Are You What You Think?

Insider Insights … It is said that even the rocks cry out, in this case it was the walls … The bathroom walls.



What began as a chance encounter at a local pub, had us on a bistro search 144 kilometres away. We met Lance Dettwiler in Prince Rupert, BC and he convinced us that we should stop at his cafe, The Elephant’s Ear, on our drive through Terrace BC. This was similar to that random comment we should get together for coffee, sometime.  And it rarely happens. But this time my brother, his wife and I took the turn into town to hunt for The Elephant’s Ear, and with the help of Susie Q, the GPS we found it.

Lance almost seemed surprised to see us, and when I went to use the facilities, I was surprised with the washroom, full of artistic graffiti wisdom. The usual set of stalls with slider locks it was not. Instead the fairly large space, by bathroom standards had white walls and ceiling completely covered with artistic sayings. It looked as though customers continued to add their personal mottos. I hoped no one was in desperate need, as I took my time to photograph the philosophical words of the wall. Some of my favourite being posted here.


I always have a conversation with cliches, but who wouldn’t agree with eternal joy?  Each blending of truth alongside pat statements always causes an argument in me. Oh, if only life could be summed up by neat little catch phrases. And the upper comment about knowing for sure: I envy the author’s certainty. But do we become what we think? That line about whether you think you can or you think you cannot–either way, you are right. In Canada we just had an election, and Justin Trudeau won with the platform of sunny ways; of hope over fear, of hard work over cynicism. A country was won over by positivity. While cynicism seems the modern norm, especially in politics, optimism is refreshing, even if some of the lines are cliche.

I could not argue with the excellent food and ambiance of the bistro, it was worth the off-road detour, and jaunt through Terrace BC. Truly the destination and the journey are what make the trip worthwhile.


The reality is that my catch phrases change on a regular basis. What is written on the walls of my heart today has been written over what I believed yesterday. And yet there are words and assurances that have longevity. What’s written on the walls of your heart?




Volunteers in a Dangerous time …

(Folk festival etiquette for volunteers—or social norm tips amongst crazy IMG_6048creative folk festivallers)
“May I join you?” the question from long dreads that fall from the tall black felted top hat, as her blue meal plate balances in left hand and walking stick in right.
“Yes,” I reply, then add “You don’t look like an ordinary volunteer.”
“I’m not sure how to take that.”
“None of us are ordinary volunteers,” simultaneously from the aging grey haired hippy, accrued pot (or beer) belly, loud red flower shirt.
Trying to politically correct my opener I add, “Last year I noticed that a few of the artists ate in the volunteer tent.” (She looks more like a performer than one of the 1,800 usual volunteers)
“Well, last year I was a performer.” She fesses … and puts in a promo for her current weekly gig at Angel’s Cappuccino. (Aha, I was right.) And then quickly I chastise myself that it’s not about being right/wrong. This woman in the black pleated mini-skirt and hat sits down directly across me, ready for conversation.
“That’s the best hat I think I’ve ever seen,” an 18 yr old starry eyed girl gushes to my new found dinner partner and receives a huge grin thanks in return. Why didn’t I think of that? While social graces are different in every setting, compliments are always acceptable.
The ancient words I’d read and adopted that morning were to give encouragement to the tired, and I realize one fatigue comes from trying to fit in with the surrounding culture, without being swallowed up whole.IMG_0259
Earlier that day the meal coordinator came to ask for extra bodies to help with food preparation, but then asked if we were vegetarian, as we would be working with meat. The other girl bowed out, but I said, “I’ve worked in operating rooms for over 30 years, I’ve handled a lot of meat.”
Faux pas number one …

Later under a perfect summer evening, Bruce Cockburn sings Lovers in a Dangerous Time, and I’m left to ponder some of the artificial social dangers created which add stress. What was Bruce thinking when he wrote those words, along with:

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin — this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
… …
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime —
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time

Cockburn’s response was:
“When I wrote that, I was thinking of kids my daughter’s age. She was quite young at the time. But, for any given individual, the world has always been a place where you could die. That’s the baseline. At times we can ignore that, more than other times. There are times when fear is in the air, and, of course, there’s always people around willing to exploit that, and enhance it, if need be.”(1)

It appears I was a volunteer in a dangerous time! But as Red Green used to say, “Keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.”
I’m letting go of taking things too seriously.
And the curried beef was fantastic that evening!

