Fall Equinox – Happy Fall

img_3854Grandpa always said if he made it to the Equinox he knew he would be alive for another five months.   I wonder if there was truth to Grandpa’s legend.

In my quick research about the fall equinox I was reminded of some interesting things.  We here in the northern hemisphere had the first day of fall today but our friends on the other side of equator had their first day of spring.  That is a little hard for us to wrap our heads around.  My friend who lives in South Africa helps me keep the seasons straight with her Facebook posts put it’s still difficult to fathom.

The first and last day of fall and spring are also the days of almost equal daylight and dark.  In the spring that longer day is a great joy for me but in the fall, for those of us who live with seasonal affective disorder (depression caused by lack of daylight), it is the mark of what can be a difficult and dismal time of year.  If you see us with our faces pressed to the window on a sunny day you should not be surprised.

Something I didn’t know before today was about the festivals which surround Equinox. While it doesn’t hold the same fanfare as the Summer and Winter Solstice it is still celebrated in many countries and cultures.  Winter Solstice is the light festival in almost every culture.  I knew someone who lived in the Yukon and he talked about how the 21st of June (the summer solstice) is spent picnicking on Keno hill while they watch the sun move around it.  Most of the fall equinox celebrations have to do with harvest while the ones in the spring are about fertility and planting.

I’m sure my Great Uncle Norm MacPherson, who I think knew everything, could explain it to me in a way I would understand but generally, the science is beyond me.  Aside from the science, but because of it, we experience two interesting phenomena after the fall equinox. I knew about the harvest moon we usually see in the fall.  That bigger than usual, red/golden ball rising in the east in October but the other spectacle in the sky is the Northern lights or  aurora borealis. We can expect to see more often over the next month and I understand from other reports I’ve seen lately that this year the light show is going to bigger and better than usual so those of a little further south may well be able to enjoy it.

Wishing you a wonderful fall season.





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One Day Peace – September 21

one-day-peaceUntil today I didn’t know this man and this movement existed.  Jeremy Gilley had a dream for one day of world peace and his dream is coming true.  Why I had never heard of it before today is a mystery but it just got added to my electronic calendar so it will come up every year.    I hope it will be on yours too.

Jeremy’s TED talk is an inspiration so stop reading and listen.

Read about on Wikipedia

Follow him on TwitterTwitter

Peace One Day on Facebook



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Photo Blog

img_3879Things looked pretty dismal to the on Friday and I was very down.  Some of that is circumstance and some is that this is a difficult time of year for me.  Less daylight and some difficult anniversary dates play on my heart.  However,  I believe my Creator hears the cry of our hearts and usually offers ways to move beyond those things that weigh us down.  That happened to me this weekend.

That happened to me this weekend.

It started with a fortune cookie.  It reminded me that I could help other people and needed to do that.  Supporting others is usually the best way to get my mind off me.  Then the opportunity to help someone magically appeared.  Saturday was spent with a friend and by Sunday morning at Church things were looking much brighter.

I had been challenged a few days back to get my camera out of the case and start using it again so Sunday afternoon, rather than feeling sorry for myself I ventured out into the sunshine and this collection of photos represents some of the joy I found.

Take a minute and watch and allow your heart to sing a little.

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Talking to Strangers



Peggy taking a picture of strangers, Justin and Amanda, on the pier.  Photo by Earl Hartlen.

My days have been full of talking to strangers since I moved back home to Port Dover a few months ago.  I didn’t know how much I missed it until I moved back from the country.   The other day I read an article that promotes talking to strangers for many reasons including living longer and I started taking note of how great it really makes me feel.  I was so glad to know it was good therapy because I love it.


Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for talking to strangers.  Some people don’t even grunt when I speak to them but most people at least return the “good morning” greeting.  Children are taught not to talk to strangers which I think is sad.  What they should be taught is how to be discerning about people.  When they have a bad feeling about someone they need to learn to back away and seek out support from a trusted bystander.  Most of the time when we are in public we are safe to speak to people and a smile and a genuine “Hello” don’t cost anything, not even time.

