Disappointment is inevitable – Discouragement is a choice.  Charles Stanley

When my sweet niece Laura was very young she would get quite upset when things didn’t go her way and would throw her head back and cry in desperation.  Her mother called it a temper tantrum, her grandmother (my mother) who was ever so much more generous with her grandchildren than she was with her children would say – “oh – she is just disappointed”.  We would shake our heads because I can tell you for certain that when we were young children throwing our head back “in disappointment” our mother would view it clearly as temper tantrum.

Disappointment is just a fact of life and we will all face it – disappointment is inevitable.

Probably the hardest disappointment to deal with is our disappointment in people.  We have great expectations of people and so very often they let us down.

This will always happen in every relationship – even our closest and most trusted relationships – people will disappoint us because we are human.  Most disappointments can be worked through especially in close relationships – it is a matter of understanding, communication and forgiveness. Sometimes this is easy as the offence in not great, and sometimes this is difficult.  Michael Hyatt (and I highly recommend his blog which you can find here) wrote a post about this that touched me deeply.  He talks about the ten difficult, but really important words to say when we disappoint people.  These  words are

“I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you please forgive me.”

As obvious as this may appear there are so many relationships that can’t seem to get to this place – these words are so difficult that they are never said and the relationship deteriorates to the point of complete breakdown.

Why are these words so difficult when in fact they have the potential to radically change the downward spiral of a relationship and provide healing?

I’m Sorry

According to Michael Hyatt saying “I’m sorry” takes empathy – you must put yourself in the other persons shoes and see things through their eyes.  You must realize that it isn’t all about you – there is another person involved.  This is not always easy especially if we feel we are right and the other person is not right.  Seeing things through someone else’s eyes forces us to give up some of our rights to be right – and that is not easy.  But relationship isn’t always about being right and quite often if we stop to see it through the other person’s eyes we can see that an offence has been made and that we have caused hurt.

I Was Wrong

Saying “I was wrong” requires humility – but it can be the best gift we can give to someone we have offended – an acknowledgement that they have a valid reason to be hurt – it is a game changer statement in the relationship.  By acknowledging our part in their hurt we are telling them that we respect them and validate their emotional reaction – we care enough to want to participate in the reconciliation.

Will You Please Forgive Me

“Will you please forgive me” provides an opportunity to clear the slate – sometimes it takes time for people to be able to forgive but once it is offered with sincerity then the chance for healing can take place.  If  you keep short accounts of offences with people forgiveness comes easily because  you have trust and open communication.  It is when offences go unchecked for long periods of time that it is difficult to find your way back.  My mother always used to tell us “don’t go to bed angry” – work it out.  She was so right and I try to do this as much as possible but I’m not always successful at this – I am a work in progress.

Sometimes however, people will let us down and we are not able to work it through and this is where deep hurts are created and although we look for resolution sometimes there is none.  This is where disappointment can turn into discouragement that can lead to depression.  Unresolved disappointment or conflict can eat deeply into our emotional bank to the point of despair.  Discouragement is a reaction to disappointment.  We may not be able to control the disappointment but we can chose to not be discouraged.

If we have done all we can to reconcile the disappointment, we must stand tall and look to the future and not look to the past.  We must remember that people are human and sometimes finding our way to reconciliation is not possible – it requires openness on both sides.

Perhaps this is the most difficult part of the process – accepting this truth.

And this is how we avoid discouragement.  We look to the future for hope – we do not look back to the past as this will keep us “stuck” in despair and discouragement.

Discouragement is a choice – choose to have a clean and open heart – choose the path of reconciliation – choose the path of understanding – but most of all choose the path of truth.

 Seeing clearly and accepting truth will set you free from discouragement.  ‘Choose to see it and accept it quickly.

 Disappointments will come – but discouragement is avoidable!



“Finish each day and be done with it”

Recently I asked for some advice on a particular issue from someone and their response to me was “let me noodle on that for a bit”.  That phrase caught my fancy and I had to smile as I thought about what it means to “noodle” on something.

When I checked out the meaning, I found that it means to ponder, to muse, to give some thought to – or to “chew on it”.

