Caregivers are compassionate. It is their nature. For most humans it is their nature and very natural to care. It can be an exhausting job though. Sometimes the compassion well feels pretty dry and empty. Oftentimes, caregivers are not the first to notice the symptoms of empty well or exhaustion until they are just about at the end of the caring rope.

It feels awful. I know. I’ve been there.

But where do you turn?

I turned to counselling. I turned to prescription drugs for depression. But neither were enough.

Until I began searching and seeking for a way that was natural, had no side-effects, and was virtually free, I was flailing. I felt like I was sinking. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the face in front of me.

Then over a year, I dug my way out. I found joy and I found the me I remembered. It was so wonderful that I wanted to share my how.

But first I had to develop the step-by-step method. That took me another year and a bit. With the help of my wise woman, academic advisor, Reinekke Lengelle I have developed my methodology into something that others have found as helpful as I did.

I call it “Wordscaping”. Over the next few weeks, I’ll explain with pictures just what it is.

I am trusting that you will find it worthwhile to try it.

It’s a good way to practice self-care even if you are not a frontline caregiver.

Talk soon!

Thirsty Thursday …

  Rain1 Today it rains. Il pleut.
Interestingly enough in French Il pleut can also mean “he cries” or is it “he is crying/weeping”? At any rate, I think the French have it right … for the rain often makes people a little rain2misty-eyed.

Strangely enough, not me, not today.

Perhaps it is because I have another poem to share with you. Not mine this time. Mine the other day was a very first draft … and we all know about first drafts, don’t we?

Today’s poem is by Antoinette Voûte Roeder
from her book, Still Breathing

Who isDSCF1227 God Now?


The drops, the spaces between,

the times when it does not



       When it blows, storms, rages,

       when it lies down in quiet pools.



When it rises strong and free, entwines with another,DSCF1238

when it loses its luster and begins the  long descent.



In all its facets, birthing, growing, yearning,

breaking, losing.


Who is God now?

Far and near.

Here, not here.

Always, all ways.


Although I no longer have a faith community that I meet with regularly … I find this comforting.

Let me know what feelings this poem evokes in you, if you like. Thanks for visiting.

listening_reflectionAll photos are my own, if you share or use them please link here. Thanks.

Poems to Ponder … a new feature


Every day blusters anew

more yellow, gold, red, brown leaves

dance down and down

delighted to joinEachLeaf_Nov3 copy

brothers and sisters

as they find their rest

on earthLeaves_Nov3

and in earth

as I

Chaos of leaves_Nov3

would do

and will doGoldLeaf_Nov3

sooner than

perhaps I

would prefer


Autumn’s Grace

susanna suchak

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Monday’s Musings…

I spent the weekend with family.

Friday with Owen to celebrate his 10th birthday.

Then time with Bob and Patti who are family by love.

Saturday with the Windsor gang…Holly, Kevin, Hayden Cazabon

Dan, Mal and James Ondrovcik.

Sunday morning back to Dan and Mal’s.

My heart is full to overflowing.

It is so wonderful to watch your grown children blossom and follow their dreams.

It is also heart warming to watch grandchildren do the same.

There are no other words….none are necessary.

Perhaps tomorrow there will be.

Planting Seeds …

Today is Labour Day.

Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak http://mythiclandscape.com

The group I spoke to last night paraded in Port Elgin this morning. They will partake of a well-deserved BBQ this afternoon.

I have been a member of CUPE, the OSSTF and grew up as the child of the CAW. I know that my life was the better for that.

So a deep bow of gratitude to all of you…and especially to UNIFOR who honours me by sharing their work with me. I offer this poem, one of my favourites, by Marge Piercy… I can think of no better way to honour them and the others who work to improve life’s quality through their participation and service in a trade union than to keep these hard won rights and privileges in front of people; vigilance is always our duty.

To be of use

by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who stand in the line and haul in their places, who are not parlor generals and field deserters but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. Greek amphoras for wine or oil, Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums but you know they were made to be used. The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.



“To be of use” by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982. From Circles on the Water © 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Middlemarsh, Inc.


Choosings and Musings

Yesterday on Facebook someone posted part one in a series called,

Can we learn to be happier?”.

I thought that that was an unrealistic expectation and might even cause more suffering in this world. I believe that we focus too heavily on “the pursuit of happiness” instead of acceptance of what is.

I preferred that we instead focus on feeling content.

Lani thought they were perhaps the same thing.

I disagree. Here’s what Etymology Dictionary [DOT] com says about happiness

happy (adj.)

late 14c., “lucky, favored by fortune, prosperous;” of events, “turning out well,” from hap (n.) “chance, fortune” + -y (2). Sense of “very glad” first recorded late 14c. Ousted Old English eadig (from ead “wealth, riches”) and gesælig, which has become silly. Meaning “greatly pleased and content” is from 1520s. Old English bliðe “happy” survives as blithe. From Greek to Irish, a great majority of the European words for “happy” at first meant “lucky.” An exception is Welsh, where the word used first meant “wise.”

and about the word content …

content (adj.)

c.1400, from Old French content, “satisfied,” from Latin contentus “contained, satisfied,” past participle of continere (see contain).

content (v.)

early 15c., from Middle French contenter, from content (adj.) “satisfied,” from Latin contentus “contained, satisfied,” past participle of continere (see contain). Sense evolved through “contained,” “restrained,” to “satisfied,” as the contented person’s desires are bound by what he or she already has. Related: Contented; contentedly.

then I said I preferred equanimity which has its roots in …

equanimity (n.)

c.1600, “fairness, impartiality,” from French équanimité, from Latin aequanimitatem (nominative aequanimitas) “evenness of mind, calmness,” from aequus “even, level” (see equal (adj.)) + animus “mind, spirit” (see animus). Meaning “evenness of temper” in English is from 1610s.

Pausing,  I wondered if I was just being picky or just cranky.

That’s why I’ve gone into the etymology of each word. I grant you it’s not the Oxford English … but I don’t have a subscription right now. Perhaps that’s something I need to treat myself to. But for now… this will have to do.

I claimed yesterday that happiness was too dependent on events, circumstances, even other people and it would seem my memory served me right as it meant in the original sense something to what we would refer as “lucky”.

On second thought I think that’s what many want … to be lucky, wealthy (in the sense of $$$) and even silly giddy. Not that I would deny anyone those moments. Glory, I sure enjoy my “silly/giddy” moments. Just saying I wouldn’t want to be that way 24/7. Exhausting and often inappropriate.

Unless of course, you are Welsh and you want to be wise. Now that would be excellent. However, I don’t think I’ve ever heard even a person of Welsh decent actually express that wish. So I guess this meaning left us late in the 16th century.

What I’d like to offer is that we seek balance such as that denoted by the word equanimity.

I propose that we stop vilifying emotions by calling them good or bad. They are just feelings and we don’t have to act on them.

For a start we can just allow ourselves to feel melancholy when we do and notice how that feels in our bodies. Then go about what needs doing … or if nothing needs doing just go about feeling melancholy.

Certainly, we can warn people that that is how we are feeling, but we may also need to let them know that we don’t need fixing or advice or cheering up. I think that would make me happy on those occasions when I just need to sit with a feeling rather than fake a grin. Indeed, I think that all this duplicity is crazy making.

We rail about the weather, the state of the environment, the behaviour of others … but in the instant we really have no power over any of that. It is only setting ourselves up to believe that we are the centre of the universe. Let’s start realizing that we are all connected and that we can only be in one place in time. Working from that may not always make us “happy” but it’s a good place to start on “equanimity”.

My husband frequently quotes a poem by Li Po and I share this today in all its appropriateness.

In the landscape of spring

there is neither better or worse

the flowering branches

some grow long

some grow short


Photo Credit Jeff Suchak

layering and textures from Kim Klassen

My Thursday blogging posts will examine an etymological / emotional theme for the rest of December and seeing that this is the last Thursday of 2013, we may need to extend it into January 2014.

I’d really appreciate your comments about how these posts make you feel. If you have a friend or colleague who might benefit from or even enjoy an exercise in pondering how to be authentic and balanced in this wacky world, please share a link. I’d love the company.

Letting go …

Photo credit: Jeff Suchak (visit http://mythiclandscape.com )

Over the past week or so I’ve been forced – yes that is the right word though I struggled with the violence inherent in it – to let go of much. Some of what I let go was by my own intention – cleaning out one’s studio space, spring and fall cleaning, moving – all these things give us opportunities to let go.

Not being the chosen one means you either let go or you break up or break down (it doesn’t matter which way you break when you do break to anyone but you). Being rejected by some thing or some one always presents the chance to let go. Because again, you bend, you go with the flow, you blend in or you dissolve into the abyss.

