Better Because You Moseyed on Over …

Its YOUR Birthday Hutch! Welcome to the sixties!  It’s tempting to poke fun at your age, but considering that you just caught up with me, I shall refrain. In fact, to the contrary, your buddy and I would like to dedicate this day to celebrating YOU … and … all the ways our lives have been richer because you moseyed on over to our place almost 20 years ago!  You might want to get comfortable, because I’m about to get long-winded. Hey! I can hear your thought wheels turning! No wise cracks from the birthday boy!  In all seriousness, your buddy and I have so very much to thank you for Hutch that I’m not even sure where to begin!

First, and foremost, because of you  Hutch … we found life long friends!  Not just the kind of friends that you visit with because you are neighbors. But rather, the kind of friends that hold a very special place in our hearts.  The kind of friends that you can count on … to be there … through thick and thin. The kind of friends who take an interest in your children and your grandchildren … and … your cat.  The kind of friends that you look forward to seeing because it’s always so nourishing and comfortable to be in their presence. The kind of friends that accept you fully … so that there is no need to edit oneself! The kind of friends who you can kibitz around with … and … enjoy some really big belly laughs!  The kind of friends who you can share smiles with as you clink glasses to celebrate the joys in life … and … who extend both hand and heart through the inevitable challenges. The kind of friends that you rap on the door once and then just walk in because you know you are always welcome.  The kind of friends that are incredibly rare and very precious! Yes … because of you Hutch, we have THOSE kind of friends! Yep. You guys are a rare gift to us … and … because you wandered our way, we have enjoyed so many magical, meaningful moments together!

Yes. THAT is what you started  Hutch … when you moved into 46A Street and moseyed across the cul-de-sac with a couple of brewskies to see what my hubby was up to in the garage.  And since that time, you boys have spent considerable time in our garage.

Yep … your buddy (aka my hubby) has been refurbishing and restoring his ‘other’ love for the past 20+ years. So … he spends a fair bit of time in the garage with his 1968 Firebird … which he affectionately calls his ’68 chick’ I, on the other hand, being 10 years older than his flashy red muscle car … hold the respected position of being his ’58 chick’.  I know … I know … I know what you are thinking Hutch … but this is no time to discuss the fact that I, too, could benefit from a little refurbishing! THIS blog is about YOU! Yes. So, let’s just leave it at that, okay?  I hope you are nodding your head. 🙂

Because of you Hutch … we have enjoyed more succulent, scrumptious Sunday suppers than we ever could have imagined!  It’s been no less than a dietary blessing that you’ve kept renewing your subscription to Canadian Living!  We have certainly reaped the rewards of you thumbing through the pages of that palate pleasing publication. Yep. Your culinary skills are hard to beat Hutch! Right now my memory banks are flooded with recollections of barbeques and fondues and salads and prawns the size of my fist and appy buffets and crab cakes and chicken and ribs and tacos and kabobs … and oh … even breakfast!  I’ll never forget the year that John was away and you even cooked up a birthday breakfast buffet for me!  I think my beautiful bestie was your talented and terrific sous chef that day!  Thank you again for doing that!

And, because of you … we have also enjoyed exploring some incredibly delicious drinks and creative cocktails! As you know … I’m not much of a drinker … well … unless of course, there happens to be a nice Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti or Merlot or Syrah or Tempranillo or Grenache or even a nice red blend … like Bodacious. Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. Aside from that … I’ve always had a pretty picky palate when it comes to alcoholic beverages!

But … you sir … invited my taste buds to some unexpected places!! How about the Halloween when you spooked up your house with fuzzy spiders and other ghostly décor and invited us over for ghoulish drinks and some ghastly looking appys … !

EEEEEGADS … look how YOUNG you look Hutch!!!

And while those eyeball martinis were not a flavour favorite for me … sometime later … you did win me over with your seafood Ceasars!  I wasn’t sure I’d like the texture of the scallops – but you sautéed them to perfection. Yep. Nothing short of extraordinary! Just look at all that delectable and spicy goodness!! Deelish! And so exquisitely presented too!!!

Just looking at them makes my mouth water with fond recollection!

Cheers to good friends … and … the artistic aptitude of the bartender/chef!

Yes, and I owe you big for nudging me even further out of my fermented grapes comfort zone while we were in San Antonio. It was so unbearably hot … and let’s face it … red wine is just not compatible with that kind of heat. No. Just not satisfying at all.  BUT those margaritas that you introduced me to were SO refreshing!  Especially when we got them ‘to go’ on the water taxi!  And, it was soooo darn thoughtful mischievous of you to ‘cool’ me off between the shoulder blades with your icy cold cup!  But, then again, I should have known better! I’ve learned it’s always wise to keep an eye on you! 🙂

Yep, were it not for you, I never would have developed an appreciation for the divine deliciousness of Tequila!  But not just any tequila. No, no, no! Remember the one we were sipping on at one of the local pubs while the four of us were playing Hangman on my tablet. Although I believe the Lanser duo won the game that time, the tequila was sure no winner on that occasion. I think I left my margarita on the table. Or maybe someone else drank it. I can’t quite remember … but … because of you, I have learned I’m a top shelf girl. And no worms. I make no apologies for being a bit uppity like that.

And, I’m not sure if we have sufficiently thanked you and my bestie (aka the “Margarita Queen”) for subsequently purchasing one of those Margaritaville Machines! Because of that wise investment, we need only make the long arduous trek across the cul-de-sac to savor an icy, frosted and salted margarita on the hottest days in our neighborhood!


OR … we now have the option to just take the makings for marvelous margaritas with us when we travel. Of course we’d only do so as a purely preventative measure. In case it gets hot. For example … it was a darn good thing we had it when we spent the night in the roaring metropolis of Pincher Creek! Nothing like a little slushy goodness to pick up the pace and perk up the spirits at a Ramada Inn located in the middle of nowhere!  A much better option than watersliding! Clearly … 🙂

We ended up staying in that remote rural locale because your wife and I were running in the Buffalo Runners 10km race … across the scorching hot prairies. And, lucky for us, you fine fellas came along to support us. It made it even more fun. Although, in this picture … your buddy looks like he was up to something sneaky, doesn’t he??

That said, this seems the perfect time to acknowledge you Hutch for all the ways you have supported your wife over the years.  You’ve been there to clap and cheer her on … whether she is running a race, or getting an academic degree or hiking a mountain or making her own makeshift Camino by walking 100km along the side of the highway right here in Alberta! Yes. We honor and admire you so much for being that kind of guy!

And, because of you Hutch … we have enjoyed some great trips together! In fact, were it not for you, John and I would never have ventured to San Antonio, Texas!  And were it not for you … I’m not sure how long we would have loitered in the airport trying to locate our luggage.  Remember the shocked looks on our faces when we discovered our connecting flight in Denver had been cancelled!! Gah!  And so,  in order to get us to San Antonio … our luggage had to take a different plane … arriving at a different time! We’d never before heard of Frontier Airlines … but somehow you figured out where to look … and the lost was found!  And remember our fun evening at the Howl at the Moon Saloon!  Those dueling pianos were fabulous!

In addition to San Antonio, we’ve shared some great times in Waterton Lakes National Park I’ll never forget getting drenched in an unexpected downpour while kayaking on the previously peaceful and placid Cameron Lake.

And then there was the Opera in Calgary! If memory serves me correctly, we had to turn back in the middle of a snow storm on our first attempt to experience such a fancy and cultured night of entertainment. And, when we eventually claimed our rain check, it seemed like John and Marie enjoyed the arias, but alas … didn’t you and I prefer a little less polish?  I think we preferred listening to the live band at the Irish Pub afterwards.

And we had a great time in Kimberley … we even took a tour of the …. uhm … I don’t remember what it was called.  Something about mining and trains, right??  There is no shortage of adventures to behold when we are travelling together!  It was really very fascinating!  And … it’s important to do what interests you boys too … at least on rare occasion … right?

Speaking of more ‘manly’ adventures … John just reminded me of the time you guys took the ’68 chick for it’s maiden voyage … after the main body work was completed … only to have the lug nuts come off of the rims … while you were cruising down the highway!  I think you should know he’s blaming you for that whole debacle … saying that somehow you must have “jinxed” it. Uhm … okay.  And, I bet it was ‘your’ fault, too, when you boys barely limped home after golfing in Cardston and the old girl was only running on seven cylinders. Gah. Yeah … I’ve had plenty of wild rides in that ’68 chick myself! I remember running out of gas … ‘cuz apparently the fuel tank was not connected properly and it only appeared that we had a full tank. Yep.  She’s always full of surprises. Nonetheless, your buddy sure loves her! 🙂

Where to next, Hutch?  Nashville maybe??  How good do you think we would be at karaoke?  Or … maybe we can just listen to the famous country crooners?  And, if its hot, we could probably find some top shelf margaritas?  If not, I bet they have a lovely red wine. Or beer?  Not that beer appeals to me … but the three of you could enjoy a nice tall cool one while we soak up some sad, ‘she stole my heart and wrecked my car’ country ballads.  It might not be Roy Orbison or Jerry Lee Lewis … but  … I bet they’d get our toes tapping!  Or maybe, in the midst of all that talent, we’d cut a rug and do some two stepping! You just never know.  I’m up for another adventure somewhere… but, let’s not take the firechicken.

Speaking of great talent … well … because of you Hutch, I have been humbled at cards. I must publicly concede that you are very savvy and skilled when it comes to playing Hearts.  It’s true.  In fact, more often than not, you are entirely heartless! Pun intended!!  And, because you are so dang good at the game, it’s no wonder I have to gloat … incessantly and most obnoxiously … whenever I beat you.

Scores like those just never get old for me.  Look … even way back in 2015 … I took you down … a few times. I sure had fun!!  And … you’re always a good sport about it! Yep. You take it so well.

I guess its a good thing you have other fingers to fall back on when you are in a card slump.  Your thumb, for example.  There is no denying that you have the greenest of green thumbs!  Your yard and garden are always so impeccably tended. And … because of you … we get to enjoy the finest fruits of your labor!  I’ll never forget the first time you wandered over in your bare feet … toting a beautiful bouquet of handpicked flowers. My hubby razzed you … speculating “what will the neighbors think?” about you bringing your buddy’s bride some flowers!  But, it never concerned you … it’s just your nature to generously gift the goodness and grace of your gorgeous garden! Thank you so much for my annual bouquets!

And, speaking of annual joys … there is nothing quite like transforming some of your vegetable harvest into our annual borscht making extravaganza!  We started off making one mega pot full.  Now we do four at a time … yielding oodles of containers for our freezers!

The chopping and cutting is always more fun when we do it together … and then while its cooking … we get to play some cards. Oooops. Sorry Hutch. Didn’t mean to bring up that sore spot again!  I know it’s been a bit of dry spell, but I bet you’ll win again …………… sometime. Really. Don’t let yourself lose at hearts heart. LOL. Oh dear … I sense I’m getting obnoxious again, aren’t I??

Okay. Maybe we best get back to discussing your skills in the garden!  I mean … how does your garden grow? Prolifically!  Sheesh … just look at those gargantuan carrots!!

And, this picture so fondly reminds me of times when our kids and grandkids have been home during the summer months.  And, you will wander over with handfuls of fresh dug carrots for our grandchildren. And sometimes you’ll take the kids back over to your house so they can dig them up themselves.  And wasn’t it  because of a trip to your garden that Trad discovered carrots grew in the ground before they ended up on the grocery store shelves?

Yes, your generous love for children has always been so apparent … even long before you became a grandpa yourself!  You’d thoughtfully deliver your enormous metal Tonka “diggers” and/or simply play with our grandkids and/or have merciless water fights with them and/or tease them in the most affectionate way! It was so cute how you and Luka developed such a special bond when he was a toddler. He’d often arrive at our house and the first thing he’d say was “Where’s John?”  Yep. You stole his heart. And so, because of you Hutch … my grandchildren have always had way more fun when they come to visit!

Our grandkids have always felt so welcomed to exist in your presence.  You have such a meaningful way of making them feel significant and special. In fact, they have been known to arrive at your door to visit … without us knowing … and with no invitation from you … and with no sense that they might have been overstaying their welcome! Thank you for sending them back to tell us when they are going to be playing at your house!  🙂

In fact, you have cultivated such a wonderful relationship with all of our family members. Even with my in-laws … when they were still alive. I found this great picture of you and Opa sharing a chuckle … during one of our pig roasts, I think. Thank you Hutch for holding such a caring and compassionate and supportive place for all of our family.  It means the world to us … and … we know how much they always enjoy time shared with you. 

And most certainly, this tribute to  you and for  you would not be complete without acknowledging and honoring the precious relationship you also embraced with my beautiful Skruffi!  There was no doubting how much she adored you.  You’d barely get in the door and she’d insist upon getting up onto your lap.  Yes.  And, because of you … we were able to enjoy some extensive travels, secure in the knowledge that you’d be making sure my beloved kitty never got too lonely. Thank you for leaving the comforts of your own home and coming over to watch TV with our kitty … not just once … but every time we went on vacation!! Yes. Skruffi always had a soft spot for you too Hutch!  Well … actually, I think the feelings were mutual … ❤

Skruffi – 2000 to 2015

And … I’m not even going to hold it against you that you also stole our other cat’s heart – so much so that she left us and literally moved in with you. Yes, its true. Because of you … Dharma (aka Dharmee)  had a better life at your house than she ever would have had at mine.  May both their precious spirits rest in the sweet peace of knowing how much they were loved.

Dharma — 2000 to 2017.

And, I have yet to mention what an exceptional father and grandfather (aka: “Papa”) you are. It is nothing short of sublime to bear witness to the joy in your eyes and the full swell of your heart as you interact with your sweet little grand-daughter. I’m guessing their aren’t too many “papas” who are as tight with their grandbaby as you are Hutch. It is completely unarguable … your sweet little Miss Aubree adores YOU!  Once again, its obvious that the feelings are mutual.

And look at you breaking out those moves Hutch!!  🙂  Yes … there is no denying you are such a gift to your entire family. You’ve created a family of deep value Hutch … which … you clearly value so deeply.  It is a joy to spend time with all of you!

Okay … I’m not done yet!  This tribute would not be complete without acknowledging that, because of you … New Years Eve is always such a great time … with a bevy of appetizers and some cards and, of course, the five questions.  And … although the five questions are not your favorite part … we’ve been known to surprise ourselves, year after year, by staying up way too late … with frost in our hair from hot-tubbing in sub-zero temperatures – ringing in the New Year with loads of laughs and countless chuckles …  and …  a wee bit of bubbly. Oh … and angel making!  Well … one of us remains without halo … but I won’t mention any names!

Oh … and that reminds me … thank you for choosing your wife.  I love her too!  Yes. Good thinking Hutch!  I think we are both so much better because you chose her!   ❤ ❤

We are so grateful for the happy hours we get to spend with you two … relaxing around the fire pit in the summer … and … cozied up in front of your fireplace in the winter.  Yes. Those times always make us happy!  And, for some reason as I say that, I am reminded of the time we ended up making paper airplanes … complete with a small competition for whose would fly the furthest!  I remember you had a special plan … for a bomber … that bombed.  BUT … when it was all said and done, I think your aircraft emerged victorious! Yes. There were a lot of noses bent out of shape during those shenanigans … but only the paper planes!

And so … I have only highlighted a smattering of all the ways in which our lives are better because of you Hutch. And, we eagerly anticipate many more moments to come that will be infinitely better because of you. And … as you join John and I in the sixth decade of your life … we hope that your days are filled with multitudes of moments that are magical and meaningful and magnificent and memorable!  We want to wish you all the very best that an old guy can manage … and … I, for one, might even be happy for you to win a game or two of Hearts.

But maybe not tonight …  😉

We look forward to seeing you later Hutch!  Your buddy is cooking  … and … Marie and I will be there to supervise his efforts!  May the quantity of our celebration and the quality of the cuisine be fit for a queen!  Maybe the queen of spades!?!  Sheesh … I just can’t stop myself! 🙂

What I meant to say is this:

May this day and all the days hereafter be fitting for a birthday boy of your calm .. caring .. considerate .. compassionate .. capable .. clever .. candid .. confident .. creative .. conscientious .. comical .. captivating and charismatic calibre!! 

Happy, happy, happy SIX ZERO … from your buddy and his ’58 chick!  We raise our glasses to you … with the utmost appreciation and reverent regard for all the ways our lives are better because of you!

With 60 Cheers and much love … ❤ John and Karen ❤

P.S.  A post birthday celebration UPDATE:  We enjoyed a fabulous paella … Hutch’s favorite cheesecake … and … two rounds of hearts!  And low and behold … it went both ways!  And, I shall say no more about it! 🙂






A Precious Penny …

You know the old saying … ‘a penny for your thoughts’?  Well, I’d like to switch it up  and offer my ‘thoughts about a penny’.  A very precious Penny.  I’m not even sure how many years we’ve been doing it, but it’s become a very important tradition for us to sit and sip a little coffee together before the hustle and bustle of our workdays begins.

And, honestly, it’s become one of my favorite parts of the day. There is something so sublime about intentionally carving out a sacred space for some candid, honest and transparent sharing  … creating a conversational container to humbly honor our challenges and/or our curiosities.  And we have many of both … we are women and wives and mothers and daughters and friends and colleagues and travelers and theorists and philosophers. We have passions and fears and joys and sorrows and infinite wonderings about unknowable things. And, since we are both well ‘over the hill,‘ we have more than 1/2 of a century to reflect upon … ❤

Over the years, we have thoughtfully pondered the perplexing particulars of current events and politics and relationships and religion and parenting and social media and, perhaps the most daunting topic of them all, the unfamiliar terrain of our own internal landscapes. We’ve queried the quandaries about why things are the way the are … and … why they aren’t the way they aren’t … and … how we think they ought to be. And, although we’ve conceded that we’d make lousy CEOs of the Universe … we’ve definitely got oodles of ideas that might be worthy of consideration in the grander scheme of living and loving and learning.  Just sayin … 🙂

And as I reflect upon all of that, one of the things I most appreciate about you Penny is your absolute candor.  You truly are ‘so effortlessly yourself’ in a world where authenticity is often tucked tightly behind the social masks we don on a daily basis. So many of us stay veiled behind beautiful but culturally sanctioned masks … desperately yearning to tear them off on one hand, and yet on the other hand, achingly afraid to remove them for fear of being rejected, ostracized or shamed for who we really are under the polished veneer.

The world doesn’t make much room for us to speak straight up from our hearts … unless we comfortably conform to the norms of our spaces.  That is why it is so refreshing to spend time with you Penny.  You invite people to be real … to be authentic … to be true.  And, you create a safe and welcome space for us to do so.  And, I savor these moments of genuine transparency. It is rare to find such places in the world where one can unabashedly embrace their own uncertainties.  It is unusual to find such intimate spaces of discussion where a commitment to compassionate curiosity (for what we can’t personally understand) overrides snap judgments of others and/or uninvestigated biases. I value and admire your cautious, considerate and thoughtful efforts to honor differences without sacrificing honesty.

And, as much as I deeply respect your integrity and courage to speak about things that are so often silenced in our culture, I absolutely admire your uncanny capacity to frequently wrap such queries and/or observations with enough humor to leave us doubled up in laughter. It happens a lot!  And, in this moment, I am recalling one especially delightful conversation … pertaining to a particular kind of “fall out.”  The exchange left us howling ’til our sides hurt. I’d attempt to re-tell it here but 1) I’d never, ever do it justice and 2) I think you had to be there to really capture the hilarity of that moment!  This is why I loath to miss out on our early morning coffee date … there are so many conversations that just can’t be replicated. They are often precocious, invariably priceless and inevitably unrepeatable … in more ways than one!  🙂

Oh my … reflecting on those conversations reminds me to thank you for enriching my vocabulary with all kinds of exciting new expressions … words like ‘gob-smacked’ and ‘wanker’ (did I spell that right ?? … can I say that here??).  And, of course, along with your British accent, your breadth of experience and extensive world travel adds a very welcome and atypical flavor to our conversations. I revere your willingness to twirl perceptions about and tease them out gingerly before arriving at conclusions.

