Thursday, April 21, 2011


Hope Foundation had 305 followers on Twitter.
Barack Obama had 17 million. Both the Hope Foundation and Barack Obama have seen the power of explicit expressions of hope. Can 17,000,305 followers be wrong?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


If you ever wanted to start a ball rolling but didn’t know how to start, turn to Todd Babiak’s article on beautifying our city. He gives us a living example of how an idea at a meeting can cause you to notice something that could be improved, how one phone call can lead to an interest in creating something beautiful, and how people can work together to fan the contagion of inspiration into possibility. He believes our city can look better. Apparently, he’s not alone. Have you noticed how not being alone so often leads to getting things done?
Downtown by design is within reach; Give us your ideas on 'beauty interventions

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


When I am as old as I am going to be
I hope I will still get the giggles.
I don’t mean laughter, or mild amusement,
Though certainly those will be welcome.

The giggles I hope for are unpredictable,
Unignorable, irrepressible!

The bursting-out giggles pillow-muffled at sleep-overs
When the parents cried, ”Quiet or we will separate you!”

The gulping giggles we swallowed at choir practice
When the leader begged, ”Please pay attention!”

The giggles suppressed in the silent group
When one stomach growled
And others responded
Like seabirds calling across the waves.

If aging should bring me
Disability, indignity,
It will go down more easily
When giggles assail me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sipping morning coffee in a room beset with blossoms.
Pots of perky tulips brought by last night’s dinner guests,
Dapper Daffodils we bought for last night’s dinner table,
Eager Easter lilies opening boldly for the season,
Christmas cactus counting flowers second round edition,
Handsomest hydrangeas petals poising in profusion,
Patient pansies planning planting when the snow has melted.
And in the kitchen window,
The all season, ever blooming orchids.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Our Hope Foundation time machine now has a set of prompts for families. When I think back on how this came to be, it kind of makes me think of families, of how they grow, and develop their stories, of how they add to each other’s lives. Because the Hope Foundation is a bit like a family, we now have three sets of prompts for our Time Machine.
The Time Machine Game is a future-focussed exercise that stimulates the imagination with hopeful language. Players can have fun while brainstorming hopeful possibilities. Players spin a wheel that points to a certain time in the future—maybe next week, maybe 15 years from now, possibly a time in between. Then the player draws a prompt from a selection of questions. The task is to imagine yourself in the future time and respond as if the time had come. For example, if I were playing, I might be imagining myself as I would be in the year 2021 and responding to the prompt: I am doing something I never thought I would be able to do. This is what I am doing.
The idea for the game came to me one evening in 2001. I was making a salad for dinner, playfully spinning the salad spinner, and wondering what activity would make a pleasant and hopeful ending to send people on their way at the close of a 5-day hope retreat. By the time the meal was over and the dishes were washed, my salad spinner had begun its transformation. A few labels on its spinning lid, thirty hope-focussed prompts tucked inside its bowl,, and you’d never really believe it had once been a humble kitchen gadget. The refinement of this game has been, and continues to be an on-going Hope Foundation project. We started with one idea and each addition makes it useful in a new way.
The initial group of questions were so general that they could be answered by just about anybody. We tinkered with them if we noticed that the language of any particular questions was confusing and we used time machine for many different audiences. The first significant modification was made in 2010 for use in the final session of our hope and strengths groups for people with chronic pain. Rachel Stege and I targeted the game more specifically by adding prompts relating to hopeful management of and adjustment to chronic pain. For example, I’m talking about pain in a more hopeful way today. This is what I’m saying…
The most recent innovation took shape when some University of Alberta students in counselling psychology got the idea of using the Time Machine as a catalyst for intergenerational discussion in a family. To make this work, Gabriela Corabian developed additional prompts to help families envision hopeful futures. Some of the new prompts are: A big event happened in my family; and I found a picture from my last family get together. This is what it shows.
Thank you, Gabriela, for adding this new resource to our Time Machine collection.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


You might say there really is no evidence that hope can make a difference
Given that we still have wars
And Poverty,
And injustice,
And cruellest illness,
And people dying.

But if you’d been with us last night at Audrey’s memorial service
To hear how every grieving person
Spoke of Audrey’s devotion to hope
Her unflagging will to be hopeful
Her diligent attention to hope’s manifestations
Both human and symbolic,

Then you would have seen the firsthand evidence
That hope is contagious,
That hope is comforting,
That hope is inspiring,
That hope pulls us together,
That hope leads to action,
That ultimately, even without the cooperation of the physical body,
Hope is a leader in its own right.

Friday, April 08, 2011


A robin sang from 9 to 10
Beyond my open window pane
And I believed he’d found a mate
And thus I grieved the finish of his song.

But birders tell me not to fret
The mates they say are not here yet
The coming weeks will bring more song
The ear’s hope seeks the choristers of spring

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Project turns stories of recovery into city’s hidden treasures
In this story--much longer than the exerpt quoted below--we find a fabulous way to combine modern technology and our love of treasure hunts with our ancient need to see meaning in our lives! Our saddest stories can dwell alongside a sense of fun and adventure.

”For P. Jez, Boyle Street is a symbol of her time in two different worlds.
About five years ago, she made her way to downtown looking to feed her drug habit.
Now, through Boyle Street Community Services programming, she is enrolled in a course run by the University of Alberta.
She calls herself P. Jez; she doesn’t want her real name used. She’s off the streets and looking to further her education in carpentry school.
To mark her progress, she has put an empty lighter in a small plastic container and hidden it behind a railing in a parking lot across from Boyle Street.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


When the boys aged 2 to 72
Join forces an shovels
And take to the alleys
Canal builders every one!

Sunday, April 03, 2011


“Nice duet you sang,” said my friend, advancing boldly in my direction at the close of the church service. He wore the grin of a Cheshire cat, and turned to beckon his granny who was following closely behind. I turned his way, surprised as he had intended, waiting in momentary silence for the joke to be unveiled.
“Duet?” said a bystander, giving voice to the confusion she saw in my eyes. “I didn’t hear a duet. I thought it was a solo.”
“No,’’ said my friend. “It was a duet. Granny was singing along.”
Not surprising that I hadn’t heard Granny, that only a few people heard Granny singing. I, after all, had been granted sole custody of the microphone. I said as much to Granny, who replied with the gracious acknowledgement that she didn’t mind singing without the mike.
I picture her now, her behaviour less filtered than it used to be, the lone joiner singing spiritedly along to an old favourite, a song she learned in childhood and practiced decade upon decade, Sunday after Sunday in churches wherever she might be. I picture her now, her natural self. She would sing with the congregation. She would sing with the radio. She would sing doing housework. She would sing in the shower.
Music, it seems, lodges deep in the heart, thrusting forth toward the smallest invitation, blooming in the warm light long after other life blossoms have faded. I wonder then about the treasures that might be trapped in the filters that govern us. In those moments when I believed myself to be carrying the full weight of attention, when I felt the vulnerability of singing alone, were there others singing also, singing silently? Was there, after all, unheard by any of us, actually a small choir supporting me, a full chorus?

Saturday, April 02, 2011


You have taught me a lot about hope, Audrey. On the subject of WAITING FOR SOMETHING BIG you blogged “I used to think that life was about events. I have been waiting to write on my Blog until something BIG happened. What I am beginning to realize is that
life is about small moments. If the moments give me energy, I usually classify them as hopeful. Small moments can make a hopeful week or day.”
I often heard you say this in the 16 years that have passed since I met you. You said it in so many different ways. In Part 1 of This Thing Called Hope, the film you helped us make at the Hope Foundation, you said that hope could sometimes just be a cup of hot chocolate. Other times you would say, “I think I’ll come to the Hope Foundation and have lunch. I need some hope.”
You will be remembered for your indomitable spirit, for your published articles on the role of hope in career counselling, for your professionalism, for your I-can-do-it approach to disability, for the cure party you gave in 2004 to celebrate the successful conclusion of a round of cancer treatment.
But in addition to all the big contributions you made, I will treasure the memory of all the little things you said about hope.“ You wrote, Hope and health go hand in hand and every day you walked the talk and worked to prove that it was true. You walked the talk, and in doing so, you proved that to me, over and over again. Audrey Stechynsky, I am going to miss you!

Friday, April 01, 2011


Travelling together, they paid me no heed.
Two little girls, is it aunty and uncle?
Adults and children in opposite seats
Not minding who got on at University.

X’s and O’s and signs and words,
Merriment, chatter, no shushing, no scolding!
“Daddy, what station will we get off at?”
“Mommy, I’ve counted 7 more stops!”

“Four more stops Daddy!”
My time to leave. It’s Churchil.
And yet I would linger, reluctant to go.
I might sit down and ride to the end of the line to savour this unexpected delight.

Would the office be cheerier if every commuter
Were granted the privilege of riding unnoticed
For ten joyful minutes of X’s and O’s
Arm’s length from a happy family?