Thankful, creative, fun

Every Friday, Daily Creatives gathers 5 interesting things from around the web. This instalment was posted last week. If you are interested in these kind of things, head over and check it out. Don’t forget to sign up for the email list.


Settle in and see what I found this week to inspire you! Enjoy.

The Thankful Tree

Emily Rose posted this on her Flickr feed, called “The Thankful Tree”.  Wonderful reminder at  Thanksgiving, but I would make one at any time of year. In fact, when the forsythia have set buds, (might be already here on the Coast), you can cut a bunch of twigs like this and the wonderful yellow flowers will open in the house. Maybe little tags of grateful in Spring colours need to be added to that?


My goodness. Makes me want to sit down and get knitting and replace every wash cloth I own! These are simply lovely. Free patterns on Tricksy, “Washcloth quartet“.

Knit Bag

A really great knitting bag which feeds the yarn through the big ring. The ball stays in the bottom of the bag and doesn’t roll all over the place, like normal.


My treasures from Loreto, Baja California Sur. Alas, this is how I am remembering them this time. I didn’t want to add the extra hand carry weight on the way back and I’m running out of room in my house for another collection of shells.


Awesome game, (well not really), but we had a blast playing it with all 8 of us in Loreto Bay. 4 adults who came of age during the late 80’s and early 90’s, (some of us still growing up), and 4 teens ranging from 13 to 16. What a hoot.

On the twelve day of grateful

  1. luck
  2. calm
  3. opportunity
  4. health
  5. social
  6. co-operation
  7. fun
  8. habit
  9. technology
  10. learning
  11. joy
  12. love

Here we are at the end of the song. What a great way to spend my days in Loreto Bay. I know that this is probably the best vacation I’ve ever had because I have cast everything about it in the glow of gratefulness. I would not have changed a thing, because it all served to teach me something important.

As we head down to San Jose Del Cabo to connect with my parents and squeeze in a few more days of fun, I turn my attention to love. I think love is at the centre for me. It all starts there. Even the act of being grateful for something, is born out of love.

For me, love is the strongest of emotions and grounds itself with an intense bond. Maybe some people cast love around with no conviction, I keep it in a more sacred place. But I’ve been a bit stingy with it, to be honest. A bit like Scrooge and his money. But like the old curmudgeon himself, this exercise in grateful has taught me something extremely important. These emotions multiply like rabbits when you recognize them. Give them a little cheer and watch them fly. They serve you well by just being released from their bonds.

And so it is with love at the fore that I enjoy these vacation days, and maybe I’ll give it a go everyday. I know for sure that life can beat you down sometimes. If you are fortified with love and other intense feelings of grateful, at least you stand a fighting chance. What better way to is there to live and thrive?

On the eleventh day of grateful

Is there a better way to start a New Year than to recognize and honour joy? Conveniently, there is an easy way to do that, with the new Disney Pixar movie called, “Inside Out”. I’ve been wanting to watch it since I first saw the trailers and I was not disappointed. I just loved it.

In fact, I was in tears the whole time, but hiding behind my glasses as I watched this movie with 7 other people, many of whom had seen it already. Needless to say, I will be watching this movie again, alone, when I can really dig in and watch with no distractions.

I think my sense of joy was lost somewhere inside me for big chunks of my life. She has not been as present as I would have liked, now as I look back. As I was watching the movie, I started to feel sad that maybe I had not experienced as much “joy” as other people had. (I know, that kind of thinking is part of my problem). But Pixar wrapped up the story with a great description of the importance of  “sadness”. (Maybe I am in the target audience age range for emotional intelligence?)

As I think about joy, for me, it is not easy to conjure up that unbridled happiness which I imagine joy to be. (Sure enough, that is a correct definition). Somehow, I’ve kind of shaved off the peaks in my emotions so that I can manage sadness and disappointment better. That is the literal trade off. A pretty harsh bargain, when you think about it.