(1)-from “Bruce Cockburn: Interior Motive” by Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1994. Submitted by Nigel Parry./Google search

Barefoot in Summer

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ― F. Scott FitzgeraldDSCN8181

When winter hangs long in the prairies, spring blips and barefoot season is upon us. I called my usually optimistic mother, on a day of sit outside on the deck weather. She agreed, and then added, “Before you know it we’ll have snow again.” We all need a little Mennonite in us to spit rain on a bright day.
Summertime therapy for the blues … go barefoot, plant flowers, get new sandals, eat ice-cream, wade in the water, spend as much time as possible outdoors, all without apology. I want to run on greener pastures, I want to dance on higher hills … that is a line from a song I heard this past week, and it has me dancing now, as I see the hills around me turn green. There is much beauty in this world and I want to keep my eyes open … After all as my mother says–Snow is around the corner.
Thinking of barefoot I dug out this poem from a year ago:

Cement Blocks Continue reading

Gonna Go Round in Circles

DSCN5828Will it go round in circles? Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky? …
Every now and then that song repeats through my mind. (Billy Preston)
Waiting for spring, and yet March has stayed a winter course here in the foothills with mini-glimpses of warmer days to come. Fresh snow and sunshine IMG_3893lured me to follow the brook’s meandering pathway. As I stopped to watch a snow-eddy spinning round and round in the glistening stream above the current, I realized I was seeing my daily metaphor of life. At times life seems stalled in a holding pattern while my mind whirls in circles, not knowing which direction to go, and like the old records, someone needs to lift the needle off the track.

Three years ago destination: Turkey; goal: take in as many culture/adventure sights as possible with my two traveling sisters. One of the touted must sees was The Whirling Dervishes, so we booked our tickets, boarded the bus after a full day, were led to a dimmed room and those darling Dervishes took the stage. DSC_0603With their long flowing dresses they whirled, chanted, and mesmerized me to nodding off, but not before a serious case of school-girl giggles. I don’t know exactly what I had been expecting, this was not it. Men in long dresses spinning in circles? Apparently the meditative spiritual process had been passed down to the chosen few for generations.
What to do when the mind spins in circles like devilish dervishes? The merry go round of life, at different times the carousel seems the same, but the dark horses change. My challenge has been deciphering when to get off, when to stay the course. And often in the decision making process my mind will “go round in circles” but when “will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?”
Proven wisdom comes back in the form of the serenity prayer*,
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

DSCN7492The following line is part of Reinhold Niebuhr’s original:
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;

*The prayer is attributed to Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, composed in the 1940s. Alcoholics Anonymous adopted the Serenity Prayer and began including it in AA materials in 1942, which may have done more to canonize it than any other cultural use of the prayer.

Scars-Tattoos with a Better Story

IMG_9584 An article in the Calgary Sun caught my eye yesterday, “Rising out of the Fire/Man rises above horrifying crime” (Calgary Sun March 2, 2014 article by Nadia Moharib) After a few lines, the story sounded vaguely familiar, and then it became evident why: this crime happened in a small Mennonite community thirty miles from my Manitoba home town in October, 1990. The event shocked with its brutality. Yesterday was a follow up story on Tyler Pelke, who had been assaulted, had his throat slashed, set on fire, and left for dead. Pelke survived, Curtis Klassen, his friend and fellow hockey player did not. Earl Giesbrecht (17 at the time) was sentenced to life in prison for this crime. Because of the proximity and cultural background, I followed that story as it went though the court system, but eventually filed it on a back shelf. My life continued on, but Tyler’s was altered forever. Yesterday’s article told the tale of this young man’s long road to recovery, starting with a description of the fire-boiled scars that cover his chest while a thick one crosses his throat, daily reminders of what happened more than two decades ago. The scars exist, visible and invisible, but he refuses to be defined by them. Pelke, now an assistant deputy chief with the Calgary Fire Department was quoted re his scars: “It’s a reminder of what I have overcome—I’ve been through fire, some days it’s a reminder to be thankful. Some days I don’t even see them.” And Pelke has chosen not to let his scars or what happened to haunt him, but he strives to be the best person he can be, and he shares his story with various groups in the hopes that he can encourage others to reach their full potential, and overcome the obstacles they face. For me, it was inspirational to read Tyler’s further story, to hear in a nutshell what will have taken him years to process and heal from.
Elbert Hubbard said “God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.”