And, over time, our conversations have run the whole emotional gamut  … from wails of laughter clear through to some tears. I have fond memories of tender times between us … when the challenges of daily living left me feeling fragile and alone.  But you were there.  I have learned I can really count on you to be solid and supporting … even checking in on me later (via Facebook message, or a rap on my office door, or simply a knowing glance and smile).  Thank you, Penny, for holding me so safely and kindly and  compassionately when I have been feeling vulnerable and frail and weak and uncertain.

All in all, I hope you are hearing how much I treasure the depth of our relationship Penny. Its such a blessing to be able to embrace all the aspects of myself in your presence … both the desirable and undesirable, the acceptable and the unacceptable, the good and the bad. I can drop my mask in your presence Penelope Hopkins. And for that I am so truly grateful.  There are not very many people one can do that with … so the value of that gift is not at all lost on me. I know my life is better … because of you, because of our friendship … and because of who you welcome me to be in your presence.

Thank you for being such a precious part of my world … Karen

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My Heart Smiles More Because of You Jack!

My heart smiles more … because of you Jack – Jackie – Jackson!  And I thought that today, on the occasion of your birthday, would be a good time to honor and acknowledge a few of the ways that my soul is tickled by your exquisite existence.

While the light in your soul is always on and ever twinkling … my heart smiles a little bigger on the mornings I arrive to work and see the light on in your office too.  The soft glow beaming from your window is so inviting … beckoning me to enjoy all the ‘little touches’ of heart and humanity that grace your office … tempting treats on the table, birthday balloons honoring your colleagues, coffee station thoughtfully re-stocked, and attention to various other details too numerous to mention.  All of this, along with your warm smiles, richly reflects the benevolent beauty of your spirit.

And so, often before the sun is up,  there we are  … sipping coffee while I enjoy my daily eggy sandwich … deliberately delaying the inevitable clamor of the daily workload and very purposefully disrupting the chaotic pace that often impedes our capacity to connect with each other at more meaningful levels. But for me, connecting heart-to-heart like that is one of the most nourishing ways to fortify a firm foundation upon which to build and balance the rest of my day.  So, thank you Jack for bringing so much ‘light’  to my world … both figuratively and literally!

My heart also smiles more because you are so deeply committed to exuding love and fostering kindness in this world!  And I see you achieving that goal in the manner that Gandhi so very sagely suggested … you are being  the change you wish to see in the world!  I know I am not alone when I say that you are one of those unique individuals that people feel truly blessed to have in their circles. I can feel you holding others with such tender care and compassion. I can see you stretching your heart to gently cradle people’s fragile spirits and/or tend to their wounded souls.  And, personally, I always feel deeply nurtured in your presence … and … for that I am truly grateful.

And, in keeping with that, my heart smiles more because you are so incredibly intuitive!  It seems you can somehow tap into the wisdom of the Universe. You instinctively sense things that most people don’t notice.  You tune into things that most people might not recognize.   And, you can see into people’s ‘inner being’ in such a unique and empathic way.  And, by doing so, you awaken a sense of security and safety for those in your midst.  And that  is such a delightfully rare gift to our humanity. And so, on behalf of so many of us, I thank you for that deep knowing.

And my heart smiles more when I see your social work studies inspiring your determination to hold hands with those who have lost their way and to stand in solidarity with those who have lost their voices.  And I love that we can share in the passionate pursuit of social justice … finding more space in our hearts for recognizing the challenges that people may be enduring, and investing more energy into resisting the dominant places where power and privilege can unfavorably continue to marginalize and oppress so many ‘others’.  Your altruistic intentions are a genuine blessing to so many.

And my heart smiles more  … often inspiring laughter until my cheeks hurt … because somehow you are adeptly able to juxtapose your thoughtful and wise ways with the most phenomenal sense of humor.  You never cease to amaze me with your quick wit and clever comebacks. You are just so darn funny!  There is no denying that much of the levity and laughter and light in our workplace is often fostered by you … 🙂

So Jack … let me be crystal clear … my heart smiles more because of all that you are  and all that you bring to our planet. I could say so much more … but please know that I am so grateful our paths have crossed. I look ever forward to the moments we get to amble along this journey with each other … knowing that the story of my life would not be as rich or rewarding without you in it!  Its all made so much better because of you …

And so, my heart is smiling even more today because it is your birthday!!!  And, I am hoping you can let these sincere sentiments land comfortably in your beautiful heart. May this little note expressing my fond appreciation add to the joys and delights and blessings of your celebration today! Happy, happy, happy birthday beautiful one!

With much love and heartfelt gratitude for your birth, Karen

P.S. Get ready to spend some time embracing your awesomeness … I’ll explain later!  ❤

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Some things are just better … with a nice bottle of wine!


“Even though I know how to use a smartphone, I’d still rather go dancing than watch television, and I find nothing more satisfying than singing with my friends next to a fire.  We are here so briefly that missing a single opportunity to connect with people seems a crime.  That’s why we drink wine – it softens the hardness of the day, and loosens our tongues so that we may confide in a friend, share the day’s events with a spouse, or sparkle with a lover over a romantic dinner.  This is why we are alive – to be together.”   (Celia Ramsay)

A few years ago at an exceptional wine tasting in the heart of Tuscany, Italy … we were very sagely advised:  “if the wine doesn’t tell a story, it’s just business.”   We’d never before thought of it that way, but ever since then, we are always hoping to discover a great story on the label of an unfamiliar bottle. 

I received a bottle of RAMSAY for my birthday.  We’d never tried it before.  It is a very lovely Merlot from California and it might be one of my all time favorites in terms of the beautiful ‘story’ it told (as quoted above). I resonated so deeply with its message… well, except for the singing.  I do love a roaring fire, but I’m not much of a songbird.

And, not too long ago, we attended a wedding where the ‘story’ told on the bottles of wine provided on each of the tables was brilliantly incorporated by the mother of the bride into her extraordinary speech honoring the matrimonial couple.  The story that she created from the ‘story’ on the label stirred our sentiments and took our ‘toasts’ to an even more meaningful level.

But, not to worry if you are popping the cork on a bottle of vino that is “just business”. You can always create a meaningful story of your own with the memories you are making while you are sipping it with others.  As some wise but unknown soul once said: “Friends don’t let friends wine alone.”