So, this past week has given me many opportunities to let go.

One night on the way home from Guelph before the cloud cover hid the indigo blue of the sky, we found a place to pull the car over and just gape at the stars. We could see the Milky Way and countless brilliant lights we call stars. And we both thought out loud, “…will miss seeing the stars; can’t see this down south…”

When we came here, first as hiking tourists, then as newcomers—people from “away”, now perhaps as friendly acquaintances and people with recognizable faces, I looked forward to seeing the Northern Lights. I’ve never seen them. Oh Steve Irvine ( a local artist ) puts up some spectacular photos he captures near their home on Big Bay, but I’ve never seen them dance. So, sigh … I don’t have to let go of that vision; though I do have to let go of that possibility.

So today is a post of nostalgia … mostly for what never came to be.

But it isn’t sad, or bitter, or angry. It is just acceptance and letting go. Not getting what you think you want may be a good thing.

Mindfulness meditation in its myriad forms – concrete and intangible – has given me this gift of acceptance, acquiescence, equanimity. To just pay attention to what is in this moment; to savour the good (the link will take you to “Hardwiring Happiness”–Dr. Rick Hanson’s newest book). To … let go.

It’s what we aim for in any of the religions I have practiced. It’s a very spiritual practice for me. Letting go allows us to journey without being overburdened. Letting go feels so right right now. I feel lighter. I can see Light.

Sooner than we might expect we will journey only with what we can carry within ourselves. I’ve decided to learn to be a Pilgrim, so, I’m practicing letting go a little more each day. Perhaps I’ll sprout wings and just find myself taking flight. Letting go, I smile.

Coming home to Self

ImageWhen we travel we make discoveries, we see new and/or different landscapes; inevitably we return home changed. Most of us and most of the time, we just get busy with our original lives, stuck in our comfortable ruts. Most of the time that works out pretty well … but.

This time when I came home, it was to a very different rhythm. Jeff went off to a silent retreat where he will most definitely come home changed.

I discovered a landscape that is breathtakingly beautiful, but not mine, at least not any more. My ancestors may have dug sod and reclaimed a salt marsh, but I can hardly claim any part of their achievements … or their deep and tragic uprooting.

I came home determined to examine what is (or was) in my life that worked … and what didn’t serve any longer.

What I discovered is that some things that served me well, still do. Knitting for example. I have neglected that pasttime for quite some time and while I was away I hungered so much to hold needles and thread through woolen yarn to see something emerge that would be useful — usually lovely to behold as well, but most importantly useful.

So knitting now comes to the forefront. Something must go.

And what could that possibly be?

Well social media springs to mind. One could devote 23 hours a day to FaceBook and surfing the Interwebs. One could. But I found that this was getting in the way of what serves me well.

I spent inordinate amounts of time playing games … that I will never ever ever win. Games that teach me nothing and only frustrate. So that was easy … only it’s not. It’s become a habit.

Habits are emotional entities. They are not just things we do over and over again. Not just actions. They become addictive only because we develop an emotional tie to them.

So. Now I have to understand the emotional tie in and replace one habit with another.

B J Fogg has some helpful hints. He says we have to tie the new activity to something we already do. I think it is helping for me to NOT turn on the computer until AFTER I eat breakfast. The other piece is I knit while the computer is booting up and loading Facebook. Then I review my notifications, check for messages and scroll down to see if anything is really really interesting. I also note who I am receiving notifications from and check off that I don’t want to see notifications from some person or page that I no longer need to know every site they like or share. Then I do something drastic, I shut off Facebook, check my email messages and respond to what is urgent. Then I delete what isn’t. Sometimes I even “unsubscribe”. Gasp!

This is helping … and I’ve only been doing this for three (3) days.

I feel a little more comfortable in my skin with this new routine, but the challenge will come on Saturday. I’ll let you know how it’s going next time.

Fall is in full swing and it seems the perfect time to turn over a new leaf.

I’ll share some other insights into my personal process next Thursday!Image

Photo Credit to Jeff Suchak


Coming back from the East Coast a changed person … perhaps coming full circle … I will seek to examine what I discovered about coming home to self … discovering what is truly important and what fills me rather than distracts me. Watch for blog posts Thursdays and perhaps as ideas present persistently.