Oh how often I tend to noodle on things – I noodle probably too much.  I think – rethink – over think – until it just tires me out.  I guess it is just the way I am – and although there is good in this – there is also a down side to “noodling” too much.

There is however the other extreme – not thinking enough – reacting and acting without putting any thought into what-where-when-why – or even thinking about consequences to actions.  Thinking and analyzing is a good thing – there is no doubt about it – but over thinking has its drawbacks.

Why do we over think?  Usually in an attempt to understand – to figure something out – to sort out and come up with solutions. All good – but we need to learn when to stop thinking and just either move on it – or move on – and that is the tricky part.  And sometimes when we move on – that process takes time as well – we think we have moved on but we keep going back to try and sort it out and figure it out – and so we really have not moved on at all – well maybe we have moved an inch forward or maybe its three steps forward two steps back.

So what to do about this issue of “noodling” too much or too little?  Well – I’m noodling too much on this issue to try and find the answer to the question of to think or not to think – and I don’t have the answer except to say – I am very aware of it.

Here is the conclusion I have come to.   We as humans are made uniquely and my make up is such that I analyze and I think.  That is just who I am.  I embrace that because I know it is my unique personality – and I know that there is much good in this.  What I am also learning is that there comes a time when you just have to say “forget it” “who cares” “let it go” “its not important” or whatever phrase is necessary to just take the importance away from whatever it is that is causing the brain to over think.  And I am learning that although the truth is I may still see the issues as important – it is just my way of taking the pressure off of my inability to figure it all out – and there is just something refreshing about that.  Its like cursing to the wind – it just helps!  Now my very strict upbringing would for sure reprimand me for “cursing to the wind” but I think you get my point.

I am a noodler – will probably always be – but I also enjoy the freedom that comes from saying “forget it” in whatever specific words you might choose to use!  And that is a beautiful thing! (she writes with a smile on her face)

P.S.  And now I am going to eat my chicken noodle soup – that is the most “noodling” I am going to do today!

P.S.S.  The picture above is from my garden – just keeping you informed!

Too late…?

It’s Saturday morning and with coffee in hand I stepped into my back yard as is my habit on weekend mornings to inspect the garden – to see what needs to be pruned back and to take a look at the new growth.  I find it is very calming to care for plants – to see growth.  I like to cut off the dead growth to make room for the new flowers to come.

I am learning that cutting back healthy parts of the plants is a good thing – it gives more strength to the plant as a whole and helps to direct the growth in the shape and direction needed.  When I first started pruning I was nervous as it just seem counterintuitive to be cutting back healthy growth – but I learned very quickly that wise pruning makes for a very healthy outcome.  I could write much about the life lessons in the good of pruning – the painful process of cutting out the bad to make room for good fruit – and perhaps that is a subject for another post – as  I have many real life examples of how this has been true in my own life.

What caught my eye today was my beloved hydrangea plants –  I have three in the garden which I watch with great eagerness.  Two of the plants produce gorgeous flowers the colour of periwinkle purple as pictured above and then turned into a deep brownish rose colour as also pictured above.  We  used to call the colour “dusty rose” back in the 80’s  – do you remember that?

With the heat this summer the flowers in the full sun did not last as long as they usually do and had to be cut back much to my disappointment.  However, I watched through the month of August as new leaves sprouted bringing the plant that appeared to have been given a brush cut come back to fullness in shape.

And with the month of September, the beautiful green leaves started to turn a deep burgundy colour – all part of the glory of the transformation from summer to fall – so fascinating to watch.

What I noticed today were the small buds of flowers coming.  I wondered if they would make it to full bloom before the frost came to take the plant into its winter sleep.  And I thought about timing.  It just seems that they are too late to be enjoyed – what a waste.  And I stopped myself in this thinking very quickly – I realized that even in the last few weeks of the life of the garden new growth can still be appreciated and celebrated.  It doesn’t matter that there will be less time to enjoy these new flowers or even that they may not make it to full bloom – there is still enjoyment in this new life.

