Pics of Last Year

The World Press Photo exhibition is on display at Canadian War Museum these days. You see such pictures sometimes on the internet, in presentations you skim through. Colourful or toned-down, beautiful or horrific, telling of ordinary or amazing moments. In exquisite captures of life glimpses, death is many times featured as a reminder that we are only given one limited chance to make it right.

I felt just that as I was strolling through the labyrinth of panels. There were fires, and guns, and gangs of South America; Russian university graduates, now prostitutes, exposed through almost Romantic-like nudes; refugees crying for help; the inevitable discourse of pollution and deforestation; abused women of Africa; abused-otherwise North Koreans; terrorism, the new type of war… Whether human red, forest green, water blue, blood was there in the photos, pulsating under live skins or wasted on the ground.

With every picture left behind, my sense of gratitude grew. Clean water, safe home, the end of communism in the Soviet block, my decision – then constant determination – to get over abuse and toxic relationships, civilization (whatever whoever says, that is a Western invention), friendship, love, family, care…

I did not speak much this evening. We ate a rather ready-made dinner, the five of us – I must admit there have been better family portraits. My teenage daughter disappeared shortly afterwards, anger still on her face. It has been a hard year for her, the last few months in particular. But hey, wounded pride keeps her from saying sorry and start anew – for now. I exchanged a few more positive thoughts with my son and marveled quietly at his change of attitude lately; he’s also been a great help around the house. I glanced outside the window at the beautiful garden my husband and I managed to put together this past spring and summer – was it proof that our marriage works? Night slowly settled in. I held my little one as she went to sleep and I cried for forgiveness.

Indeed, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. Only love and faith last. Love cures prostitution, hunger, violence, greed, pride, indifference. Love is our humanly attribute which makes us in God’s likeness. Life is love. Even The Beatles were right: all you need is love. And every picture, sad or happy, beautiful or terrifying, darkened or hallowed, one way or another is about love.

As I said my prayers, I looked up at the icons on the wall, straight into the eyes of Jesus and His Mother. Infinite calm, unbound steadfastness. Always there for us. No need to worry. Just believe.


NO to Paris

6:45 am Phone call before my wake-up time. I glance at the screen, it’s my daughter calling from Paris. I quickly compute: she should be out and about, is she having trouble?

“Hi, sweetie. What’s up?”

Devastated voice at the other end, crying big tears.

“I wanna come hooooome… I don’t want to beeee heeeeere…”

Oh. The fit. First time in Paris and the image doesn’t correspond. She’s been there only two days, it’s been raining, the boutique hotel is not up to her high standards, nothing works the way it should (lovely word!) etc. etc. At 19 years old, she has acted like an entitled brat for some time – Paris is the perfect place to graduate to kindergarten. What are you, 3?

“You can’t come home. You’re in Paris. Make the most of it.”


“Have you just woken up?”

“No, I woke up really early and I was out walking for two hours, but it’s cold and people are rude and I don’t wanna be here. I’m sorry I woke you up…”

She didn’t want to take warmer clothes and the good fancy jacket is hanging in our closet at home. Oh well. Mom’s usually wrong, right?

“Baby, it’s OK. Come on, it’s gonna be good. You know what you can do? Go get something nice to eat, a croissant and a coffee, then head to the Lafayette Department Store. It’s beautiful, smells good, it’s inside, so you won’t be cold. And then you can stroll through the covered passages, they’re nearby – Panoramas, Jouffroy… Perfect for a day like this.”


Galeries La Fayette 2 (Large).jpg

I spent a few more minutes of encouragement, then went back to bed to cuddle a few more minutes with my younger one before actually getting up for the day. I stifled the thoughts of worrying needlessly for my little teenager and I found myself laughing at how God puts us in quite amusing situations to guide us back into reality-check. Of course, it’s amusing for Him and others noticing it from the outside. It’s not exactly amusing on the inside. It feels stupid and annoying on the inside.

