited us to watch. We were in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, and the invite sounded good. The inner child stirred. “Put on your bathing suit,” she whispered. “Nah,” said the adult, “The water’s cold and there’s too many slippery rocks on the bottom of the river.”  When we got to the river, there they were, having the time of their lives, giggling and jumping and splashing.



“Get in there, for goodness sake,” the inner child urged impatiently, much more loudly this time. “But I’ve got a dress on,” I argued. “So what?” said the inner child. “Get in there. I’m coming in with you.”

So I (and my inner child) splashed into the water. It sure felt good. There were perfectly sane adults on the beach, watching me and wondering who the crazy old lady was, but my inner child ignored them. I even put my face in the water and blew bubbles with Gracie and her mom. My dress got pretty wet and my feet slipped on the rocks and the water was cold, but it was all good. We giggled. We laughed. We had fun, like playing kids do.


It turns out, if you want to meet your inner child, you should just stop trying to be a smart know-it-all adult. You have to keep your ears open and listen. Your inner child is there, but she's playing hide and seek. If you listen carefully, you may hear her whispering your name. Be sure to follow and see where she leads.

And then again, maybe I’m on to something here. Maybe the inner child has morphed into a crazy old lady having fun. Maybe I should let her out more often.

And maybe she’ll write my blog, too.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The Unveiling

In my last blog, I said, “Stay tuned!” I was about to launch into the project of creating  a self-portrait at 69 to accompany my series of crow self-portraits, begun when I was 65.

So I began. The goal was to reflect the inner child at play and to create a reminder not to take life so seriously all the time. Of course, there’s lots to be serious about, especially these days. Serious and deep are good things – it shows we’re paying attention and thinking and acting in right ways. But I tend to do that too much, judging by the “MEGO” effect  (“My Eyes Glaze Over”) some of my conversations and blogs have on people. (You’ve been very discrete, but yes, I have noticed.) So I tell myself, at 69, let’s get some balance here: a little more lightness, fun, play and laughter.

A playful crow: easy peasy, right? No. Ironically, this was not a painless, carefree, playful project. I took it terribly seriously – I even had restless nights in which my brain was preoccupied with problems to solve. As it turns out, this project is an illustration of what I’ve just written above: there’s a balance to life. You have to put in the hard work to get it done, but there’s no law against having a giggle while you’re doing it. Let your light heart have its say. As Mary Poppins reminds us, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun....”  And the inner child pumps her fist and says, YES. Some days she runs on with light-hearted abandon, and has a blast. Some days, she plays quietly, and her play involves trial and error until she gets it right. That's what this project turned out to be.

So here she is: Miss June. She still needs some finishing touches – a ladybug, a spider and a frog in the garden, bubbles coming out of the bubble jar, better nailpolish on her toes. But you get the drift. Put your tongue in your cheek and enjoy. That’s the playful thing to do. Then move on – it’s not great or serious art. Miss June is telling you, “Lighten up, eh? Let your inner child out to play.” (She must be Canadian, eh!)





Some of you have asked about the process of creating an art piece like this. If you’re interested, read on. I have photographed and commented on various steps in the process. This is the serious part of the blog.

How to Create a Self-Portrait
1. Start with a concept or inspiration. In my case it was my Calendar Girl moment, and the reflections and thoughts I had afterwards. I decided my self-portrait should portray my inner child.

2. If you are not a great illustrator, check through images on the internet and in books until you find one you like, and work from it. If you are going to copy it exactly, you’ll need written permission from the original author/illustrator. However, if you are using it for inspiration, there’s no copyright on ideas, (although it is polite to acknowledge your source.)
http://www.drawingteachers.com/things-to-draw.html

3. Create a pattern. I wanted my wings to bend to hold the hat, so in my pattern I mirror-imaged the bent wing. Much later, I actually went back to the extended wing and used it instead. I also didn’t like the big-beaked face, so changed that as well.



4. Decide on a background setting. Originally, the background edges were going to include a picket fence, an arbor, and a sign over the top of the arbor. That was too much. I also spent a good part of a day trying to find a good background fabric. Nothing seemed right, so I called it a day and decided to work on the crow the next day.

5. What kind of feathers should she have? Yellow is the colour of playfulness, so I looked for fabric with yellow in it. I created lots of feathers, but when I dressed up my crow, she looked like she was wearing a dowdy old-lady dress. Not good.


A couple of other kinds of feathers also didn’t work. Finally I went for my standard crow feathers: black and dark shades of reds, blues and greens.


I stitched the feathers on to the body of the crow by machine. I made wing templates, and stitched feathers to them. Then I stitched  the wings to the body.

I’d spent a second day trying things out, but finally I had a crow -- it would need some work, but it was recognizable.

6. Now it was time to find a background. It came to me fairly easily the second time around: yellow for playfulness, fairly plain so I could fill in little details on a neutral field. I bordered the yellow fabric with a brighter print, the same print I used in my self-portrait at 65.

7. Time for details. My original concept included a hat for her to hold and a jaunty topknot of feathers. Instead, she ended up holding a basket of flowers and wearing a hat. I realized I wanted to add a magic wand, so I created a new wing that extended out to hold it.


I wasn’t sure how to add a subtle reminder of the calendar girl idea, then ended up creating one to hang on the wall. Inside is a tiny photo of me, Miss June, the calendar girl.


I wanted a playground sign, so created one of my own. I needed to add flowers and the fun things that come with flowers, since for me a garden setting always helps me feel relaxed and happy. So I grew some sunflowers up the side, fussy-cut some flowers and leaves out of floral fabric, and top-stitched them to the stems.


Blowing bubbles is playful, so that also made an appearance. I could have also added a ball or a skipping rope or a hula hoop, but the piece was getting pretty busy.

Knowing when to quit and say enough is an art in itself.









Saturday, 12 August 2017

Miss June

So something interesting happened to me when we were out at our “bedroom by the sea”.

I had decided to look for a magic moment every day while we were out there. For me, magic is a feeling of amazement, wonder, or enchantment – something you might not notice if you weren’t looking for it. So I opened my senses up to the possibility of magic.

And oh, my! The magic moments piled up. There were streaks of emerald green in the turquoise blue water: magic! The sunsets: magic!



The tide came in, the tide went out, never stopping. What a wonder! A pod of porpoises jumped out of the water as they passed the kayaks our kids were in. Wow! Wow! Wow!



We managed to get family photos in which everyone looked pretty good – not only magic, but a miracle! Pretty soon, you couldn’t help but see magic all around you.






Now, if you believe in magic, and are on the lookout for it, your mindset changes. You get back in touch with that little child inside of you for whom everything is amazing, wonderful, and worth checking out. Fun is the name of the game. Do you remember that little child you used to be?

Do you know where your inner child is now? Has it been a while since he/she’s been invited to come out and play? It certainly has been for me. Oh sure, sometimes I set aside a play day for myself, when I try a variety of quilty things I wouldn’t normally do, just to see where it leads. But too quickly that becomes serious business. I begin to insist that it has to result in something, don’t you know? Something good, of course, something useful I can incorporate in my next piece of art.

It was about a week into my practice of looking out for magic when the inner child popped up big time. The campground was empty – all the neighbours were gone. The sun was shining brightly and the water was sparkling. I’d just stepped out of the shower when I spied my big straw hat lying on the bed. As I dried myself and pulled on my capris, I started to giggle. That hat reminded me of “Calendar Girls” – a movie about women of a certain age who decide to pose for a pin-up calendar to raise money for a worthy cause. They stripped for the camera, using flower pots, balls of yarn, books, cooking pots, whatever to cover up the “naughty bits.”


I checked it out: yup, that straw hat provided enough coverage. Maybe, with the campground being so empty, this was my big chance to be a calendar girl myself. I appointed the RS to be my photographer (I won’t repeat what his reaction was, but he did it, anyway. He’s my hero, indulging my fantasies.) Hat in hands, I posed in front of the ocean and had my own private calendar shoot.

Why? Why not? Who knows why I did it? Maybe my inner child that day wanted to feel the sun on her bare back, to feel the breeze caressing her shoulders. Maybe my inner child wanted to be free for a bit, to thumb her nose at the strict guidelines that are laid out for old ladies. It was such a little act of insubordination, but it reminded me that it had been too long since my inner child had lured me into letting go and having fun, hang the consequences.

In his book Whistling in the Dark author Frederick Buechner points out that the differences between 8 year olds and 80 year olds [or between 7 and 70] are not as great as we might think.  He writes: “Second childhood commonly means something to steer clear of, but it can also mean something else. It can mean that if your spirit is still more or less intact, one of the benefits of being an old crock is that you can enjoy again something of what it's like being a young squirt.

