My big Aha Moment

Holiday 2018 books

I’m officially on holiday, until January 3rd 2019! Whohoo! And I intend to do quite a few things, such as tidying my art studio, finishing a few art projects and reading. Oh how I love reading.

My books choices have changed recently, and as I was driving to work this morning, I noticed I had a smile on my face. I’m a relatively positive person and that’s not unusual but this time, I actually felt it on my face. I had one of the biggest AHA MOMENT at that exact second – I was truly happy going to my work and take part in the new project that started a few weeks ago.

“Aren’t you retired” many have asked me recently. “I thought you stopped working” or more often than not “Why are you working???” I 2011 I did retire from consulting and a 20-year career with Accenture. When I planned my goals when I was 23, one of my bucket list item was to retire by the time I reached 50. Well, turns out I was in my 50th year, as it was just before I turned 51. I was elated to be able to travel more often, write, do crafts etc. Early on after I retired, I was offered many job opportunities but turned them all down.

After three years of travels and leisure, I was offered a contract and I decided I would rebuild my travel savings and keep my feet in the business. Well, that is what I thought.

The project was interesting, but I realized I missed travelling, so I headed back to Spain and other travel trips. This past summer I returned to the Camino in Spain, to volunteering at the albergue. I also completed the Camino walk (I had 114 km left on the Camino I dedicated to my sister Denise who passed away in 2014. That last part of the Camino was by far the most emotional one so far. I believe it was a grieving Camino, not only for my sister but for everyone in my life who had passed. I cried often, I hurt, I felt grief constantly, but I understood it was a needed step in my ongoing personal growth. I also felt there was a need that was growing in me.

On my second of six days of walk, I started thinking that I might want to return to work. I have a strong belief in putting thoughts “out there” and let the universe do its thing. I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes right now, and that’s great. We all need to believe our own philosophy, follow our instincts, and mine include a sense of faith in the universe. Some call this faith in God, in destiny, in Providence, or just hogwash.

The next day, I got two calls for two offers of contract work. I now find myself working at one contract 4 days a week. This contract is all about service centre, or call centre, and it’s a real challenge as there are many challenges but I realize I am in my element.

And yesterday, it hit me hard – I truly and honestly love this type of work. I realized my brain needs the stimulation that this type of work provides me. I realized I thrive on this type of challenge. I openly am stating that I am not ready to retire. I am ready to work on my terms, on projects I find interesting and challenging keeping my options open for additional travels between projects.

My hunger for new knowledge, my joy in helping out organizations, my ability to quickly adapt to demands of a project, my excitement in being part of a program of change, all these things point to the fact I still have lots to give.

Therefore, I realize that my definition of retiring is not the traditional one, but I am blessed to have the option of working or not, and of travelling or planning for future travels.

The year is almost over, and I look forward to starting 2019 doing what I really enjoy!

I hope you will begin 2019 doing what you really enjoy!

Happy holidays!



Last is the New First

The alarm rang at 6:15 am on Saturday July 1st; a very special Canada day as the country was celebrating our 150th Anniversary of Confederation. I had registered to participate in a 10K race, however, planned on walking the distance.

I’ve done many walking races, some as difficult as marathons, half marathons and of the last 6 years or so, only 10k events. I’m far from being a runner, I’m seldom a jogger, and mostly experience the race from the back of the file.

I get to see the elite front end runners coming back on the second half of the race, well into my second or third kilometer. It’s something not too many people see as they typically follow the front runners, usually 2 or 3 kilometers behind. I get to see them coming towards me, their feet landing with little sound, their gait long, their bodies elegant and strong… what a beautiful sight! They swish by me and disappear quickly as they aim to break their personal best record.

I get to thank the volunteers as I rapidly walk by, with enough time to share a few words with them. Running fast doesn’t allow one to do this! I don’t have to crowd in to try to get some water at the water station, I’m typically one of the last they serve. I am typically alone in the photographs the run team take, no chance of losing sight of me among the big crowds of runners.

I am proud to say I completed the 10K. Despite wanting to go back to bed, I completed the race. Despite the rain pouring as I arrived, forcing some runners to return to their homes, I completed the race. Despite the start of the event in torrential rain, I completed the race. Despite shivering at some point and getting a huge leg cramp at kilometer 4, I completed the race.

I finished third from last. There were still lots of people at the finish line encouraging us “slow ones” as we arrived. And, that is what counts. I finished, and I even was able to shave off almost 4 minutes from my last 10K race. Ultimately, it’s not about the completion time. It’s about getting out there, regardless of the adversity, and finishing what I set out to do.

It’s always a new race, a new setting, new challenges and the key is to simply push through the effort and meet my personal goals. Last place is MY first place – keeping my personal promise to complete my event.

  before the racesoaking wet arrival

13 Reasons Why – and why it should be seen by ALL

I knew a bit about these episodes, I knew they dealt with teen suicide, but nothing more.

I binged watched, because once the first episode started, I was compelled to watch episode after episode after episode. My heart broke for many reasons, mostly for the young people who have gone through difficult and at times devastating life challenging and life changing events.

Everyone is aware, to some level, of the challenges today with the social media component. It is a good tool but can also be deadly, in many ways… cyber bullying, cyber shaming, cyber incrimination, cyber discrimination, cyber intimidating matched with real life bullying, shaming, incriminating, discriminating and intimidating destroy self esteem, self worth, self-value, self confidence…

It’s a different world than when I was in high school – bullying happened then as well, but without the cyber component.

Reputations have been tarnished, shredded, torn, misinterpreted, misshaped, invented, blown up, misrepresented… each and every time the affect is often for life. Oh, as we “grow” up we may remember less and less, and talk ourselves into believing that we need to overcome these situations.

We are taught that these actions are “common” and that everyone at one time, has been bullied. People can be very cruel to others, without really knowing the impact that the actions can have, for decades on.

This series, in my opinion, is a MUST SEE, for EVERYONE. For teenagers to help them understand how their actions affect others, and understand that they are  not alone, that they are loved. For parents to understand how very complex this world is for teenagers, and for young adults. For grandparents to understand that the world today is so vastly different than the world of their youth.

This series has shaken me to my core – has made me recall some memories I would have preferred not to remember, but it has empowered me to speak out, and recommend this series to EVERYONE. We all can be more aware, more open, more receptive, more understanding, more questioning, more able to reach out, whether to others who may need  support, or to GET support ourselves.

Needing help is not a sign of weakness, and if anyone out there ever need to reach out, for whatever reason, I hope that you know that I WILL LISTEN and support… This is always always always available… I venture to say, most people, and those around you and me would do the same.

Life is precious… very precious.


Evolution of my self

OM Times Magazine states that personal evolution is a change of perspective. How one’s beliefs, self-image and self-knowledge affect us emotionally, mentally and spiritually is determined by testing new knowledge through experience and turning it into wisdom.

This said, this past year I’ve been going through a lot of re-evaluation of so many things in my life. Never as often as this summer, where I had some beliefs take a complete turn on so many subjects. I spent many hours with acquaintances and friends this summer, and many of them offered some interesting view points.

I also had the opportunity to have very deep philosophical conversations with priests and one brother who came to Moratinos to be part of a chaplain program. I posed some very tough questions, and the conversations that ensued put my beliefs in need of re-evaluation.

I also found myself trying to understand certain reactions I had to people’s ways, looks and habits. I deliberately took notice of my attitude and found myself aware of preconceived notions that turned out to not be as sound as they may have seemed 10 or even 5 years ago.

A big one for me is the concept of aging.  I met a man who was 79 walking the Camino with is 19 year old (wait for it) … SON. Yes, his 19 year old son. This man didn’t look 79, and he was fit and had so much energy and was a joy to get to know. I met a woman who was 85 who still gardened every day, who walked 5 km a day and swam in the ocean every week of the year! So what is aging? One of my misconception was regarding grey hair. In my own mind, I was ok with having loads of wrinkles, but somehow, couldn’t accept having grey hair. I’m fine with anyone else having silver strands, but I refused to let mine show… Until now.

I had a very vivid dream where a toddler (that I knew somehow was my grandchild) was playing with my long curly beautiful silver hair. IT looked fabulous! Soon afterwards, I had another dream where a voice told me “Your body or your hair do not define you. Be your authentic self – and don’t worry about what others think.”

Today, I took the first step to adding authenticity for my self. I made the first pass at letting my hair be its real colour. It will be a multiple step effort, but from this point on, I will embrace who I truly am… and let my ACTIONS, attitude, my “joie de vivre” define me.

with my new lighter hair

with my new lighter hair

The Father we know or have known

dad 3Syls DadThere are moments in life that simply bring us to our knees in sheer emotions… Today was one of those moments… I heard this song that was written for Celine Dion by the amazing artist Pink.

It is such a totally emotional “cry out your heart song” of gratitude and love, and the constant reach to manage life’s most crippling and humbling experiences… the lost of a loved one. Out of nowhere, I chanced through the channels between housecleaning activities, and in a moment, was sitting down in amazed concentration to the show StandUp2Cancer. It was late, but I chanced on the channel as I heard the first note played on the piano, and I was riveted. And Celine started to sing – like the angel whose voice she has, this haunting, disturbing and comforting song….

I am recovering…. Aren’t we all recovering from something? An old hurt, a failed project, a lost member(s) of family, a failed marriage, a heartbreak or more…  We all have SOMETHING, acknowledged or not, that is likely in need of recovery.

I lost my Dad 46 years ago – and to this day, I still think of him. I lost my Mom, my sister Denise, my aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents, in laws… we all have. Many wish just one more moment with them, one more thought, one more “I love you”. I believe, and this is my own personal belief, than they are still with us, but in different “state or form”.

They are still missed and loved. My girls still have their father and they are so blessed.

Humbled and grateful for those I loved





The wonders of nostalgia

“Live in the present” we hear, almost on a daily basis. My philosophy differs somewhat. I see validity and value in the past, the present and the future.

old coffee cup

Memories galore…

I found myself busy cleaning the kitchen and chanced upon this beautiful cup. How many of us remember our parents or grandparents drinking from such a cup.

These flashbacks to my younger days are to me, a gift… A gift from the past. Such gifts make me remember the great moments of my childhood or my growing up days.

I feel happiness and security when I see such treasures. Granted, LIVING in the past is not something I would recommend, but the past has tremendous value to add to our growth. Notice I didn’t say growing up, but wise! Up is not a direction I aspire.

Nor, I truly believe, should we live in the future ALL the time, but I truly aspire to do so to enable me to see and feel myself in my own created future. It allows me to dream, to create, to imagine, to picture myself in a better version of who I am today. All of us can use some “tweaking” to be our best selves.

I also live in the present – enjoy these feelings of nostalgia I have from being items of my past, and being thankful for my life… each and every day.

So perhaps you might consider doing some “downsizing” and sharing what you have that you can give out to others. And in the interim, if you find those “treasures” that fling you into some past experiences or time, well then, keep those in a special place. We can live a balanced life in all three spaces… the value of past positive and happy memories, the present of appreciating what we have and what we had, and projecting what we could be.

I am forever thankful for my charmed life, my beautiful family members and friends…

Love and appreciation.




New appreciation for my ancestors

On June 27th, I, along with 47 other pilgrims (mostly from Bordeaux France) set sail from Bordeaux to A Coruna in Spain. The 3 mast sailboat made its maiden voyage in June of 1896. Its original cargo was of cocoa beans from Brazil to Nantes in France for the french chocolatier Menier.



Today it serves as a training vessel for various groups, including ours. We spent 5 days learning and doing many of the tasks needed to keep the vessel in working order. Although the very able crew of 15 sailors could do this on their own, they included us in many of the maneuvers such as raising the sails, navigating and maintaining the ship.

A sailor I am not I soon discovered as I suffered seasickness during most of the trip; extreme seasickness that plagued me during 4 of the 5 days of sailing. I will omit the details, suffice to say I managed to lose a few kilos along the way.

One of my many thoughts (other than the dream of terra ferma) was that of our newly found ancestor information. Through research, my brother Paul was able to trace our father’s ancestors right up to the migration of Andre Poutré dit Lavigne who opted to set his sights on la Nouvelle France (Québec) in 1655.

He, along with 224 other brave individuals crossed the ocean on a ship called l’Aigle d’Or on what must have been nothing less than a hellish trip lasting 111 days. I cannot even fathom the hardship of such travels. The conditions of their surroundings must have been near impossible to survive with so many people for such a long period of time with limited rations, limited space and treacherous waters.

How many actually arrived in Nouvelle France is not noted, but he, along with his future wife who sailed a different ship as a chosen “Fille du Roi” established themselves in Canada and had a total of 12 children.

I have such a respect and admiration for those like them who defied the odds and headed towards a new life in a newly inhabited country which included extreme cold, snow, undeveloped land, and much hardship. I planned to visit the birth place of André, but due to changes to my schedule, I have to postpone this visit until my next trip.

Today, I salute those that made that extreme leap of faith and traveled to our country.

Hollyhocks from Heaven

My garden is a big source of pleasure for me. I enjoy everything about it, from the planning and making decisions on look and feel, to the putting it all together, planting, caring, nurturing and enjoying every stage of the growth of all the plants/fruits/veggies/herbs.

I try to make my garden a calm haven. I want twinkly solar lights and beautiful fragrant herbs and flowers. I want colour – lots of colour! My garden changes every year. This year, it will consist mostly of veggies, since I won’t be able to tend it during my trip this summer.

I have been observing the growth of the tulips Steve’s Mom planted in the front of our home. I so look forward to seeing the first little green poking out of the ground. It means that it’s spring, and it makes my heart sing in thanking Marge for her love and support. I think about her each and every time I walk up the front door! And I smile.

Today, Steve asked me if I wanted to plant more of her flowers. I was taken aback since I didn’t know of any more flowers. He took out a bag with small pill bottles, the storage method used to protect seeds. On each cap, Marge’s familiar writing identifying the type and colour of the flower.

Nana’s writing – isn’t it interesting how some of us react very emotionally when we see someone’s writing. All writings are unique, and they are just like our fingerprints, snowflakes or stars.

Hollyhock seeds – I had to look up the flower to see if I recognized it. This is something new for my garden, and I am so excited and inspired to make the hollyhock project a success.

Those seeds have now taken on much more importance to me. Nana’s hands touched those seeds, she preserved them, identified them, and kept them. It’s an extension of her of sorts, one that we will enjoy for weeks during the summer. And the garden will now have an even more spiritual aspect… at least, for myself.

In a way, I see this experience I’m living right now as gift… and in my hands, I have what I want to refer to, as Hollyhocks from Heaven!

Thanks Nana,

We love you, and we miss you

Santa wore mascara

The tree was beautifully decorated and the sweet smell of cookies wafted from the kitchen. We were all gathered at my Mom’s house and I had planned to be Santa for the young ones.

We sat around and enjoyed each other’s company, and I quietly left the living room, making sure no one saw me. Granted, I didn’t make a tall Santa, but I was a very well dressed Santa. I stuffed a cushion to make my belly round, slipped the white wig and lifelike white beard, and sneaked out of the house by the side door.

I waited a few minutes, adjusting my bag of toys over my shoulder and in my best deep voice, practiced my Santa laugh. I noticed the kids had taken notice and ran to the front bay window to catch a glimpse of  the jolly guest.

I walked into the house, and the children gathered all around me, and others spoke so my words wouldn’t give me away. I did throw out a few loud “Ho ho” that seem to satisfy the children. So not to overstay my welcome, I waved goodbye and left the children to open their Santa presents. I noticed a few of them watching me through the window so I walked over to our neighbor to make it seem a bit more real.

After a short while, I softly crept back in, unnoticed, and went upstairs to change back into my regular clothes. I walked back down and a few of the kids told me that Santa had come by to visit. One of the youngest girls was a beautiful dark eyed dark hair little one who hardly spoke. She was a bit on the shy side, and hadn’t even spoken to me earlier during the evening. I caught her staring at me a few times, and an hour later, she approached me and sat beside me and took my hand in hers. This was quite unexpected coming from this shy little one.

After a few minutes, she motioned me to get close to her, and with her soft voice, she whispered “You know, Santa is a girl” she said quite proudly. “A girl?” I asked with a surprised tone. “Why do you say that?” She looked at me and smiled, and after a minute or so, she replied “Because Santa wore mascara”!

Did she really know I had taken on that role or was she simply sharing her discovery with me? I won’t ever be sure but she spent the rest of the evening sitting close to me.

By the way, that little girl was Anna Lee! this remains as one of my favorite Santa stories!

Merry Christmas to you all,

Santa Sylvie

The “Z” Memories – Walking down the camino memory lane

Here we are at the last letter of the alphabet, the letter “Z”.

Zaftig statues

Zaftig statues

This zaftig statue depicts a woman along side her equally rotund man.  This particular couple can be found in the city of Burgos.

I’m not sure if they are wearing the clothing of a certain area, but I have seen many alike figures in the Basque Country.

I’m sure some of my readers will let me know more of these characters.

zillion of teardrops

zillion of teardrops

This next picture may be hard to make out – but if you look closely, you will notice hundreds of hundreds (I say zillion to indicate lots and lots and lots) or glass teardrop shapes. This massive art piece hangs in the entrance way of the museum of Contemporary Art in the city of Vitoria.

The most amazing thing happens every 30-40 seconds, the entire structure moves a wee bit, making all the shapes cling against each other, akin soft moving chimes… I watched, listened and videotaped this amazing moving art piece for almost half an hour. I was so mesmerized by it. It is called ‘Un pedazo de cielo cristalizado’ (2001), and was created by Javier Pérez – a piece of crystallized sky. It was created by Javier Pérez for the Spanish Pavilion of the Venice Biennial held in 2001.

Zomorphic apparatus

Zoomorphic apparatus

This zoomorphic apparatus (shaping of something in animal form) is a sort of training unit used by young children to practice the art of bullfighting.

Set on a wheel and having handles, one child would “drive” this apparatus and the children would wave their little capes mimicking a matador.

How unique and had I been able to bring one back home, I would have, as a conversation piece in my Camino room. Alas, it would not fit in my backpack!



To close this amazing adventure that was the A to Z blogging challenge, I offer you the picture titled “Zzzzzs”. I was resting, albeit momentarily in a small street.

Notice another Camino symbol, depicting the many Camino ways in Spain, all meeting at one point, and that point represents Santiago de Compostela, the city where it is believed the remains of St. James are found.

Thank you, readers, for the past month’s of great feedback, comments and encouragement. I hope you enjoyed traveling with me through my words and my pictures. It has been a true pleasure sharing my memories with you, and perhaps, one day, we may just meet and exchange a “Buen Camino” and a smile.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit