Saturday, December 30, 2023

Gratitude Glimmers #80

Here we are at the final gratitude post of the year. Gratitude does lead to a happier human, though I admit I’ve had to dig deep these past few months. You can find more grateful posts at LeeAnna's blog, Not Afraid of Color.

1. I like the book Dayna got me for Christmas. It’s one of my all-time favourites, and I highly recommend it. I read it in 2022 and waxed poetic about it in a gratitude post that year.

It confirms a sense I’ve had about trees from, well, pretty much forever, but the moment I entered Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island, I was utterly transformed into a tree-hugger, tree lover, an advocate and worshipper. Scientists around the world have been studying their communication powers, and their amazing findings about these sentient beings is ongoing. 

2. I love our new flooring. We got this in Windsor last summer when it was on sale for a great price. Vivere intended it for a winter project and he did a beautiful job. Next up is baseboards and finishing up a main floor closet. The entire main floor is now two floorings: this laminate and ceramic tile in the bathroom and at the patio doors. The floor reminds us of the oak we had in the house we built in Alberta on an acreage that we loved so much and that we both do still miss for a few reasons. I love have always loved the brightness in this kitchen.

3. I love our backyard and deck that is also such a sunny location. I love Xena‘s coat, and that she invariably pops herself into this patio chair to soak up a few rays. Rufus enjoys the sun at this time of year when temperatures are in the single digits Celsius.

4. Two likes intertwined here: I loved a massive billboard sign we saw in either Cincinnati or Dayton on our way home from Tennessee. “None of us are free until Palestine is free.” And I like that I have developed a regular meditation practice over the past two years. It has helped me in so many ways. I came across this article by Kaira Jewel Lingo through, I believe, Bernie Clark’s newsletter at Kaira is a student of Thich Nhat Hanh, a great Zen Buddhist monk teacher. It is a very good timely read. As you know, I’ve been deeply upset and enraged at the ongoing genocide in Gaza. This isn’t the first genocide I’ve spoken about here on the blog: the genocide of the Rohingya is another, and I looked at the Rwandan genocide with my grade 9 Honours English students as part of a unit I developed which I called Issues and Tissues. I’ve been doing lots of reading and learning (I still cannot stress enough the importance of watching that 55 minute video on YouTube, Palestine is Still the Issue by renowned journalist Jon Pilger) and posting on Instagram and here. I’ve sent emails, made phone calls, signed petitions. I got an email from CJPME (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East) yesterday that showed the good that has come of some of the campaigns I’ve been a part of, reinstating doctors, and heads of nursing, dropping charges against a protest organizer, getting the rest of a Canadian family out of Gaza, and more. This is encouraging when it feels like the world will not stand up to Israel and its ongoing war crimes. However, it was taking quite a toll on me which feels ridiculous to say when people there are being blown up, homes entirely destroyed, living in makeshift tents now for three months, and existing on a meal a day or less. Here are two excerpts from the article that resonated. 
The first is how they reacted after 9/11 when they “rather urgently shared their plan” with the master. He said that he wanted them to go to the beach the next day instead of implementing their plan. 

Stepping back and coming from a place of peace but also of realizing that I can only do so much has helped. It’s not that I’m stopping doing what I can to help the oppressed, but I’m not letting it consume me as it was. 

This excerpt expresses so well what meditation gives.  

5. I love our animals. Our life is enriched by these furry beings. I love that Xena has become so much more comfortable with us, regularly lying upside down, that Bella joins me in every yoga and meditation practice, that Rufus is such a goofus, and makes us smile every single day. I like seeing my daughter Dayna so happy, surrounded by animals.

6. I like the Jack Daniel's tour that Dayna and Tyler took us on. It was educational and of course there was a tasting at the end. I wasn’t a fan (have never acquired a taste for hard liquor; just give me all the wine) though I didn’t mind the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey.

It’s located in Lynchburg, in the Tennessee hills or ‘hollers’ as our third generation employee and guide calls them.

This spring has been used in making the whiskey since 1866! It’s a fascinating process, and the water that remains is treated and put back into the river into which the spring flows.

7. I've mentioned it before, but it's well worth mentioning again: I like the CBC show Sort Of, developed and written by Fab Filippo and Bilal Baig. It is so very different, and many of the stars are LGBTQ2+. It is in its third and final season, (here is a good article about the show) and I have just one episode left. Like Push, it stars and is about minorities, all too often overlooked in our media. I highly recommend it. Not only does it give you a glimpse into LGBTQ2+ lives—spoiler alert—they’re humans like you and me, but it also unapologetically showcases the beautiful city of Toronto.  I'm a little over half way through The Crown, and wow, has the first half taken me back (sobbing) to that fateful summer. I'd just transferred to the much-loved school where I would spend the last 15 years of my teaching career, so I go back there in my mind, but I can also 'feel' that tragic time in the world as those scenes played out. When I was at Dayna's, I finally watched the Avatar movies, and absolutely loved them. I want to live in that world.

8. I love reading, as you well know. I certainly miss sharing good reads with my mum and finding new recommendations together. However, I do have two daughters and a grandson who read. Dayna recommended A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, which I read this month and loved, (another world I want to live in) and am now 150-odd pages into the second one in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury. I recommended Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin to Brianne, which she picked up from her library on one of Brady's weekly Wednesday trips.😊 Funnily enough, Dayna had already bought it several months ago, not knowing that I had read it! Great minds... Brady asked for and got, four or five books for Christmas, one of which is The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, a series I fell in love with during a Young Adult Literature course I took in university. I can't wait to talk to him about it once he reads it. Currently he and I are watching The Lightning Thief on Disney+. I bought him the set by Rick Riordan last summer for his birthday. He was reading the first one, loaned to him by his friend, and loving it, so I thought terrific, I'll get him the set. I taught,  and developed a study unit for, the second book in the series, The Sea of Monsters, for my grade 7 English classes. They loved it. So did I! If you enjoy stuff about Greek mythology, something I somehow missed entirely in my twelve years of schooling and didn't even take any courses for my English degree, pick up a copy of Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. It's hilarious and a great light read. Two other excellent ones, both very serious and terrific in-depth character studies, are The Song of Achilles and Circe, by Madeline Miller. One of my yoga students recommended Never by Ken Follett, and although it was gripping, I found it rather heavy, not great in character development, and a tad too close to possibility, especially in light of what's going on in Gaza and in Ukraine. So right after it, I read another Stephanie Plum novel, Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich. They are always a light, hilarious quick read.
I couldn't finish this post without thanking you, my readers, for the books you recommend in your posts. I've found so many terrific ones I wouldn't otherwise have found, Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen from Diann, The Golem and the Ginni by Helene Wecker from Sally, to name two off the top of my head.

9. I must say I like seeing my family over the moon celebrating the Lions win over Minnesota last Sunday that clinched the NFC North for them, a first in 30 years. Many firsts are being set with this team under the coaching of Dan Campbell. With two games left, one tonight, they could possibly set some more firsts.

I'm grateful to LeeAnna for hosting and the gang for continuing to write these posts!


  1. Lots to thankful for, but still lots that needs to be resolved. Have a very happy New Year.

  2. Such a great post, Sandra! You always have such interesting insights into so many areas of life. I have not been as politically active as you, but still find myself with a lot of anxiety over the atrocities of today's world after reading or listening to too much news. Taking a step back to care for yourself is such good advice. So many good books to read, too! I really liked Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and will check out some of the others you mentioned. Happy New Year!

  3. I'm grateful to read all of your posts and that you think, care, and feel so deeply. Sending you and your family love and best wishes for the year ahead.

  4. So many great things...the 4-leggeds are among my favorites...always bringing joy. My husband loved the book on trees; it is on my list. I am slower to read these days, but it is ok, as it is a constant friend, and there when I go back to it. With gratitude for what you have shared, and what will come in the future. And, especially holding good thoughts for a fabulous 2024.

  5. I'm reading another Jen Colgan book for Christmas. This one has a character who is a dendroligist and professor on trees. Thought of you when he told someone trees are great communicators. Sharing water, sharing notice of insects, etc.
    and we carve them without permission, LeeAnna

  6. Another thoughtful gratitude post that resonants with me on many levels. I wish we lived closer as I believe we would have great discussions. I always enjoy your book recommendations. I know I started the Secret Life of Trees, but don't remember if I ever finished it. I got part way through listening to The Covenant of Water before I left of TX, but didn't have time to finish (something like 32 hrs) and there were other holds on it at the library. I've been meditating for over two years, using the 10% Happier app (with Dan Harris, foremerly with ABC News). It's helped me tremendously in dealing with grief and anxiety.
    Happy New Year to you and McGyver and the furries.

  7. Sunny kitchens are the best! I like the old Jack Daniels truck. Ah, Narnia! Have you read the second Golem and Ginni book yet?

  8. I too am a fan f your gratitude posts. I’m not as articulate as you, nor as politically involved. Not many like minded people in my community! Nor have I read any of the books you mention in this post! My gracious I must get busy! I hope to meditate more in 2024. A new yoga mat was ordered and just picked up. So no excuses now! 🙂

  9. As ever, this was a great read Sandra. For digging deep, you came up with some gems.