In my adventures, even just in the last four days, I have met many strangers.  One evening I met a very nice couple who are from England.  He wanted to visit this area because his grandfather had been raised in the area before joining the Armed Forces and heading off to the second war.  The grandfather met his wife in England, and like many soldiers of the time decided to stay in England.  I learned all that on a stroll down only half of the pier.

Another night I met a young couple who were in town for a Buck and Doe.  This young couple just wanted me to take their picture against the fabulous sunset.  Turns out I know the person the party was for.  He and his sisters grew up around the corner from me when my kids were young.  I shared a little Port Dover history with them and I found out that he was a stone mason.  He had recently finished work on some new townhouses in Port Dover and he also worked on the Biddle house, just to the west of town.  The young lady was from Hagersville.  It took five minutes of my time and I we all such a great time talking and laughing.  When I left them I felt happy and invigorated.  It made my day and apparently Earl Hartlen, local roving photographer, thought it worthy of a photo and a comment on Facebook.

Today I met someone else on the pier.  We have greeted each other a few times because we live and walk in the same neighbourhood.  Today I found out where she works and that she is in the process of moving, just like I am.  It was nice to connect.  It warms my heart to learn another name.  It soothes my soul to meet someone new because I am just a little less isolated and alone than I was the moment before we met.

Everyone I know now used to be a stranger and just because I strike up a conversation with someone doesn’t mean I’m going to become their friend or join their Facebook page but it does mean that someone else and I both had a moment in the day that was a sweet spot of human connection which will make us better people.

If you want to find out more about the benefit of engaging with strangers just try it.  It will change your mood and brighten your day.  If you don’t believe me google “benefits of talking to stangers” and you will find all sorts of good reasons to say, hello.  An interesting TED Talk on the subject is in this article,  The Hidden Benefits of Talking to Strangers.

By the way, I love meeting  with people I already know and renewing old acquaintances.  The pier in Port Dover is the unofficial meeting place for all the locals and it’s hard for those of us who have lived here for a long time to leave the pier without finding a familiar face.  .

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The Trouble with Karma


Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman.

Compare bhakti (def 1), jnana.

Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded  or punished in one incarnation according to that person’s deeds in the previous incarnation.

fate; destiny.


the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something:

Let’s get out of here. This place has bad karma.


Actually, there is more than one problem but today my problem is this.  If there is such a thing as karma then what in the world was it I did in my past life to deserve what goes on in this one.

Other problems include

  • Do I believe in past lives and future ones?
  • If I ask for someone else to have karma get them then does that mean I’ll get karma for asking?
  • If karma is going to get someone for me then will be I be a witness to it in the next life to see it?
  • If I won’t be there to see it in the next life then what is the point?
  • If it’s not going to happen until the next life, then they will be like me, wondering what in the world they did to deserve this crap and because they don’t know how will they learn from it so they can be better in the next life?
  • As per the third definition above, karma has bad karma.
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Letters to Our Country

41ve3nvvkhl-_sx316_bo1204203200_Last night as I travelled to Hamilton I was listening to CBC.  (Nice to hear intelligent radio but that is for another blog).  There was an interview with the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, about his new book, The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation.

Listening to him talk about writing letters every day made envious.  I journal almost every day but the idea of writing to people every day captivates me.  I’m not sure I could make the time or afford the postage right now but it is an amazing idea. Something I can certainly take time for when I retire (at 93).

Johnston’s book, which I will be looking for, is a collection of his letters to people in our nation.  It apparently begins with a letter to a young Inuit boy and also includes letters to movers and shakers who are living and dead.  Some on the list are former governors general, teachers, Chris Hadfield and Clara Hughes.  Some are people most of us have never heard of.

The origninal letters were hand written, which is his preference.  He says it makes him slow down and think.  As a lawyer he is used to dictating letters but he thinks the old fashioned cursive style is a better way to express yourself.  (He didn’t mention that the next generation won’t be able to read them.)

I tend to agree.  I wrote a piece a while back about the old fashioned thank you notes and I’ve mentioned writing letters to family for special occassions they might celebrate when you are gone but the GG’s practice adds some depth to the idea.

As he spoke I was thinking about letters I could write to my parents and grandparents or even further back than that.  There are things I would like to thank them for and things I would like to share with them about my life and the world around me.  I might even have some apologies to write to a few of them.

