This past Valentine’s Day had me thinking about love, as it should. Love of family, friends and things I hold dear. In Canada, we also celebrated Family Day the same weekend. It’s a happy coincidence.

Most of us find it easy to spend heart day with family or others who we love. It got me thinking about those I love who are gone, like my Mom, Grandma and my oldest, dearest pal Maggie. It also got me wondering about a cherished family member, the “Black Sheep” who in her selfishness, walks a road of self-destruction via drug and alcohol abuse.

After many years of late night phone calls for help, a bail out, collections and copious amounts of money loaned and wasted, I decided to accept what I had always known. You can extend a hand of help but you cannot make someone take it. Help is but a step from others and real change comes from internal strength and determination within.


This revelation helped me to unburden myself from taking the responsibility for the life of another. It is hard, damn hard to watch someone you love struggle with their demons. It’s harder still when no matter what you do, no matter what love, assistance, guidance and lies you overlook, the charade continues. It is hard to bear witness and stand back. It is difficult to watch someone you love endure pain, without feeling and in some respects, share their pain.

In the end, all that is left is love, hope and prayer. I have found nothing detracts from the love. The humanness of struggle has in fact increased my love for her and myself and provided clarity for which to see the fissures and solutions without prejudice. I am still blind to her deceit as  love does blind but now I can help through love, which is a better way.

Many folks are hard-core adapters and devotees of life’s societal norms and while I have never fit into this category, I understand the rules of the game. Those dark horses who refuse to learn and scoff will always be outside the circle of candy, roses and epicurean delights. They are perhaps the ones who need love the most. They are the adult children shyly clutching the barbed wire fence looking to others for succor on Valentine’s Day. They are the dogs baying at the family door, waiting to be let in.

I have never been one to look away or ignore the pleas in their eyes. I’m a sucker for a tin cup and a hard luck story. Stories are who we are, singularly and collectively. If we choose to look away and turn our backs on those in need, this tells our story too.

During that frosty, sunny weekend of celebration for love and family,  I felt it should have been impossible to exclude those who need us the most. Those who are the most vulnerable need us to be vulnerable and be the love. Be their Valentine.

If your family, like mine has dysfunction, love and embrace that too. Valentine’s and Family Day are not always filled with pink hearts and pretty pictures. The key to loving is in the acceptance of another’s ability for impropriety, their fragility, imperfections, foolish hearts and yes, their selfishness.  It is the essence of Valentine’s and Family Day. It is the heart and soul of every day.

I am single this year so no roses, chocolates or champagne. Instead, I choose to flow with my profound love of family and spent part of the weekend with them and as usual, my cup was overflowing. I hope yours was too.

When you learn to accept instead of expect, you’ll have fewer disappointments.



I LOVE water. I adore it. Water is my favourite thing. It gives life and lack of it can take life away. Water goes where it wants, when it wants and nothing can stop it save the inventions of men. Majestic dams are built to contain and control it, but water is patient. If not for our diligence, water would erode and break down these containers and be free again.

Being born steps away from the shoreline of Lake Ontario has given me an affinity for watery wonders. I am not alone. Most people get excited at the mention of spending a day boating, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, wading, floating or simply gazing on a lake or ocean. Our heart rate slows simply hearing the sound of the surf and how better to enjoy that than  a walk along the beach.

Shores of Lake Ontario in Longbranch, Etobicoke, Ontario
Shores of Lake Ontario in Longbranch, Etobicoke, Ontario

Of course the old neighbourhood beaches of Longbanch pictured above have changed with so-called progress. The many glass and steel condominiums which now grace Lake Ontario shores have changed the community character, but the lake itself remains the same.

TTC routed along Longbranch which ran along the west shores of Lakes Ontario. Many inner city folks ventured to Longbranch for the day  to walk along the beaches and get back in touch with nature.
TTC routed along Longbranch which ran along the west shores of Lakes Ontario. Many inner city folks ventured to Longbranch for the day to walk along the beaches and get back in touch with nature.

I spent days searching the beaches of Longbranch for interesting items and found lots of things too.Too many to mention. For hours I would get lost in my world of water, rocks and sand. On those scorching hot, summer days I’d be swimming with friends, jumping off cliffs into the crystal, clean waters.  When not at the beach I was biking or walking through the end streets, mini-parks or lane access to the lake or would go hang out along Etobicoke Creek.

Etobicoke Creek flows into Lake Ontario from Oak Ridges Moraine.  http://

  • Markland Wood is bounded by Etobicoke Creek to the west and Elmcrest/Renforth (tributary) Creek to the east.
  • Long Branch is bounded on the west by Etobicoke Creek.

Many times I sat with my legs on the fence below and watched the birds, the river and life go by as I took in the wafting aroma of the BBQ’s that filled the park being used by weekend vacationers. Every Saturday and Sunday folks from greater Toronto would descend on our little community. Marie Curtis Park would be full of people living the good life, spending the day swimming, fishing, eating and laughing. Ah, not a cell phone in sight.

Etobicoke Creek with Marie Curtis Park on the left and the start of Mississauga on the right.
Etobicoke Creek with Marie Curtis Park on the left and the start of Mississauga on the right.

I can’t imagine a world without water. In fact, it’s hard to believe there are many communities and countries without clean drinking water and it’s up to all of us to be ever diligent in protecting our water resources. To that end, in 1993 the United Nations dedicated March 22nd as the day to be aware of our water resources and what we can do to protect and keep our waters clean. It’s important to look at the simple things we can do as individuals in order to have this life-giving liquid in the years to come. 

Have a look:  World Water Day

Water sustains all life. When I am weary or stressed, water revives me. A warm bath, a sip of cool water on a hot, sunny day, a cup of tea or a walk along a beach works wonders to restore my equilibrium. A glass of good champagne will do the trick as well, but I feel infinitely better in the morning if I choose water instead.


In the world  there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. ~ Lao Tzu




HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY to all the amazing women I know, and to all the amazing women I don’t. I’m proud to be of the fairer, finer sex and so very proud of all the battles won and battles still ongoing for the right to equality, to end abuse, to create and nourish a fairer, finer world for all.

It's great to be a woman.
It’s great to be a woman.

As International Women’s Day dawns, from the bottom of my heart, I send a BIG thank you to the activists all over the world who have risen and continue to rise for justice. March 8 will see hundreds of new risings across Canada and the globe! Read updates from global coordinators about what you’ve accomplished so far.

THANK YOU! From the One Billion Rising Global Coordinators on International Women’s Day