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True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Seed after seed, the perky chickadees, sparrows, brilliant American finches, and Common Redpolls peck sunflower seeds I’ve left for them in the bird feeder. They are a generous lot, spraying seed onto the ground, to ensure the chipmunks and bunnies below have plenty to eat.

Their chirps and songs sing of their zest for life, savouring every moment, worry-free, knowing nature and the neighbours will provide food and fresh water in the bird bath. They only need to be. For a song, supper is served.

At the end of my garden, Tibetan prayer flags breathe zest, reminding me that beauty is in the moment, giving joy that sinks into my soul.

I glimpse the apple tree blazing with mature fruit. Its boughs have room to spare, holding a red and a green hula hoop, tempting the child in me to “have a go.”

My purple benches, rescued from auction sales by my father and painted a bright purple to zing the white winter landscape with colour, sizzle with happiness throughout the year. In winter, they beckon shy deer to rest beside them, finishing the silent landscape—breathing deeply and fully, in and out—beauty and a zest for life abound. (EC)

I take my happiness from nature’s creation.
Beauty + calm + breathing =
Zest for the moment, for life.
Eleanor Chornoboy
Author of Faspa and Faspa with Jast, Eleanor writes to capture moments in history. Through co-facilitating Life Writing for TransformationTM classes, she has had the joy of joining writers on their journey as they put their stories on the page. To delight the child in her, she has authored Snow Angels and Pajama Tears. Eleanor and her husband Larry live in Winnipeg, Canada.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled
by a spark from another person.
(Albert Schweitzer)

My lighthouse is Mom, who has stood by me throughout my life. She was proud of my accomplishments in becoming a successful lawyer, a father, and a husband. Yet, she was also there to support me in my darkest times, when all of my achievements were almost lost.

Mom saw the best in me, even when I behaved badly and let her down. In my darkest hours, I isolated myself, holed away from the world at the shock of my losses. She remained by me and supported me, but also showed me the light, led me back to stand on my own and rejoin society, to be responsible and become caring for others.

Today, to witness Mom’s memory now sometimes failing her, sometimes struggling to know where she is and what is going on, it is my turn to be there for her. I would like to be Mom’s lighthouse now, her beacon of light, solid on the shore. Mom knows she’s in the right place as long as she can see my light. (BHH)

I remain rock-solid in my healthy life,
to shine the light for my loved ones to
be able to see the shore.
Brian Hay
Brian Hay is a retired lawyer and a writer. He completed Transformative WritingTM studies at Canadian Mennonite University and received facilitator certification at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Center, European Centre for Life Writing for TransformationTM, in Birmingham, England. Brian took motorcycle lessons after he turned 60, consistent with Michelangelo’s motto: “I’m always learning …” He loves reading books about writing and daily personal/spiritual reflection. Since 2012, he has envisioned and helped guide CREATIVE JOURNEY to completion.

I have to come back to a beginner’s mind, the first way I thought and felt about writing. In a sense, the beginner’s mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write… Each time is a new journey with no maps. (Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones)

How to begin?

A new notebook. I open the first page. The smell of the fresh-cut paper and the clean-lined page taunt me, saying, “well, go on, what are you waiting for?”
But somehow I cannot put my pen to the paper.  For one thing, I know my handwriting is untidy and only vaguely constitutes anything that can be considered legible.

In fact, if I ever want to read aloud what I have written in my writing circle, I will need to look for my most up-to-date spectacles with the highest magnification just to see the words.

And then there's the problem of the page being the very first in the notebook and the feeling that I should begin with something profound—some wise words, a flash of clarity that will light up the world.

But actually I am writing, not on the first page—I turned over a page before I could set down these words, these less than impressive words, on this insignificant second page.

I cherish every beginning, allowing new opportunities into my life, wherever they come from, whenever they arrive. I will begin again. No excuses.

Alison Lock
Alison Lock is a poet and author from Holmfirth (UK). She finds inspiration in the moorlands and the natural environment of the South Pennines, which is often reflected in her writing. She is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. She believes that Transformative Life Writing™ is a unique and powerful tool that can transform our personal journaling, giving us new insights, and encouraging the development of our writing journeys. http://www.alisonlock.com/


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

I am aware that I am a child, ready to play in the sandbox with a new pail, shovel, sifter, and set of sand molds in the shape of a starfish, a seashell, and a fish. The sand is just waiting for me to start a new creation. I am often asked by folks I know who don't write, why I do it, what is in it for me? They watch as I ever jot down everyday details of my life, record my observations of people on the street and the bus, play with a few words randomly selected on a piece of paper, make up silly two-paragraph stories. They know I have spent an hour and a half travelling by bus to meet with a couple of writer friends for two hours and then taken the bus back again, having spent more time on the bus than writing. They do not get it.

I ask myself the same question, what is in it for me? Can I explain the compulsion to get it all down in words even to myself? I find the answer in another question: Can I imagine my life if I did not write? I cannot.

Paper is my sandbox; pencils, pens, and highlighters are my pails, shovels, sifters, and sand molds. Writing is how I play. I play with words, ideas, thoughts. I let my imagination out for a stroll across a blank page. I create other worlds and realities to adventure in. That is what’s in it for me—playtime. Whether I play alone or get together with others for a play date, writing is a perfect form of play for me.

I take time to play every day.

Lori Gagnon
Lori Gagnon is a mother, daughter, sister, wife, and grandmother. She has a passion for reading, writing and art. Lori became an avid journal writer and explored writing poetry during the 26 years she lived in Churchill, Manitoba. Lori took a Transformative Life Writing™ course at CMU and continues to write, journal, make art and explore any creative venture that piques her interest. Her dreams include publishing her own book about growing up in Silver Heights, Manitoba.

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