Sometimes our expectations in life are challenged when it seems the timing is off – when we receive a blessing but it comes so late that there is little time to enjoy it.  There is another way to view this – sometimes we can be surprised by a blessing when we didn’t expect it to come – and although it comes late – it is still to be enjoyed.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book entitled “Surprised by Joy”  which talks about his conversion to Christianity.  He was also surprised by love late in his life – it is a beautiful heart wrenching love story a summary of which you can read here.  He was surprised by a friendship that challenged him intellectually, and a woman who took his heart ever so gradually only to lose her to cancer soon after.  Is this an example of a bloom coming too late to enjoy?  Perhaps you could look at it in this light, but on the other hand this love that found C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman was strong and intense much because of its timing.  I dare say that many who find love early in life do not have the same understanding of love as did these two and because they knew the preciousness of time they celebrated this love deeply.

We live by the clock, by the calendar.  Our expectations are set by the clock and by the calendar.  We expect life to play out just as the cultural calendar dictates – but sometimes we might be surprised by a bud that appears in September and grows into October with little time to blossom before the frost comes.  These are still tremendous blessings to be celebrated and enjoyed – in fact even more so because they surprise us – and they come at a time when the hope of summer is closing down.  Perhaps this is just the right time for this kind of joy to arrive – right when we need it most!

The Carlu

Last Sunday Dignitas hosted the annual Cinema Against AIDS Toronto black tie gala in support of both Dignitas International (the organization that I work for) and amfAR.  It was an amazing evening – lots of fun, energy and excitement and we raised a bunch of money to help bring medical care to those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and to help support continued research for a cure.

We held the event at the well known Carlu in Toronto – our third year at this venue – and once again it looked fabulous.  The Carlu has quite a history -and you must read about it by going to the Carlu website.  The building at the corner of Yonge and College in downtown Toronto (now known as College Park) was the vision of Timothy Eaton and was the original Eaton’s Department Store.  Sadly the great depression did not allow for the completion of the full vision however, the 7th floor of this now designated  National Historic Site has been brought back to its glory days by my good friends Jeffry Roick and Mark Robert who have restored it making it the premier event venue in Toronto.  You might recognize it from Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” video and  the film “Cinderella Man” as both were filmed among many other movies at the Carlu.

The evening featured a tribute to  Elizabeth Taylor who was founder of amfAR and a strong advocate in the fight against AIDS when it was not popular to be so.  And in a nod to Elizabeth Talyor the whole room was bathed in the colour purple – her signature colour – the colour of her eyes!

We have held this event at The Carlu for the last three years and every year Jeffry Roick brings in a new design for the lighting in the centre of the room and this year the design was outstanding.

The theme for the evening in keeping with the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor was “Hollywood Icons” and pictures of these well known movie stars were placed around the foyer and on the tables.  The foyer was designed to have that “60’s” feel – the era in which so many of these “icons” were in their prime.  And of course – the purple carpet – a nod to Ms. Taylor again!

Being a creative soul myself – I am of the belief that your surroundings – the decor – the aura of the room – plays a role in the feel and the success of the evening.  LIghting, colour, texture, all support by creating an atmosphere that provides the energy needed to pull people together.  The room was buzzing with excitement – people could hardly stay in their seats – the interaction – the conversation – the joy and laughter – all enhanced the evening and opened people’s hearts to be generous and supportive.  Being a lover of beauty – this event was beautiful in every way – and most of all it was beautiful because people opened their hearts and their wallets to support the work of both Dignitas and amfAR.  I am so grateful for this!

My Job…

I have not posted for a while because I have been so busy with work – specifically an annual event that is fun and exciting – but a also a whole lot of work!

My motivation for starting this blog a few months ago was to find a personal creative outlet to counter balance my day to day work and life.  This was to be a place where I could write, document, muse, think and give a visual picture to all things creative either in my life, or wishful thinking for my life.  I do talk about the purpose a wee bit in the About me section of the blog- I refer  ever so slightly to my work – the way I earn a living  –  which has been so fulfilling for me as it is a way to live out a passion for people and for service.  For those of you who don’t know – I lead the public relations/communication/revenue generating area for an international humanitarian organization that works primarily in Africa.

