Beautiful Struggle


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One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.

Sigmund Freud

On June 21, 2013, I woke up and looked out the window to see what kind of day was greeting me. Finally, after many days of rain, the sun was shining. I had no idea at the time, but later in the day I would write:

Calgary and surrounding communities are experiencing flooding that exceeds the flood of 2005. The TransCanada Highway is closed between Canmore and Banff and Canmore’s Cougar’s Creek has become a raging river. High River south of Calgary is completely under water. Other surrounding areas are also affected with devastating floods.

In Calgary, many of the communities around my neighbourhood have been put under mandatory evacuation. So far my community is still fine. The largest homeless shelter in Canada is being evacuated as I write. A thousand Drop In residents are walking over the bridge to the Bridgeland community.

I had never experienced a natural disaster until that day. I had also never experienced the coming together of people to help others on such a massive scale either. It was humanity at its best. It was beautiful.


Please Support My Ride!


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July 23 Update: I am happy to say I’ve hit $580 as of today. Thank you to all my blogging friends who donated.❤


I must be out of my mind. On October 1st, I’m going to get on my bike (can you imagine?) and huff and puff my way to the finish line in the Ride for Refuge, a walking and cycling event for the displaced, vulnerable, and exploited.

I’m doing it because I want to help the residents of Oxford House Foundation of Canada, and I want to do it even more than I hate biking up hills. And even though I’m not in the best of shape, I’m willing to ride, along with my team members and other Oxford House teams to raise funds to support a whole house of residents for a whole year! Would you be interested in sponsoring my grueling journey?


Here’s how much I’ve raised thus far. Please help me reach my goal!

Oxford House is an awesome organization that helps people in recovery from addictions through the provision of safe and effective sober homes where residents can work on their sobriety, heal broken relationships and take their lives back just like Jordan did. (See his story below)

So, will you support my ride by donating $25 or $50 or any amount you choose? Click on the link below to visit my page and give securely online:

Thanks in advance for your support!

Leg-crampingly yours, Diana



Jordan’s story 

Jordan says living in an Oxford home with other men who understand where he is coming from and know the same struggles that he is going through is instrumental in carrying him forward. Jordan developed the skills he needed for life-long sobriety in his Oxford Home. “I’m the kind of guy who wears my heart on my sleeve. During my stay at Oxford House I learned how to read people, how to assess environments and how to take my recovery one day at a time.”

His roommates were crucial to his recovery. Five guys all living under one roof, all of whom, in his words, “you can’t pull the wool over their eyes, they know when you’re not being honest.” Oxford House was the healthy environment Jordan needed and he very much appreciated the ‘No Strike’ rule. “If you’re not ready, can’t stay clean and sober, you’re out.”

But bar none, the best thing that’s happened as a result of his sobriety is the restoration of his relationship with his daughter.

“She’s my heart, no words can express the way I feel about her.”

As to when his addiction began, Jordan says, “My addictions started when I was 19. I had low self-esteem, low self-worth.” During his time in high school, he lost confidence in himself. He started to drink which in turn led to marijuana, crack and opiates. Over the years, Jordan learned many hard lessons. He had many ‘bottoms’ – relapses, Jail, almost died once and was homeless three times.

“The first time I tried to stop, I was 25 and I’m 36 now.”

There came the day when he’d had enough. He determined to use his hard times to change his life and lean on his higher power. “Faith is the cornerstone of my recovery. I’ve been sober nine months now, that’s the longest I’ve ever been clean.”

On April 1st Jordan moved into his own apartment.

Jordan continues to attend 12-step meetings and one of his closest supports is his sister, who is also in recovery. He also started working out recently.


Sponsor Diana

More about Oxford House

The Waiting Room


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Mike raising the flag for Canada Day

Mike raising the flag for Dad’s birthday (June 28) and Canada Day (July 1)

Dear Dad,

Eight months ago when you left this world to go to the next, we, your family made a pact to come together for your birthday so that none of us would have to be alone.

Arno and Ela came from Germany. I came from out west, sadly without Michaela. And Mike, Heather and Spencer drove in from Montreal’s west island to meet at yours and Mom’s home. In my head, this family reunion would be joyful and fun because we would all be together. I thought we would celebrate you, maybe even release balloons with personal notes to you.  But that’s not what happened.

I’m not saying that we didn’t share great memories and moments of laughter, after which Mike brought out your silver tray and shot glasses just like you used to do when entertaining guests and we clinked our glasses in your honour. But always the underlying and unspoken fact that you were not sitting out on the deck with us was with me, and I suspect with the others as well.

Frankly, life is not the same without you Dad. I don’t mean to sound all dark and gloomy – honest I don’t, I’m merely stating a fact.

I recently read a book that said when we lose someone we love, we think we are immediately entering our new life without them. Where we usually end up though, is in a kind of metaphorical waiting room – between our old life and our new life. And there we sit, doing things the same way as before, hanging on and reluctant to change or let go for fear of forgetting our loved one.

The book goes on to say it’s normal to do that but the author encourages her readers to take baby steps by changing little things in their routines, a bit at a time, until they are fully participating in their new life. Stepping into their new lives does not, however, make them forget their loved one.

And that’s what we’re doing Dad, each one of us in our own way, but it’s hard. It’s particularly hard for Mom. We’ll figure it out though, Dad. I know you would want us to enjoy life. And even as I write these thoughts here…

I can almost feel your hand reassuringly patting mine and hear you saying, “C’mon Diana…Everything is OK, it’s going to be fine.” 


Happy Birthday Dad

Love you and miss you

Diana xo

Connecting On Common Ground


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Men easily believe what they want to.

Latin Proverb

I like to think that I’m pretty open-minded. That for the most part I will at least hear you out when you have a different opinion about something.

But the truth is if I feel strongly about something, I will dismiss your thoughts within the first few seconds of you opening your mouth. I will even go so far as to find scientific data that supports my view!  And I’m willing to bet that this is true of you as well.

We easily believe what we want to believe.

But it doesn’t mean if you don’t agree with me you are against me or if I don’t agree with you I am against you. It doesn’t mean that we cannot connect on common ground elsewhere. It doesn’t mean we cannot respect, care for, or love each other.

Yes there are things we may not agree on – big things – things we are passionate about; things that get our blood boiling and make us emotional.

But the number of things we do agree on like basic human kindness, compassion and dignity far outnumber the things we disagree on.



Friday Pick 193 – Aid and paying attention



I received an email from good friend John Buller recently inviting me to check out a blog called Messy Notes managed by fellow Calgarian Abe Janzen. So as soon as I got back to Calgary from visiting with family in Montreal Quebec and East Hawkesbury Ontario I did just that. Immediately I was drawn to Abe’s vulnerable and authentic-true-to-himself writing style. I hope you will be as well and choose to click follow just as I have done.

In Abes’s own words:

What I seem to run into, the longer I am walking and breathing, is how messy it all is, and how lovely and inviting it is to live.  Almost mysterious and also so maybe not!  I have been struggling w a serious health issue for a number of months and at one time,  not long ago, Kathy, my wife, asked if I ever think that I might not get better.  “All the time”, I said.  And then I added a bit later … “you know what I so want … I just want to be alive.”  To run errands, to go to work, to drop a coat at the drycleaners, to grab a morning coffee on the way to work, to be hungry, to read the Calgary Herald before I do anything in the morning, to play w Joshua and Olivia, to do little renovations projects w Kathy in the house … lousy as I am at doing them.   Being unable this last little while, to enjoy most of those ordinary disconnected and maybe incoherent centerpieces of living, makes me realize how much they are exactly that … the centerpieces.

This week, I’ve chosen the post below as my Friday Pick.

In this post Abe talks about how the church and government need to work more cooperatively to address the needs of refugees …

Go ahead and visit the link below

and tell Abe Diana sent you…

Aid and paying attention by Messy Notes


*I’ve closed my comments in hopes that you will leave a comment on the writer’s page*

And I’m off!


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Montreal SkyLine at NightI’m off to Montreal

And I’m mostly off the grid

I’m attending the second annual Schwenkonsortium!

I’ll be back to tell you all about it soon. In the meantime, check out the trouble we got into last time below.

Be good to each other.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With love,


Looks Like I’m Gonna be THAT Senior


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When I was in my twenties, I’d see many a senior lady with bad makeup. You know, poorly applied foundation or mascara marks around the eye or bleeding lipstick or un-blended blush, and I’d think to myself – I NEVER want to do that.

As it turns out I’m pretty paranoid about makeup faux pas because of it. And to make matters worse, my eyesight (nearsightedness) has deteriorated over the years. It’s close to impossible to put makeup on whilst wearing glasses, so every morning after I’ve applied my makeup I put on my glasses and examine it carefully under a bright light.

So far, so good in that regard.

Here’s the thing. I’m starting to wish I had been concerned about doing up my pants in my twenties because apparently doing up my pants is not worth the effort it takes these days.

The whole disturbing pants thing actually reared its ugly head in my forties. I would come out of, or go into the ladies’ room at work while doing up or undoing my pants. On a good day, I would remember to shut the bathroom door before sitting on the toilet. On a really good day, I’d lock the door.

Now, in my fifties, it seems I’ve completely abandoned the need to do up my pants. I can’t tell you how many times I show up at work to find that my pants are in various stages of being undone. The other day I neglected not only to pull up my zipper, but I couldn’t be bothered with the button either. I did however, do up my belt.

