The relevance of Easter in light of the global pandemic

Uncertainty, constant change, anxiety, isolation and loss have become our universal companions. But this too will pass

The relevance of Easter in light of the global pandemicOver the next days and weeks, people of faith will have to be flexible and creative because COVID-19 has upended religious celebrations. Passover, Easter and Ramadan will have to be observed virtually in the home, making use of online streaming of religious services. FaceTime, Skype or Zoom will be useful in exchanging greetings in lieu…

Showing gratitude leads to a healthier life

Grateful people sleep better, exercise more frequently, are happier and more altruistic

Showing gratitude leads to a healthier lifeShowing gratitude is good for us, and yet gratitude does not come naturally or easily to most of us. Our brains are “like Velcro for bad experiences, but Teflon for positive ones,” wrote neuropsychologist Rick Hanson and neurologist Richard Mendius. This tendency towards the negative makes it difficult for us to be grateful. Research has…

The inconvenient truth of a mountain of garbage

Consumer spending is important to a healthy economy, but each of us needs to decide where we draw the line between our wants and our needs

The inconvenient truth of a mountain of garbageI felt guilty tossing mixed household and construction materials into container bins at the landfill. We did our very best to reuse and recycle, but we still had a couple of truckloads of stuff to discard. I hadn’t been to the landfill for years, maybe decades, and I was shocked at the change in the…

Politically-correct euphemisms obscure the truth

Terms such as physician assisted dying or assisted suicide make lies sound truthful and murder respectable

Politically-correct euphemisms obscure the truthEuphemisms have been around at least since biblical times when to uncover a man’s foot was an idiom for making sexual advances. Today, as in the 10th century, people “sleep together”, and everyone knows the intention behind an invitation for a “nightcap”. In classical times, “curled up”, “gone to sleep”, or “on a journey” were…

Octopus escape a reflection of the human spirit

Inky's escape is allegorical of the restlessness of the human spirit. Like Inky, we are not satisfied with the place we inhabit

Octopus escape a reflection of the human spiritThere are some amazing stories of pets finding their way home after long absences. But an octopus? Octopi are intelligent, curious creatures. They are so intelligent that aquarium keepers use an enrichment manual to help ward off boredom for octopi in captivity. Aquarium octopi have toys like Mr. Potato Head and Lego, and some can…

Thoughts while running in a cemetery

The commentary in my head was curiously uplifting despite its morbid subject

Thoughts while running in a cemeteryIt was a crisp, sunny morning for a run along Toronto’s Kay Gardner Beltline Trail. Having spent the previous day travelling, I was anxious to get moving. I turned on my tunes, hit the timer on my watch and quickly fell into a comfortable rhythm. I was relishing the beauty of the changing season. The…

The benefits of letting go of stuff

There’s no U-Haul behind the hearse to carry it all anyway

The benefits of letting go of stuffNearly 25 years ago, I declared a war on stuff. I was helping to clean out the house of a favourite relative who had died and there were moments when the sheer volume of stuff threatened to overwhelm us. Everything had to go, right down to the last nail in the shed. It was then…

Technology has proven itself to be a double-edged sword

Just as technology can bring us together, it can also separate us

Technology has proven itself to be a double-edged swordCommunication technology has come a long way in a relatively short time. In my lifetime, we have moved from twice daily mail delivery and phones that required the services of an operator to connect callers, to the instantaneous communication of smart phones and text messaging. At the click of a mouse, we can “join the…

The unexpected gifts of a staycation

The staycation renewed my appreciation for the familiar and nurtured a more generous heart

The unexpected gifts of a staycationWhen I was a kid, a typical back to school assignment was  writing about our summer vacations. I never much liked the topic. My summers, with a few notable exceptions, were pretty much indistinguishable from each other. I had nothing much to write about, or so I thought. At the time, I did not realize…

Intolerance is the new tolerance

New tolerance demands that we accept either the most popular view or the view of the most vocal group or shut up

Intolerance is the new tolerance“I am intolerant of intolerance” has become something of a mantra for suppressing unpopular opinions. Today’s “new tolerance”, as it is called in academic circles, is redefining our understanding of tolerance and shaping our behaviour in public spaces, but it is no friend to the exercise of conscience and freedom of speech. In the past,…

Cookies and the meaning of life

Cookies and funerals remind us that our lives are greater than our physical presence in the here and now

Cookies and the meaning of lifeI do not enjoy attending funerals. And yet, I frequently come away from a funeral feeling peaceful and uplifted, in a subdued sort of way. A well-celebrated funeral puts me in touch with humanity, and reminds me that each life has a transcendent meaning. As a funeral I once attended illustrates, the transcendent meaning of…

Are you one plum pudding away from a Christmas meltdown?

The pre-Christmas preparation can turn the jolliest of elves into Scrooges

Are you one plum pudding away from a Christmas meltdown?I have a holiday cocktail napkin that reminds me to keep a sense of humour during the busy weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The napkin depicts a spotless 1950’s kitchen where a mother and daughter are preparing to take Christmas dinner out of the oven. The little girl looks excited about the feast ahead,…

Why Christmas matters in a secular society

Its message of goodwill towards all people is ultimately in the best interest of a multicultural society

Why Christmas matters in a secular societyWe go to extremes to avoid the religious aspects of Christmas in the public sphere, and we are worse for it. Christian beliefs about Christmas might offend someone in our secular and multicultural society, so we ignore its religious and historical background. The reluctance to mention the origins of this much-loved holiday permeates early childhood…

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…

Teaching kids gratitude at Christmas

Consumerism has become a “big problem” for kids, a roadblock on their way to becoming appreciative and contented individuals

Teaching kids gratitude at ChristmasMaybe I am romanticizing when I say that the Christmas of my childhood was not about stuff. There were fewer products, less pervasive advertising and no Black Friday sales. A few pages at the back of the Sears Wish Book were the inspiration for visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. Surely, the focus on…
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