Tackling poverty and its impact on social and emotional well-being

Reducing poverty is not just about putting food on the table or a roof over someone's head. But there are useful strategies

Tackling poverty and its impact on social and emotional well-being“Stay calm. You're in the Kootenays.” The slogan caught my eye as I waited in line with my grandchildren to order gelato. As my three-year-old grandson twirled himself repeatedly around my legs, I began to wish we'd chosen the ice cream shop down the road. No one was in a hurry here; the wait seemed interminable. When…

In stillness, we find treasure

We should be more willing to sit with the mystery of the puzzle in order to discover the unknown

In stillness, we find treasureSpring may have sprung but most of my yard is still hidden under inches of snow. This year's Easter egg hunt will have to be indoors. For three generations, our yard has been the site of an annual hunt. One hunt, however, stands out more vividly than the rest. Our daughter was about four, the only…

Scrabble’s surprising benefits, from the mundane to the profound

Learn new words, hone your math skills, employ strategy … calm the restless mind, learn patience and humility

Scrabble’s surprising benefits, from the mundane to the profound“Why do we play this game?” I asked my husband for the umpteenth time. I was referring to Scrabble. It was not going well. Despite the claims on the box, not every word is a winner. Not all Scrabble games are fun. It’s definitely not fun to lose by over 100 points. Nor does winning by…

Bah, humbug to the war on Christmas

In the interests of diversity and inclusion, society shies away from Christian manifestations of Christmas

Bah, humbug to the war on ChristmasIn the interests of diversity and inclusion, society shies away from Christian manifestations of Christmas. Battles loom over nativity displays, the traditional “Merry Christmas” greeting and Christmas trees. Public schools banned carols from school concerts years ago. There is, some argue, a war on Christmas. While some seek to eliminate anything that remotely resembles religious…

The secret to a long marriage, Royal or otherwise

To make wedding wishes come true and wedding vows a reality for the long haul, spouses need to overcome the very human tendency to focus on the self

The secret to a long marriage, Royal or otherwiseQueen Elizabeth and Prince Philip just celebrated their platinum anniversary. That’s a milestone that few couples attain. While I’m not an expert on marriage (although I’ve been happily married for 35 years, half that of the Royal couple), I suspect the dream of a happy and long-lasting marriage is not any different today than 70…

Why Payette was right – and dead wrong

At the core of both science and religion is the human desire to understand that which eludes us, and to make sense of life

Why Payette was right – and dead wrongCanadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette recently pitted science and religion against each other when she implied that science is rational and religion irrational. While many share this view, I find it narrow and simplistic. Both science and religion shed meaning on human experience, and both play a role in shaping the world. Both are tools…

Confronting the things that go bump in the night

There’s nothing inherently evil about the celebration of Halloween in our time

Confronting the things that go bump in the nightIs there any harm in participating in the annual celebration of Halloween? Some think so. I first encountered the opinion that Halloween may be spiritually dangerous when my children were young. I was surprised when a friend announced that her children would not be dressing up and trick-or-treating. She objected to the pagan roots of…

A respectful protest turns into political football

If NFL owners cave in to public pressure and ban taking a knee, they will only be seen as kneeling to Trump

A respectful protest turns into political footballNFL players kneeling during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner is an issue that should have fizzled out in the United States, and probably would have except for the nation’s president. It started in August 2016, when NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the American anthem. He did it…

Waste not, want not? Why we can’t stop embracing consumerism

Despite the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra, we have embraced a culture of relentless consumption and waste

Waste not, want not? Why we can’t stop embracing consumerismA remarkable light bulb hangs in a fire station in Livermore, Calif. The Centennial Light has been burning for over a million hours and almost continuously for 115 years. To say, “They don’t make ’em like they used to” of incandescent light bulbs is an understatement. The statement also applies to many manufactured items. Prior…

In search of the Promised Land

Migration has always been part of the human experience, as people escape natural disasters, drought, famine and/or oppression

In search of the Promised LandEven inflammatory statements may contain a kernel of truth. Such is the case with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s remarks regarding the opposition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind DACA. The USCCB unequivocally denounced the decision. In their statement, the bishops called it “reprehensible”…

Maintaining a sense of purpose in a changing workplace

While it is easy to blame globalization for the job losses, the real culprits are increased automation and investment in software

Maintaining a sense of purpose in a changing workplaceLabour Day marks the unofficial end of summer. It’s back to routine and, once again, the workplace takes precedence. But what if there was no work? As automation and new technologies continue to reduce the labour force, economists and others are pondering this question. Since 2000, the United States has lost five million manufacturing jobs…

Canada’s landscapes a source of inspiration

These are the great vistas that I consider spiritually charged, that speak about transcendence, that imbue a sense of the sacred, that stir the receptive soul

Canada’s landscapes a source of inspirationI spent Canada Day on a plane traversing the nation. On the 150th anniversary of Confederation, it seemed appropriate to fly from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The aerial views provided an opportunity to enjoy the vast and diverse Canadian landscape in one fell swoop. Our day began at 4:30 a.m. Atlantic time. The weather was…

A summer reading list to challenge your perspectives

These authors examine death and dying, love and romance, the immigrant experience and cultural chasms, and the heavy burdens family members must often carry

A summer reading list to challenge your perspectivesSummer reading lists abound. From my reading over the last year, I recommend the following. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews is drawn from the author’s life. Her wit sparkles through the sadness of this story of two sisters, Elf and Yoli. Elf suffers from depression and is determined to kill herself.  She repeatedly…

When in Rome … the value of gestures of respect

Not only does following St. Ambrose's advice eliminate cause for offence, it opens eyes to the diversity of belief and practice that informs the lives of others

When in Rome … the value of gestures of respectWhen in Rome, do as the Romans do. St. Ambrose, who was bishop of Milan in 387 AD, gets credit for the saying. He was responding to a question from St. Augustine. Augustine’s mother Monica, who had travelled from Rome, noticed that Christians in Milan didn’t fast on Saturday, as was the custom in Rome. She…

Brief encounters can change your perspective of others

Brief encounters, like taxi trips, help us make connections with those whose circumstances and experiences differ from ours, but with whom we share our humanity

Brief encounters can change your perspective of othersI usually avoid conversations with taxi drivers. Their job is to drive me, not talk to me. Once the mandatory pleasantries are over, I’m content with silence. A nod of the head, a thank you and perhaps a tip are all that’s required to conclude the encounter. While most of my cab rides have been…