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An Eclectic Life

The Power of Story

I tell my grief story so that others will be more comfortable in telling theirs. Many thanks to Becky at The Death Dialogues Project for giving me the opportunity to share my story, laugh a little and speak candidly about why we need to collectively move forward in our understanding of loss, grief and new…

Yes, We Are Adapting Beautifully

Some days still feel overwhelming.  But, I know we are all adapting beautifully.  And, yes, I know we are finding our way.  I know this because when I look at pieces I wrote some months back I can see how far we have all, collectively, come. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t still at times…

Shi(f)t Happens

Shi(f)t Happens One day, out of nowhere, this thought came to me.  If it was possible for my life to become chaotic in an instant, then it is also possible that my life could become lighter again in an instant.  Why not?  It was an unexpected piece of bad news that took me down that…

Widow Wednesday #12: Fight to be and stay inspired

Widow Wednesdays Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesdays. A new way for me to share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better. Fight to be and Stay Inspired In the midst of all the pain and confusion that follows when we lose someone we love it is hard to remember that life can also…

When we stop fighting the inevitable…

When we stop fighting the inevitable, we release energy which enables us to a create richer life. ~Elsie MacCormick~

Simple Rituals to Stay Connected When a Loved One Dies

This article is a collaboration between Heike Mertins, author of “Grief is…” and Linda Stuart, creator of memorable ceremonies. Instinctively we come together when death happens.  The need to be comforted and the need to offer comfort is part of what it means to be human.  It gives those most greatly affected by the loss…

I once dated a hunter

It was a long time ago, when I was a young woman. The first time we went out I did not know he was a hunter. I was your typical naïve Bambi loving urbanite. I was not looking to date a hunter. Yet, regardless of the fact that he hunted, I liked this young man….

Buy Cereal.

    Cleaning off my dying laptop I came across this piece.  I wrote it at least 7 years ago as my niece is turning 15 and I refer to her as being 7. I have no recollection of writing it.  The odd things loss will do to a brain.  Though I wrote it as…

This morning…

This morning I saw my favourite jogger. I didn’t know there was such a thing. As I sipped my coffee and glanced out my window onto the street below I could see a figure clad all in black (ninja style) complete with facial covering.  Rhythmically, the ninja jogger pounded the pavement in my general direction. …

Forgiveness

I have been very angry these past weeks. I have spoken harshly to joggers who would run up right behind me without warning and pass me as if social distancing did not apply to them. I have lost it when the wife of the jogger that cut right in front of me less than a…

I’m being careful

My brother and husband both had terminal cancer. But, it was respiratory infections that ended their lives. Not covid-19 type of viral infections – just plain old regular respiratory infections. None of their caregivers were ill. The viruses were introduced into their homes by third parties who either didn’t know they were carriers or who…

Widow Wednesday #11 Start with the small things

Gratitude is both next to impossible and essential when we are grieving. Don’t even think that I’m going to that place of being grateful because your loved one is no longer suffering or in heaven. That sort of thinking is flawed. That sort of gratitude is very messy and complicated – mostly because it stifles…

Finding Gratitude through Living

At 18 I dove into the ocean of gratitude and never found shore ~Dr. Patch Adams~ What are you waiting for?

Things not to say

1. Is he still alive? I thought he’d be dead by now. 2. But she lives in such a nice neighbourhood. I’m surprised she goes to AA. (only poor people are alcoholics?) 3. Wow! What did she do to deserve that? Upon learning that my brother and husband died 18 months apart: their deaths, my…

Widow Wednesday #10

Widow Wednesday

Messages of love
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
-Rumi
Pretty much everyone I know who has lost a loved one has told me a story of how they believed their loved one showed up in another form after they died. The time has come to accept these happenings as valid as well as valuable.

One of the Greatest Things Ever (so far)

A friend and I recently watched her ’70 something year old’ cousin marry her ’90 something year old’ fiancée. It was a beautiful ceremony. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, I would have missed witnessing this joyous occasion. For this, I am grateful. I wasn’t invited…

Grief is (a short doc)

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Back Lane Studios and make a short doc. The goal, as per usual, was to let grieving folks know they are not alone and to make everyone else a bit more familiar with what to do when friends, family and co-workers are grieving. (hint: watch and…

Widow Wednesday #9

Widow Wednesday Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesday, where I share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better. How to support the grieving: Accept that loss is a life-altering experience Time is a social construct and created through thinking. Grieving is an act of the heart and does not understand what the brain is…

Welcome New Year!

Welcome New Year   I know I am the sum of all my stories I await the stories you will bring this year   I no longer wish for things to happen I know the truly important things are beyond my control   I do commit to improving my life one word at a time…

Merry Christmas: Bah Humbug

Merry Christmas: Bah Humbug The holidays are different after loss. It cannot be otherwise. Just as Christmas changed as we grew into adulthood It must also change as we grow into life after loss This takes time Sometimes we yearn for the innocent excitement and joy of childhood Sometimes we yearn for the innocent joy…

Reach Out and Touch Faith

For those with family reaching out to those on their own is a gesture of good will towards others; an opportunity to share one’s good fortune with those who would otherwise be alone.Reaching out for those who are on their own is an act of faith because when we ask to be included we are vulnerable. We touch faith with the hope that we will be welcomed.

Widow Wednesday #8 The Changing Seasons of Learning to Live with Loss

Recently, I’ve been pulling writings from a series of notebooks and adding them into my second book file. Today I came across some notes I’d made when I was trying to figure out the title for my first book “Grief is… Thoughts on loss, struggle and new beginnings.” My working title had been “Really?!? This is normal?” To me, it was the obvious choice because first, it was the question I repeatedly asked during those early days and secondly,

It’s Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday, the day I get to give to my favourite organizations (University of Waterloo) and charities (Toronto Hospice, War Amps, etc.) and double the value of my gift. Hooray! It’s such a nice way to support things like Richard’s Memorial Scholarship and to thank those who make other’s lives easier and encourage them to…

Widow Wednesday #7

Widow Wednesday #7
Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesdays. This week’s taboo busting blog is as much for those looking to better support loved ones who are grieving as it is for those who are grieving. This week’s taboo topic is GRIEF COUNSELLING.

I remember…

I remember…
War, Veterans and Remembrance Day

I remember being 5 years old and learning about Remembrance Day in school.
I remember feeling glad that I could remember my Opa whom I never knew

Tylenol is not a long term solution 🙁

It is a challenge to live with intention and not out of habit. It requires that I look at my situation, my body and my health and rather than dismiss their rumblings, take a deep breath, sit still and listen.

Widow Wednesday #6

Widow Wednesday #6
There is this misbelief that staying busy, going out, returning to work, buying a new car and even dating someone new are all signs that we are healing and moving on with our life. But, in many cases, they are simply actions used to break the powerful hold that grief has on us.

Hmmm… Questions I ask before I vote

We vote for all kinds of reasons. We vote to support a candidate, we vote for the policies of a particular party, we vote because we like the leader of a party and sometimes we vote to stop particular candidates, parties and their leaders. Is one reason more valid than another? I don’t know. I…

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling! The Election is Coming! The Election is Coming! It’s time to vote…

I’m not a big fan of fear mongering. Nor am I a fan of groupthink. When the two exist side by side it makes me want to step back and ask: “what is really going on here?” In the chaos that has become elections I worry that there are many who out of fear choose…

Swan Song Festival launches in 16 Cities across Canada

One of the interesting things that has happened since my book came out is the number of people I have met who are actively involved in raising awareness about what it means to die here in North American. Though my work focuses on better supporting the grieving, I’ve come to understand that how we die…

Widow Wednesdays #5

Widow Wednesday Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesdays. A new way for me to share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better. This week I continue tackling the subject of safe people. Who are the safe people? (Part 2) Many of the problems we encounter when we are grieving are due to the many…

Widow Wednesday #4

Widow Wednesday # 4: Who are the safe people? (Part 1)

Whenever I speak to groups about healing from grief I always tell them that when they are grieving they have to make sure the people in their lives are supporting their healing. But, how do we know if someone is safe? There are many tell tale signs. Let’s start with these three.

Less is More

The tee-shirt says it all or does it?  Marie Kondo and her philosophy of tidy changed the way many people view their stuff. On a recent donation run to Value Village the young man accepting donations said to me “Man, that Marie Kondo has done an awesome job for Value Village.” I did enjoy her…

Widow Wednesday #3

What about all those friends who disappear after the first few months (or even weeks)? It’s very tempting to say: “Just let them go. This is just one of those weird things that happen when people die.” Though there is a lot of truth in that statement, for some reason I feel we also don’t need to give up on everyone who disappears.

I ain’t old school

Whenever I need to understand what someone else is thinking, feeling or creating I suggest we have a sit down conversation. I ain’t old school.

Everything is different when we grieve – even Back-To-School

  Re-visiting last year’s Back-to-School post because some things do not change. The Labour Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Bathing suits and beach umbrellas are put away and new jeans and knapsacks donned. Today I am thinking of those that find themselves surprisingly thrown by how different it…

Widow Wednesday #2

Widow Wednesday Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesday, where I share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better. How to support the grieving: Don’t give up on your friends (Part 1) Don’t give up on your friends. Invite them repeatedly to social functions.  If they decline or cancel keep inviting them.  If you’re concerned…

I eat ice cream: a philosophical approach

I like good ice cream. I like eating good ice cream. It tastes wonderful and I am happy when I eat good ice cream. I also like being slimmer. But, when I eat ice cream I do not become slimmer. This makes me a bit sad. I like being slimmer. Being slimmer in my mind…

Widow Wednesdays #1

Widow Wednesdays Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesdays. A new way for me to share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better. How to support the grieving Invite a widow(er) for dinner in your home – not for lunch or coffee but dinner. Dinner is the hardest meal of the day to eat alone…

Wouldn’t you like to know…

Ever been at loss of what to say to a friend who is grieving? Ever wondered if what you said was helpful? Ever wanted to help but didn’t know how? Ever wondered why you felt this way? Misbeliefs. If you’re interested in dispelling some of these misbeliefs and learning about how to better support those…

Could Grief Be The Next ‘Me Too’?

I most certainly hope so. If we can accept the validity of another’s story, even when we don’t have any personal experience with loss, it’s choosing to take a step towards creating a more compassionate and supportive space for all. We don’t need to be sexually assaulted to know it impacts people’s lives. We also…

Story

“Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution – more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.” – Lisa Cron And this is why it’s important to share our grief stories and why we must do so to make them part of…

Platinum Blonde

“Platinum Blonde” is one of the nicer things someone has said to me since I stopped putting highlights into my every changing hair. “If you’re over 65…” was one of the least, if not the least, welcome comment I’ve heard. I’m 55. The funny thing is that I would never have guessed what this decision…

Living Fearlessly

Grief, like most life changing experiences, teaches us something. Fully realizing that people I love will one day die and that “those sort of things” do NOT only happen to other people drove home the fact that to live well means to live more fearlessly and to fear less. Forever grateful to Lisa McDonald and…

The Power of Story

I tell my grief story so that others will be more comfortable in telling theirs. Many thanks to Becky at The Death Dialogues Project for giving me the opportunity to share my story, laugh a little and speak candidly about why we need to collectively move forward in our understanding of loss, grief and new…

What is this “Moving Forward?”

Moving forward began with me taking one step after another when it was unclear of where I was going or how I would get there. Moving forward while grieving was like learning how to walk while carrying one of those massive cloth sacks that are strapped to your head. You know the ones that make…

Senseless Grief

There are many types of grief. Grief exists on a continuous scale or sort of continuum. And grief is present every time we experience loss. On the low end of the continuum there are little losses that have minimal impact on our lives beyond the occasional wistful longing for something that is no more. On…

Everyone needs a Jo-Anne

This is Jo-Anne. Well, it’s Jo-Anne and me. Jo-Anne and I have been exchanging 5 gratefuls every night for, as near as we can figure it, almost six years. That’s a lot of gratefuls. It’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of 11,000 gratefuls. If you can imagine what $10 in loose pennies looks like and then…

Shifting from “Moving On” to “Moving Forward”

I shifted my thinking from “moving on” to moving forward” somewhere in the midst of living my grief story. It was such a relief to do this. Suddenly I didn’t have to forget what happened, I didn’t have to forget the person I loved most the world who had died and I didn’t have to…

Tonight’s Gathering Postponed

Due to winter storm weather and continued warnings, tonight’s talk at the Toronto Death Cafe has been postponed. Please stay warm and safe. Details on a new date will be forthcoming. Stay well, Heike

Toronto Talks Death (Pt.2)

Join us February 13th as we further explore how to better supporting the grieving. Always thought provoking and lively. The snacks are pretty wonderful too. Thank you to Life Celebrants Linda Stuart and Lisa Myers for making these evenings possible.

Dear Mean Girls (when you’re not mainstream)

Dear Mean Girls, Thank you for making me an outsider. The view from here is so much more spectacular than you will ever be able to imagine. To all the Carlas, Julies and Sues out there, I want to let you know that the kids who did think I was interesting enough to be friends…

The Lighting of Three Candles

Special thanks to Linda Stuart, Life Celebrant who recently introduced me to this ritual. The first candle is lit for those who have come before us and are no longer with us. We light it to acknowledge the gifts their presence in our lives bestowed upon us, whether they were mentors, friends or family. The…

Introducing Holiday Joy to Grief

Recently someone pointed out to me that the holidays can be further complicated when some family members are once again ready for the joy of the holidays and others are not. This is true no matter what holiday is being celebrated. First, I want to say that I don’t know why some people are able…

Welcoming Grief At The Holidays

This lovely picture was taken last Christmas. It was taken at the home of the couple that opened their arms to my daughter, her boyfriend, our dog and me the first Christmas after my husband’s death. Are there any pictures from that Christmas? No. Was the day emotional, funny, awkward, and surreal? Was sorrow present?…

Holidays after loss

Holidays after a major loss are messy. There are so many things to disentangle. Holidays and family gatherings are emotional under the best of circumstances. And a holiday gathering after loss is so far from the best of circumstances that I’m inclined to say it verges on the paranormal. Well, not really, but it sometimes…

National Bereavement Day Talk

Dear Friends, On November 21st, National Bereavement Day I invite you to join me at the Toronto Death Cafe to learn more about and share ideas on how we can all better support those who are grieving during the upcoming holidays. This is a free event and sure to be interesting. Please help me spread…

Three Truths

Many of us go through our days on autopilot surfacing into a state of consciousness only when something out of the ordinary happens. Sometimes it’s a moment of joy or something amusing that rouses us. Other times it is a crisis or a challenge.  But, for the most part we putter through our lives sticking…

I’m thankful for mommy and daddy, blankie and bear

Those were the words my daughter dictated to her pre-school teacher 20 years ago. In bold marker, the teacher dutifully wrote them onto the strip of sticker decorated bristol board that would become my daughter’s crown for the afternoon’s sharing circle. She did this for all of daughter’s classmates. It touched the hearts of her…

Everything is different when we grieve – even Back-To-School

  The Labour Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Bathing suits and beach umbrellas are put away and new jeans and knapsacks donned. Today I am thinking of those that find themselves surprisingly thrown by how different it all feels this year. I’m hoping their teachers, fellow students and…

Trigger Days

When you lose someone you love there will always be trigger days that follow. As the anniversary of a friend’s death drew nearer I had my first experience with trigger days. I was anxious and on the actual date I felt a sense of unexplained sadness all day long. It was 1987, I was twenty-four…

Runaway Truck Ramp Next Left

Photo credit: https://www.transwest.com/how-runaway-truck-ramps-work I first saw a version of this sign when I was driving to the Grand Canyon two years ago. The first thought that went through my brain, having never seen any signs like this is in good ole’ flat Southern Ontario, was “that’s kind of funny.” The second thought that quickly followed…

Hug Someone You Love Today

Hug Someone You Love Today The very fact that I now live in a place where my grief has become one of the stories of my life is somewhat remarkable. It’s taken a long time for me to incorporate my experience of grief into my life story. It is now a part of me the…

5 Things I remember and hope to never forget

1. There was one black telephone in our apartment for all 5 members of my family. There was no caller i.d. and we rarely received unsolicited sales calls. I don’t recall ever getting a scam call. Call waiting was what you did while you waited for the phone to ring because a friend had said…

Grief is…

Grief is… missing being loved by the person you lost. ~Heike Mertins~ We always talk about missing the person we’ve lost, but, we seldom speak of missing being loved by those we’ve lost. I think it’s an important piece in understanding what it feels like to grieve. Today I’m being grateful not only to have…

Be all that you are ~ Be nothing you are not

Being all that I am is a challenging thing to do. It means I must not only believe in myself and the value of my gifts, but that I must also listen to my internal compass above all else. I must check in with myself when I’m in a new situation, out of my comfort…

In Praise of Conflicting Emotions

Conflicting emotions tend to throw most of us for a loop. Are we angry? Are we sad? Are we relieved? Are we pleased? How is it possible we’re feeling all those emotions at once? It’s enough to shut down many of us or send us looking for some coping mechanism that drowns the confusion reigning…

Shit Happens/ Life is Good

“Shit Happens” is sometimes the most appropriate and honest response there is. Though I had often used it in an off the cuff manner when a situation had gone wrong the sentiment that followed tended to be “Oh well. Let’s accept this happened and do our best to figure out where to go from here.”…

People are better than Netflix

Three and half years ago I moved back to Toronto. It never occurred to me that moving back to a place I had grown up in and loved could be so isolating. There are two easy answers for this: 1) the city had grown so much in the years I’ve been away that logistically connecting…

A wee bit of a rant

Sometimes when I read an article I know that it’s something I need to address. Laura Stone’s Globe and Mail article on Karina Gould becoming Canada’s first cabinet member to give birth is one of those articles. First, I’d like to acknowledge Ms. Gould’s commitment to serving her country as a Member of Parliament and…

Grief is ugly crying. It is not elegant.

I’m secretly pleased that I’ve written a book on grief that is ‘not elegant’. Grief is not elegant. If the book was elegant it wouldn’t be honest nor do I think it would be helpful. Because my writings from the early days of grieving are raw they are not only honest and helpful in understanding…

It’s never the big things

A very short post. It’s kind of in keeping with “it’s the little things” theme. I know my friends well enough to know that they contribute to the community in many different ways AND I know they seldom talk about what they do. It’s just how they are. So when my friend Arron Best posted…

The holidays just are…

There are so many ways to complete that sentence. The holidays are… an excuse to see friends and family, Ÿan excuse to eat and drink a lot, Ÿfun, Ÿstressful, Ÿbusy, Ÿlonely, Ÿexhausting, Ÿa chance for a welcome break. However we choose to complete this sentence is a reflection of the stories we write and tell…

Now also available in the U.S.

Today I am excited to write that my book “Grief is… Thoughts on loss, struggle and new beginnings” is now also available in the U.S.  It can be purchased on-line through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.  It is also available as an ebook for Kindle (Amazon.com), Kobo(Chapters Indigo: Canada), iBooks (iTunes Store) and Google Play…

What to do when someone we love is grieving

Unfortunately, one of the things we don’t do well as a society is support those who grieve. This is not because we don’t want to but because we don’t know what to do. So I thought I’d share just a few of best things people did for me when my husband died. Hopefully, they will…

I am a woman

I am a woman. This means it is highly likely I have ovaries, a uterus and a vagina. Together these enable my body to create a cellular change that is able to grow into a baby. This ability to create, support and give life does not make me stupid. It makes me powerful. If I…

In case you’re wondering. Year One and Now (Year Five)

Five Christmas’ in the making. One step at a time.

A message of hope – Corny but true

A message of hope Facebook isn’t always great. In the last few weeks I have seen “memories” of times I’d forgotten about. I remember well posting those photos during the first few years after Richard passed: sometimes out of a need to document the sadness that masked itself as in your face anger and black…

In the Spirit of Christmas: Embracing the Lost and Loss

There is no point is saying the holidays are difficult for those who are grieving. It’s a foregone conclusion. But, as it is one of my personal missions to share with others the lessons I’ve learned from being on the other side of the abyss I am compelled to blog about ways we can help…

Grief and the Holidays – Not so Ho! Ho! Ho!

The holidays are coming. In my case, it’s Christmas. The next few blog entries will be either new writings on surviving the holidays and grief or excerpts from what I hope will be my soon to be released book “Really?!? This is normal? Thoughts on grief, struggle and starting over”. I’m hoping these writings will…

Loving my body – ha ha ha?

“ Only loving your body when its perfectly fit is like only loving your children when they are perfectly behaved.” ~magnet by everyday peoplecartoons.com~ This magnet sits on my fridge. It’s a good one. The roller coaster that has been my life these past 5 years has seen me go from a fit 136-138 to…

Things I’ve recently re-learned from my grandson

How nice to write a lighter blog. As hokey as it sounds we do learn from our children and grandchildren.  Here are a couple of things I’ve re-learned in the not too distant past thanks to the handsome gentleman seated above. 1. When we are tired and hungry we are not at our best. It…

Grief Brain- The Battle for Normalcy (sort of)

Sometimes I come across something I’ve previously written and not published. This is one of those entries. It’s a bit of a rant but anyone who is grieving, or has grieved will relate to this post and those supporting the grieving take note, grief brain is real, real, real. Once upon a time (during the…

I wish I could buy more – Women’s Right To Vote Coins

I am not a coin collector but this morning I bought the Canadian Mint’s 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote dollar coins. Five coins for $5, shipping and handling included. Those of us older than dare I say 40 remember what it was like to become a woman in the 70’s and 80’s and…

Kindness marks the flesh

No good deed shall go unpunished is a warning, not to those performing good deeds, but rather for those fearing the performing of good deeds. It is an empty threat for the good deed doer by those who fear the impact of good deeds. It is an indicator of the power that acts of kindness…

Learning to live again

Learning to live again is thinking what you are doing now is the hardest thing you’ve had to do so far and realizing you have felt this way about so many of the other things you have had to do. And smiling at yourself as you realize whatever task it is you are currently undertaking…

Is Love the Greatest Thing of All?

Yes. Is it also one of the scariest and hardest things to do in the world? Absolutely. After all if love wasn’t so great we wouldn’t have countless gazillion dollar industries trying to sell us all of its accessories: wear this cologne/perfume, dress this way, take this trip, drink this beverage, drive this car, read…

God gave me a daughter so I could be a better feminist

Yes, she did. When my daughter Emily was born I thought I knew the type of feminist I was and the type of feminism I believed in. Objectification of women was bad, equal pay for work of equal value was good, delaying reproduction until one was financially secure and had a good of idea of…

Always say “YES” if you have the chance to hold a new baby

What is it about new babies? Is it that they smell so wonderful that they’ve made a product (baby powder) that is supposed to smell like a newborn (it doesn’t come close). Is it their teeny tininess? How exactly is it that something so small can be a miniature version of the rest of us-…

10 Questions Widows Ask Themselves (way too often)

1. Will I ever recognize myself in the mirror again? 2. If I stop crying every day or almost everyday will the puffiness around my eyes subside? (yes) 3. Is there a skincare product that will hide the truckload of new lines that have cropped up around my eyes? (nope- it’s the “new” wiser you)…

Dear Rogers (Do you really wonder why Canadians dislike you?)

Dear Rogers Thank you so much for the very nice hockey themed gift bag with the “real” hockey lace” string handles. If you knew anything about me you would know what a MAJOR waste of money it was to give me this bag. I would also like to thank you for the contract I had…

Please call me “Cunt” to my face

“Cunt” is likely one of, if not, the word that makes me madder than any other word in the English language. There is no male equivalent. There is a harshness and underlying threat of violence that tends to accompany it; the vengeance with which it is usually spewed is often code for “I would like…

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg ( I think it’s time )

January 6th, 2015 Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, I commend you on your decision to read a new book every other week. As a public persona I am certain you are aware of how your actions impact those who look up to and respect you, especially today’s young people. I know you are a relatively young person,…

Legitimizing an Unethical and Disrespectful Practice: Enabling Doctors to Deny Women Birth Control

Simple Solutions to Complicated Situations are Inadequate. Overriding a woman’s decision to control when she wants to reproduce because one has completed medical school is unprofessional. No other “profession” can afford to indulge in this type of personal opinion decision-making. This is further complicated by a) the fact that doctors are paid by the government…

OMG! Please stop feeding peanuts to the wildlife!!!!!!!

The first thing those of you who are feeding peanuts to the wildlife who think I have no right to ask you to stop will likely say is the you have a “right” to feed the animals on your property anything you want and I have no right to even ask that you stop doing…

Overwhelmed and Unplugged- My weekend without technology (sort-of)

First off I have to say that it isn’t as radical as it sounds. The only things I unplugged myself from were my smart phone and my laptop- I felt I had to. After several days of great task completion followed by an emotionally difficult Friday I had gone from elated to drained in less…

Raising children is NOT a gender issue

Every so often there is an article in some newspaper or magazine that “reveals” the challenges of being a father who is involved with raising his kids. Every time I come across one of these the little voice in my head asks “why are we still having this conversation? Isn’t it obvious yet?” I find…

Questions to Ask When Working with Public Support Agencies (i.e. CCAC)

Public support agencies can be a great asset to any community. They can provide much needed support to those who cannot otherwise afford it and they can act as a bridge service in times of crisis. However, there are many limitations you will be want to aware of if you are relying solely on this…

Christmas letter 2013

Thank you to those of you who have written and wished us well this holiday season and also for asking how we are doing. I thought I’d do an open letter to answer your questions. It’s a bit of a kick back to when I actually enjoyed writing in that it’s a list and I…

Grace

Once upon a time I was ultimately impatient and quick to find fault. Today I like to think I’ve evolved. Today I was reminded that one of the few things I truly cannot tolerate is when someone’s reason for being intolerant of another is based on the other person’s background, culture, religion, race and personal…

Stories of Bullying

Today my heart goes out to the parents of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons and all those who loved her. It makes me shake my head and tears do fill my eyes to acknowledge she is the latest victim of uncensored bullying who has seen no alternative to her situation other than to take her life. Her…

I hate the word “Widow”

One thing every “widow” I have met agrees about, and I have met several since becoming a widow eight and half months ago, is we all hate the word “widow”. It conjures up images of “The Black Widow” who kills her mates, old frail ladies who will now need to be taken care of, disheveled…

A Man’s Man/Woman

(noun) a woman who has adopted values and policies that support patriarchal beliefs that limit women’s participation in the public realm. Behaviors indicate a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complexity of women’s lives and the ever present need to create new solutions to support women and ensure as well as maximize their impact…

Aren’t Women Amazing- Keller’s Shirt Apron

The world is filled with extremely talented women. My sister-in-law Keller Easterling is an architect, urbanist and writer who is also a professor, designer and master seamstress. Some months back a woman in my hospice walking group was telling me about a local woman who re-purposed family items. For example grandma’s wedding dress was turned…

Happily In-between

My 17-year old daughter, Emily recently said to me “Mom I don’t believe in happily ever after anymore. But maybe there is happily in between.” Hmmm. It took me but a second to think, “Yup, she’s right”. Since then I’ve pondered what that means and what that would look like: this happily in-between. Not a…

What if… Re-thinking “Work

Work is one of the most commonly accepted concepts we subscribe to. What does that mean? To me it means the majority of us believe work is a worthwhile endeavor, one that helps us build the lives we want and one that gives our lives some sort of meaning and ourselves a sense of self-worth….

There are no “Do-overs” when someone you love has cancer

One of the most difficult things, if not the most difficult thing, for me in coming to terms with my husband’s death has been trying to figure out where things went wrong and even if I think I know where things went wrong forgiving myself for making what I or we thought was the best…

Can a button change a belief system? No -It takes people, dialogue and action-

Today is December 6th. It is Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is the 22nd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. I have lit candles, laid roses, cried and also hoped that as a society we would learn from this tragedy and that my daughter would grow up in a…

This is my Tribe- The Women I Love

Elizabeth Renzetti Why? Because she writes things such as “This is not a screed against cosmetic surgery, that trim-buttocked genie has left the bottle. In an age of body modification people are free to play Potato Head to their heart’s content.” Ha! Ha! Ha! Gotta love it and her. Source: The vanishing face of the…

What if……

What if we were all the children of God And God like any good parent would know not all children learn their lessons the same way Some learn through listening, others through writing Some through thinking and others through doing What if all of the world’s religions were God offering us many ways to learn…

What to do when a friend has cancer

Often when someone we know becomes ill we want to help but are at loss of what to do or how to help. Here is a list of 10 things we found helped us to live through my husband’s illness. 1. Be understanding. Do not expect that your friend will be up for visiting, especially…

Barack Obama, The Richard Nutbrown Fund and Critical Thinking

Four years ago, my husband Richard (Professor Nutbrown) and I watched with great interest as Barack Obama ran for President. This was a historical moment. Richard became an adult in the 1960’s witnessing the civil rights movement and when I started public school there was one black child and one Indian child in my class….

Grief is…

Grief is…. Going to McDonalds, though you haven’t eaten beef for over a year, ordering a Big Mac Meal with Coke, taking it home, putting aside 5 or so French fries for your French fry loving dog. Wolfing down the burger and fries with coke and then going to the freezer for one of the…

Switching Cell Phone Providers: From Bell to Rogers

Did you know that unless you are a Bell pay as you go customer or use prepaid cards you will need to give this cell phone provider 30 days notice? This means that though your phone may be deactivated with one company (Bell) and reactivated with another (Rogers) you will still need to pay for…

Fall in Love with an Irishman

Falling in love with an Irishman is an easy thing to do. That nonchalant relaxed manner puts everyone at ease. The sparkle in the eyes makes you laugh, waiting and wanting to see what’s coming next, and perhaps a bit wary in a good way (What are you up to? What are you going say…

Hats off to… Hewlett-Packard (HP)

We all know that computers, printers, cars and cellphones do not need to be replaced nearly as often as the media would have us believe. The reality that we now have a word such as e-waste in our lexicon that didn’t exist some 15 or so years ago speaks volumes on how technology has become…

Why Must North American T.V. Insult Women?

There is a great book by Gina Barreca on women’s strategic use of humour: “They used to call Snow White but… I drifted”.  Among other interesting tidbits in this book is the fact that television was at the time (1990’s) showcasing smart women and that women viewers were exercising their prerogative in helping to keep…

Milestones and Birthdays

All women have milestone moments- some of them are particular birthdays. When I turned 30 I remember thinking “I’m now thirty, I no longer have to take crap from anyone”. It was less a statement on how I felt about others as it was realizing that I now had enough experience to tell when someone…

Kids and Cancer: easily isolated and pushed aside Something to avoid

Kids are easily pushed to the side when someone in the family is diagnosed with cancer.  The shift to crisis mode and survival relegates them to the periphery or in other words shuts them out.  This is not only unfair, but can rob both the kid and the loved one of the joy that existed…

Shouting it from the Rooftops

A lot of hard work and long hours go into building one’s dreams. Books like the 4 hour work day and other spurious get rich quick business “opportunities” proclaim and would have us believe that all one needs is a good idea, some luck and some connections and we too will be living the Rich…

Work-life Balance: Changing the World of Work

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric was quoted as saying “ There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them and they have consequences.” The problem with the thinking behind this quote is that is legitimizes existing workplace structures and cultures that fail to take into account societal…

Cancer and Things I Never Knew (but wish I had)

It is not a coincidence that I haven’t blogged since January and that this post is about things I wish I knew about cancer but didn’t. Someone I loved dearly passed away mid-January from aggressive renal (kidney) cancer and it has not been in me to write publicly since then. But, when I read in…

Ten Learnings from 2010

Life is about learning and, I also believe, in sharing one’s learnings. This list started as part of an e-mail to a friend and grew from there. When it was finished her and I thought it was a good alternative to the many new year, new you, new success e-mails and posts currently out there….

APPS, ANAPHYLAXIS & FOOD ALLERGIES: Making Grocery Shopping Easier (and safer)

If you are one of the estimated 15 million Americans (3 million children) or 600,000 Canadians living with food allergies you know grocery shopping always includes reading labels, understanding that product derivatives, whether they are clearly stated or not, can be just as dangerous or detrimental as their parent products and putting back intriguing new…

Secrets of a Networker Extraordinaire

Connie Deckert LPGA Teaching & Club Professional President Fore U Enterprises Connie Deckert is a serial entrepreneur and one of Canada’s few full- time members of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals (T&CP). Her current focus, as President of Fore U Enterprises, is to teach more people how to play better golf to better build…

Random Act of Kindness Day: November’s Newest Holiday

November and February have long been the two most dismal months of the year. Living in Waterloo, Ontario at the edge of Southern Ontario’s Snow Belt, by the time February draws to an end shoveling snow, scraping ice crusted car windows, heavy coats and slipping on slick sidewalks have become uninspiring tasks with no near…

Fear.less

Fear is universal and it can prevent you from moving forward, from asking the question, from reaching out to another, and from taking the risk to try something new. Fear can suspend you in time and place. Fear.less is an on-line publication that shares stories of those who have challenged fear and consequently achieved unique…

Is Networking Working for You?

Ten ways to network more strategically Networking is always listed as one of, if not, the most important thing to do when building or looking to expand a business. As many know doing so effectively is more easily said than done. A great deal of time can be spent talking to people who don’t want…

Want Change? Get out and vote! Celebrating Persons Day

Today is an important day for every woman in Canada- young and old alike. Eighty-one years ago today (October 18, 1929) the British Privy Council declared “And to those who would ask why the word “persons” should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?” Prior to this ruling, though women had been…

Welcome to the 21st Century: Smart Vending Machine Anticipates Customer’s Desires

Imagine a vending machine that sees you coming and based on what it sees it offers you what it believes you will want. How does it know? Well because of the demographic information programmed into it. But, from a marketing perspective, its real beauty lies not in its programming but in the data that it…

Women With Hammers Rock

Ever since I first read about Habitat for Humanity builds in Time magazine in the 1980’s I have wanted to take part in one of their builds. Initially, it was because I loved the idea of building a house – I have a thing for tools. In more recent years, it was also because I…

Following Your Passion or Making Your Life Work (part I).

I hemmed and hawed about whether the title to this blog should be following your passion AND making your life work or if it should read, as it does now, with OR as the conjunction representing the need to make a choice. I chose to go with “or” because there is so much literature and…

Calculated Risk Taking Beats Rolling The Dice

Over the years I have worked on and developed many project plans. In groups I often end up being the one who asks the questions that help us outline a strategy. It is something I do well, BUT, it is something that if you start with the ten easy steps listed below can be accomplished…

Ladies Take Off Your Blinders: Abortion over 40- It happens

Today, women over 40 in Canada on average earn more money than in any previous time in history.  More women hold managerial and executive positions than ever before, more women are involved in public life and their buying power has businesses scrambling to please them.  Women over 40 today are historically more powerful and better…

Women of Waterloo Region- A Women’s Event that Works!

In 2009, WOW or Women of Waterloo Region was started by a woman named Amanda Knapp. Knapp wanted simply to celebrate women who were doing things that made other women think “WOW, what an amazing woman”.  As Knapp puts it “This is about women who WOW you.    They didn’t have to build the Perimeter Institute,…

Women’s Events: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Elusive Excellent

For many years now I have made the effort to attend a variety of women’s events. For the majority of these years I have been sorely disappointed, at times frustrated and on occasion felt ripped off. In the past year this has begun to change. I’ve attended a couple of really good events for women….

A Canadian “Green” Forestry Sector: success or compromise

On May 18, 2010, the Globe & Mail’s Martin Mittlelstaedt reported the forestry sector sees “green as the colour of hope”. It appears that Canada’s rapidly shrinking forestry sector ($80 billion last year down to 54 billion this year) is looking to “green” itself in an effort to regain lost revenues. When the Forest Products…

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog “An Eclectic Life”.  I spent a lot of time trying to come up with this blog title. I wanted a title that was reflective of what I wanted to blog about, reflective of me, my interests, my work, and, of course, one that hadn’t already been taken. Surprisingly to me, it…

Cancer and Things I Never Knew (but wish I had)

It is not a coincidence that I haven’t blogged since January and that this post is about things I wish I knew about cancer but didn’t. My brother passed away mid-January from aggressive renal (kidney) cancer and it has not been in me to write publicly since then. But, when I read in today’s about…

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