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Wendi Stewart - Wendi with an 'eye'

Wendi lives in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, but the farm on Rainy River in Crozier will always be her home. MEADOWLARK, her debut novel released September 15, is published by NeWest Press of Edmonton. She is the mother of four daughters who did the unforgivable: they grew up. http://wendistewart.writersresidence.com

Helping to make life more bearable

Kurt Vonnegut said, “Go into the arts. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.”

That seems an almost defeatist way of looking at life but it’s true. Creativity is known to soothe the soul; to be in the tool box for rehabilitation.

Yet the first programs we cut from education, when the money gets tight, are the arts programs. Rather, we tend to educate our children to become consumers, as if that is the only way to pursue a meaningful successful life.

And while we do so, we educate the creativity right out of them.

I’m aching to be a candle of light

Many of you will have seen the video of six-year-old Alex from New York on Facebook reading a letter he wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama about the boy in Syria.

He asked President Obama to bring Omran Daqnees to Scarsdale so Alex can give Omran a home. In his letter, Alex cited all that he and his sister, Catherine, would give to Omran: a family, shared toys, safety, help, understanding.

The images of Omran in the ambulance are haunting. The everyday reality of war and destruction that has been the whole of this wee boy’s life is staggering.

We’re all butterflies in the making

I watch people. I think I’ve always watched people.

I look for clues in how they hold their hands, or repeatedly pull on a ball cap as if they are trying to keep their thoughts contained or massage an eyebrow to control a worry.

I look for sad, for weary, for signs of hurting.

I’m not sure why but I do. I create stories in my head, complete with solutions for what I imagine is going wrong. Perhaps I watch to remind myself we are never alone in what we feel.

What to do with a do-over?

If I had my life to live over, I might pursue a variety of occupations that I didn’t have time for this particular go-round.

I still would want to be a writer, but I’d start earlier and wouldn’t engage in the distractions of accounting with such vigour, though I do love the math of accounting work, the black and white of it, the rules of it, the staying between the lines, so to speak.

I have fun imagining what I might be given a chance for a do-over.

‘Cricket’ no longer one of my favourite words

I have a lot of favourite words. I even have them in a list in case I forget; a list I can add to and delete from.

Sometimes I modify said list—removing words that no longer make me smile while adding new words. Words I stumble upon in the course of a day; words that make the day a little happier.

Some of the words on my list of happy words are: bubble and gallop, giggle and guffaw. Enchanting and serendipity are easy candidates, as are watermelon and felicity, which actually means intense happiness.

It seemed a good idea at first

You know those ideas that seem like really good ones at first blush, when excitement is high and enthusiasm keen!

But halfway across swimming Lake Ontario, you start to doubt your common sense and think you may have made the wrong decision—considering you only know how to dog paddle and a rescue boat should have been part of the plan, so the only option is to keep swimming?

Making jelly is a bit like that.

An Olympic idea

I haven’t watched much of the 2016 Summer Olympics on television even though I thoroughly enjoy sport; admire the dedication and commitment these athletes demonstrate to get to play on the world stage.

If I had to pick a favourite sport, that would be a tough decision, but the 100-metre sprint for both women and men is incredibly exciting, especially with Canada’s Andre de Grasse.

A whopping seven inches shorter than the brilliant Jamaican Usain Bolt, de Grasse is holding his own against the fastest man on Earth.

I march into battle

“War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”

So said Thomas Mann, a German writer who, in 1929, won a Nobel Prize in Literature for his thoughts; those thoughts he recorded on paper.

I am just such a coward, it would seem. And when the war I waged had been won, I ran around my backyard like “Rocky Balboa”—knees high, arms over my head, shouting, as if I had won something.

Let me explain.

Being silly makes perfect sense to me

I suppose I could be classified as odd, a quality I’m quite fond of though I’m not sure everyone has such an aspiration.

Thankfully, for me, being odd comes rather naturally, doesn’t require much effort at all on my part.

Plus, I think my oddness tops the list of attributes my daughters admire about me, though the list may be a small one.

Singing in the grocery store is considered odd I was told, told with a disparaging tone. Speaking Irish is one of my favourite oddities, sometimes blended with Scottish overtones.