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Be thankful.

So, did you practice gratitude this (Canadian) Thanksgiving week-end? Did you find at least one thing to be thankful for? Or perhaps, you celebrate American Thanksgiving and don’t have to think about that just yet. My long week-end went by quickly. I hardly even noticed it was a holiday. I didn’t even clue-in to the Google doodle. I had so much to do.

Among other things, I sold a pair of winter boots on Kijiji. It’s like Craig’s list, for those of you unfamiliar. I got a lot of hits. One guy was pretty interested. We emailed back and forth. He wanted to meet at the subway/bus terminal. No way. That’s a recipe for a rip-off. Too big, too many exits, too many people just hanging around, who may or may not be with the person I was meeting. Am I paranoid? Do I have too much imagination? Yes and yes.

I suggested a mall not far away from there. He asked if he needed to take a train or a tramway. A tramway? They stopped running in Montreal in 1959. Did he just get here? There’s a bus. Inquire at the terminus, I wrote. He said he was on his way. He’d email me when he was in the bus. Then he was late, something about holiday schedules. Could I please wait? I had to admire his tenacity, though. It took him over an hour. If he was a he. They were women’s boots, after all. Perhaps his girlfriend really wanted them. Maybe it was a woman who was going to show.

Finally, he arrived. Alone. I put him in his late thirties. The boots were for his daughter. He’d just bought coat for his wife. He was sorry he was late. It was the first time he ventured outside the city, to the suburbs. He’d been in Canada only a week. As in immigrated last week. He and wife had hesitated to uproot their family, their three children, always hoping the unrest in their country would come to an end. In the end, they decided to leave.

The last week had been like a dream, he said. People were friendly, helpful. His children liked their school. He expected to find work soon. It was peaceful here.

I bought those boots for four times the amount I sold them, then I hopped in my car and drove home.  Maybe, I would have thought nothing of it. But not today. The universe’s timing is perfect. I received a lesson in humility and gratitude.

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A little goes a long way

I was walking though old Montreal one sweltering day last July, down a side street, off the tourist track. The woman in front of me was on her lunch hour too, I assumed. She was walking slowly, no bag, no purse, no camera, all alone. A regular. Further up, a man sat on low wall in front of a condo building. He held his baseball cap by the visor, upturned. In Montreal-speak this means “got any change?” and not “whew it’s hot, I’m taking a break”. The are two men’s shelters in a half mile radius; this isn’t an uncommon sight.
They both caught my attention because as the woman went by him, she reached out and put something in the cap. But it didn’t jingle like change. Here, even ones and twos are coins. Maybe she had given him just one coin and his cap was empty? But more than that it was how she did it. Nether looked at each other. She kept staring straight ahead, he was looking down. It was like slipping someone a note. It was like an exchange in a spy movie. I had to look; blame it on an ingrained job habit. She’d left him a five dollar bill. He never even glanced up, but discretely retrieved it and put it in his pocket, perhaps worried a breeze might blow it away.

Homeless guy slowly lifts his head, blinking in the sun. The hazel eyes and scraggly blond beard belong to a young face. A few strands of hair show from under a woolen cap, greasy and matted to his forehead. “Got my toast and cheese, man?” he asks in a hoarse voice, taking a gulp of coffee.

“Right here,” answers Michael pulling a paper bag from his coat.

He nods his thanks and takes a bite so fast I think he’s chewed right through the wrapper. I stare at the tableau before me, two very different men in two very different lives. The waitress watches in the window, quickly brushing her cheek before turning away. Closed Doors (©2017. All rights reserved.)

I had a hundred and one questions. (Still the job habit). How often did she do this? Did she know him, like as a regular in her environment? Figuring once a week for, let’s say, 45 weeks, that’s 225$. It that her form of charitable donations? Maybe it was a one time thing. But who goes around with a fiver at the ready, unless you plan on it?

