Scarf bombing and other unique ways to help others

Photo by Flora Westbrook on

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others


Frigid, cold weather conditions have settled in for the long haul this winter in the Canadian prairies. While many of us take for granted the warmth, safety, and security of our homes, there are many individuals in our communities who do not share this reality. Helping organizations like shelters, food banks, and outreach programs are challenged by funding constraints at the best of times, but have become sidelined by a myriad of competing societal concerns.

A recent article in our local newspaper included photographs of warm, homemade, wool scarves tied around the trees in on our downtown parks. This organic Canadian practice known as scarf bombing began in 2016 as a way to provide warm articles of winter clothing to people living in shelters or couch surfing. Intended to surface the serious challenges of being homeless in a harsh cold climate, these scarf bombing events signal the need for all of us to rally and find ways to provide support to others who need it.

Food security issues, safe harm reduction programs, and homelessness have never garnered wholesale community support. But during these difficult times, it seems as though our ability to care for the most marginalized members of society has taken a backseat to caring for ourselves and our immediate families. As we debate the value of lockdowns vs. keeping parts of the economy open, and whether or not we should follow the directions of public health officials, there is even less empathy within our society for those who have long been existing on the fringes.

Our best way forward through difficult times is finding ways to be intentional and creative in how we care for those in greater need than we are. Whether its picking up a pair of knitting needles, placing canned goods in little boxes on the street corner, or calling a non-profit to find out what they need, it’s worthwhile to find out how you might be able to help. Any act of volunteerism has the potential to make a real difference in someone else’s life as well has having the amazing side effect of helping us to feel better.

We don’t have to look very far to see need, it is swirling all around us. If we can gain momentum in caring for ourselves as well as others, perhaps collectively we can replace the negative rhetoric that is taking space in our lives with something much more meaningful and positive. So whether or not we choose to scarf bomb, donate canned goods, or write kind messages for seniors isolated in a care home, it’s possible to help ourselves become stronger by helping others.

Stay healthy and safe!

Finding refuge in flash fiction

Photo by Ekrulila on

Flash Fiction will change you. It will make you a very different writer.

Nancy Stohlman

Having previously attempted the world renowned practice in November of writing a novel in 30 days (NaNoWriMo), and found that I was unable to sustain the motivation to finish, this year I stumbled upon a different type of November challenge – Flash Nano! This writing challenge is the brainchild of Nancy Stohlman, author of the recently published craft guidebook to flash fiction, “Going Short – An invitation to flash fiction”. Nancy provides daily writing prompts with the challenge and expectation the writer is to write a flash fiction story of 1,000 words or less every day.

Sounds simple, right? It’s not but it is an amazing challenge and the by-product is learning more about oneself as a writer as well as some of the nuts and bolts of the craft. And…even better, it has been a wonderful distraction from all of the chaos across the globe especially the political farce playing out south of the border and the looming escalation of viral infection.

To date, I have received seventeen prompts and written seventeen stories. Today I will tackle number eighteen and the best part of receiving these emails is that I now find myself spending more time during the day on this writing practice and I am also discovering it has enhanced my creative inclinations in other aspects of life throughout the day.

We likely all know what types of activities or strategies work best for each of us to stay engaged, creative, and energized. But maintaining consistency with any undertaking seems to have been elusive for me over the past few weeks as the outside world has become somewhat overwhelming. It has also been more difficult to simply find joy, excitement, and just plain fun in an activity. This one has helped check all of those boxes for me.

This has been instructive on several levels and surprising as well. This one activity has helped me focus on setting goals, applying effort to achieve them, learning and developing new skills, persevering when you think you don’t want to do something any longer, finding fun in the process, and learning to tune out all of the negativity that is knocking at the door. Writing practice has been a part of my life for the past couple of years and this month it has been amplified and elevated.

It has been awhile since I have looked forward to completing a task every single day. Perhaps this is one of the defining features of the disruptive force this pandemic has had in my newly sculpted post retirement life. Having made it through my own personal life transition, the farthest thing from my mind was to anticipate the collective transition that we are all going through. This writing practice has taught me a few personal lessons that I hope I am able to sustain long after we pass through this dark tunnel of time.

Hope you are finding things in your life that nurture you and create positive energy, excitement and just plain fun. Stay healthy and safe!

We Shall Remember Them

Photo by Nadi Lindsay on

The world doesn’t belong to leaders, the world belongs to all humanity

Dalai Lama

This year, Canadian Remembrance Day ceremonies will take place virtually across the country. Our time honoured tradition of pausing for a moment of silence during the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month has not been cancelled due to COVID.

This past week on one of our local radio stations, listeners have been sharing stories from across our province, of relatives who served in either the First or the Second World War. It has been illuminating to learn about these personal stories telling of the psychological and physical impacts that have shaped families, and our communities. It drove home the need we all have to take the time to learn about this part of our past to help us to understand the freedoms gained that most often get taken for granted.

As we watch the unfolding drama and conflicts taking place around the world, now has never been a better time to try and develop appreciation for times when others made personal sacrifices for the greater good.

Lest we forget.

Leave those ghosts behind

Photo credit LMeyer

The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so we can live our dreams.

Oprah Winfrey

One of the challenges of these times is to remain balanced and to focus on the positives in our present and to spend some time planning for our future. It is all to easy to long for days gone by and to succumb to rumination about all that we may be missing out on in our lives because of the pandemic.

As the weather has become colder and the virus spread intensifies, it may seem even harder to focus on our goals, future hopes and dreams.

Seeking opportunities to develop skills that we ordinarily would never take the time to learn may take us down a path that has the potential to land us in a more positive place down the road.

Becoming more mindful of our health of both ourselves and those around us may have unexpected benefits in the future.

Learning unique ways to stay connected with one another may teach us to become more intentional with our connections and relationships.

Using technology to learn new skills may force us to move in directions that open up a realm of new opportunities and possibilities.

Taking time to develop a practice, routine, or set of activities that make us feel better about our selves and others is something we can carry forward and build into our future day to day lives.

Our world has been consumed with busyness and missed moments because there isn’t ever enough time to focus on goals or our aspirational dreams. Instead of living in regret for what we are missing right now, we could take these moments to reframe all of what is happening in our present reality as gifts which may enhance new learning. It’s time to release those ghosts in our past that have served as barriers and to embrace what may now be possible for our future.

Stay healthy and safe!