Gratitude: attitude or platitude?

Is gratitude the fix-all it’s made out to be? I was invited to start a gratitude practice — by someone I admire immensely, an unlikely pusher of positive psychology. I had resistance to the idea. To the very phrase, actually, and its ubiquity. Despite my squinty-eyed reaction, I agreed to participate in a daily gratitude…

Forget freely, remember collectively

I outsource memory. I don’t trust mine. So, when I see something that inspires me, I reach reflexively for my phone. Snap. Screenshot. Store. As I offloaded hundreds of images onto my desktop the other day, to de-bloat my phone, I saw how pointless this had been – all these things I’d wanted to sit…

Thanks for the Giving

In many ways, the pile of food was embarrassing. Not just because I’d clearly over-estimated what was required to host a not-enough-seats-or-plates-but-let’s-fill-the-house-with-friends-anyway Thanksgiving feast. Falling short as an elegant hostess is not something that bothers me. Where I didn’t want to fall short was in the actual offering, in the stuff to mound on top…

The Downside of Deceleration

Most of my life, I’ve been in a hurry to get to the end of the task, the top of the heap, the other side. Then, somewhere approaching the midway point of life, I clued into the fact that racing to get to the end was not smart, and I should start thinking about ways…

Letting Go: on the first day of kindergarten

You expected me to cry, I bet. Granted, I nearly lost it when I glanced over and saw my husband tearing up. But I didn’t. I held it together. It was time. Everything was signaling it – from the five year old’s dead-forward focus climbing up the bus steps and heading off to kindergarten, to…

Are you ready for the Analogue Travel Challenge?

In praise of the soul lap, the undocumented adventure. Stephen Hui has taken thousands of photos of pristine backcountry vistas. But these days, he’d rather leave his camera behind, especially if he’s hiking a trail he’s been on before. Even though his work, as author of the just-released and already-a-bestseller guidebook, 105 Hikes in and…

The pleasure of not thinking

To the farmers, firefighters, day camp coaches, event workers, frontline service people, road re-pavers, emergency responders, investigative reporters, I need to apologize. I’m sorry. I see how hard you’re working to keep the wheels turning. I’m not pulling my weight. “No thinking in August” is my friend Mike’s mantra, and the moment I heard it,…

Breaking Points

Once, when I was really under pressure, blocked by my own ambition, I plagiarized. I stole an entire paragraph of someone else’s writing and offered it up as my own. The story ran in the newspaper. I was sent a cheque. And cashed it. No one ever found out. Except my mother, who was suspicious…

Grow Your Own: Revolution

Thanks to Feet Banks for asking me to write about seed libraries for the summer issue of Mountain Life, out now. (And also for his always judicious and amazing editing, and gentle suggestion that my original opening about the impending apocalypse might be a bit too much for bummer to keep people reading.) Give peas a chance at…

Don’t Chase Happiness

“Try to swing your arms more vigorously when you walk,” says my husband. I scowl, and curb a desire to inflict violence on him. I hate when he tries to optimize me. He’s read an article that says you can trick your mind into feeling happier by moving your body in happy ways. Like swinging…