His letters are broken into three categories,“What Shapes Me”, “What Consumes Me” and “What Inspires Me”.  I wonder what I might write in those categories.

“What Shsapes Me” letters would have to be letters to my Grandmother and my Mother as well as letters to my high school English teachers and the Algonquin College President who listened to my demands for students on college committees and gave me the President’s Medal for my efforts.  My life long inspiration, my children would have to be on that list as well.

In the “What Consumes Me” category there would be letters to the Mental Health Commission of Canada about things that need to change and perhaps letters to local politicians about their inattention to housing issues.  Some letters might be to people who don’t see the importance of social justice. Others would be to those who suffer at the hand of a society which is unjust and corrupt.  One would certainly be to my son who died by suicide almost 16 years ago about what I’ve tried to do so others don’t suffer the same fate.

“What Inspires Me” letters would include two bosses I’ve had who believed in me and encouraged me more than anyone else in my life.  The first was my first Editor, George Anderson, who allowed me to experiment with my writing style and encouraged my political hunger.  The other is Chrstine Szymezko, my mentor and friend in Mental Health Peer Support.  I followed her around like a puppy for two years soaking up her knowledge and wisdom about mental health issues.  She lit a fire in me that will not go out.  Yet another would go to Annalise Carr, a young woman in my area who swam Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to raise money for a camp for kids with cancer.   I would also write to Princess Dianna and to my Granddaughter, Hope, who inspires me every day and who gave me “hope” when I didn’t have any.

If you were going to write a letter every day to someone who would you write to?  Just pick one and give it a try.  Write one wrong, thank one unsung hero, thank a role model.


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Are You My Cousin or My Second Cousin Once Removed


Peggy Guiler and Coleen McBroom, second cousins

Family trees intrigue me though I’ve never had the patience to sit down and figure out how to use, not to mention afford, any of the online family tree sites.  Perhaps the reason I’m so interested is that I was blessed to know so many of the people in my family tree.  Being the only child I attended all the family events because it was easy to take me.  I met everyone.  I also have fond memories of three grandparents and three great-grandparents.

One of the people in my family tree who loves to keep us on track when it comes to identifying the relationship with other family members is my dear Aunt Jane.  She is my mother’s brother’s wife. She now lives in a senior home, unfortunately not remembering much, but she used to have a memory like a steel trap.  (She also had the liquid form of cod liver oil which I had to take every morning when I stayed there.)  She is the person who taught me about first-cousins-once-removed and such.

Let me see if I can help you a little with the cousin thing like Aunt Jane did with me.  If the person is the child of your mother or father’s brother or sister they are your first cousin.  If they are the child of that first cousin they are your first cousin once removed.  If you have children, then your children and that first cousin’s children are second cousins.  If your children’s children and your first cousin’s children have children they are third cousins.  Clear as mud, right?

This summer one of my Dad’s cousins (my first-cousin-once-removed) got a bunch of us together from all over the country.  She had a lovely map on the wall of how we are all related and we had a wonderful day of figuring out the connection and laughing about great memories we shared of people who were part of our history.

The best part was meeting with my long lost second cousins Coleen and Karen.  I hadn’t seen Coleen for over 45 years.  We have picked right up where we left off as teenagers.  And just so you know, my Dad, Chris Guiler and her mother JoyceMcBroom, were first cousins. Their mothers were sisters, Laura (Christie) Guiler and Myrtle (Christie) MacPherson, daughters of Wilbur Christie and Margaret (Secord) Christie.  (Yes, my Grandmother was named after Laura Secord.)

The daughters of Coleen and Karen are my second-cousins-once-removed, and my children and their children are third cousins.  Got it?

This blog post is inspired by another post about ancestry by a blogger friend of mine.  Her blog can be found at Meeting my Family

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Holding Space

10388189_10152712168565129_6441390113875955442_nAs a peer support worker/trainer, a coach and as a spiritual director it is my primary duty to “Hold Space” for people.  I need you to hold a little for me today .  I don’t have time to write a blog because I need to support a friend who has lost his brother and drive to Burlington this evening.  Three or four hours out of my day which will be well spent holding space for a friend.   