Here’s my point: a little goes along way. I think a lot of us see charity as either a large, one time monetary contribution that gets our name on a hospital wing. Or volunteering at a level that borders on Nobel prize worthy. Like a lot of other things, we don’t start because we predict we won’t excel. We won’t be great. “If I ever won a lot of money I’d give some to…” “When I retire I’d like to volunteer for…”
And so, another door stays closed.
If it isn’t big we think it doesn’t count. It does. Five dollars does. Some change does. It adds up. You don’t have to commit to a volunteering schedule. It can be once a month, it can be once a week. It can be when you can.

I knit baby bonnets. The ones they give newborns in the hospital. It’s on my own time. No schedule, no quota, just the same pattern over and over, so it’s become easy.  baby bonnetts I’ve begun sewing simple girl’s dresses for another organization. I’m slow. It’s ok. A friend does translation for a sports organization. An aunt, who lived in a rural area, was homebound one winter while undergoing chemo. She bought a load of brightly coloured fabrics and sewed children’s underwear. Dozens of pairs, that she gave to a religious congregation near her house, to later be delivered to their missions in other countries. No feeling sorry for herself; feeling good in doing good. Good touches those benefit, who do it and who witness it. That’s why we all like it.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash.

Insert photo: the author.


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Closed Doors, a novel.

Doors are made to be opened.

At thirty-four, single mom Larissa Malone still feels guilty over her teenage pregnancy. Raising her twins alone, she’s strived for an orderly and stable family life. As a result, men have been few and far between.

But Michael Healy knows exactly what Lari needs and how far she’ll go to get it. Easily persuaded, she agrees to a series of sexual encounters with this near stranger who lives life in the fast lane, and whose passion in and out of the bedroom keeps her coming back for more.

Everything seems perfect in this erotic liaison where fantasy becomes reality, until Larissa finds herself thrust into the middle of a grisly police investigation Read More

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On Manifestation

Do we need another blog about manifesting? No. So, I’m going to make this short. Maybe there’ll be a part 2, where we can go into some detail.

Manifesting is a good idea, per se. Even if you don’t believe in anything remotely close to the law of attraction, the simple fact of getting specific on what you want, substituting positive expectations for self-defeating beliefs, has value in itself. In your mind, your want is a concept, a thought, more or less precise, accompanied by an emotion. Generally, we know more how we want to feel than what it is you want. “I wanna be happy at work.” What does that mean?

The first step to making it happen is being crystal clear on your goal. Write it out. Be concise. Don’t worry about details or a plan. What exactly do you want? You may think you want a different job, when deep down inside you want more money. (It’s OK to want more money). Maybe you like the company you work for but can’t stand the bad office environment. Should you focus on getting another job or on better workplace climate? I manifested a better position within my organization. I didn’t want to leave. I just wanted something with less overtime and no week-ends.

I’m very aware of the importance of proof. I can’t prove this. Even if science can now show us the changes in the brain during meditating and visualization, you could argue that results have nothing to do with manifesting. Perhaps it’s simply a case of sheer coincidence, a self-fulfilling prophecy, hard work or dumb luck. But there have been strange twists along my manifestation path and it gets harder and harder to dismiss them as another coincidence. There have been too many external factors at work to claim a self-fulfilling prophecy. As for hard work, you have to put in the effort either way. Manifesting gets a bad rap because people confuse it with wishful thinking. That’s when you lie on your couch, repeat an affirmation and wait for it to happen. It won’t. You must be coherent. You can’t say you want something and act like you don’t.

What if it doesn’t work? The first book I read on manifesting said that your subconscious will steer you away from what is not good for you. No matter how badly you want it. Another answer is that your subconscious programs, your fundamental beliefs, are getting in the way. Skeptics will say these are excuses. I get that. Believe me, I’m big on skepticism. I just think we give up too fast. I’ve had manifestation fails. In retrospect, I gave up, I wasn’t a hundred percent wanting it, I lost interest. But I can’t remember a fail that turned out to be a tragedy.