Cheers … K 🙂

P.S.  We shared my birthday bottle of RAMSAY with our very good friends over a most delightful and delicious meal one Sunday night. And we unanimously enjoyed it’s flavor and fullness. The food and the friendship was exceptional too.  As always.  And we played cards (as we often do) … and … I think I won (as I often do).  Okay … as I often HOPE to do.  Nonetheless, as I recall on this particular evening, our typical game of Hearts became a real nail-biter. Nerves were clearly jangled as I pulled off some real ‘power’ moves … with a poker face and absolutely NO table talking. Well, okay … maybe a little table talk and probably some trash talk.  I remember one hand in particular being so well executed that I think I left them all speechless!  No, wait … maybe that was the time that I flubbed up so royally that we were all laughing hysterically. Well, whatever … the exact details aren’t all that important, because this is the ‘story’ I am telling about that night with our good neighbors and that lovely bottle of Ramsay.  🙂


Sari … I’m So Much Better Because of Your Rich Spirit!


We’ve been friends for 50+ years.  I call her “Shar” and she calls me “Care” (phonetically speaking).  We got to know each other best when seven of us were ‘accelerated’ in Mount Royal Elementary School and they made us sit together for a couple of years.  After that, Sari and I sat together because wanted to …

Sari was different … in some ways.  She could read aloud faster than anyone else in grade school. It boggled my mind.  And she always seemed so self-assured and confident.  And, she was/is so naturally beautiful … never used cosmetics.  In our teen years, just a touch of Vaseline on her eyelids if I recall correctly. She liked going barefoot. I tried pulling that look off a few times myself, but it never looked as cool on me as it did on her.  She probably has the cutest feet on the planet.  She had two big brothers and a gorgeous mom. She didn’t live with her dad either. And, although single parent families are fairly typical in this day and age, back when we were young, Shar and I were the only two I knew of who came from “broken homes.”  But I don’t think we ever talked about it.

And she knew ALL the yards to cut-through as we trekked umpteen blocks forth and back to school together over the years.  We knew we were smart, but I recall that one time in grade seven (maybe it was grade eight) we got really smart-mouthed and it got us separated in Mr. Poe’s class. I cowered. I wasn’t as brave as Sari was. I always admired how she listened to her heart.  I was always trying to please … and … she was no push-over. I admired that about her. I still do.

~ 13 years old ~

We were 13 in this picture … it was the year we started smoking … in her upstairs bedroom.  We spent 59 cents on a pack of Craven M smokes and learned how to inhale over peanut buttered toast and tea.  I’m not sure how long she kept it up, but I quit at 21.  I think my first taste of alcohol might have been with her too … at about the same age.  Sparkling wine … Baby Duck, Moody Blue or Lonesome Charlie.  Sari doesn’t imbibe at all any more. My palate, however, has become far more refined and sophisticated … Merlot, Cab Sav, Tempranillo, or Malbec.

Shar has always been more down to earth and wholesome than me.  She’s vegetarian and careful about additives and preservatives … she’s always been way more wary about what she puts into her body than me.  And far more discerning about where she puts her energy.  She has deliberately stepped out of the rat race as much as possible, for as long as I can remember. There was even a time when her children were small that she had no clocks.  While she was dancing often and stringing popcorn with fresh cranberries for her Christmas tree … I was getting completely consumed by the mainstream madness. Yep, she was way ahead of the curve … intuitively aligned with the richness and grace found in life’s precious simplicities.  I’m just catching up with her now …

After high school graduation, my mom and I moved away … about six hours away. I think we lost touch for a bit then … but it wasn’t for too long.  And now, here we are … still miles apart in geography, but really just inches apart in spirit.  For a while, we would occasionally split the difference and drive for three hours each in order to meet up in the middle.  We would sit in a restaurant for upwards of four hours … and … still not feel completely caught up. I remember my butt would hurt but my heart would be so happy and my mind would be stretched to whole new horizons!  Talking with Sari is like that …

Sari and I

And, maybe one of the things that is especially treasured for me is that she has been witness to my growth … not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.  I don’t have any siblings.  My parents are deceased.  So are all my aunts and uncles.  But, Sari knows who I used to be.  I don’t need to explain myself to her … she’s already got the back story that has helped shape me.  She was there for much of it … in my most formative years.

And, for me, to feel so deeply known is something very rare.  And exceptionally precious …

Somewhere along the way, we quit driving all that way.  She’s not on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram … so now we pick up the phone instead.  We have been doing it faithfully, twice a year, for many years.  She calls me for my birthday (February) and I call her on hers (July).  And, we have to be deliberate and thoughtful about when we choose  to call … because we are going to need a couple of hours … at least … for sure.

I cherish our conversations …. because they have such depth. Superficial ‘chit chat’ simply does not characterize our exchanges.  I think it is safe to say that it does not interest either of us. And I delight in the unique nuances that characterize her soulful spirit and evocative expression!  There is something so captivating about the way she strings her words together … with vibrant descriptors that might not be honored by Merriam-Webster but are so vividly apropos.  For example, she might be more likely to say “splooshing” than “splashing” or “moodling” than “pondering”. Yes, I’ve always loved that about her.  I still do.

“How are you?” is never just a nice, culturally normative greeting in our conversation.  I know she really cares about my answer … and … I feel comfortable to be real and honest and open and transparent with her. And Sari is, hands down, one of the best listeners on the planet.  I never feel like she wants to interrupt and redirect the conversation.  And I can sense that she is feeling my heart in my words and being a caring and supportive steward of it.  And she asks the most thought provoking and compelling questions. Her curious spirit invites consideration of previously obscured complexities and plunges us to juicier layers … propelling the conversation to a more raw, real and authentic place.  I have always deeply appreciated about her.  I still do.

Sari - grain and chaff

And, when it’s her turn to share, I really and truly want to hear all about the things that are kindling her internal fire and/or the details that are weighing on her heart and/or the mysteries that are sparking uncertainties in her clever mind.  She’s had her own fair share of heartaches and health issues … meeting them with strength and grace and the most inquisitive introspect. She’s always stretching herself to the next evolution of who she can be in the world.  I love that about her.

She’s still an avid reader and I am beyond grateful to her for introducing me to Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsh and Wayne Dyer and so many other phenomenal perspective shifters. Were it not for Shar, my own persistent pursuit to self-awareness would have been far more shallow.  And, it is beyond wonderful to have another like-minded soul who is equally enthused about limitless possibilities, human potentialities and consciousness raising.  Yes, there are really not too many people who are so indescribably interesting to converse with … who can bring light to the dark hollows that I didn’t even know were within me.

So … Sari, this heartfelt compilation of ‘Better Because of You’ tributes would never be complete without acknowledging you!  I could never have anticipated that our connection would run so long or so deep …or feel so precious to me.  Our friendship feels like a gift that just keeps getting better and better and better and better.

Which reminds me …  I was listening to Pema Chödrön the other day … an audio recording of a course she taught called “Coming Closer to Ourselves.”   And, SHE reminded me so much of YOU … her intonations, her laugh, her humble expressions of awareness.  As odd as it sounds, it was all the better to feel such a connection to you while I was ‘coming closer to myself’.  Well, that has probably happened before … 🙂

Yes, it does not escape my awareness that I am so much better because of who you so generously invite me to be in our togetherness.  I remain eternally appreciative for all the rich spirit and spunky charisma you bring to our time together.  You are a cherished part of all that is divine in my life.

Joan - 2

And so, my cherished friend … thank you for being you!  Thank you for touching my life with your rich, authentic and genuine spirit. I admire and adore your being … and … I thank you for loving me for being me.

With eager enthusiasm for our next heartfelt exchange, Care  ❤ xoxo ❤





Better Because … You are Such a Beautiful Person Joan!

At a glance, our lives looked quite different.  Joan knew how to play piano.  I envied that about her until I saw how she was required to practice for 30 minutes everyday after school.  She also had to rotate the sheets on her twin bed weekly – i.e. take the top sheet and move it to the bottom of her bed … and then … the bottom sheet went into the laundry.  On Fridays, if memory serves. And, when I slept over, I learned that her mom checked her toothbrush to ensure it was wet.  I don’t remember clean teeth ever being an issue at my house. But then again, I am only presuming  that my sheets got washed … at least occasionally … and a mouthful of silver fillings would suggest that the relative lack of scrutiny and discipline in my home was probably not the best thing either.

She wasn’t even allowed to open her Christmas presents until they had finished a full sit-down breakfast … and … the dishes were all washed, dried and put away.  I couldn’t tell you what dish soap was squirted into the sink at our house, but I distinctly recall that at Joan’s house, they used Ivory Snow  … a powder detergent. It made the dishes REALLY slippery … and therefore … decidedly dangerous for the dish ‘dryer’.  The dish ‘washer’ needed rubber gloves with little white cotton liners to tolerate the scalding hot water that filled both the wash sink and a rinse sink. In contrast to that, their house looked like an ice cube shaped igloo … it had a flat roof and was constructed out of painted white cinder blocks. Although I remember a marble and metal elegance about it on the inside … it felt a bit cold to me … somehow.  Not that Joan and I ever discussed it back then.

Joan’s mom had a different last name and she seemed somewhat stiff and properly proper.  Or, maybe even terse.  Nonetheless, she annually made a really impressive chocolate log cake on June 9th … Joan’s birthday. Unlike most moms back then, she owned a business and worked outside the home. Joan had three siblings that I don’t recall seeing very much. I do remember her step father though. He was around more than her mother. He drank a lot. I knew tipsy when I saw it. I never felt as though they liked me much. Of course, I assumed it was because of my less than Hallmark family life.  I was always praying people wouldn’t notice that …

Yes, there were some visible differences in our orbits. But upon closer inspection, there were striking similarities. We looked a lot alike … we were both fair-skinned, fair-haired, very shy and easily embarrassed. We both did really well in school and were ‘accelerated’ along with five other kids in elementary school. One year, for ‘back-to-school’, we unwittingly arrived at school in the exact same off-white fisherman knit sweater from Sears and a teacher mistook me for Joan. And, I’ll never forget that in grade five,  we two got picked to go with Mr. Moyer to the art gallery on a Saturday morning.  I learned Joan was allergic to Brazil nuts that day. And, as I recall, neither of us were particularly interested in athletics.

It’s been over five decades since our friendship blossomed … perhaps cultivated by an unspoken, intrinsic knowing that we were more alike than we were different. When the family is precarious … uncertain or undesirable … friendship assumes a more central role in our feelings of security. At least it did for me. Our friendship held such deep and abiding space in my heart.  I am not sure Joan ever knew how integral she was to my sense of self-worth and well-being back then. Or … how often I feel grateful now for her encouraging energy and inspiring presence in my circle.

A couple of years ago, while I was working through some of the bumpiest parts of my own path, I disclosed a painful aha’ that was deeply personal and not particularly flattering on my blog. You may want to follow the link and read that posting first  in order to better understand the loving, empathetic and heart-aching response Joan shared in the comments section of that blog:

“I sobbed big crocodile tears as [I] read this blog. I hurt deeply for two girls who grew up together who both came from dysfunction and who both felt that they were unworthy. We have been friends for half a century and in many ways we walked such similar paths and in many ways kept much of it hidden. Although you knew my step father was an alcoholic what you didn’t know was my mother was also diagnosed with mental illness. My mother was not diagnosed until much later in life after I had been diagnosed with a brain injury from her repeated beatings. My mother was diagnosed as a fairly severe sociopath and I was her target. So please let me share this with you my friend. I too took that cape off. I took it off a few years ago, and looking back I ask myself why I carried that heavy thing around for so long??? I am in a place now where I can look at the part of my life and say “thank you”. I believe that the universe brings us all things, including our challenges, for a reason. I know that those experiences in my childhood made me a much better parent and a much better counselor. The experiences of my childhood followed up by 2 abusive marriages have allowed me to relate to and help 100’s of people. I promise you, it will be easier and easier to leave that cape off and let people see the “messy” you, the “real” you. With each day you will feel lighter and lighter because that cape was getting heavier and heavier with each passing year. Welcome to this wonderful new world my friend! You are going to love it! Love Joan xoxo”

I was so deeply touched when I received her compassionate, candid and completely transparent response. My friend has been through so much, but … you wouldn’t sense that when you meet her.  She has done her own healing work and has adamantly refused to be reduced by the unfortunate circumstances in which she landed.  And, she has generously taken all that she has learned and created a career which allows her to counsel and assist others in rising above the pains of their past. She is an amazing example of how we can turn our wounds into wisdom and how we can use our adverse experiences to serve the greater good.

Joan, despite the geographical distance that has existed between us over the last 40 years … our friendship has thrived.  And, although I wish we could sip a little red wine together more often, I feel indebted to Facebook for very effectively bridging the physical space between us. I am so darn grateful to Mark Zuckerberg for that!  I can feel your energetic alignment with the divine every time I ‘see’ you on your Facebook Business Page … Inspired Wellness & HypnotherapyI want you to know how much I look forward to nourishing myself with the wealth of compassion, inspiration and hope conveyed on your page.  I’m not sure there has ever been a post that I didn’t ‘like’ and/or share.  You speak clear through to my heart … in so many ways!

My wise and wonderful friend, I marvel at your unwavering commitment to inspire others and support them in unwrapping the gifts that are tucked into the trials and tribulations in their own lives.  In fact, I immediately thought of you when I recently came across a beautiful affirmation written by my mentor Debbie Ford.  It occurred to me that it so aptly mirrors your beautiful beingness …

The Vow - Debbie Ford

And so, with this tribute, I thank you for the brilliant, bright glow you cast upon this planet!  I want you to know that I am so much better because of your presence in my life … both then and now. You are such a beautiful person … in the most meaningful sense of that word.  I know that you are a gift of grace to so many people … and … I really do hope that you receive as much  light and love as you so generously offer to the rest of us! ❤

With deepest appreciation for all the beautiful ways that you and our life long friendship has inspired me,  Love Karen xoxo

P.S. It strikes me that we still look a lot alike … even without the off-white fisherman knit! 🙂

Better Because of You … “C with a big bold heart”

It’s her birthday today.  Her name is Cynthia.  She is also known as Cyndy.  And Cookie (but only in privileged circles).  And she signs her name like this:C with a heartAnd, she puts that big, bold heart into everything … with fabulous, flamboyant flourish. With juicy, joy-filled jubilation.  With energetic exuberance and excitement. With lots of loud love.

Yes, she lives loud and she laughs loud and she loves loud.  She’s utterly reluctant to miss out on any of the magical moments that life invites her to embrace.  And even when she leaps before she looks she brings light and laughter to where-ever she lands. And, she inspires me to surrender parts of my highly edited and cautiously crafted existence and simply allow life to have it’s wondrous way with me more often too.

She is wildly creative and cheeky fun and she has the incredible capacity to take myriad forms of miscellaneous scraps, useless bits and pieces, left-over odds and ends and shape them into the most magnificent, meaningful collages. With her remarkable artistry, she fashions ‘something’ quite special out of ‘nothing’ particularly important and that rich, magical transformation invokes immeasurable awe, inspiration and appreciation in the eye of the bestowed beholder.

For example … she gifted me with this little gem on my last birthday.  See what I mean about how her zest for life breathes brilliance and beauty into her benevolently inspired creations!

happiness is by cyndy

And then there was this one.  She offered it to me when I got brave enough to venture out and start my own business … and it melted my heart because my company is  called Miracles! Your Center for Well-Being Inc.

expect miracles

And the gifts of her heart come so richly wrapped that one is tempted not to open them and disrupt the dazzling beauty …

Cs gift

And … her big, bold heart shines through her emotional expressions with such warm, wonderful wording.  One year, I arrived at work and was delighted to discover an email with these heartfelt birthday wishes:

Happy birthday from C!

And she loves books … and tea … and England … and her daughters Courtenay and Mary Elizabeth.  And she lives a large life because she genuinely invests her whole heart in all the things she loves!  And her life loves her right back … even through the bumpy parts of the path.

be youAnd so, when I saw this quotation I couldn’t help but think of you C !  And I decided to take this opportunity to thank you for all the ‘heart’ you have so generously breathed into the world. You have a magnificent way of speaking straight from your soul and connecting from that vulnerable space …  and in doing so … your vivacious vitality tenderly cracks our hearts  wide open. I applaud you for living your life with such rich, unpretentious expressions of spirit.  I admire you for daring to bare your raw, real and unscripted soul.  Thank you for simply being you … transparently, authentically and wholeheartedly YOU! 

And  … I thank you for inviting me to do the same!!  Thank you for inviting me to turn up the volume in my own life and live more moments as amplified and audaciously as you do. Thank you for the ways you light up the Universe with the gifts of your heart! My life has been so much better because of the ways in which you have enriched it.

Happy Birthday ‘C with a big bold heart’ ! This tribute to you, about you and for you comes with much love from me,   ❤ Karen ❤

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DRK – Better Because of our Twisted Connection

We never really know, when we are in a moment, how long it will last … or … how cherished it will become.  We never know, when we meet someone, how long they will be in our lives … or … how precious their presence will become.  I could never have anticipated the special and significant space in my heart that Debby Wall and Robin Tajiri would ultimately claim.

There was nothing particularly special about our meeting.  We were just three stay-at-home moms, married to farmers, with three children each …  living in a very small, rural town.  I met Deb first … through our husbands … and she was clearly so lovely.  You could simply feel the pure and gentle nature in her beingness.  She was deeply committed to being a genuinely ‘good’ human being. I loved her for that.  Of course, given my husband’s fondness for teasing, he savored every opportunity to color her cheeks … but … she has grown out of that now (mostly). 🙂

I also admired her in so many ways … not the least of which was how she got her preschool children to stay seated quietly beside her in the car … and even more impressively … at church.  It completely boggled my mind.  I could barely get my precious cherubs seated quietly in the car with the benefit of harness laden car seats (once they became mandatory).   As for church, well –  I ultimately quit going. It occurred to me that there was more LOVE in my world on Sunday mornings if I was sitting in my housecoat, with my heels on the coffee table, sipping coffee and watching cartoons with my adorable little angels …  instead of … yelling at them for dawdling, drawing tears in my harried haste to get their hair into elastics and scrambling to find the missing leotards so we could get to church on time. I instinctively sensed there had to be so much more to any woman who could pull all of that off with such grace – sans tears in the hearts and without fake smiles on the faces.  I just knew it.

I met Robin through a mutual friend.  I was immediately drawn to her ready laughter, her playful energy and her incredibly kind and caring heart!  She seemed like the perfect mix of light-hearted spontaneity and conscientious responsibility.  I don’t know how she did it, but she always came up with the best ideas for ways to inject fun into it the days that were dreary with laundry and spills and endless self-sacrifice.  She always brought the rainbow … even on the darkest, coldest and most difficult days!

She had the most uncanny way of adding so much fun, frolic and and laughter to every moment!  I’ve always envied her rich and spunky spirit and was so delighted when she splashed it into my world.  She has always been such a great example of how life must be savored in the most magnificent ways.  And, of course, she reminded me that there was good clean fun to be had. It is safe to say that I never belly-laughed as much in my pre-Robin life. I often worried that my children would regret not having a ‘fun’ mom like her. There is no doubt about it …  some of my very best memories have been inspired by her extra-ordinary spirit! 🙂

I introduced Robin and Deb.  It was one of those moments that seemed like any other moment,   but … just as a rope is made much stronger by the twisting of each individual string, so have become our lives. The fibers of our being (‘D’, ‘R’ and ‘K’) have been strengthened by the twists, turns and even the tangles in our lives.  All have been lovingly woven together into a beautiful tapestry of fun, faith and friendship.

Our lives have intertwined in so many meaningful ways over the years … weaving another cherished moment, another precious thread into the texture of our treasured togetherness. There is no way we could have anticipated that the breaths we have breathed into each others journeys would be fortifying our capacity to meet the inevitable challenges  we would encounter as we wandered down the winding paths uniquely laid before us.

All in all, the tapestry remains so rich.:

  • sharing the very SPECIAL annual birthday card that has circulated between us for years (bottom left on the picture above).  Deb exercised such artistic flair the year she creatively penciled herself onto the card!  There were only two girls on that card originally …
  • and all the creative versions of “Roses are Red” … I’ve saved each and every one of them!
  • and the beautiful birthday celebrations … including a well executed kidnapping to an extra-ordinary location.
  • and all the good-natured competition that came from golfing with a large brimmed visor and placing ‘big’ bets for birdies … I’m sure I still owe someone 25 cents.
  • and the cherry pit spitting contest … no need to say who inspired that merriment … :-).  I think she won too.
  • and quilting Christmas tree skirts … still using mine …!
  • and in the hustle and bustle of life, we decided the best gift we could give to one another each Christmas was TIME.  So, annually, we planned a full day together … and … we savored every minute of it!
  • and, last but for sure not least, our four hour lunch dates continue to be one of my favorite things.

And … always, always, always lots of  laughing.  OK. Sometimes the odd tear.  But always lots of laughing.  Oh … and I’d be remiss not to mention that there was a time, way back in the day, that I had to finish their wine for them. This gives you a true sense of my level of commitment to these two!  Alas … I don’t have to have their backs like that anymore! 🙂

Yes … the tapestry is so very, very rich.  And strong.  So very, very strong.  Together … we are much richer and stronger … and … dare I say happier.  My heart smiles when I get to spend time with these two magical, magnificent miracles that I am fortunate to enough to call my friends.

R - D - K

R – D – K Selfie

We may not get to spend as many moments together as we used to … but our friendship lovingly defies the unintended neglect and continues to thrive despite the geographical distance that often comes between us. Nonetheless, Deb and Robin have been indelibly woven into my world.  I feel their presence even when we are apart because I carry them tenderly in my heart.  I had no way of knowing the bounty of blessings that were being bestowed upon me when I met them, but  I sure know it now.  And … I take not one minute of this for granted.  Not one minute.

So … anyway … the bottom line is this:  ‘K’ is so much better because of ‘R’ and ‘D’!  In fact, trying to express my appreciation for each of you can simply not be done with words alone.  I just wanted to use this space to say that I am so incredibly grateful that our lives got twisted together … and … I am so much better because of it!

I love you … both … immeasurably.  XO Karen


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Because of You Marie … My Life is So Much Better!

friend therapy

Source unknown but deeply appreciated!

Only because of the hair color, I’m guessing that I must be the one on the right!   Although, there is no doubting that you can still rock a bikini!  You’d fill out the top better too! Not that you’ve ever worn a two piece on New Year’s Eve, in the hot tub under the dark, star filled skies while we sipped snow chilled Champagne from ice laden stemware at midnight … BUT … you certainly could if you ever wanted to.  It’s just that you’d risk more frostbite … when making snow angels … with more skin exposed.  See … you are smart that way.  By the time wise women (such as ourselves) have sensibly landed in their 50’s, they get clever enough not to expose too much bare flesh in Canadian winters on New Years Eve.  Just in case …

hot tub angels

Left to right: Marie’s Angel … Karen’s Angel

There is absolutely no doubt about it … New Years Eve has become so much better because of you!  As an introvert, there is nothing less appealing to me that being in a crowded room of tipsy people (that you may or may not know), tediously making small talk until the dreaded countdown to the celebratory smooching.  For me, it is infinitely more desirable to ring in the New Year snacking on scrumptious appetizers, laughing with close friends and reflecting thoughtfully, honestly, and philosophically upon the past year whilst revisiting your Five Annual Questions:

  1. Best buy … ?
  2. Best read … ?
  3. Greatest lesson learned … ?
  4. Greatest accomplishment … ?
  5. Hope for the New Year … ?

I love it that you write it all down so we can revisit the previous years as well.  So, yes, because of you Marie … January has become a far, far better month!  Well, April is better too.  And June through September.  So are October, November and December.  March and May have been brighter and lighter as well … but … February is for surely, absolutely and especially better.  Because of you, I have learned how to create and celebrate my Best Birthdays Ever!  With your loving nudges, my birthday has morphed into an annual ‘birthday week’ that includes a multitude of delights sprinkled liberally over those 168 beautiful hours.   Because of you, I’ve learned that it is not self-indulgent to plan your own magical, marvelous moments because:

“Loving yourself … does not mean being self-absorbed, it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart.”  (Margo Anand)

Thank you, my friend, for encouraging me to add some delicious kindling to my own internal flame on my birthday.  Because of you Marie … my birthdays are so much better.

And so is happy hour.  When shared with you, a splash of  Malbec, Chianti or Merlot tastes so much richer.  And, so are Sunday dinners.  Not that you cook them.  No … your hubby gets the ‘better because of you’ shout-out on that count!  Thank you Hutch for painstakingly preparing such scrumptious morsels while Marie and I are leisurely sipping something dry, full-bodied, and ruby-colored (with a nice nose and good legs) while waiting for the feast to unfold. Or, if it’s a scorching hot summer day, we’ll amuse ourselves with an icy margarita.  We’re flexible like that. But only if the tequila is top shelf.  Yes, dinners are definitely so much better because of you …

And, because of you and your card shark hubby … I have become a better loser. Not that I am competitive.  But, it truly is an important lesson in life … learning to lose graciously.  And … I do pretty well, except maybe for the rare and very uncharacteristic ‘f- bomb’ that has been dropped on odd occasion while playing Hearts. I don’t think that makes me a sore loser, does it??   It’s just that I truly think a ‘W’  suits the shape of my face better than an ‘L’.  The ‘L’ has a tendency to pull my smile down lower at the corners.  Not that I am competitive …

I am also so much healthier because of you Marie!  With all of our walking, running and hiking … we’ve logged many a kilometer together and have reached some magnificent vistas as a result. Our time in the outdoors soaking in the gifts of nature has definitely nourished my body, spirit and mind!  And … it would never have happened without you.  Never. Ever.  So thank you for taking me to places I never would have ventured on my own …


And it’s not all just about geography.   We’ve covered all kinds of emotional ground too  while we soak up the sunshine, or trudge through the snow, or cast our gaze over the glorious rocky ledges on a mountain trail –  all the while, chatting deeply, honestly and authentically!  We’ve charted the highs and lows of our hearts … and … because I feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you, I’ve been able to sort through and re-write so many of the chapters in my own story that have left me feeling defeated and alone.

Somehow, you are able to see the pain in my eyes when most believe the smile on my face.  Your compassionate sensitivity and loyal support make me feel so much less alone in the world.  I treasure our time together. Thank you for letting me lean in when I’m feeling stuck and helping me find a chuckle when I’m feeling blue.  Because of your loving spirit … my heart beats stronger and it’s easier to be the heroine in my story rather than a victim of it.

There we are again … that’s you on the left. Even if the hair color didn’t give it away, I can always count on you to be there when I’m down.

Because of you Marie …  my joys are juicier, my days are brighter, my laughter more frequent and my sadness is less weighty because it is shared.  I love, cherish and treasure the depth of our friendship.  I just can’t imagine my life without you.  I truly am am so much better because of you …

With pure love and deepest heart hugs … K 🙂

P.S. Thanks for picking me up for yoga this morning … yoga is better because of you too!