Friday Pick 183

I’ve been following Jenny over at CHARACTERSFROMTHEKITCHEN for quite some time. Yet for some reason that totally escapes me, I have not shared any of her posts as a Friday Pick. I’m correcting that today! Jenny is an avid reader, a brilliant storyteller, and sees numbers, days of the week and months in colour – how cool is that? I just know that you’ll enjoy visiting CHARACTERSFROMTHEKITCHEN!

In Jenny’s own words:

It’s hard writing about yourself, but I’ll give it a go. So, I live in the south of England, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with my husband and son. I read loads, play tennis occasionally, love visiting galleries, love  London, enjoy watching premiership football and work in a mainstream school, mainly with autistic children, helping them make sense of the world. I love their point of view; find humour and wisdom in their comments and have learned to be patient as well as one step ahead.

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

In this post Jenny talks about the pros and cons of being a Leftie…

Go ahead and visit the link below

and tell Jenny Diana sent you…

Which way do you stir your tea? by CHARACTERSFROMTHEKITCHEN


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

My Blonde Moment

blondIN THE EARLY NINETIES I used to work at a hospital.

A certain janitor who also worked there could not contain the joy he felt every time he saw me.

Noooo it’s not that…

He was thrilled to bits because he could share the ‘latest’ blonde joke with a blonde – me.

Q: What do you call a blonde with a high IQ?
A: A golden retriever.

Q: Why did the blonde scale the chain-link fence?
A: To see what was on the other side.

Q: What do you call a blonde with half a brain?
A: Gifted!

Q: How do blonde brain cells die?
A: Alone.

Q: What do you call it when a blonde dyes their hair brunette?
A: Artificial intelligence.

Q: Why do blondes wash their hair in the sink?
A: Because, that’s where you’re supposed to wash vegetables!

Over the years, I’ve heard many blonde jokes.

So many, I’ve probably forgotten more than most people have ever known.

And every, single, annoying blonde joke has one central theme.

Blondes are dumb.

As a blonde, I have been highly motivated most of my life to prove that blondes are not dumb.

This has made me seem quite pompous at times. A know-it-all, if you will. A literal she-is-always-right-and-can’t-admit-when-she’s-wrong-and-always-has-to-correct-others poop head.

So maybe a dose of humility is exactly what I needed yesterday. A Poetic Justice of sorts. Perhaps that’s why I locked my keys and my purse with my spare keys into my running car after work yesterday and had to call AMA to come unlock the door so I could sheepishly slink into the driver’s seat and drive home.


Regardless of your hair colour, ever had a blonde moment?

What To Do?


“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Sounds simple, right?

Whether you’re trying to prioritize tasks for today, or you’re searching for your life-long calling, all you have to do is decide what to do within the time you have been given.

Because we don’t have forever. Time is finite.

Recently, I have reconnected with a group of folks online who grew up in the seventies in my hometown.

At 16, it feels like life is so long, like you have forever to decide what you will do with your life. Although some kids knew way back then the direction their lives would take, I would wonder for many years to come.

And even then, I ended up having to focus more on Who I would be rather than What I would be.

That’s where developing a personal mission statement really made a difference. Once I figured that out, no matter what my job is, or what my circumstances are, I am doing what I’ve decided to do every day for as long as I have been given.


Do you have a personal mission statement?

Friday Pick 182 – From Pat’s Desk

Ok so I’m a tad excited about our new website at work. And the fact that we’ve published its first blog post – what can I say? I really, really, really love my job and the people I work with.  And so this week I am featuring Oxford House’s first post as my Friday Pick.

In Oxford House’s own words:

Oxford House Foundation of Canada meets the unique needs of men and women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction through safe, affordable housing and support. Through the provision of a home and support offered by experienced staff, Oxford residents are empowered to take responsibility for their own recovery and make valuable contributions in their community. Recovery without relapse is possible in an Oxford home. Each home forms its own family and is situated in a suburban neighbourhood away from danger areas.

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

In this post Oxford House’s executive director, Pat Nixon shares his view on what home means and what we aim to do about it…

Go ahead and visit the link below

and tell Oxford House Diana sent you…

From Pat’s Desk by Oxford House


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

Oxford House is on Facebook and Twitter!

Oxford House

Meet Earl, Oxford House’s Program Coordinator and Tracey, Finance Coordinator and Vince, Support Worker and yup, that’s me at the end as we appear on our new Oxford House Facebook page!

See that yellow oval circle I drew around the sign up button? That’s where you would click on our Facebook page to sign up to receive awesome emails from us. And that’s just what I’m asking you to do. Sign up and like our page. You can also find us on twitter @OxfordHouseAB!

It just blows my mind that as of today, I’ve been at Oxford House for 271 days and I’m feeling very grateful to be here. I’ve participated in two events. Arranged for three plaques to be given to generous funders. Developed and implemented a monthly donor program. Sent out a media release for needed items during the holidays. Created an annual report. Thanked countless folks for their generosity. Pulled and analyzed loads of data and…and can you tell I’ve been in up to my armpits in stats???