Here’s what I believe. The mind is the final frontier. It is insanely powerful (which is much better than powerfully insane, haha, just had to throw that in). We barely know how to use it. An affirmation is a message to your subconscious. It is a positive statement that affirms how things are. Not how they will be, how you hope they’ll be, how they may turn out, but how they are now, in the present. Your subconscious will align itself with that reality. It will sync reality to your programmed reality. Because the subconscious is never asleep, never unaware, collecting all that information and making all those connections your conscious mind misses. You can or cannot believe it’s connected to all that energy out there. You can substitute energy for: divine mind, the collective unconscious, God, the vortex, the flow. I don’t think it makes a difference. It’s like turning on a light. You don’t need to know where the red wire or the green wire go. You just gotta flip the switch.

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Read some of the real thing here.

I made a mock-up book and pretended it was my novel. I had an image printed at the copy shop. I wrote my name in Sharpie. I left it out where I saw it every day. I acted as if it was already done. “Here’s my book! Yes, siree! A done deal!” I also wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Even when I didn’t feel like it. I’d go until I fell asleep in front of my laptop. (Stop snickering, it was fatigue, not boredom!). The ideas came. I never worry about writer’s block. Sooner or later, inspiration comes. Inspiration, by the way, is like a gas tank, but that’s another blog.

Finally, be patient! We live in an instant world. Order today, delivered tomorrow. But considering you’ll want something big, life changing maybe-no refunds, no returns-be glad you’re not in charge of timing. And one last thing: keep a journal. Note what or who pops up. Ideas, coincidences, uncanny timing. Things that make you go ‘Hmmmm’. Let me know how it goes. Let me know if you want specifics. Got questions? Ask away. Sorry, this was way longer than I expected.

Featured image: Ryan McGuire on Pixabay

Inset photo: by the author


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The Confusion Chronicles #2

Good service, shitty service, I seem to have a focus on service. I guess it’s because I can’t figure why, for the life of me, you’d give bad service while hoping to grow or maintain a business. Hence the confusion.

Let me illustrate. I contacted a business consultant, needing advice as I progressed in my creative projects. The person seemed like a good fit and I believe in supporting local entrepreneurs. We e-mailed back and forth to set up a time and place to meet. I agreed to a date and location but asked for an earlier time (a couple of hours earlier). I didn’t hear back for five days. Five, folks. As in 1-2-3-4-5. Really? That’s how you run a business?

Was I mad? No. Annoyed? No. If you’ve read Get what you want, you know I don’t bother with impediments. But I was confused. Did I follow through with the meeting? Obviously not. Onto another consultant, who has a ‘lunch meeting’ type format. They never answered my e-mail. Those are just a few. There was the riding school I had to call several times before speaking to someone, only to be asked to call back in the afternoon because they were all at a brunch.

Is it me? I’m pretty flexible, I arrive prepared, I don’t haggle over fees. Is this a new approach to create the impression of busyness? Maybe the illusion scarcity? As in ‘I’m so in demand but maybe I can fit you in’. Why are you playing hard to get? I’m offering you money!

Oddly, I reached out to two local editors, both successful, one now retired, one working for a media conglomerate, in an area of publishing unrelated to my work. Long shots. The last two people I expected to even acknowledge an e-mail or phone call. But they did. Will anything come of it? Who knows. It doesn’t matter. The point is the people I least expected to hear from, who had nothing to gain, promptly responded. Those whose services I was offering to pay for were no-shows. Now I’m really confused.

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash


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Closed Doors featured on TOC!

Chalk one up for ‘Doors are made to be opened’! Closed Doors is featured on international bestselling author Michelle Hughes’ Tears of Crimson blog! As you can see, The Doors are looking great!

I’m super excited and so thankful to Michelle. Click her link to read the summary and my exclusive updated bio. Or here to read the first chapters and upload. Here’s to doors opening!


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Get what you want.

I had to get my driver’s license picture taken this year. Every so many years, it has to be updated. So I went to the closest one and took a number. It is what it is. I wanted to leave before I got there.