As I write this, I’m having my coffee before starting my day and week. Outside, it’s colder yet sunnier than in Paris, and there’s nothing particularly exciting in my weekly plan, just daily life in a rather boring Canadian city. My coffee is warm and I got kisses and hugs from my other two kids before they left for school earlier. The feeling still lingers – it’s very, very nice to be loved. Yes, I could have been in Paris with my husband now if I hadn’t chosen to give our daughter the opportunity to accompany her dad to see Ville Lumiere. Am I sorry having given up my place to someone who doesn’t even appreciate it? No. She’s that part of recalcitrant me who needs to learn one or two things about how changing viewpoints has an impact on the whole perspective. I can draw in perspective and I know how viewpoints work – but man, did I have to practice it literally and figuratively to actually get it! She’s gonna get it too. We all can, if we want to try.

I have faith in her. She’s gonna come back from Paris with a new appreciation of things. And if she doesn’t get that, well, that just means she’s in for a longer ride. It’s gonna take more Parises, more rains, more love, more trials. How many times do we say NO to things before we say yes? People who care for us would try their best to make us feel better, but it really is up to us to truly feel better.

Hey, guess what – she just wrote to me to say she’s heading out. Can’t wait to hear how she enjoyed it. Now, how good are you going to make your life today? Find your Paris, let me know.


Figure Out What Your Purpose Is

I’m done with exploring the problems in my life. I’m reading books on serious motivation now and I aim high! And because I’ve always wanted it all (despite the naysayers’ ‘advice’… “oh, but you really can’t have it all”), I’ve made up my mind to beat the doubt and reach for the sky. So I’m highly recommending this book by Grant Cardone – “Be Obsessed or Be Average”. Did you guess, Cardone is crazily successful. Here’s a list the author draws, which helps in figuring out what your purpose is. Write your answers down, I did!

Personal Interests

What excites me now?

What is so exciting to me that I would do anything to accomplish it?

What bores me?

What is the thing or things I have always wanted to do?

What don’t I want to do, no matter the payoff?

What do I do that causes me to forget to eat?

What have I been interested in since childhood?


Money Motivation

What am I willing to do for no money?

What would I like to do for a lot of money?

If money had nothing to do with my life, what would I do with my time?

What amount of money would give me the security I need?

What amount of money would I need to have choices?

What amount of money would I need to have financial freedom?

What amount of money would I need to really make a difference for the better?


Skills and Talents

What can I do better than anyone?

What are some of my native skills?

What have I always been good at?

What have I always been bad at?

What skills or talents do I have that I ignore?

What am I terrible at and should not be doing at all?

What do I do that is a complete waste of my time and talent?

In what areas do others think more or my abilities than I do?

What are the skills I need to develop?


Market Research

What is a product or service that I have complained about repeatedly?

What great idea have I had for starting a company or inventing something that I haven’t followed through on?



What do I want to be remembered for?

What contributions can I make to society that I would be most proud of?

What do I want to make sure people never say about me?


Inspiring People

Who are five successful people I admire?

What are those people doing that I admire?

What do those I admire have in common with one another?

What quality do I wish I shared with those people?

What do I have in common with that list of people?

If I could meet anyone, who would it be?

Who is the most supportive person in my life?



What makes me feel good?

What gives me energy?

What activity bores me and doesn’t make me feel good?

What things am I doing that I regret later?

What bad habits do I need to stop?

What good habits do I need to start?

What do I need to do more of that would make me feel better about myself?


What if…

If I were going to write a book, what would it be about? What inspirational lessons would I draw from my life?

If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?

If I could be known for one great thing, what would I want it to be?


Now go ahead and WRITE YOUR ANSWERS DOWN! Cardone says: “Then, at the same time tomorrow, do it again. And then do it again the next day and the day after that. Over time you may notice that you come up with new answers or that the same answers keep coming up. You may see surprising patterns or be reminded of a dream that was buried long ago.”

Whatever it is, do not give up! You are here for a purpose and if you haven’t found it yet, NOW is the high-time to find it.