Although generating revenue is not easy and can be stressful – there is a wonderful fun side – and that is being involved in planning a great event that raises a bunch of money and gives the opportunity to not only work with amazing people – but meet interesting and well known people.  This event provides a great inspirational evening for people to get involved in work that changes lives for the better all over the world.

This past Sunday we  hosted  a black tie gala event to raise money for on the ground medical care and treatment and ongoing research for HIV/AIDS specifically as it relates to those living in Africa.  We raised close to $900K – each dollar helping to save lives and give people hope in Malawi, Africa.  The evening is a very special event – a beautiful venue, and great talent and celebrity involvement.  I have to say that this is one of the most interesting parts of my job – meeting people that I would never have the opportunity to meet otherwise.

I had the privilege of sitting with John Legend who performed for the evening. He was just wonderful!  Of course he sang “Ordinary People” – how could he not.

I asked him while we were eating dinner, what he was going to perform – and his response surprised me – he said “I don’t know”  “I will figure that out when I sit down at the piano”.  My response to him “You are a true performer – you sing what feels right at the moment ”  He smiled knowingly at me and nodded – because he knew I understood why he did that – he lives by inspiration – and that is the mark of a creative performer.  Not to say that those who like to be fully prepared and scripted are not creative – they do the creative part prior to the scripting in order to produce quality during the performance.  John Legend performs by inspiration – he just happens to be good enough to pull that off with perfection!

And then there is Cheyenne Jackson – who I have fully fallen in love with.

Some may not know Cheyenne yet – but you will soon – he is just that good.  He has performed on Glee, Thirty Rock, and Broadway – and has a voice that melts you like butter – the tone and quality is amazing – but it is more than that  – it is the performance – he pulls you in so that you are with him the whole way – you are transfixed and enveloped in the music – he is fantastic.

And more than an amazing voice – he is a wonderful person- so kind, so generous, so open, and caring.  I met him last year at this very event  and sat next to him at dinner – and then again at a small kickoff event for this years event.  And he doesn’t forget you – which is so nice for someone that I am sure meets people all the time – all I can say is he is a lovely person.  He sang a Diana Krall arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s song “A Case of  You”  which was a nod to Canada.  He sat on the stage steps and had us all in the palm of his hands as he opened the evening with this amazing song.  He chose it specifically for us – because of its Canadian roots – and that alone speaks to his care not only for his performance – but for his audience.  He had us in mind.  Thank you Cheyenne for giving us this special treat – and as I received in an email following the evening – this was the highlight of the evening for some – in fact one has gone so far as to say it is a highlight in an already full and wonderful life to hear this performed as it was.  That is high praise!

Kim Cattrall – one very class act for sure.  I can describe her as a beautiful, refined, elegant, shy (surprising I know) and generous woman.  Very different from what you would expect after seeing her in character in “Sex and the City”.

Not one to want to take the stage (surprising again I know) she moved to the stage to raise the live auction number and agreed to throw in the dress she was wearing to the auction package and to have dinner with the purchaser – and the she raised the price by thousands just by doing so.  Thank you Kim Cattrall – as these dollars go to directly save lives in Africa!

When she agreed to throw in her dress – she said not the shoes – but by the end of the evening – the gorgeous shoes were auctioned as well!  I loved Kim Catrrall- she was lovely.

And then there is Kathy Griffin!  What can I say about Kathy Griffin that you don’t already know.  She is funny and irreverent – and works to shock you – in fact she is so shocking that it isn’t shocking if you know what I mean.  She is quite brilliant – and for once you feel like you can laugh because you just don’t know what other reaction to have.  You either love her or hate her – most loved her – but if you don’t like her – you really don’t like her at all.

There is no middle ground with Kathy.  She raised a lot of money in the auction – she knows how to work a crowd – and she kept the energy moving in the room – there is no doubt about it!

It was a star studded evening – from the moment you arrived at valet parking to the crowds of onlookers hoping to catch a view of John, Kathy and Kim and others on the red carpet – to the end of the evening when your feet were so sore from the shoes you were wearing that all you wanted to do was sit down or crawl into bed.

I’m so thankful for the 500 plus guests who paid a high priced ticket to come and support the work we are doing – so thankful that this event gained media attention – so thankful that funds were raised and awareness was broadened about the fact that people are dying in Africa and they don’t need to die – there is medical care that can reach them – it just takes funds to make that happen!

That is the beauty of the outcome of such an evening.  Money was raised and people are more aware about the needs beyond our North American borders!  A very good outcome!

Dill Pickles

According to the internet dill pickle’in should be done anytime from the first of August through the middle of September – and so we are right on time!  My sister Carol and I decided to make dill pickles – something we have not done in many years.

Mom used to pickle, can, freeze and preserve and all that good stuff!  That is the way she fed a family of six on a budget – and we were all the better for it – such great home made treats!

And so yesterday Carol and I got the “hankerin” (is that an actual word?) to start in.  We went out to Niagara-on-the-Lake and bought the small cucumbers and the fresh dill weed, coarse salt and vinegar and settled in to try our hand at making dill pickles.

Carol remembered so much of what mom had taught us about sterilizing the jars, and then sealing them at the end of the process by boiling the jars in hot water for 10 minutes.  Seems like a strange thing to do – but the jars seal tight – and that is so important in the pickling process.  It is really a very easy process – surprisingly so – and now we have several jars of dill pickles that will be ready in a few weeks.

If you don’t have maison jars you can use recycled jars such as tomato sauce jars from the grocery store.  They work just fine and although they don’t have that “Martha Stewart” finished look there is just something about recycling jars that makes it seems so right!

We both feel mom would be so pleased that we had taken this project on (you know you really never grow too old to want to please your mom) and we have a renewed sense of wanting to get back to “living off the land” and getting back to the “homemade’ roots of our growing up days.

You just never know – we might pull out the sewing machine soon – that would really take us back to our roots – and it would reawaken the creative spirit that has been dormant for far too long.  I think “homemade” is beginning to sound more and more attractive!

Good Bones

This week my niece Laura and her husband Eric closed on their new home.  New to them that is.  The home is actually several years old – and has been owned by two other families previously.  The most recent owners  – an older couple with a grown family lived there for 40 years.  The grown children were selling the home following the passing of both parents this  past year.

Having been through this with my own parents I know just how tough it is to sell the family home – even if in our case one parent is still with us but no longer able to live in the house.  And although for us it was the family home – it was not our growing up home – I never lived in this home.  But still – there were many family celebrations there – many Christmas dinners, and Thanksgiving dinners and birthdays – and it contained all of the “home” furniture and fixins that make a family house a home. In our case there were many family homes – as we moved more than once when we were children- but each home became the family home so easily – because home is where you nest – where you build your life – and this can be done almost anywhere.  All it takes is a bit of nesting attitude and a few familiar things.

For Laura and Eric their new home has great bones – it has a great structure and a good layout – beautiful original hardwood floors, spacious rooms and the potential for updates and upgrades that will make this a great family home for years to come if they wish to make it so.  It is amazing what a bit of paint, a bit of carpet, and new wood trim will do to spruce this place up and not only clean it up but give it their own specific style.  And so before they move in at the end of this month there will be much cleaning, and painting and fixin up.

And so over we went yesterday with our diet coke, pizza, jube jubes and peanut M&M’s and had a fixin up party.  Wood trim was pulled off in preparation for new trim, wallpaper was stripped and walls cleaned and prepped for painting.  Even grandpa worked with Laura removing light switch plates and pulling down old wall paper – just like the good ole days when he and Laura would have many work parties at his place where Laura learned all the tricks to doing these kinds of tasks with perfection.

Laura and Eric were surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers left from the previous owners  with a card that blessed them and wished them as many happy memories in this home as they had in the previous 40 years.   What a wonderful way to pass a home on to new owners and new traditions!

It was a great day – a day to celebrate new beginnings.  This house has good bones – all that is necessary to make this house a nest – a special home for Laura and Eric.

 It was a beautiful day!