Eight-year-olds like eighty-year-olds have lots of things they'd love to do but can't because their bodies aren't up to it, so they learn to play instead. Eighty-year-olds might do well to take notice. They can play at being eighty-year-olds for instance...

Another thing is that if part of the pleasure of being a child the first time round is that you don't have to prove yourself yet, part of the pleasure of being a child the second time round is that you don't have to prove yourself any longer. You can be who you are and say what you feel, and let the chips fall where they may.

Very young children and very old children also have in common the advantage of being able to sit on the sideline of things. While everybody else is in there jockeying for position and sweating it out, they can lean back, put their feet up, and like the octogenarian King Lear "pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at gilded butterflies."

Or become a Calendar Girl for a while.

Since 2013, the year I turned 65, it’s been my practice to create a self-portrait every year, reflecting where I’m at in my emotional and spiritual life. I had another birthday recently, and now I have an idea for my self-portrait.  I’ve got an outline, now I have to fill in the blanks. Stay tuned!




Saturday, 22 July 2017

Watching the World Go By

On July 2 we moved into our “bedroom by the sea” at a campsite just 20 minutes north of town. We’ve been coming here for 6 years. It’s a very small campground, only 4 sites, located at the edge of the sea on a working farm. There’s no pool, no boats or jet-skis for rent, and no sandy beach. The wind off the ocean is often chilly, and the wi-fi connection can be iffy. No TV, and as for tourist attractions – well, been there, done that, since we live in the area all year long. 

So what’s the point? Why not stay home? It’s a question we’ve often been asked.

We tell them, "We’re watching the world go by."

Literally. This week, a big white cruise ship loomed on the horizon. It was called The World.


Wikipedia describes it this way: “The World is the largest privately owned residential yacht. The residents, from about 45 countries, live on board as the ship travels, staying in most ports several days. A few residents live on board full-time while most visit periodically throughout the year....It has 165 residences (106 apartments, 19 studio apartments, and 40 studios), all owned by the ship's residents. Average occupancy is 150–200 residents and guests.”  There are restaurants, shops, a gym, a pool, a deli, and a putting green on board, and a staff of 280 employees caters to your every need. Itineraries are set by the residents. In 2012, The World sailed through the North West Passage, and other ports of call have included a deserted island in the Maldives, prime scuba diving sites, and a remote tribal area in New Guinea. A short video on another site www.aboardtheworld.com has voice-overs of residents extolling the virtues of life aboard The World. It  offers a macro experience: seeing and experiencing  as much of the world as you can. You need to have a macro wallet to do this, of course.

We don’t have a macro wallet, nor a desire to see as much of the world as we can in the days that we have left here. We’re watching the world go by in a very micro way.

When you sit in the same spot day after day, year after year, in all kinds of weather, morning, noon and nighttime, it’s amazing what you can see, and what you notice.








This little place of ours becomes a microcosm of the world, a small world that contains all the elements of a much bigger world, if only you have eyes and ears to see it, and take the time to experience it. Staying in one place and getting to know it well helps you feel the deep connections that exist between all things.

The wind, the waves, the sunshine and rainshadows, the rocks, sand, islands and mountains – these are the elements of which the whole world is made.


The animals and birds live out their lives within view, ignoring us for the most part as they scamper about, or caw, or splash. We call the seal who patrols the beach at sunset "The Coast Guard". The heron appears often, amazing us with his watchful patience.

One day we saw an eagle doing the breaststroke: he'd dived down to catch a fish in his talons, but it was too heavy for him to lift, so he swam to shore using his wings as arms. They are living their lives as ordained since their creation, and this is no show for the tourists. This is the real thing.

And the people! Yes, we do have neighbours, and believe me, when you live out in the open, there are many kinds of behaviour you are forced to observe.  Too often, we recognize our own foibles reflected in the lives around us. But fortunately, also, our strengths. The family beside us who we feel may be treating their children rather harshly are the same people who rescued our tent when it was caught by a wind gust and blew into the ocean when we weren't home. Isn’t that just like life? The good, the bad, and the ugly, all mixed up.

We take deep breaths, and decide that all those busy-making things back home, while necessary, don’t have to occupy our minds and hearts 100% of the time. There’s a whole big world out there that we could be visiting, and there’s a time for that, but vacations don’t always have to be about far away travel. We need  times to sit and reflect, to talk about this and that, to play, to sleep in, to visit, read and write, and to invite friends and family to come and sit and  watch with us ... as the world goes by.