Thank God for small mercies.

It seems I am going to be THAT senior. The one whose pants are never done up.


So what kind of senior are you gonna be?

My First Father’s Day Without You


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I’m thirsty Dad.

Nice to meet you Thursday. I’m Friday, come over Saturday and we’ll have a Sunday.

Heinz Schwenk

Today is my first Father’s Day without you. The beginning of many firsts without you. Yes, I’m a bit sad about that Dad, but I don’t want to talk about that today. Because I am the luckiest woman in the world.

I am incredibly grateful for having had you in my life. You always made me feel so important and cherished. From day one I knew you were in my corner; even when I was wrong.

You’ve only been gone seven months. Gone yet not really gone. I still see you everywhere. I catch a glimpse of you in the mirror. You grace me with your presence in my dreams. And Dad, the other day an older gentleman who had your walk and your playful facial expression stopped in his tracks and looked at me. It made me smile. I know how blessed I was to have you as my father.

You’re in a better place now, free from pain.

I know you’re ok Dad.

And I want you to know I’m ok too, thanks to you.


Friday Pick 192 – Return to tocil Wood



I first came across Harvesting Hecate by Andrea when fellow blogger Jennifer chose one of her posts in her Friday Bouquet. Andrea says she is feeling more inspired and creative than she has ever felt before and her writing most definitely attests to that. Enjoy.

In Andrea’s own words:

I find inspiration in nature, the coastline and the turn of the seasons.  You’ll find writing about all of those things and creativity in general here. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and I’d love to hear what you have to say about your own creative life.

This week, I’ve chosen the post below as my Friday Pick.

In this post Andrea says …    “A place has many stories.  In one story it remains the same as the first time we met it.  In another, builders put up barriers and change its landscape.  In yet another, children take over and make it a place of play.  My story of Tocil Wood is all of these and none of them.”   

Go ahead and visit the link below

and tell Andrea Diana sent you…

Return to Tocil Wood by Harvesting Hecate


*I’ve closed my comments in hopes that you will leave a comment on the writer’s page*

Meeting Half Way


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On Saturday morning I got up at the crack of when-I-was-good-and-ready. I made myself some coffee and managed to get out the door and into my car by 9:30AM to go to downtown Red Deer, Alberta where I would meet up with Michaela and Werner.

Upon arriving in Red Deer, I quickly found a parking lot on 48th Street and it was free to boot, thank-you-very-much and walked the four blocks to Hudson’s Pub where we had agreed to meet. We enjoyed a nice lunch and then headed out the door to walk the streets of downtown.

But first we picked up Werner’s truck and drove it to the lot I was parked in. Werner had recently gifted Michaela with a guitar and she’d brought it so I could see it. It’s been a long time since I have played; and I never really learned to play well, but I had to try it out. Then Michaela played two songs for us. I’d forgotten what a beautiful singing voice she has.

Seriously Michaela, you need to get out there and start busking for twonies while you’re waiting to hear back from all those places you’ve applied to!

We were actually surprised (sorry Red Deer) at how cool and quaint and well laid out downtown is. There are statues throughout the downtown area that they call ghosts. They tell the story of Red Deer. One of them has good ole Reverend Gaetz, founder of Red Deer sitting on a bench. Another is a wagon hitched to spooked horses. Another is a child feeding scraps to a dog.

And just as the video I featured on last week’s post boasts there are many shops, benches and trees! We passed an ice-cream store vowing to come back after our tour of downtown to have one. Sadly when we went back they were closed, so we opted for iced coffee on a sidewalk café patio.

Our coffee time quickly became an adventure when the gorgeous sky suddenly turned dark and a gale force wind pushed through town. We helped the Café owner close the sun umbrellas that threatened to blow right out of their stands before rushing to the truck to figure out our next move.

Michaela pulled out her trusty iPhone while remarking, sarcastically I might add, what a fine example of modern technology my BlackBerry Q10 is, to google ‘what to do in downtown Red Deer.’ I could mention that her so-called superior iPhone is the one that took all the itty bitty, low resolution photos above, but that kind of tit-for-tat discourse would be childish and is below me.

Anyway, we settled on visiting the local art museum. Werner drove us there, past the 10,000 Villages store, past the bus depot, past the Spray Park that we’d visited earlier on foot, to the museum.

What a cool museum! It tells the stories of the early settlers in very creative ways and has interactive activities for kids, or adults if you happen to be us.

By the time we got out of the museum it was sunny again. We hugged out our goodbyes and headed back to our respective homes.

Hey Michaela, that was a lot of fun. We should meet up in downtown Red Deer more often so I don’t have to miss you so much. What do you say kiddo?


What’s your favourite not-too-far place to catch up with family friends?



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