A Good Home

Which Do You Prefer?

Someone once asked me this question.

“Whose approach do you prefer: Martin Luther King Jr or Malcolm X?”

“Both”, I replied. “And Rosa Parks. And the Black Panthers.”

My friend stared at me, speechless. Talk about asking a simple question and getting a difficult answer!


When you’ve worked in countries like South Africa and led organizational/societal change at home — or maybe if you’ve just lived long enough — you learn that change rarely comes about because of a single leader or strategy. To make substantive change, enduring change, it takes a variety of approaches.

We need the moderates — the diplomats who can inspire courageous but peaceful protest; the people who can argue with the powerful without losing control.

We need the academics and media — people who study the issues without bias, but can raise the alarm when our  freedom, safety, democracy and human rights are threatened. 

We need the people who will be uncompromising in demands and language. They’re not comfortable company at the dinner table, but they’re essential.

We need the everyday heroes who will stay put in their seat on the bus, refusing to obey an unjust law.

And you need the people who, like a sword hanging over our heads, will threaten our peaceful, comfortable existence.

I salute Nelson Mandela, a hero for our times.  And yet, I know that a much less popular person, his former wife, Winnie Mandela, also played a vital role in bringing about revolution. 

Imprisoned for it, tortured by prison guards, then, later, hated by many for her worst actions as a guerrilla leader. But how can anyone deny the impact of her war against the apartheid government? 

How can anyone deny the role of the freedom fighters who were killed, imprisoned or exiled from their homeland?  The journalists who were imprisoned or exiled for criticising the apartheid government?

On a humbler level, I’ve experienced a thing or two.  As a founder and former president of a prominent Black Canadian organization, I saw people so set in their preferred approach to change, that they made enemies of those who fight the same battle in different ways.

Guilty, your honour.  As an impatient young leader, I made enemies unnecessarily. Missed important opportunities.

Later, I realized: if we’re all fighting for the same outcome, why on earth are we not working together? Why dismiss and belittle those who disagree with you on strategy but share the same goals?

Age and learning about how societies and organizations change have helped me to see the bigger picture. And this I know today:

It takes several kinds to bring about change, so let us learn to value them. And where possible, let us work with them, not against them.

A Good Home, Garden Scenes, Uplifting Myself

I’d Never Seen My Garden…

… from certain viewpoints.  You could call it: The Paths Not Taken.

Blog Photo - Garden Beauty shot July 2018 -- view from yellow lilies in blue pots to white chairs across pool

It’s such a lovely place. But I didn’t venture far enough, and always saw the same things from the same points of view.

Blog Photo - Garden - Beautiful long shot to wall

Until today! Today,  I took a ‘daycation’. 

The day had started out badly — one of those painful mornings that make you want to curl up and feel very sorry for yourself. Pain can do that to you — temporarily blind you to everything else around you.

But why give in, I asked myself, when there’s so much to be thankful for? 

Blog Photo - Garden and open umbrella and plants

So I did some of the exercises they’d taught me at the rehabilitation hospital.

It helped, but wasn’t enough.  I needed to get out of the house! 

Off we went: cane, camera, Cynthia.  On a journey to find new lands right here at home in the garden.

First, I looked from the deck upstairs

Blog Photo - Garden Leaning tree and umbrella and blooms

Blog Photo - Garden looking down from deck

Then from the patio downstairs

Blog Photo - Garden wide shot with blue pot and trees

And gave thanks for what I saw.

I walked and looked — really looked

Blog Photo - Garden Hosta cu

At the garden from the back

Blog Photo - Garden woodland and hydrangea and japanese maple

And from the side.Blog Photo - Garden Japanese maple and cedars and chairs

I wanted to sit – I probably needed to sit 

Blog Photo - Garden umbrella and chairs from other side of pool

But I didn’t.

I looked at things while standing up

And while leaning over them.

Blog Photo - Garden Orange Lily

Blog Photo - Garden Bird bath

This tree trunk, below, and I were probably both leaning alike

But the steps beckoned.

Blog Photo - Garden Hosta and Chairs seen from path

Blog Photo - Garden Hydrangea and hint of woodland path

Steadying myself, I headed the other way

And beheld this stunning view

Blog Photo - Garden Other side at back

I lingered, dazzled

Only slightly aware of the gentle rain

And walked and looked — really looked

Blog Photo - Garden beauty shot July 2018 -- back garden with trees and beds and walls

And saw

Blog Photo - Garden single Fern

Blog Photo - Garden beauty shot July 2018 - corner of back garden shows bee balm and trees

Blog Photo - Garden Walls two levels

Then slowly, carefully, climbed the terrace steps

(This is stated for my family members, who worry…)

Blog Photo - Garden Ferns over wall 2

And, at the top, looked across

Blog Photo - Garden Ferns Closer

Then below

Blog Photo - Garden Hosta and Jacks

Blog Photo - Garden Hostas and lawn from other side

And realized I was smiling.

Grinning, actually.


Blog Photo - Garden Longshot with open umbrellas

I once attended a talk my husband gave on perspective and creativity.  He used photography to illustrate his argument that we see new things (or see the same things in new ways) when we change our point of view.

I’m blessed and I know that. But some days I stay put when I should get up and change my perspective.  


Blog Photo - Garden Blue Pots and view to terrace wall

When I was at Toronto Rehab, my therapists taught the art of distraction — a way to lift oneself above pain, reduced mobility and the resulting depression. 

Yesterday, I both distracted myself and changed my viewpoint. And a day which could have been miserable turned out better.

Hope your summer goes well.