Body image issues begin early

How we can help our children be comfortable and happy in their own skin

Body image issues begin earlyMy five-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter has an eye for fashion. She has her favourite outfits and she is fond of accessories. She likes to wear beads like Granny and my earrings are a source of great interest. It’s all very cute and sweet, but I wonder if I should compliment her less frequently on her attire. I…

Rituals around death may help us live better

From creepy Halloween graveyard scenes to praying for the dead, our subconscious is trying to gain mastery over our fears about dying

Rituals around death may help us live betterEach year from Halloween on Oct. 31 to All Soul’s Day on Nov. 2, we give death a cultural nod. Does this fulfil some deep-seated need? We don’t have to be historians to recognize that Halloween is connected with death and dying. Just walk around any neighbourhood in the days preceding Halloween and you'll notice…

Enjoying the beauty of Christmas lights

Across traditions and time, there has been a longing for light to brighten the darkness of winter

Enjoying the beauty of Christmas lightsI had a striking visual of light in darkness early one morning this week. A bright light, probably the planet Venus, shone with extraordinary clarity and pierced an otherwise black sky. Given my Christian faith and the time of year – less than a week until Christmas – my thoughts turned to the legendary Star 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,…

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…

Language can calibrate a nation’s moral compass

From Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King to Donald Trump, America offers examples – good and bad – of the power of language

Language can calibrate a nation’s moral compassLanguage is a powerful tool for shaping a society's values. The manner in which a leader uses language can reset the moral compass of a nation. And it can influence, for better or worse, the behaviour of its citizenry. While public discourse in Canada isn’t perfect, it’s reasonably civil. Canadian politicians, though sometimes outspoken and critical…

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…

Halloween rekindles the child in all of us

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

Halloween rekindles the child in all of usIs 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…