Friday, August 28, 2015


Fire burns bright
in anticipation
of future

I fan the flames
of my intended success
with hope and 

the challenge;
to keep adding the fuel,
to believe in

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Talent for Humanity

Talent for Humanity: Stories of Creativity, Compassion, and Courage to Inspire You on Your Journey, edited by Patrick Gaffney, © 2015, Greenleaf Book Group Press

It should be no secret that I support the arts. I have worked with teachers and artists to share their creativity and message with a wider audience. I promote other writers so that their words can find homes farther afield than their own heads. And I work with small businesses who strive every day to make their own small corner of the world a better place, one day at a time.

So when Marissa Madill contacted me wondering if I would be interested in reviewing Talent for Humanity, and I read the brief book blurb, I immediately agreed. It is a book filled with inspiration from a variety of creative minds who strive to change their own corners of the world, and in so doing have created positive ripples far beyond their own backyards. This collection of stories highlights seven people and their courage to transform the world. From photojournalists to musicians, clowns to teachers, these people felt a raw need for peace in the world. Injustice was often at the heart of it. Whether they were the ones to feel the sting of it themselves or just incapable of ignoring it any longer, all of the contributors to this book took the step to do something about it. And an organization by the name of Talent for Humanity, under the helm of Thierry Sanchez, gathered those inspiring stories together.

The thread that runs through the book is what the talented individuals featured within its pages have done. The point of the book is bigger than those stories though. Each of the people featured in the book have taken steps to transform the world with their own individual talents. Their stories are told and a letter to humanity written by them is shared at the end of each chapter. At the end of the book, a request for the reader's stories is extended. Talent for Humanity wants to know what you do to make the world a better place, how you transform your small piece of it in big or little ways. It doesn't have to be as big as starting a company or raising millions of dollars. It can be as little as one simple act of kindness, like shovelling a neighbour's driveway in the winter. They want you to share though, so that those kindnesses can radiate throughout the universe and make us all vibrate a little brighter.

As for me, I volunteer at my children's school, so that welcome activities can be added, like hot lunches, book sales and field trips. I do my best to work with companies that I admire for their ability to give back to the community and the world in small ways. I try to raise my children to be honest, caring individuals, who value the arts, their community, and the people who comprise them. Everyone has an inherent value and I cannot help but see that and try to instill that compassion in my children as well. These are little things, but they radiate out into the world and small pebbles of compassion come back to me in unexpected forms and moments. When they do, I try to recognize them and give thanks. Just like I am doing right now.

Thank you for sharing these powerful tales with me Marissa. The stories were inspiring and beautifully told. May more stories flow your way.

*If you want to share your own tales of humanity, go to Talent for Humanity and add your voice.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Children's Crusade

The Children's Crusade, by Ann Packer, © 2015, Scribner

Oak trees are well known symbols of power and strength. Whatever culture you look at resonates that thought in some manner or other. So when Bill Blair stumbles across a magnificent oak tree in California after his discharge from the navy, he makes the decision to purchase the land with visions of a family in mind.

Several years later, the oak tree is the central grounding space for the Blair family. Bill marries Penny and they quickly have four children. But Penny's vision had always been three and when James shakes up her plan, life will never be the same. Robert, Rebecca and Ryan were all she thought she wanted, but once motherhood surrounds her, she finds she cannot breath. And slowly she disconnects from it to follow a passion for art, leaving Bill and the children behind.

As Ann Packer weaves the tale of the Blair family, the perspective jumps between the children's views of the world they were raised in. They all take turns analyzing their relationship with their doting father and a mother whom they had strived to interest in them to no avail. Packer shows a family growing up, finding their ways into adulthood and encourages her readers to question how those years mold us into who we might become. Does an ambivalent mother account for James' chaotic behaviour in his youth and into an adulthood fraught with bad decisions and questionable actions? Would Bill's methodical parenting have been the reason for Rebecca's always analytical take on life? Where did Robert's anger stem from—being first-born and infused with the sense he had to be first/best at everything, yet not measuring up to those expectations? And sensitive Ryan; how did his quiet, loving soul get formed in the midst of the oft-times chaos that was their family life growing up?

This book will be the first novel discussed when my book club resumes this fall and I believe it will spark interesting dialogue. I suspect different people will associate with one or another characters. And the role of mothering versus following one's own personal goals might be a hot-button conversation amongst our members, who consist of both mothers and those whom have not had children for one reason and another. Where is the fine line between finding one's personal joy and being responsible for the children you have chosen to bring into the world?

If you have read the book, what is your take on it? The novel is a compelling read and has found its way onto the favourite lists of many people. Is it that we can all relate to Packer's dysfunctional family in one way or another? Perhaps. Life is never perfect, but it is entertaining. And if you haven't read it, this novel is too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I  am
the beautiful girl
that people look back 
on  remembering
the sweet pieces
of a heart 
only by 
being tucked 
behind a windowless wall
they don't remember 
helping to build
but i do

Friday, July 24, 2015


Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, © 2012, Vintage Books

Grief can lead people on extreme and complicated paths. People often question who they are, what their purpose is and how they should continue on when a loved one dies. That was the case for 22-year-old Cheryl Strayed when her mother died from cancer. Her relationship with her siblings, step-father and husband fell apart and she made life choices which seemed to mark her on a dark and downward spiralling path. Until she came across a guide book in a store one day on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and made the decision to spend three months hiking its arduous length. Those 1,100+ miles changed her, but the journey was far from easy.

Cheryl Strayed paints a picture of herself as a lost and destructive young woman, trying to hold a family together, while simultaneously making bad decision after dangerous choice. When she decides to hike the PCT, she does so on a whim and with minimal preparation. Her boots don't fit properly, she doesn't allot enough money for expenses, she over-packs her backpack to an almost insurmountable weight and sets off from the Mojave desert with her sights set on Oregon. Impetuous by nature, she stubbornly struggles on under the actual weight of her pack, but the larger weight of her emotional baggage is what almost hobbles her on more than one occasion. And that is what keeps the reader rapidly flipping pages through the 315-page book.

I know only too well the struggles to wade through grief and can understand how Strayed tried to banish her demons via this adventure. Loss is a powerful motivator and it can change the strongest of souls under its weight. Through her iron will and sometimes lack of other options, she struggled through the challenges of the trail and found a strength in herself which obviously still shines forth today. Her telling of this transformational journey comes in an easy-to-read package and reminds her readers that sometimes despite yourself, you can find your way back home to you.

We'll see what my fellow book club members think of this book in the fall, as it is on our list of books to read. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails