Good-Bye Stephen…and Thank You!

Stephen Hawking passed away this week.

When I heard the news there was a certain element of sadness…which was more for his family than anything else.

This was a man who lived a remarkable life…to its fullest!!!

And what a life!  He was a remarkable human and man who had a remarkable career.  He was funny, charming and immensely inspiring.  Stephen leaves a legacy where he challenged all of us to think, to really think.  Deeply!

Despite his physical ailments Stephen enjoyed life through 76 years on this planet.

Some of the things I loved about this man was his humility and humour.  He did not swell to the ego of academia.

His writings reached out to all of us and invited regular folk the opportunity to really understand on a level never before offered to ideas never before contemplated nor comprehended or shared before.

That was his brilliance in a nutshell.

Stephen was challenged constantly by his peers and always answered them with quiet honesty and fact.

I loved his curious mind and his desire to explore one of our most baffling and intriguing frontiers…the space time continuum.

At times in my life I have felt an connection on some strange level to Stephen because of my own interest in time and its very concept.

I am certainly no physicist…and so far from the very notion it is just crazy!

You see I had a fear of numbers in my youth.  I am a visual learning.  Text books back in the day did little to impress formulas on my youthful self.  Memorizing things was the way to go for a time, though what practicality of what I was trying to embed into my neurons made little to no sense and consequently slipped into the depths without consequence.

I did come to realize that this world we inhabit is ruled by numbers to a certain degree and in many ways I felt I’d been left behind as I just didn’t get it.  Not at all.

As I got older these interests that I had in time, in space  I began to embrace in my late 30’s.

I began picking up books and those books, such as ‘A Brief History of Time’  I read with a voracious appetite.  Not only were doors opening but ideas were springing forth and thoughts with regard to exploring the ages.

I watched shows, documentaries and I  hungered for knowledge.  Wanting, desiring, needing.

Like billions of people before me and I am certain the billions that will follow, I wanted to know where we came from and what our purpose was.

I was a single mother with a beautiful child.  I can recall, on one of those nights when sleep just would not come, I slipped from the house in my red velour house coat and sat on the curb in front of my rental home with smoke in hand gazing up at the stars above.

And I looked up into the night sky and pondered for a moment if another being was gazing out from their home planet into this great expanse we call space wondering if someone was looking out at them just as I was.

Pink fuzzy slippers peeked out beneath  the house coat as my cigarette burned down and then I ground it out after one last drag.

I wondered if they ever felt the way I did, and in that moment which is about 28 years ago, I felt an energy move through me.  Powerful, quiet and remote.

With the underlining message ‘I was not alone!’

And I felt mesmerized, connected and defined all in one swift moment.
I’ve had these sensations a few times, though they’ve been sparing, in my quest to connect.

Perhaps it is just the human condition.

Yet these moments are, in my mind, defining ones.  They are moments that give me pause and shape and direct or re-direct my life.

And Stephen Hawking is one of those whose energies, just by the words he has written touched me a way I had never known.

Having read his work I realized the things I thought about, the things I was ‘secretly’ exploring were not foolish or stupid notions and they certainly were not secretive.

In fact, Stephen Hawing’s work confirmed that my odd curiosities had merit.  Maybe, just maybe I had the makings of a brain after all.

And this came from a girl whose beginnings were demeaning, from a girl who had not had the privilege to finish high school; this from a girl who had been homeless at 16 years of age….and from a girl who was trying so desperately to  be a woman her young daughter could look up to and respect.

The way I saw myself back then was dismal at best as I lacked self-confidence in the worst way.

Yet I read and those books, articles and everything in between they stamped their collective meanings and interpretations on me.

Some I  held fast to these readings, dissecting and  observing everything, while others I questioned and reviewed before I spit them out.

Even those that I did not agree with helped me to learn and grow.

I look at someone like Stephen Hawking who had this fabulous mind, so well tuned, and it was this muscle that rendered him genius.  Those neurons that fired collectively from abstract thought to cohesive and formative ideas that were then developed into factual principles that challenged all of us.

Stephen has offered this world a deeper, more complex understanding of our own  humanity in many ways.

And here I am on this Friday evening after a long week at work, in a local pub and some four beer in, considering this planet, this thing we call space and the concept of time itself.

What does it mean?  What is it?  And where does it go?

Considering this thing we call life, I ask and challenge myself, here and now, what can I do to give back to this world, this planet to make it better?

Is it even possible?

Still the chance that there is some simplicity to all this  that we must try.  We are increasing in numbers on this planet,

Perhaps if we all try to:

  • Respect each other
  • Respect this planet we inhabit
  • Conserve our usage of her resources
  • And never ever forget to love!

We can make it a difference.


Happy New Year! Welcome 2018!


A full moon beams down on this clear and cold winter’s night.  Fog is beginning to roll in and the moon will soon be a silvery shadow if we see it all.

It is New Years Eve and I am staying at home this year.  This will be a quiet night.  A time to reflect on the year that was.

I’ve got cheese and wine as well as beer.  I’ve got a blanket wrapped about me.  I’ve taken in a movie and am watching the televised celebrations in downtown Vancouver.  I like that they have it on T.V. now.

As the countdown began I raised my glass up and shouted Happy New Year!  I made phone calls and texted as many people as possible then watched the fireworks display before going to bed.

Welcome 2018!

2017 had begun with a sense of desperation and an overwhelming exhaustion carried over from years prior.  I began the year by withdrawing from so many activities and organizations I’d been involved with.

Still I recognized that depression had once again settled in.  I was isolating myself.  All the insecurities and yearnings once again tossing me to the curb with all my perceived inadequacies washing over me.

I found it difficult to post any of my writings last year as well.  A notebook is always with me ready to record anything that I need to purge onto the page, however, those ramblings were often sad and coming from a dark place inside me.

I thought of Gloria Vanderbilt talking about how the rainbow comes and goes.  I’d read that particular book in 2016 and there are a few passages that resonated with me and still do.

Mid-year I began to emerge from this bout of depression.  I am focused on the new job I began nine months ago.

I’ve started a new book.  I am hoping to have the first draft completed by Spring 2018.

I need to become more disciplined and dedicated to my writing. I’ve got so many stories  I want to tell. Time to get to it.

I am focused on my health as well.  The vehicle accident back in 2015 mucked me up big time.  Now I need to just try and find a level of fitness that I can maintain.  I need to continue to work on my emotional well-being as well.

Time to get to it.

I hope that 2018 is a stellar year for everyone!

Happy New Year!



Another Year…



My birthday is fast approaching.  Next Wednesday I’ll celebrate fifty-nine years!

In a conversation with my daughter last night we discussed age.  While some may say that 59 years of age is old…it doesn’t ‘feel’ that way.  What an odd way to describe our age though as how we feel?

I will always feel the wonder of this world that I inhabit.  Despite all the mess currently going on regarding the politics of our time, this planet of ours is so much bigger and wondrous than we’ll every be.


We are not all that nice to each other or to our Earth at times, are we?

On Wednesday here in BC we will celebrate not only someone’s birthday but also Pink Shirt Day which is an initiative against bullying.

The theme this year “Make Nice”.

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I’d like to take that challenge a bit further and just ask everyone to practice kindness on a daily basis.

It isn’t easy.

Still the benefits so outweigh the difficulty of dealing with our anger and not projecting it elsewhere.   And if someone is hurting ask if they’d like to talk.

Listening is one the best skills any of us can have.  I have been working on this in a big way.

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Since joining a local Toastmasters chapter a year and half ago my listening skills have increased ten fold.  Still, there is always room for improvement and always will be.

We just passed Valentines Day.  At our Toastmasters meeting we were all asked to say one word that describes what love  means to  us.

After the fact I thought about this quite a bit.  How could one word define love?

And this is what struck me just before falling to sleep a few nights back.

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Love = Freedom



Hate = Fear

Freedom is expansive…it encompasses so much!  Embrace freedom and surrender to a loving heart!

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Kindness matters…always!







Democracy…Tell Me What It Means To You!

I have provided the links to an article that was written by Gwynne Dyer back in July 2016 and also of a recent lecture he gave at the University of Regina.

After one week in office President Trump has moved in a frightening direction.

In Trump’s head its okay to tear up trade agreements and insist that all the jobs that have been lost in the U.S. due to out-sourcing and immigration.

Now President Trump thinks himself quite the business man as well.  If this were true then he would surely know that how we do business worldwide has changed as dramatically as it has due to technology in the last 25 years or so and not the out-sourcing that has gone on and certainly not by people immigrating to North America.

In fact having people move to North America has in fact assisted in the growth of our economy here in Canada and in the U.S. as well.  This is a proven fact and Canada has displayed this time and again.

Canada does indeed have her issues, still there is an awareness to do better and to grow as a collective.

I would encourage anyone who is reading this post to please take the time to watch the lecture which is close to two hours in length and read some of Mr. Dyer’s articles.  It is well worth it.

I have also provided standard definitions for democracy and dictatorship.

One of the things that is truly frightening is Trump’s desire to ‘control’ the internet.

Freedom to information is difficult enough and in these times our best defense is to stay informed of the facts and not the hype that Trump is spewing.

Let’s go about our daily lives informed and united.


What does democracy mean?

1.government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

2.a state having such a form of government

3.a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges; common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.


1.  a country, government, or the form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a dictator.
2.  absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.
The above are the dictionary definitions of what democracy and dictatorship mean.

A Truth


Sunset in Steveston

I sit before this screen thinking about the things I’d like to talk about.  The rush of ideas come fast and furious.  I could surely wax poetic on any number of things; I could rant on any number of issues as well.  There are injustices a plenty that I could champion.

The screen remains empty.

I make my breakfast and pour another cup of coffee.  I gaze out the window at a frozen world.  It’s beautiful.


The view from my home on Dec 26, 2016

I’m wrapping up a challenging year that was preceded by a few tough years.  I was asked a question at dinner with friends last night ‘What did you take from those experiences, what did you learn?’

Now this was in reference to my bout with cancer and the treatment provided.  It could well apply to the vehicle accident that followed as well.

I responded that we need to ask questions and be kind to ourselves.  And indeed we do. The question remains though.  ‘What did I learn from this?’

And the screen, while I’ve jotted down these thoughts, no answer is readily coming.


Vancouver from the Ferry in September 2016

I entered 2016 in the metaphorical darkness of depression.  I had felt the all too familiar slide begin.  In truth, I’d been fighting this for quite some time.  2015 had begun with promise.

I was working out with a trainer and running with my group again wanting to take back my health after the cancer thing .  The vehicle accident kibosh-ed my progress.  The pipes in my building flat lined and the building had to be re-piped. For 3 months no hot water. I was attending physiotherapy and the bills began to mount.

My job was stressful yet I kept at it.  Despite the pain, despite the overwhelming cost to fix our building I was beginning to slip.  I’ve never experienced a back injury before and physically my condition was not improving.  I would try to do things, but just walking was an agonizing thing at times.

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A moon to remember

I was living with pain daily.  I wasn’t sleeping.  And I was still recovering from the effects of chemo and radiation.

‘What did I learn from all of this?’

Still an empty screen to this question.

Fear crept in.  Was I going to lose everything I’d worked so hard for?  In many ways I felt completely impotent regarding the direction my life was going.

Did I talk about any of this with anybody?  No.

In my mind, to give it voice would give these feelings validity.  I was in denial.  My financial safety net was gone to the renovations in my building.

I then lost my job.

The quicksand I call depression was pulling me, enveloping me…my strength was gone.


Sunset December 2016 in Steveston

All of the avenues I’d been exploring…meditation, energy healing, etc. were no longer viable options for me. My head and heart weren’t there.  I was in that all too familiar dark place.

In 2016 I sold my place and recovered some of my costs, though I still have debt, it is now manageable.

I found a condo that is now more of a home than my previous place.  I found another job which I really like.

And a few months back I emerged from the mantle of depression.


What have I learned from all this?

Perhaps this is an ongoing lesson.  Perhaps the answer has many layers to it.

One thing though, despite the darkness I appreciated and admired every morning that I’ve been graced with.

I still stop and stand in awe of a luminous moon rise and always let those who I’ve been so blessed to have in my life know it.

And I will never give up on myself.  I will never give in to the pain of the past.

There is a balance between the dark and the light that must be found and met.

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I will focus on wellness in 2017.  I will ask for the help that I do in fact need and look to heal and strength my person.

Happy New Year to everyone.










Human Touch

I met a friend for dinner this evening.  We met after work down at Kits Beach at The Boathouse Restaurant.  Jayne and I always have great discussions.

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I mentioned that I’d been downtown shopping a couple of weeks ago and I had seen the ‘Free Hug’ people in front of the London Drugs at Granville & Georgia St.  I told her how I stood waiting for the light to change, my spirit feeling  considerably  lighter at the idea of a stranger willing  to put their arms around me and share a moment.  I told her that I simply opened my arms and was hugged first by the woman and then by the man.  hug 2

I was surprised she’d never heard of this.  It has been in Vancouver for quite some time now.

Just an act of kindness and a moment shared through human touch.

There is something so intrinsically beautiful and simple in this act. As we parted ways and I made my way home through the streets of Vancouver to the North Shore where my daughter lives, I got to thinking about the people that touch our lives on a daily basis.

I thought of the friends I have, the jobs I’ve held and those who have entered my life and left leaving lasting impressions.

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I thought of people from my past that I’d tried to please who seemingly caused me to bleed the energy from my soul and wondered why I had given this so freely?

Truth is I wanted, craved, desired, needed the basic interaction of human touch.  To feel genuine caring and to feel loved.

I think we all do.  And every once in a while getting that ‘Free Hug’ reminds me that I’m not alone and that I do belong to the collective known as the human race.



Guns, Guns & More Guns?

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I’ve voiced my opinion on the whole luv-a-affair Americans have with their guns a few times..

And I just don’t get it.

You claim to value life, yet mass shootings have become commonplace in your country.   After the Orlando shootings the reports that came out were poorly researched and  somewhat sensationalized as a ‘terrorist’ attack.

And despite the fact to the contrary it is still being sold as a terrorist attack.

The individual responsible was in fact an American.  Born and raised in New York with a license to carry a concealed weapon as he had been working as an armed security officer for some time.  Apparently a background check was done back in 2013.  I’m not sure what that entails but from what we have come to know he was an abusive individual with severe emotional issues.  Because he was of middle-eastern descent, it was assumed he was a ‘terrorist’.

New York_1 324The Occupy NY movement in Timesquare, Sept 2011, photo taken by N. Pilling

The tragedy that occurred has once again brought up the all too familiar issues surrounding gun control.

They cannot even get a bill struck down that will allow them to study gun violence!

‘Former Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas authored an amendment that restricted funding for research into gun violence and its effects on public health. Dickey tells Steve Inskeep he now has deep regrets.’

For the entire interview the link is below.

Four days after the Orlando tragedy, they tried to again just have this clause removed.  They just want increased funding to study it!!!  It would seem the NRA has a stronghold, however, and it was shot down in a heartbeat.

Pun intended!

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Shops in New Westminster, BC  Canada step up to show their support during Pride, photo by N. Pilling

I just watched an interview with Chris W. Cox who is at the top of management in the NRA’s organization.  According to Mr. Cox, guns are not the problem. It is the ‘radical Islamic terrorists’ that are the problem.  It is the government that is the problem.  Americans have a God given right to defend themselves.   This phrase caught my attention.

Let me ask Mr. Cox this.  Should all of us not have the right to protect ourselves under the eyes of God?

Are we not, according to any number of religions around the world,  of one God?  Yes, the prerogatives of ‘God’ seems to have been lost in translation as well.

Chris Cox states that restricting the type of weapons Americans can purchase has been tried.  I find it really difficult to listen to this kind of rhetoric.

I live in Canada where we do have gun control.  I’d like to see it toughened up even more though.  I completely understand those that live in the rural regions of our country may very well require shot guns and some high powered rifles.  They come into contact with animals in the wild far more frequently, and if they have livestock then they need to be able to protect.

I get that totally.

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Timesquare, New York, NY  Sept 2011, photo by N. Pilling

What I don’t understand, will never understand is why any person living in an apparent civilized society needs to be in possession of military grade weapons that can mow down a room full of people in a few minutes.

When the 2nd Amendment was enshrined in your constitution back in the 1790’s, just six guns made worldwide in the 1700’s.

1717 – Charleville Musket/ Muzzle loading Musket – France
1720 – Blunderbus/ short ranged musket – Netherlands
1722 – Land Pattern Musket (Brown Bess) – Britain
1730 – Kentucky Rifle/ Muzzle loading Musket – U.S.
1750 – Sea Service Pistol (Flintlock Pistol) – Britain
1795 – Harpers Ferry / Springfield Model Musket – U.S

The other popular weapon of the day was the cross-bow, and while they were effective, guns provided a higher degree of accuracy.

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Taken in New Westminster, BC, Canada in support of Pride, photo by N. Pilling

‘The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.[8]

Well, it is safe to say that guns have evolved.  I have to wonder if the forefathers of America would have put this in place had they known the impact it has had on their country.

What I would like to know is why my American neighbors feel their rights are being infringed upon by being restricted from purchasing guns of this magnitude?   The ones of military grad.

If they want a gun, why can they not be content with a hand gun or a rifle?  Regular rounds…whatever that may be. Six or something like that?

It almost smacks of paranoia that Americans are falling over each other to add to their arsenal.

I feel a sadness for my neighbors as I don’t know what it is like to live in fear that I will be attacked or hurt at any given time on a daily basis.

Once again to the families and friends who lost there loved ones in this senseless act I offer my prayers and condolences.