The Season for Birdhouses

When I was young people built birdhouses in the spring hoping to entice some feathered friends to move in. Most of those neighbours were swallows, but sometimes other birds would take up residence. Hubby still builds birdhouses and with all the extra time on his hands I’m sure construction will continue in the weeks ahead. Last year we had a family of chickadees as well as the swallows.

Here is the latest duplex that Hubby made completely out of recycled material. I hope the birds appreciate his efforts to reuse.

I realize that this house probably does not exemplify the meaning of physical or social distancing that is so important at this time, although I think so long as the birds don’t object they will be fine. In fact, I’m willing to bet on it.

In some ways I consider myself fortunate during these times of the COVID 19 pandemic as we have 7.5 acres to roam around on. Our property also boarders a lake. Yesterday, I sat by the water’s edge, felt the warmth of the sun on my face, and for a time I stayed totally present. I didn’t think about what all was going on in the world, the all the worries about the future and exactly what the world would look like when we finally come through to the other side. I didn’t fret about the launching of my book this spring which is obviously on hold. I pushed away my sadness of not being able to visit with our grandchildren in the coming months and the reality that rural living means poor internet access for many of us. We are not even able to set up virtual visit.

So I sat there yesterday, taking in the beauty and feeling totally grateful for the moment and the entire day which couldn’t have felt more perfect. The air was quiet and I could hear the sound of water trickling from one place to another. There was a trio of Canada geese peacefully maneuvering their way across the water. Ducks quacked and fluttered their wings. The geese honked.

As I sat there looking out across the water, I thought about the people who lived in our home before us. I thought about how much harder life was for them back then and how hard they had to work. They did not have any of the modern things we take for granted these days; washing machines, dishwashers, TV, computers. I wondered if they ever had the chance to just sit by the lake watching and listening or if they were just too busy to appreciate it all. I thought, what a shame it was if they didn’t.

As it is important for us to remain hopeful during these uncertain times, please remember that there have been many before us who have faced adversity and came through stronger. We will too. I will leave you with this wonderful symbol of hope.

 

Stay strong. Stay at home. We will get through this.

 

Reading Local

I’ve always been a believer in supporting local authors. Luckily, we have a lot of wonderful authors here in the Maritimes and I like to give their books a shout-out from time to time. I’ve decided to post two local books at a time for the next little while instead of posting ten or so all at once.

Here are my first two picks. They were both books that my mother received as gifts over Christmas.The first book was written by a former student from the Halifax School for the Blind which, as many of you know, my mother also attended.

Mrs. Beaton’s Questions by Robert Mercer.

Robert Mercer’s life could have been very different. He was born with very low vision and, as a youngster, struggled in school. But through the intervention of a caring teacher and the support of his family, he found his way to the Halifax School for the Blind and into the classroom of Mrs. Beaton. It was there that he discovered his voice, a voice he uses to recount his remarkable journey from a shy little boy to a community leader.

About the author: Robert Mercer was born visually impaired and for nine years, he attended the School for the Blind in Halifax. Upon graduation and a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Mary’s University, he joined the staff of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). At the age of thirty, he was appointed National President and CEO for the Institute, responsible for the work of three thousand staff and a hundred thousand volunteers, coast to coast. In a second career, Robert worked for 25 years in the Federal public service, retiring as Assistant Deputy Minister at Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown, where he now enjoys writing books, mostly fiction for children and adults, and is still very much young at heart.

Silver Linings by Janice Landry is a book about gratitude, something I truly believe in. Gratitude in our lives helps us to see all the positive things we should focus. I believe our own thoughts play an important role in out own well-being.

Silver Linings: Stories of Gratitude, Resiliency and Growth Through Adversity

Author Janice Landry asks the very tough question, “What are you the most grateful for?” to fifteen inspiring Canadians from five provinces and two esteemed guests from the United States. One of seventeen is Dr. Bob Emmons, considered to be the world’s pre-eminent expert in the study of gratitude.

Gratitude and resiliency are key cornerstones in the field of mental health. Science-based evidence, discussed by Dr. Emmons and others, underlines the importance of developing and practising gratitude. Research proves being grateful is good for us, both mentally and physically. Gratitude can improve our resiliency before challenges occur in our lives, which they inevitably do.

Let’s face it: it’s easy to be grateful when things are running smoothly. The people in Silver Linings have discovered that gifts may actually emerge from life’s toughest challenges. Landry’s own gratitude practice was shaken to its core when both her mother and a close friend, assisted-death advocate Audrey Parker, died within weeks of one another while she was writing Silver Linings.