Maybe that’s why the lady who served me didn’t look too thrilled, either. No judgements, I’d probably look the same. I stated why I was there: photo renewal.

“Which one?”

What does she mean ‘Which one?’. The one of my face, obviously.  My now completely blank face. She looked from me to my teenager. “Oh, me.”

You know, when you go on vacation, and you get to the front desk of your hotel and the person there has a PhD in customer service and you get red carpet treatment? This was not that. It was straightforward serve, without the ‘service experience’.

Here’s the interesting thing. I can roll with that. I don’t care. I actually get overly polite and friendly in these situations, just because the contrast amuses me. My teenager was stunned in a way only a teenager making contact with the real world can be.

“Cash or debit, we don’t take credit.” When she tossed my ATM card back on the counter, in my direction, the teenager nearly passed out. “Did you see that? Aren’t you going to complain?”

“No, I am not.” Why? Because I got what I wanted.

“Great, you can stay with me.”

“I’m still mad at you. Besides, I brought nothing except my wit and charm. I have to go home and get my things.”

“Come here.” He holds out a hand and I walk back slowly.

“I honestly didn’t think you had such a temper.”

“Is that what you were doing, trying to make me angry?”

“Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by what other people say or do, stand your ground, make your point.” He talks and texts at the same time.

“Thanks for the lecture.” (Closed Doors, ©2017)

We went over to the camera, took the picture and I was done. Was the service great? No. Was it quickly over? Yes. And that was my priority. Would it have been worth it to complain? No, it would have been a waste of time. I don’t care enough to waste my time.

Getting what you want often involves going over, under and around. Confrontation slows you down. Know how to sidestep. Know your goal, keep focused and don’t ever let anyone or anything slow you down.

Photo: pixabay



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On motherhood

“Being a Mom is hard work. Someone should write about that,” a friend said to me several years ago. At the time she was the mother of a toddler and a newborn. My writing was finally coming together with, ironically, a single-mom, whose twins come before everyone and everything else, as protagonist. And since we’re talking of Larissa, let me share with you her views on adoption.

“Nelly, I love my children more than anything and it has nothing to do with them coming out of my body. Once they put that baby in your arms and you see how perfect and trusting he or she is, how much they need you, it’s love at first sight. It makes no difference where they came from, it’s what happens afterwards.” (Closed Doors, ©2017)

And on calling out a Mother who, in her view,  failed.

“Your boys aren’t someone’s mother. I am. You know with your children, Elsie. You just know.” The kettle hisses ominously.

She faces me. “I thought that’s how it was, boys needed discipline and Aidan was their father. I never imagined—” 

“You never questioned.” 

“He wasn’t a bad person. He thought he was doing the right thing.”

“He beat his children with a belt, he terrorized them.” I can feel the tightening around my heart that accompanies the release of adrenaline and tears well up but I retrain my anger. “How can you still try to explain it away?” 

“You judge me harshly, dear.” 

“I judge you as one mother to another. But you’re right it’s not my place. Especially here, on your birthday, in your house. Or maybe I should say Michael’s house.” As I fill the pot, the whistle dies out with a few final warning gasps that I ignore.  (Closed Doors, ©2017)

And on her unplanned teenage pregnancy.

“Pax, Joy, you know how much I love you both. But an unplanned pregnancy at such a young age is not a romantic adventure. It’s a pretty disastrous situation, but you guys aren’t part of that disaster. I don’t know if you can understand the difference, but it’s the truth. You were the reason I never gave up trying to find a way to make it work for us. I didn’t want to ruin your lives. I didn’t want you to look at me one day and wish you had someone else for a mother. You made it all better because no matter how bleak things looked everything was perfect the minute I saw your faces.” (Closed Doors, ©2017)

A Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms and an especially Happy Mothers Day to all the stand-in Moms. All those wonderful women who care for someone else’s children. You know who you are: the step-moms, the ‘like my second Mom’ moms, the ‘spiritual moms’. Long-term or on short notice, those amazing ladies who know that mothering is a heart-bond and not a blood-tie.

