The Ring With The Blue Stone


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My parents in 1960 and the ring with the blue stone

My parents in 1960 and the ring with the blue stone

When you want to build something, you start with a good foundation. When you want to understand something, you start with the fundamental pillars of the subject. In other words, you learn the history, the mechanics of it, the whys and whats and wheres.

In the same way,  when you feel lost, it helps to go back to where you began so you can remember where you came from, what you have learned about this business of living, what you truly long for in life, and how you can get it and how you can share your gifts with the world. Sometimes you grab onto a symbol of the past and carry it with you like a talisman that you can look at, or touch when you need to be grounded.

Since Dad passed away, I’ve been in kind of a fog. I got the basics covered, you know…  I wake up, brush my teeth, shower, dress, exercise, go to work, eat, go to bed and start it all over again the next day. 

But I’ve lost a bit of my oomph.

A bit of my zest for life.

Dad was always my rock.

He had this way of making me feel secure and letting me know that he was there for me, no matter what.

My Plan B, if Plan A should fail.

Although I rarely resorted to Plan B, I knew I could if I had to, I knew it was there if I needed it.  

This past New Year’s Eve, as I was deciding which piece of jewelry to wear for an event I was attending, I came across the ring with the blue stone. The ring that cost forty dollars in 1960 and took Dad several weeks of saving so he could buy it for Mom to celebrate their first anniversary.

Dad was so upset when Mom gave me that ring almost thirty years later. But I’m so glad she did, so I could find it on the last day of 2016 and slip it on my finger. And with the wearing of it, remember the values he taught me and the traits he exemplified; like a good work ethic, empathy, diplomacy, loyalty and strength of character.  

What a gift!

What a great foundation from which to find my way again!


How To Set The World On Fire


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Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.

St. Catherine of Siena

There was a time when it was considered good and sensible to accept one’s lot in life with grace and gratitude. A time when if your father was a servant, it would follow that you would be a servant, and your son would be a servant.

These days, we tell ourselves that we can be whoever we want to be. Some folks achieve their dreams, many don’t.

I wonder have we set ourselves up for failure and ultimately, a life of misery because of it?

Just as with any stream of contemporary thought in any given time in human history, when we examine our ideals over a long period of time, we discover that the pendulum has swung from one extreme to another.

So I find myself thinking it best that the pendulum rest somewhere in the middle.

That it doesn’t have to be completely this way or that.

That purpose can be found in this way AND that.

That any person using their unique gifts can set their world on fire; no matter their station in life.


Friday Pick 204 – Checklist for Happiness



It’s probably no surprise to anyone who has read my blog that I am drawn to optimists. And the writer of Destined for Greatness sure fits that bill. I hope you enjoy the post I’ve chosen for this week’s Friday Pick and perhaps, like me, you will decide to click her follow button once you read it. Enjoy!

In Destined for Greater Thing’s own words:

…I write based on my life as a highschool teacher (a career I absolutely love); my daily experiences; my own life’s challenges; and through the information that I have learned by reading articles, literature, and watching documentaries that explore self-growth.  I’m a positive thinker (train myself to be when I’m not) and my inquisitive mind about life has led me here.…

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

In this post Destined for Greater Things shares the good news that we have more say in our happiness than we might think… 

Checklist for Happiness by Destined for Greater Things


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

Dear President Obama


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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016, for a state dinner. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016, for a state dinner. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Just a quick note to thank you and Michelle for being great examples of what leadership should look like.

I want to thank you both for all you did, and tried to do to make the United States and the world a more tolerant and safe and inclusive place. For ensuring that more folks had access to health care, for bringing hope to whole communities that had no hope before, for making tough choices, and patiently with humility, building solid relationships on the world stage.  And most of all, for doing it with the poise, dignity, passion, integrity, compassion and sense of humour that should be the norm for any person who occupies a position of power.

No single person is perfect, or always gets everything right, but I believe that you did the best you could within the choices you had, and I for one, felt that I could breathe a little easier, even from way over here in Canada.

I wish you and Michelle all the very best and I know that you will continue to make a significant mark in whatever challenge you take on next.

Well done and thanks again,

Diana Schwenk, Alberta, Canada


What If When A Storm Comes In…


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I promise you,
these storms are
only trying to
wash you clean.

 – Jessica Katoff

Wow – this quote really lifted my spirit when I read it the other day! The idea that suffering does not have to be in vain is oddly comforting and hopeful. In the same way that the pains of childbirth lead to new life, the challenges we face in daily living are ultimately meant for our good.

What if it’s true?

What if those rough spots in life; like losing someone we love, illness, defeat and change are meant to wash us clean, meant to remove the layers of useless garbage that we haul around day after day?

What if when a storm comes in, we can choose to slow our breathing, to calm ourselves, to yes – acknowledge and feel the moment, but then soothe our frightened selves with the understanding that we can get through it by (for lack of better words) getting out of our head, RISING above our situation, SEEING the bigger picture, BELIEVING in our ability to get through it, no matter the outcome, and TAKING that first step into the storm KNOWING we will be washed clean?