Sometimes you don’t need a church

IMG_4527“So what has kept you coming back to this church? My reply simply “The teaching.” With slightly less charm than the Walmart greeter, this man in a suit tried to plug me into one of the programs, or small groups, while my mind was looking for the escape; he was cutting into my walk by the river time.
This morning I read: (link below) –Spirituality doesn’t need a church, sometimes a little run outside is all you need.
DSC_0137While I have been fortunate to visit some of the great churches in the world, DSC_0227 many times my soul has been most nourished in nature. To see a flower bloom in a remote spot, frost on a desert dune, the magnitude of the mountains, the gentle grandeur of a pine forest, sunset over the water; the calling of nature is within grasp of the human being, and it speaks volumes of serenity and calmness when life gets rushed or burdened. IMG_5314

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

This is the link I followed today for the initial inspiration for this post

Water brings life

How can anything grow here?IMG_8754
A knock at the back door, I answer and tried to explain that my daughter was not here. By her motions, I knew the neighbour wanted me to follow her … so I did. We passed through her tiny four room house to the little courtyard in the back and with a great big smile she pointed to the watered ground. There along the white plastered wall a solitary large turnip erupted from the sand. She was ecstatic with it. When my daughter returned a short while later, we were both summoned and then shown the rest of the garden. A few onion greens and leafy parsley poked through the carefully marked off circles. Now I have been privileged to garden in “the bread basket of the world” and would feel underwhelmed with this as my season’s crop. She was delighted. We were invited to coffee.
IMG_0983I recalled the change in the harsh desert climate as I had travelled the sandy road to reach the oasis, and the sudden contrast of a mini palm forest that seemingly emerged out of nowhere, testimony to the incredible power that water makes.

IMG_9270A cup of water or coffee mixed with kind words, are like a gentle rain to the parched soul. My daughter translated for Nahjwet, “You need to learn Arabic, I have so much of my heart I want to share.” Coffee, smiles and a turnip equal a desert oasis for the soul.

Octopus Pots

Octopus Pots …IMG_8401From North Africa, staying with my daughter’s family… My grandson had just begun babbling in his crib, sunrise was imminent, the pink glows of predawn skies hurried me along the walk to the marina. By now I had navigated this pathway alone several times … turn right at the first corner, continue past the car wash, the louage/taxi station, past the school that has a child to toilet ratio of one hundred to one, straight ahead at the first roundabout, slightly right at the second one. Sidewalks present IMG_8335their own obstacle course challenges of ‘men’s only’ cafe chairs, cars, motorbikes, or stacks of building bricks; and the curbs vary in height from nine to eighteen inches—an added challenge when pushing a stroller.

Past the police station on the left, where the latest crunched Peugeot waits inspection. Papagallo’s Italian-ish restaurant lets me know I am still on track, past the final Fruit Secs stand and the Marina is in view. I breathe in deep, the fresh sea air has a cleansing effect despite the shores being overrun with litter. Two herons swoop down, as fishermen ready their boats for the morning catch, I arrive just in time to see the sun rise above the clear blue waters.IMG_8392

Thousands of octopus pots line the rocky port walls—the small clay pot trap has not changed for centuries. Apparently the tiny octopus and squid love to crawl into cozy spaces, and then become trapped due to their inability to either back up or turn around. I am reminded how easy it has been to feel stuck in a tight spot, unable to reshape my attitude. I climb over the rocks reaching the light house, and feast on the rich deep colours … the blue of the Mediterranean sea—the boats traveling out to sea, a feast for the eyes, therapy for the soul. My heart craves for beauty, and recently John Eldredge put it into words for me…. in that as much as we have felt pains in our lives, proportionately we seek the beauty … this has become clear to me in my journey of grief.

This morning the pages of my travel NT open at 1 Corinthians 4:7 … I laugh at God’s sense of humour as I read: “Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us ….” (Good News NT)        IMG_8405                                                                                                                                    I text my daughter to let her know that I will meet her on the path to her son’s school. What a great start to the day for just one of a million clay pots!



I received a serendipitous gift at a coffee shop recently.  I couldn’t help overhearing as Eddie read to his partner, and when he asked her “What do you think?” I joined in the conversation to say I thought it had been a great little article, who had written it? It was his own …. for me it was a chance encounter–to meet a fellow writer further along the road. (His website is listed below) Writing, like life is a process, and I learn as I go and grow. These little gifts come at the most wonderful of times, so I practise keeping my spirit open to them.

The line that caught my attention was–to make a list and check it twice. He was referring to a dream list, although I immediately thought about a gratitude list. It is easier to see what is not going well in my life, although I want to practise gratitude. As I walked home the world looked brighter, I was writing the things-I-was-grateful-for list. Being thankful is a mood changer.  87791726-person-making-list-photos-comTry it– make your list and check it twice, make two lists, one of gratitude and one of dreams.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here, we just received what I dub the “Christmas Eve snowfall”–three inches of soft white frosting on the entire landscape, including my mindset at the moment.  You can get on my gratitude list easily, by leaving a comment–what are you most thankful for this season?

DSC_0053Richest blessings of the season to you and yours!


Eddie Lemoine is an author and motivational speaker, to visit his website go to