I’m meeting book clubs, or just groups friends who read. Either live or Skype. You can email me here on my site or FB or Instagram.

Want to read more? Go here.

Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash



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The Confusion Chronicles #1

I take a commuter train to work. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. On the homebound trip, some people immediately get up when the train pulls out of the station preceding theirs, exit the car and stand on the platform at the end of the car, at the top of the steps leading out. It’s noisy and unsteady. You can see the ground rushing by through the spaces where the cars are joined. Of course, when the doors open, they’re first out. They run, and I mean literally sprint, to their car, start the engine, slam it into drive and speed out of the parking lot. First.

Here’s the thing: it’s not that big a station. We are not hundreds getting off the train. Traffic does not back up for miles. Yes, it’s a little slow. If you leave last (yours truly here, because the wait is an opportunity to read) it’s ten minutes, tops, to the main road and from there a minute the highway. Side-note: when a foot of snow has fallen or, better, freezing rain, it’s a snafu of remarkable proportions for them. But fun to watch.

So why the rush? Is your schedule that tight? Is this temporary or is every single day of your life like this? For how long? Have you thought about making a change? Is that possible? How can you stand it? Isn’t this stressful? Is it me?

Are there more questions than answers here? Yes, that’s why it’s called the confusion chronicles.

Photo by Nicolai Berntsen on Unsplash

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Doors are made to be opened

You could argue that Closed Doors is not the most original book title. But it stuck for a reason. And it wasn’t because it’s a story about secrecy or hidden truths. It’s not those kinds of doors. It’s the ones that exist in our head and our heart. The ones we’ve closed on a dream. That get slammed shut, barricaded and nailed. Or was it nailed, then barricaded? Remember the old Bugs Bunny cartoons? Other times they’re closed silently: a gentle ending, filled with regret.

We’ve all closed a door at least once. We do it out of fear, lack of confidence, confusion, failure. You know the rationalizations: “I can’t do that”, “I tried once but it didn’t work” (once!), “Those things never work out for me”, “It’s too complicated/ expensive/ long/ hard…”,  “What will people say?”

“Why didn’t you ever settle down? You’re beautiful, smart, you have a career, your own house.”
“Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?” I look out and shrug. “There weren’t very many men. Two young children are a definite turnoff, and I never had time between the twins and work. I remember being tired a lot. I went to bed at the same time they did most nights.”
Michael pushes his plate away and pours more wine for both of us, then sits back with his glass, ever patient.
“I don’t think I was ready to make the concessions a relationship required. Most wanted children of their own and I was done. I was wary of introducing them to mine. I never did. I didn’t want them getting attached then hurt when it ended. I guess I made it impossible.” I look at him, so unlike any of those men, so sure of himself. Michael would never ask for anything. He’d demand it, as his right. “Maybe I was selfish. Perhaps it would have been better for the children, I don’t know. I made my choices, good or bad.”(Closed Doors, ©2017)

And what about things we’ve done and closed the door on because we didn’t like what happened: it was painful, embarrassing, too much to handle all at once? I’m the first person to say it is pointless in rehashing the past, Never look back was just that. But you have to be at peace with your past. If what’s behind your door is going bump in the night, I suspect you need to take a look-see.

We like to think we’ve done the right thing. It makes sense, right? Keeping what’s on the other side away. It’s just that what’s on the other side is a part of you, wether it’s something you’ve done or something you want to do.