Yet stats are only what we use to back up our incredible stories and that, as you know if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, is what really turns my crank. Because stories are what connect us.

Like Janice who told me in a matter-of-fact way, “I’ve been a low-life my whole life.” Heart-breaking words, but it’s not unusual for people to feel this way when they first come to Oxford House.

“I love it here,” she said while we chatted on the phone.

Believe it or not, it’s also something she has to get used to – living in a sober house, free from the pressure of people enticing her to have a drink, that is.

Last year Janice was in a serious car accident that resulted in brain damage leaving the whole left side of her body numb.

She spent a month of her four-month stay at the hospital in a coma. “It was a wakeup call.”

More determined than ever, Janice signed up for a six-week treatment program and then applied for housing with us.

Since living here, Janice is grateful to have a place to call home. “It is hard sometimes, I feel lonely.” But she’s working on that too, having recently signed up for an art journal course and registering with a job placement agency.

Janice is not a low-life. And we will stick by her until she knows this for herself and is ready to move on.

I think we can all relate to Janice in the sense that we’ve all had wake up calls, we’ve all felt lonely and deficient in some way. I know there have certainly been times when I’ve felt that I didn’t quite measure up.

Our stories and your stories and their stories form a beautiful tapestry of our collective human experience.

And that’s why we want to share our stories with you. And we really, really want you to share your passions and stories with us.

So what do you say?

Will you connect with us on Facebook and Twitter?

I hope you say yes by clicking the links above!


A Little Bit Of Duct Tape And It’s All Good…


“I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.” – Steven Wright

I can relate to the above quote.

I hate to admit it.

But it’s true.

I’m a generalist. And unless I’m totally enthralled with something, I learn just enough to be dangerous.

Like when I learned (and ‘learned’ is a very generous term here) to play the guitar. I learned 16 chords. I practiced till my fingers bled – yes. But when someone tried to teach me to pick individual notes on individual strings, I quickly dismissed the endeavor.

It was good enough for me to happily strum a few tunes.

I’m not a perfectionist and if something doesn’t work perfectly the first time, I make do, at least for a time.

To do otherwise would make me crazy.

Would make me obsess, get angry, be unreasonable.

So when my tap has dripped I’ve collected the water in a container. When the vacuum hose had a tear I’ve taped it up. When the chain on the toilet thingamajig broke, I’ve used twist ties.


Shhhh don’t tell anyone, but some of my baseboards are held in place with duct tape…

…and I’m OK with that.

Friday Pick 181-Volunteer Shift #1

So here’s how I came to meet Sarah over at Flight of the Nightingale…I posted ‘Shipwreck.’ My brother shared the post on his Facebook page and Sarah found it there and clicked on it. Of course when she left a comment about how’d she’d been wondering about death and loss (as she hasn’t yet lost someone close to her), I had to go check out her blog. You see Sarah was curious because she wants to be a nurse, and from what I can see on her blog, she’s going to be a really good one!

In Sarah’s own words:

Sometimes something as simple as getting the patients or family a glass of water was the biggest help they could have gotten. One woman needed a heated blanket because she was cold and thanked me profusely. One man asked if I could put the straw into the slot of the cup’s lid for him and said “You have no idea how much that helped me right now!”

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

In this post Sarah recounts her first volunteer shift at the hospital…

Go ahead and visit the link below

and tell Sarah Diana sent you…

Volunteer Shift #1 by Flight of the Nightingale


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


dad and us

Yesterday evening, I was at my local deli/bakery buying a cheesecake. While I was waiting for the clerk to fetch the cake from the back room, a woman beside me told that she loves cheesecake but could not ever buy one because her husband is diabetic.

“My dad was diabetic,” I told her.

My breath stuck in my throat.

Tears pressed on the back of my eyes.


My dad was diabetic. Past tense. I just never know what will trigger my grief.

The following story was making the rounds on Facebook a few weeks back. It brought me comfort. It helped me understand what to expect. I share it here, in the hopes that it may bring comfort to someone else.


Someone on Reddit wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

A lot of people responded. Then there’s one old guy’s incredible comment that stood out from the rest that might just change the way we approach life and death.

Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived so far and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did.  I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a son, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.


We’re Not So Different, You And I


“We are all alike, on the inside.” – Mark Twain

I used to want to STAND OUT. To be UNIQUE. To be ONE OF A KIND. To find ways that DIFFERENTIATED ME from others, regardless of whether or not I was being true to myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love and admire many qualities and attributes in others that I do not have. And I try to emulate the ones that resonate with me.

Yet the older I get, the more I realize that we have more in common than not.

We all need nourishment.

We all need to feel safe.

We all need to belong somewhere.

We all need to love and be loved.

We all need to care for others and be cared for by others.

We all need to have purpose; something that gives meaning to our lives.

And beyond the basics, there are many who share our values and passions and dreams for the future.

So the older I get, the more I realize the truth of the quote above and the more I want to connect with others on common ground; regardless of whether that makes me different or not.