But after last night, I feel like inviting joy back into my life with more regularity. At my command centre there has been too much democracy, too many equal positions amongst all my emotions. Time to let joy run the ship for awhile and then just go with it.

On the tenth day of grateful

As I watch the sun come up and stream into my window through the palm trees, there is a few moments to reflect on the the New Years Eve party we hosted last night. Through the friendly and outgoing personalities of my husband and brother in law, we invited 4 Germans from Hamburg and 2 fellow Canadians from Vancouver to a little gathering at our casita.

You would think that if you put a bunch of people in a room with very different backgrounds, there would be nothing to talk about. But not us. We love learning about new ideas, different histories and discussing topics of interest involving new stories. I think by sharing in this way, we learn not only about other people, but something new about ourselves. (And we tried to learn quite a few new German phrases).

Today, on the first day of 2016 I am grateful for my continued interest in learning. I think that is what attracts me to people now. The conversations and insights which interesting new relationships can bring into my day is wonderful. Every social interaction is a possibility to learn something. Then in turn apply it, in some small way to my life.

I used to believe that learning only took place in a formal institution with course outlines and teachers and tests. I resisted that setting. While I always performed OK, there was something fundamentally soul crushing in that social arrangement. With the help of technology, I can learn something as often as I desire.

This morning as I was opening my eyes, I wondered how can I have my first private thoughts of the day reflect a more wonderful and adventurous spirit? Instead of turning over a to do list in my mind, maybe a better thought would be – “what can I learn today?” In that phrase is the quest to seek understanding. I’m pretty certain my mind can learn something quite useful each day, if I give it the space and opportunity.

On the ninth day of grateful

I am so glad I thought of practising gratitude in this way while on holidays. It will be a great reminder of this trip, more so than the photo’s alone. The gift of this exercise comes from spending the time to think about what is happening here, (away from my regular routine), and frame it in gratitude. That is not how my mind works normally. Maybe I can come away from this experience with an awareness of moving more of my thoughts into a light of gratitude.

Today I am feeling especially grateful for technology. As we count down the last hours of 2015 tonight, we will be surrounded by family and new friends. It is the amazing technology of air travel that allows this kind of experience. Even the boat tour we did to Isla Coronado the other day, made possible by an outboard motor fixed to a panga. It is all these transportation technologies which make travel so readily possible. It has never been easier and with such relatively low cost.

At the same time, the technology to communicate has become a normal way of life for many of us. The ability to socialize in this new way and reach people from around the world is remarkable. I know there is a debate about how much this superpower should be used and if young children should participate, but to have the luxury of the tools, with easy access is amazing. I wonder if people debated the “health” of reading in the early days of publishing? Shouldn’t children be outside playing, rather than have their nose in a book? I might have been one of those bookworms as a child.

The creation of new technologies is what can make the world a better place. The people who are pioneering the future in this way are my version of heroes. History will thank them, as their work will leave a wonderful legacy.

What an amazing time to be alive. I am humbled and grateful to be part of the generation which grew up with limited access to digital technologies, but now can appreciate the widespread use of it.

On the eighth day of grateful

As I come down the home stretch of 2015, I am taking stock of how the year played out against my goals. This is a habit which my parents help me to form a very long time ago. We used to do family goal setting, in fact. While I think goal setting is important, I don’t think it is an end to itself, (set it and forget it).

I was listening to a fizzle podcast recently where the topic was “How to create your own definition of success.” (A great listen for your end of year personal review process). What struck me was the discussion around the habit or technique different people use or don’t use for tracking personal success. It turns out, some people don’t bother at all. They have no kind of plan and just let life kind of flow over them. There have been years like that for me, (particularly when my kids were young). Looking back, that decade is kind of a blur. Probably because raising kids and working full time is a grind that no-one can describe to you. I wonder if those years would have been different had I been in the habit of goal setting and personal review?

I have read a lot about habits and written about them here in TGLL, because I think it is fascinating.

From that research and learning I’ve tried to create, modify or otherwise manipulate my habits with varying degrees of success.

Creating a new habit is not as difficult as I thought. My exercise program of the last 10 months is a good example. I didn’t set goals, I devised a routine. So when people ask how much weight I’ve lost or what I’ve done, as if I had a secret or a magic bullet, it is hard to answer in a sentence. I committed myself to the practice, on a daily basis of more exercise than what I’ve done normally. I don’t check in on the progress with strict measurements, I can see and feel it, over time.

Changing an old habit is much more difficult than I thought. My big one this year was negative self talk. That gets me into so much trouble. First I spiral down into it and then I tend to try and draw others into the vortex. I’m not sure if other people will think I’ve done a good job on this over the year, but I sometimes am able to catch myself. When I look back at what I was thinking, or about to say, I am shocked. Who would say such a thing? Me. This is an area of ongoing renovation.

As I look out the window today and review the weather forecast, it looks a little cloudy and is supposed to be a bit more windy than yesterday, which was blazingly and wonderfully warm. So it is probably a good day to spend some quality time thinking about my habits and the year to come.

On the seventh day of grateful

Lucky number 7 which I am grateful for has to be fun. We are eight people travelling together and each having a strong sense of self interest. So it has been interesting to watch how everyone manages to have fun, within the context of the group.

Some might think that parents just dictate. In many families, I’m sure that is the case. Even when the kids were younger, we kind of did just what they might have preferred. But now, everyone has a say. Along with a vote, we all consider what others want and need.

Some people need to eat frequently. Otherwise fun comes a quick halt. The “hangry” personality is no joke. Even falsely accusing someone of this is a serious situation. I should know, got told I was hangry this morning and I most certainly was not. In fact, that conversation started to make me, plain old angry.

Some need a good night sleep, getting to bed early. Some need to sleep in. I need to exercise. All of us need some quiet time. We all make sure to get what we need so when we are together, we are fully present, ready to have fun.

I’ve been watching the kids, ours and others around us. They are able to launch themselves into the act of having fun at 100%+. There is no doubt or hesitation. No worries about what others will think. They just respond to what makes them feel good. This is so refreshing to see and I am inspired everyday.

On the sixth day of grateful

Here is how my Christmas celebration of the 12 days is shaping up. The next task of turning it into a song is going to be the tricky part.

  1. luck
  2. calm
  3. opportunity
  4. health
  5. social
  6. co-operation

It’s funny how a words working definition and it’s actual meaning can start to stray apart. Co-operation is defined as “the process of working together to the same end.” The example sentences are using phrases which imply that both parties are thinking of the same end, goal or result. But too often co-operation is used to infer that I want you to go along with my goal and I’m asking you to co-operate rather than challenge. If you don’t assume my same end then you are uncooperative. At least this is a dynamic I see being played out in business relationships, all too often.

What I am grateful for is that my family of 8 here on vacation has very similar goals. So we are co-operating at a high level. A bunch of smart people, working together, sharing ideas and solutions is an amazing thing. It is like making a super brain, we are so much better together than to be working at odds.

Not that anything happening here on vacation demands solutions requiring advanced co-operation, but it is the small thoughtful ways I see it play out which is so nice. My daughter, last night wanted to join in for an evening swim and she said she would go with what the group decided rather than force her own will. That is some co-operation I didn’t know she was capable of. Maybe there is a strong tendency for her to co-operate, I just have not figured out the shared goal to bring that about.

I guess the trick to co-operation is to discuss the shared end first. Establish the goals and get consensus. Then co-operation just falls into place without any further discussion. That is what I am seeing here on vacation. We all want to have fun and have a similar idea about what that involves. We all need some quiet time, which is why everyone has their own private room and why the 2 family condos are a short walk away from each other. When we all feel like our needs are being met, it is easy to play together nicely. That is how you pick who you can vacation with and who you can’t. This type of co-operation is key.