Friday Pick 203 – Our Story of Hope



It’s been quite a stretch of time since I’ve published a Friday Pick, so last evening, I took a look at those who have recently followed my blog and found Lacie over at Building The Love Shack. I knew right away that I wanted to share her blog with you. Go ahead, check out the link below – you won’t be disappointed, and perhaps like me, you will click follow when you’re done.

In Lacie’s own words:

Hello. I’m Lacie Sheldon Winters. I thought it would be nice to let you get to know a little about me. I live in Hamilton, Ontario. I immigrated to Canada at age nineteen from the Rolling Hills of New York. I am a Nurse who specializes in Geriatric and Dementia, graduating for Mohawk College and a student at MacMaster University, studying Psychology. I also take writing courses at Mohawk College and anywhere else I can find them. I am a mother of two grown children, and share my home with my husband and many pets, dogs, cats, birds and tropical fish.  In my spare time I collect Orchids and African Violets, shoot photography, garden, cook and traveling…

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

In this post Lacie shares her heartbreaking and incredibly inspiring journey toward buying the cottage of her dreams… 

Our Story of Hope by Building The Love Shack


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

2016 Was A Bad Year???


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It seems to me that I was bombarded with the message of the title of this post continually leading up to 2017.

And I guess I understand why, given over 130 well-known people died in 2016, including Canada’s much-loved Leonard Cohen, who incidentally was born in the same year as my much loved father, and given our Albertan economy has taken a nose dive and many people employed  in oil and gas have lost their jobs. I’m sure you have similar or perhaps worse stories you could share from your corner of the world.

But I can’t help thinking that compared to others; we’re doing well here in Canada.

I mean considering the events in other parts of the world, I am fairly certain that ninety-something per cent of the world’s population would gladly change places with almost anyone in our country, knowing their lives would be greatly improved.

That’s why it’s important for me to be grateful for the blessings, large and small, that made up my daily experience in 2016.

On a personal level, these blessings include that more and more when I remember Dad, it brings a smile to my face instead of tears. That although my family is spread out, we’ve all worked harder to connect more often. That with much practice, I am learning to be more present in the moment; to give the person or situation in front of me my full attention – something I will continue to work on in 2017.

Professionally, I’ve seen that our work to engage the community has started to show evidence of authentic and mutually beneficial relationships. People are wanting to be, and becoming involved on many levels of our organization, making a huge difference in the lives of men and women who are in recovery, while hopefully also increasing their own sense of purpose and meaning.

I hope that you too, can find your blessings in the past year when you look back. Here are just a few of mine in the photo gallery below.


Wishing you and yours a blessed 2017 filled with moments you can treasure for a lifetime.

Diana xo

ALIVE – My Word For 2017


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Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.

Ernest Hemingway

I love this Hemingway quote. It calls me to be present in the NOW and to give all of myself to the moment at hand. And not only that, it dares me to fully experience the moment using all of my senses – to be wholly alive.

Life is sweet. Just to be here is a wonderful thing – even in difficult times. The odds were stacked against me to even be born! Yet here I am, and how easy it is to take my life for granted, to forsake what is right in front of me for what was, or what may, or may not be.


I can feel my blood pumping through my veins just saying it! And so I know, it’s the perfect word for me in 2017.


My words for previous years

Having Enough


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There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

G.K. Chesterton

Have you ever thought about what drives us to have more? Why we need a more expensive, newer car, the latest gadget, a bigger house, more money? Does what we have not work? Does our survival depend on it? Or is it simply a matter of social status? Why is it so pressing that we keep up with the Joneses?

We humans are wired to survive. We need shelter. We need food. We need security from those who might harm us. And once we have those bases covered, we need to belong. We need to be needed and we need to know that we can count on others when we need them.

But when do our needs become frivolous? What marks the event when we’ve gone too far? When we must ‘have it’ just for the sake of ‘having it’? When we decide to live outside of our means and willingly fall into debt? When do we cross that line of pure greed that sacrifices our fellow (wo)man’s ability to survive?


The Corner Of My Eye


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I never knew her name, even though she was my neighbour.

I wrote about her once here. For the most part though, I never paid much attention to her. Sure, I saw her out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye. I even pitied her. And if I am to be completely honest, I felt guilty when I saw her. Guilty because she reminded me that there are many elderly people who are all alone in this world.

Another neighbour who lives a couple of houses to the right stopped to talk to me this past Saturday. She asked me if it was true that the bird lady had passed away. I looked to the left, a couple of buildings over, to the bird lady’s balcony and noticed that her balcony had been cleared of her belongings. To be honest I’ve been wondering if something happened to her. I hadn’t seen her drive slowly around the block or feed the birds in quite some time.

I told my neighbor that once in late summer, I had walked past her balcony to see if I could see a sign of her. I did not. And there was no management phone number on the apartment building that I could call to inquire about her.

So I did nothing.


The person who goes on and on about the importance of community…

I wonder why I didn’t reach out to her. Well actually, I think I know why.

I was afraid that she might take up a lot of my time.

That there would be things I couldn’t do, if I was involved with her. Things that I would miss. That I would have to give up.

And on a more personal level, I was afraid that I might one day be in her situation. That was something I definitely did not want to think about.


I never knew her name and I don’t know what happened to her. But I do know that I don’t want to be someone who sees people out of the corner of my eye…