About the Author: Journalist Janice Landry received a 2017 national media award and, in 2018, the prestigious Canadian Resiliency Award for The Legacy Letters. Silver Linings is her fifth book. It is dedicated to her mother and Audrey Parker.

Perhaps you’ll consider adding these books to your TBR pile. No better time to catch up on your reading than winter!

Gratitude

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” ~Cynthia Ozick

Today, the key word seems to be gratitude, gratitude for all the good things that are, that were, or will be. I’m sure every day we can find something to be grateful for, but do we always take the time to be aware of the good things in our lives? I hope so..

A lovely thank you card from the Homeschoolers group I read to last Friday arrived in the mail today. What a lovely added bonus to my day! It made me smile.

Today I’m over at Reading Recommendation. If you haven’t checked out Susan Toy’s site before you might want to give it a try. Hey, and you’ll even see yours truly. Find out how we connected years ago without my even knowing. Cool!

Earlier this week I had coffee with Jan Coates. We had some catching up to do as it had been awhile since we’d chatted. Jan’s new picture book “The King of Keji” is scheduled for release this spring. It’s in the spring Nimbus catalogue already! You can check it out HERE.I know some of you from Facebook have already seen it.

I also want to mention that Family Literacy Day is on January 27th. For those of you who need a gentle reminder:

Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

I don’t have to mention how important literacy is to us all, especially to the new generation growing up.

Lastly, since I began this post with gratitude, I want to give a shout out to those of you who follow my blog. I appreciate you signing up! I wrote a blog post back in December about Supporting Your Author Friend and things went a little crazy here for a day or so. So, thank you! Also, a big thank you to those of you who recently joined my Facebook page. Well, not just those who recently joined. Whether you joined in the beginning or just recently, I appreciate all of you. Oh, you know what I mean! Saying thank you is something that often gets overlooked and something we kind of take for granted. I don’t want to take any of you for granted. I happen to think thank you are two words that should be said every day. Gratitude should not only thought about but expressed.

So, since I’m ending on a note of gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life, maybe you’d like to share something that you’re grateful for with the rest of us.

Don’t Let Crappy Keep You Down

We’ve had a bit of a crappy spring here in Nova Scotia, and of course we’ve been grumbling. There have been scarcely had any sunny days in May, and April wasn’t much better. Still, we have to count ourselves fortunate that we haven’t been plagued with floods, fires, tornadoes or earthquakes. Really, what right have we to grumble with all that’s going on in the world around us? There is so much for us to be grateful for.

Last week I won two books by entering online contests. Our son also graduated from university on Friday. Then too, I won on the lottery! That’s right, a whopping 5 bucks, but a win no less. There is a lot in my life to feel grateful for.

Today, as I wandered around outside, I also felt gratitude for all the new spring flowers and blossoms that are opening up. Just think, in spite of our crappy cold damp weather, they still recognize that it is spring. They’re out there doing their part without complaint.

The same could be said for us. In life, we are often plagued with difficulties. Things don’t turn out the way we want them to. We have to work harder than we’d hoped to achieve our desires, and we become disappointed when failure smacks us upside the head again. Why can’t things go along smoothly? Why can’t we get the things we want in life?

Still, there is usually something for us to look toward with gratitude. It doesn’t have to be something huge. It doesn’t have to be something as remarkable as having one of your kids graduate from university. What’s wrong with winning a book or even five dollars? What’s wrong with the sight of spring blossoms, their sweet aroma filling the air around us?

When discouragement sets in, and we’re ready to give up, don’t forget to acknowledge the good that is already there. When rejection comes my way, it’s so easy for me to forget about all the times an editor sent word that my work has been accepted. Remember that one disappointment should not take away from all the positive things that have come our way. Yet, I will admit, it is easy to forget when we’re down there in the pit of despair.

Sometimes we just have to dig our heels in further and keep on going once we’ve tried our disappointment on for size. Got to remember that it’s okay to try on the ugly things just to see what it looks like, but no way are we going to take that ugly thing home with us to keep.

So, here are a few blossoms for you and for me. A reminder that, even though things may be crappy, life goes on. We’ll still get where we want to go eventually. The apple blossoms don’t seem to realize that the weather’s been cold and dismal here in Nova Scotia. They’re still willing to show up regardless of the weather. So, how about you?

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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