On the fifth day of grateful

Being social. I am super grateful that everyone in my little family finds it easy to meet people. My children are not afraid to engage total strangers. My husband can work a room effortlessly. I hold my own, but I struggle with it, internally. I’m a bit like a duck, calm and serene on the surface, but underneath paddling like crazy.

I think the ability to socialize is a skill as much as a trait, or natural ability. It seems you can learn and practice to become more comfortable. At least that is my strategy. Over the years, the process has become easier, but I do wonder if I am really an introvert at heart. When I read about those kind of people, I feel like I relate to them better. But anyone who knows me would find it hard to believe because I do present as an extrovert.

In quiet, reflective moments, I dream about spending time alone. As I am enjoying this Christmas holiday, I can imagine a return visit where I would have big blocks of time to just write. If it were extremely important to me, I could schedule to make more time for myself, even now. But something about being with other people has an even stronger pull for me than time spent alone. Which is a good thing, because tomorrow we are going to lunch with 7 people we just met. 2 new groups of people we somehow managed to merge together. It is going to be amazing to spend time with people who have a shared love for the Baja. And listen to a whole bunch of new stories.

On the fourth day of grateful

As the song goes, on the fourth day of grateful, (Christmas), my true love gave to me… I guess it is time to re-cap the days so far.

The first day of grateful was for sure, luck. Although the event was not joyful, we were extremely lucky none the less and we have all mentioned it several times since. It is the whole point of recognizing what we are grateful for that brings about happiness and maybe a little better luck.

The next day was calm. I was so agitated to put the accident behind us that I was starting to make myself feel nauseated. (I know, not that grateful, but I couldn’t help it). Once everything was sorted, the details had fallen into place, we all could breath a sigh of relief. It also should be mentioned that our experience with Mexican police has been conducted with due process. I don’t think they were unfair or corrupt in any way.

Yesterday was opportunity. I am rocked to the core everyday as I vacation here in Mexico. While I do not get to enjoy this wonderful weather every day, my country of birth and residency provides me with extreme privilege. This is too easy to forget.

Today, on the fourth day of grateful, my mind goes to health. This means a bunch of things to me, from cognitive brain health, to physical health, emotional and even a person’outlook on life. I have struggled with all of things over the years. In fact, this very blog has been a catalyst to help sort through all these parts of my health.

It is strange that in school, we are taught so many subjects and never focus on the health of the organ that is meant to absorb and recall all that effort. We just seem to get through it. In some cases, as quickly as possible. Yet, the cognitive health of our brain will be a major driving force of our life. I’m not an expert and I think I’m in pretty good shape, but my problem is shutting down. Or even turning down the volume of intensity. I need to better transition into different states. Give my brain a break and enjoy activities, or just rest in states of much lower demand on the brain. Get out of my head a little – try not to think so deeply about every little thing. Kind of prioritize better. Vacation really helps me do that.

My physical health has been put back on track this year. I’ve been eating well, sleeping wonderfully and now my mornings, more often than not, include exercise. To that end, I look forward to exercise now. It helps centre my day to start off properly. As Gillian Michaels says, “…take this strength with you and use it in all parts of your day.” (Or something to that effect). I’ve been practising exercise for 10 months now. 5 times per week on average for 30 to 45 minutes, start to finish. It is not a huge time commitment, but the results of this sustained effort have been nothing short of amazing to me. (And that is what counts most). It is then, with this confidence and strength that I feel like I can face anything.

Emotions are a roller coaster. If they are not, then the highs are not so big and the lows are not so deep. Over the years, I’ve strived for this middle between high and low. I so deeply fear the low that I strive for balance. But, in recently I have discovered, this method of control has lopped off the peaks. I have not really experienced as much joy as I could have. These ups and downs are 2 sides of the same coin. Without one, you can’t have the other. So I’ve been trying to experience the swings again. When I’m feeling low the trick is to own that and then embrace joy. Or at least step into joy, even generate it a little more.

All this probably leads to my outlook on life. That has been an interesting ride. In fact, I would summarize my whole life that way. I’ve charted my own course. Some days I get a little of track. I even head way out from the pack of “normal” sometimes getting lost out there for long stretches of time. But I have somehow carved out what is right for me. I feel much more comfortable in my own skin. That is probably what helps drive me forward into uncertainty, I know who I am now.

On the third day of grateful

It is Christmas Day and there are palm trees outside my window. A neighbour has a hummingbird feeder out, so these lovely birds are darting around everywhere. One landed on a branch close to the window shade I was opening this morning. My husband was up at first light to go fishing. Something he always loves, once he commits to getting out there. Leaving a warm bed is sometimes the most difficult part of that.

Today I am grateful for these opportunities. It is one of the gifts that a car accident can jolt your attention towards. It is so easy in this world we live in to become entitled. We expect too much and are dismayed when we don’t get what we want fast enough.

My husband and I both work very hard at our jobs, and for that make a good salary. But, why do we tend to think about what is next, rather than celebrate what is now? The next job, making more money shadows the good of the day, of each wonderful moment.

When I think about the driver of the other vehicle, (from our recent accident), I have a shocking realization for how much I have. How will he be spending this Christmas? Combination of tending to his wounds, maybe trying to salvage what was left of his little truck, (because nothing goes to waste in Mexico – it is the ultimate in recycling), possibly having to face the police.

Because of the wonderful country and family I was born into, my opportunities were amazing from the moment I was born. I’ve had excellent guidance along the way, but I’ve been challenged to create my own path a long time ago. Along with my husband, we have carved out a great life so far. But the trick is to enjoy that life. Embrace the amazing moments along the way and really appreciate them. Tell people around you how much they have contributed to your happiness, rather than look to complain when something isn’t perfect.

Christmas Day was spent doing what each of us really liked to do, however that panned out. Eating when we wanted, coming together for dinner, drinks and games. On last day before “regular life” resumes, here on the Baja.


On the second day of grateful

I have to admit, it was not the best sleep I’ve ever had. I tossed and turned all night. Let me re-frame that. In this most lovely king-sized bed, with the faint sound of a babbling fountain outside our door, I slept a little restlessly. With no obligations looking ahead and another day of sunshine and warmth on the horizon, my night was not perfect. Hard to believe these crazy expectations we can so easily put on ourselves. Our internal critic vigilantly suppressing our sense of joy.

As I wondered aloud to my husband, what day 2 of this gratitude appreciation might bring, (and also declared how amazing it was I had even thought of doing this yesterday morning), my husband came across a TED talk with an interesting quote. “Want to be happy? Be grateful”, by Brother David Steindl-Rast. I have heard this before, from Brene Brown. But, in the heat of something, it can be so very hard to remember this.

It was extremely difficult to enjoy the day, until I had certainty. Of what? I wasn’t sure. Details, facts. The small things that would make the last 24 hours seem logical. Of course that didn’t really come. Over the course of time, I just became more comfortable, as more facts flowed in.

  • The driver of the other vehicle was alive and well.
  • A new rental vehicle was driven up from Cabo San Lucas
  • We all had a wonderful afternoon and evening together, cooking, eating and playing games

So I am grateful that we could all move past the drama of the past 24 hours. I will sleep better tonight, of that I’m sure.



On the first day of grateful

This morning as I opened my eyes, just as I was clearing my mind of sleep, the first clear thought popped into my head. You know that lazy feeling when the dream world is awakening to the day? When your mind is in a bit of limbo between those 2 worlds? That was when I thought of turning the 12 days of Christmas into the 12 days of grateful.

As I lay there crafting my ideas, more concretely around the multitude of things I am grateful for, I thought this was going to be so easy. I am on vacation in a wonderful area of the world. It is Christmas time. I have many family members here with me, what could be easier?

And so I went about my day. Normal stuff. Nice healthy breakfast in the sunshine, working out under a palm tree with my sister. Laying in the sun, reading a good book. Munching on Mexican specialties, sipping cool drinks.

Later in the afternoon the adults in our group headed into a nearby town to scout future dinner plans and stock up on provisions. With the suburban completely packed with groceries for 2 families we made our way back home, our domestic responsibilities taken care of.

In a blink of an eye, what was a textbook day in the sun turned into something else. It kind of happened in slow motion, but it was all over so quickly. A small truck drove straight into us and the driver was out of the vehicle and falling to the ground. The police were all around us. Details were being explained, phone calls were being made. The driver was whisked away in an ambulance. We spent some time in a Mexican Police station, waiting for the only officer in town who spoke English to assist us.

A taxi helped us hand bomb all the groceries into his van. We finally took the drive home, this time we walked on shaky legs. After all we had been through the taxi didn’t have working seatbelts and drove very strangely with apparently horrible mechanics in the steering column causing it to weave around the road a bit. But we were all a little gun shy.

On the first day of grateful, the list goes on and on for what went well, despite what also didn’t go so well. It is in times like this that is helps to count your blessings and savour everything as the gift, which it is. So to start out what I am grateful for, today:

  • My husband, who is a wonderful man in so many ways, but today was a shinning star. He was calm, he very clearly explained everything and handled all the necessary details. He also did a great job defensively driving to ensure the accident was not any worse.
  • My sister and brother-in-law who thought so quickly of what needed to be done and jumped to it. I sat for a long time in my seat, with my seatbelt on, in shock. I just couldn’t think of what to do, so I stayed put.
  • All our kids – for not being with us. While we may be sore tomorrow from the impact, our tense muscles will easily relax an recover. This is something I hope the next generation does not have to experience, although that is probably niave.
  • Our health. Not everyone can be in an accident, even a minor one like this, and walk away so easily. This is another friendly reminder to continually work at staying strong. Particularly as the years of age keep trying to work against us!
  • That this accident was not any worse. Many times people cannot get past the “bad thing” when it happens. It always pays to remember it can always be worse.
  • The Police station was only 2 buildings away. The driver who got out of the truck and fell to the ground was clearly injured and got the quickest attention possible.
  • I have the ability to be enjoying a vacation in a sun destination with my family, half of our group has not done this before.

I’m fairly certain the rest of the days will be less “eventful”. I’m kind of praying for that actually. It would be easy to stay put for the rest of this vacation and not drive back into the town of the accident. But, we don’t experience all the good in life, if we hide away being over cautious and safe. It is a dance  and balancing act between these two sides of danger, or risk and the thrill of exploring new territory and seeing new places. It is with this spirit that we will head out again and find even more to be grateful for as we enjoy these days.


Filing cabinet

Now, most dentist’s chairs go up and down, don’t they?
The one I was in went back and forwards.
I thought ‘This is unusual’.
And the dentist said to me ‘Mr Vine, get out of the filing cabinet.
-Time Vine


What a score today at the second hand shop for 30 bucks. It has to be the most “adulty” purchase I have made in a long time, maybe ever. And if my husband had not been with me, this baby would not have been mine. 4-steel, twenty five inch long drawers of filing excellence.

I’ve been aware of the “need” forever. I am not over stating the classification of “need” for this purchase. But hundreds of dollars for something so utilitarian? I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, before today.

When I started organizing, (which is one of my favourite things to do), I was able to empty a filing box which contains 7 years of financial records. The moving stickers on this particular box mark how many times this little baby has moved with us. Several cross continent, to another country and back moves.

I had 3 other plastic boxes of various files – stuff I have not looked at for years. Much of that was magazine clippings and other printed reference material from when my kids were babies. What I kept from that easily fit into one part of one drawer. Who keeps so much paper anymore?

But it is the thought of assembling the inspirational, creative output, new paper treasures that has me pretty excited. Now I have a space for it. Not to mention, that if something happened to my husband and I, the person in charge, could now – easily – make sense of our financial records. (I think). Well it is better than before. And there is a huge measure of comfort in that.