I had planned on being very angry, furious, in fact. I fed it, fanning the flames all the way across the country, all the way back through the years. Like choosing my clothes that morning I was sure of what emotions I was going to wear. But here I am, finally getting my moment and I’m having a wardrobe malfunction. I’m wrapped in a cloak of regret instead of my battle armor. So many years, all gone now, and I’m not sure anymore. What if I did the wrong thing?
“Adam.” His name catches and dies in my throat. “Adam.” He’s unchanged, just an older version of the same person, like an actor aged for a role. Same square face with a wide mouth, opaque pale blue eyes and a prominent nose that Joy complains about, even if it’s straight. He is so much my children’s father, no DNA required. My children’s father. It reverberates in my head, looking for a place to settle. “Do you remember me?”(Closed Doors, ©2017)

Open the door. You don’t have to do anything else. Really. Just stand there and take a look. Start with that. Maybe, eventually, you can bring coffee or make tea and sit quietly with yourself. People actually make a lot of effort to avoid this. But do try. Just open the door. Let me know how it goes.

Image: by the author. This picture was taken through old coach doors on Bonsecours Street in Old Montreal. On the right is the south wall of Louis Joseph Papineau’s house. LJP (1786 – 1871) was a lawyer and politician. He led the Patriot Rebellion of 1837. A rebellion is defined as a failed revolt and Papineau escaped into exile. Many rebels were not so fortunate. About a mile from Papineau’s house sat Pied du courant prison, aptly named as it sits at the foot of the St.Lawrence River. It was there the rebels were hanged for treason. And that’s your Montreal history capsule for today.


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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This year marks the 195th anniversary of Montreal’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. One of the biggest and oldest in North America, organized by the Unites Irish Societies of Montreal. I love Saint Pat’s. I love the atmosphere. I love the parade. I love the coffee, of which Jameson is the secret ingredient. Not bourbon, not scotch (God forbid, Michael would tell you), not even Canadian rye. Irish whisky, nothing else. And on that I leave you with my two favorite Saint Patrick’s day revelers. Erin go Bragh.

She made a feast of a dinner to celebrate St-Pat’s, just for us. The day began with the United Irish Societies’ brunch and then the parade. When it’s a centuries old tradition you have to show up and with a surname like Malone they loved her right off. Soon she was out of sight, being introduced left and right by Jackie, showing up again only when we sat down to eat. We begged off late afternoon and went back to the loft where she had a pot roast already going. Apparently ovens have timers.
“I’m convinced that seducing a man has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with red meat,” she remarked, eyeing me as I ate.
“You’re right. It makes us content.” I couldn’t argue, it was cooked just right and delicious. The smell when we walked through the door had me salivating until it was served.
“I’ve noticed you’re indulgent when you’re content.”
“Have you?” I drank some more wine, wondering where she was going with this. “What did you have in mind?”
“Nothing. I like…this…” She trailed off, gesturing at the table and at us, searching for words.
“Pot roast?”
“Don’t be facetious, I mean dinner, just the two of us. I do enjoy going out, I don’t want you to think I don’t. You take me to the best restaurants or those formal affairs you have to attend. But I like this too.” She dropped her eyes and started tracing the pattern in the tablecloth. “I like you all to myself.” It was added quickly, as if it had to be said, before she hurried into the kitchen and busied herself with the coffee maker.
I took my time finishing, letting her alone. There was clanging in the cupboards, the fridge opening and closing and the electric beater whirring. Clearing my place, I brought my dishes to the sink, admiring my own domesticity. The kitchen looked like a science experiment. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Making Irish coffee.”
“We could have had some there. You’re going through a lot of trouble, love.”
“Yes, but mine is better.”
“You’re very confident.” I stood back and watched her create, amazed again at how she can transform anything into a work of art. Tall mugs were thickly rimmed with sugar, filled with coffee and Jameson, and a generous spoonful of whipped cream was floated on top.
“And rightly so.” She set the cup in front of me, crossed her arms and waited.
The coffee was strong, the Jameson subtle and the whipped cream and sugar coated your throat as it went down. “Larissa, I apologize for having doubted you.”
“Michael, I forgive you.”
Not only did I discover her rare talent for making the best Irish coffee in the history of the world, I also discovered her marked taste for the drink. After a couple each, she was giggling uncontrollably at my own creative use of whipped cream. “What do you think of my culinary talents?”(Closed Doors, ©2017)

Photo Pixabay