In my place today I offer you this article which explains well what holding space is.  It is a bit long but worth the read.  If you want the meat just skip down to the 8 Points part.   What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone, by Heather Plett  Enjoy

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A Moms First Day Off

moms-day-offI had a little giggle the other day when I saw a young Mum post on Facebook that her littlest one was going to school for the first time today and she wanted ideas about what to do with her day off.

She explained her husband would be at work, she didn’t have to be in her store because she is closed on Monday and the youngest of her children would be in school for the first time.

The giggle I had was because I knew she really didn’t have the day off.  She actually only has seven hours of the day off and even then she won’t be able to go anywhere without her cell phone in case someone needs her.

She, like many other young working women who are raising children, doesn’t get much time to herself.  Because of the ages of her children she likely hasn’t had a day off since her oldest was born which means she has been working 24/7 for about 9 years without a break. Murder sentences are shorter than that and you get to watch TV and don’t have to cook in jail.

My sympathy went to her because I remember the feeling well.  I will never forget the first time I had a day to myself.  I was at a complete loss for things to do and after I tried reading for about 20 minutes I gave up and did housework.  Because I was a single Mum for many years I never took any time away from them after my husband left and I went on a two-day vacation when the oldest was 16.  I thought I’d go out of my mind the first day I was away.

The responses this young woman got were great.  Some were of the personal care variety.  They suggested things like reading a book, having a “loooong”bath,going back to bed, going for a manicure, a pedicure or a massage.  Some ideas got her out in nature to go for a walk or to the museum.   Others were a little more adventurous.  One suggested zip line and another the trampoline park.  My suggestions was to just breathe.

I have no idea what she is doing today but I hope she didn’t give in a do housework or bookwork for her business.

Hats off to all the Mums in the world who are taking their first “day off” today even though it’s only for 7 hours.  May you figure out how to care for yourself and enjoy the fleeting moments of freedom you will be able to give even more of yourself and love your families better because of that time.


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Dissecting​ Anger

angr-2One of the hardest things about being in a profession where you are supposed to help other people sort through their “stuff” is that you have to work really hard at sorting out your own “stuff”.

One of the biggest pieces of stuff I have is ANGER and I’d really rather not deal with it all.

Like most people on the planet I’ve lots to be angry about over the years.  People have hurt me with their actions and lack of action but most of the time no one, but my dearest friends, would even know I was angry.  That is because I am a master at hiding it and stuffing down inside my heart.

That stuffing down or suppression of my anger often manifests in depression but that is a worse feeling than anger so I’ve tried to learn to dissect my anger and do some work on it over the past few years.

A therapist who helped me begin this process suggested anger is really not a feeling and every time I said I was angry she asked what I was really feeling.  She would have agreed with this article I found by Heather Step about the “Three Roots of Anger”.  According to both of them, anger is founded in fear, frustration or hurt and pain.

When I went to visit my Spiritual Director the other day he helped me peel away another layer of the anger onion and suggested that rather than pushing away my anger or denying it I “sit with it and feel it”.  Oh! the agony.  How I hate to feel the feelings of anger.

Most of us who live with depression have become so good at denying feelings that actually identifying how we feel is a very difficult task. Most days we need one of those little, emoticon “Feeling Charts” just to figure out what is actually going on within our hearts.

The biggest issue with anger for me is expressing it.  Fear is often behind that because I’m afraid someone will not understand, they will hate me, they will never want to see me again or I will hurt their feelings. There are those very real situations of fear or expression where jobs, homes and relationships are at stake.  The only time I’m really good at expressing my anger to those who have hurt me is when I just don’t care any longer. Speaking my truth becomes more important that what it is I’m afraid of.  This is not a good thing.

What I really need to learn is to examine my anger in the moment to those who have caused me hurt, frustration or fear.  That brings me back to my great quest of learning to live in the moment.  It is certainly easier said than done.

I had a visit with a friend yesterday who is so good at speaking her truth and expressing her anger. She speaks to the issues in “real time” and is able to think clearly and articulate her frustration without being hurtful.  She is “matter of fact” and doesn’t get all emotional like me.

This is going to take some serious practice so if you find I’m out of character and telling you what I think, know that I’m just practising positive anger.


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