Wednesday, March 19, 2008


And here are two ideas that belong together: audacious hope and expectant waiting. Audacious hope is the ability to take action toward a goal that has very little likelihood of being achieved (West). Expectant waiting is biding your time until the right time comes along (Marcel as quoted by my buddy Lenora). It seems that audacious hopers might certainly experience a lot of expectant waiting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Geese flying over
Pirate straying off the walking path
Muddy-bottomed pant legs,
Snow every third day
Melting wet the next day.

Re-snow I call it,
Stodgy Old Man Winter!
Won’t accept reality
Won’t adapt to change
Trying to keep the ground covered
Making spring come several times
Just to prove she’s serious.

Friday, March 14, 2008


“How are you?” asked my friend last night.
I said, “fine.”
“Fine?” she queried. Possibly the scowl on my face was confusing her.
“Maybe fine with a small f,” I said. “Yes, I’m small-f fine.”
Actually, if I’d been more with it at the time, I should have said Jangled rather than fine. Big J Jangled, ringing ears, spinning head, racing thoughts, list of things to do, taxi waiting outside the door. Choir practice was over. I was on my way home to write emails. Over the next thirty-six hours I would tell a story at a concert, give two keynote speeches at different conferences and practice music for Sunday. And I would pay attention to my family, give them support, give them attention. I would pet the dog. I would water the plants. I had no time to talk about it.
“Good-bye,” I called over my shoulder. I was moving on.
“I am over-stimulated,” I said to David later. “Still, I think I’m fine.”
What does it mean to be fine? Is being fine the same as being happy? Martin Seligman writes that authentic happiness happens when three factors work together: pleasure; meaning; and engagement. I have all these three. What do I love more than music and storytelling? What could give my life more meaning than being part of a family, making a contribution, being important to others?
It’s the engagement part that got a little out of hand. I said I’d keep the choir going while the director went to Australia. A lot of people stepped forward to help. I wanted to include all of them. The result is fantastic, but it’s more work than I had imagined. I wanted to tell my stories at concerts. I didn’t pursue it because I was too busy with other things. But then people started asking me to tell stories. I didn’t realize I’d be so busy. And how many times had I wished that people would start seeking me out for keynote speeches? Conference planners pay good money for keynotes. When I agreed to do two on one Saturday I did not know I would be telling a story the night before, or leading the choir, or visiting family at the hospital.
As I write this morning, I know that I was correct in telling my friend that I was small-f fine. It was late and I was tired. Incredibly though, even though I was scowling when I said it, in the big picture, I was and am authentically capital-H HAPPY!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


An acquaintance asked to kiss my hand
Because she is from Turkey
And people in Turkey kiss the hands of older people.
That’s how she explained it.

Which got me wondering
Just how old you have to be
In order to be eligible
For a kiss on the hand in Turkey.

And while I was wondering
I also wondered
Just how long it would take me
To be comfortable with being kissed on the hand.

And just how long it will take her
To move beyond the practice
Of picking out people who look older”
And kissing hands in Canada.

And all of this got me thinking
How amazing it is
That we cross so many cultural divides
In the course of a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A friend of mine has started a blog.
I read it every day
To see what she has to say.
But I never tell a soul
Because it’s a secret blog!

I am the only one who knows about it.
Well, maybe not the only one.
She might have given the blog address
To some other interested blog-reader.

Or it just might be that a blog peruser
Flicking and clicking out there in the blogosphere
Has already found it
And marked it
And promised to look it up again.

Monday, March 10, 2008


This is a salute to all the people who visit in hospitals,
Paying more attention to the needs of the patients than to their own need to be acknowledged.

To the ones who take along the newspaper,
Knowing they’ll stay longer if they can sit reading quietly.

To the ones who get frantic calls in the middle of the night
And the ones who lie on terrible cots and sit with aching necks in straight-backed chairs.

This is a salute to those who visit the ones who spend their days visiting in hospitals, Giving a vote of confidence to the ones who spend their nights on terrible cots or sitting in straight-backed chairs.

Norman Cousins once said that a hospital is no place for a sick person,
That one who has a choice ought not to stay there.

So let us salute those who visit in hospitals.
They are the ones who can tell you
That a hospital is no place for a well person.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


March. It comes every year. It’s the month when you suddenly notice that confident mature counsellors have taken the place of last September’s baby counsellors. They have learned how to listen compassionately to sad stories. They have learned to let go when things aren’t working. Best of all, they have learned to celebrate achievements—really celebrate them—recognizing the true value of small things.

I tell them in September that it will be this way in March, aware that they don’t believe me, and even I am doubting it. It’s hard to picture, harder than picturing outdoor petunias at Christmas. Nevertheless you can count on it. It’s as predictable as Reading Week and term paper stress.

I love to watch it happen. It’s my early sign of spring.

Monday, March 03, 2008


There are days when the world is your oyster
And people listen to you
With open ears and open minds
Then beg for more when you thought you were finished.

And then…

There are days when you go in with a plan
That should have been a good plan
But appears to be a poor plan
And trying to change it doesn’t help.

Those are the days when you have to concede
That the really good days
Might be really good luck
Instead of really good planning.

Those are the days to finish early
A better alternative
Than giving up hope.