Canada Day – Celebration and Memories

Canada Day 2020 is not a typical Canada Day for sure. There are no big musical celebrations or firework spectacles. Social distancing guidelines still limit gatherings in most places and many are unable to travel to be with family.

We are still planning some Canada Day traditions – a paddle on the lake, a BBQ for supper, a rootbeer float, and smores (in tin foil on the grill instead of marshmallows roasted over the fire – Nova Scotia is still under a COVID no burn order).

We also have a special tradition that is not so happy and not related to Canada Day – a toast to my Dad who died on July 1, 2007.

Dad loved Canada Day and always decked out in red and white to make a big show of national pride. July 1st was always a busy one with visits to friends and family, bridge walks, flag waving and BBQs on the deck or in the yard. He especially loved getting as many family members as possible together to celebrate with burgers, beer, watermelon and lots of laughter. He enjoyed the fireworks displays and especially liked coming to visit us to join neighbours and catch the display over the harbour.

In fact, in his last days in the hospital, he mentioned more than once that we would have a prime view from ‘the other side’ (the Halifax side) of the Harbour for Canada day. Unfortunately, he died early that morning with family around him.

Whenever I was in the area for Canada Day, I always spent at least part of the day with Mom and Dad.

Now, Canada Day is always a day of mixed feelings for me. We wear our red and white, and hang our flag in the window. We show our pride for ourselves, and because we know Dad would be disappointed in us if we didn’t. We check in with family friends who also remember Canada Day with Pauline and John O’Toole. We celebrate the special day in our country with pride and enthusiasm and we remember past Canada Day – and Dominion Day – events. And today we will raise a glass in honour of Johnny O’Toole, who we lost 13 years ago today. I miss you every day, Dad, but July 1 is one of the days when I feel your absence most strongly.

The case for imperfection

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry van Dyke

I have been accused of being a perfectionist.   It always makes me bristle.  “Ridiculous!”  I shout.  And, as proof,  I argue that my work isn’t perfect.  Turns out,  That is a classic symptom.  So is my tendency to take waaaay too long to do just about everything,  typically a result of redoing or overthinking or restarting or, worse yet,  not starting.  All in all, strong evidence of a perfectionist – or at very least, perfectionist tendencies.

It is not like I don’t know I’m doing it.  I am aware that that I am taking too long and tell myself to consider it done and move on to the next thing.  And I do to – you know, right after just one last adjustment.  It is time to get that under control.

I need to let it go so I can accomplish more in less time.   And finish more.  Take for example past efforts to keep a journal – or blog for that matter  – to track progress.  Inevitably I miss a day and then feel compelled to ‘catch up’  before moving forward, which obviously somewhat defeats the purpose.

What was my point – oh yeah, not a perfectionist.

Perhaps I could stretch the truth just a little and claim to be a ‘recovering perfectionist’ (read that somewhere at it appeals to me).  I’ve made some progress but not nearly enough.  It is time to again take up the charge and embrace imperfection.

Perfection stifles creativity AND productivity.

Aim for progress, not perfection and just get started





Aim for progress.
Aim for excellence.
Be realistic- about time, expectations, and resources.
Don’t wait for the perfect time.
Start today.  TAKE ACTION NOW!!

If you have stories to tell, don’t let perfection be an excuse for getting started. Don’t worry that you have all the details exactly right.  Do not stress over finding the perfect font, the ideal picture the best quote.

Even the biggest failure beats the hell out of not tryingGet it started.  You can always refine or revise – to a point of course.

Progress, not perfection!

Where are you on the perfectionist scale?   Are you a perfectionist and proud of it? A sometimes or situational perfectionist? A denying or recovering perfectionist? Or perhaps you are the polar opposite of a perfectionist – would that be an unperfectionist – or maybe anti-perfectionist?

Share strategies you use to make sure that perfectionism doesn’t become procrastination.

My Father’s Daughter

Missing you on your birthdayDad was born on February 5 so this day is always an emotional one for me.  Dad loved his birthday, which usually turned into a birthday week.  He saved all his birthday cards and every year around mid January, he would start to display them around the house, adding more from the collection each day and looking forward to new greetings.  There were always plenty of those; he was much loved. He always said we didn’t need to get him a new one each year but, of course, nobody  listened.  He would have been disappointed if we had.  He most cherished cards with a thoughtful note and he relished revisiting old wishes.  On the other hand, he was amused by cards being reused with a new message added – because he appreciated the practical approach.

As my siblings and I grew, we moved away for school or work and were separated by distance.  But those of us who were near, always gathered for Dad’s birthday supper and cake.  If any of us couldn’t make it home, we always checked in by phone and he anticipated the calls for days.  He loved to chat and laugh with family members.   In fact, he typically had multiple cakes and meals shared with various friends and extended family.

I miss Dad every day but on his birthday, his loss is especially strong.    We’ll toast his name and light a birthday candle for him today.

I was very close to my father, and by all accounts, am very much like him.  I made this digital scrapbook page to capture some of the similarities.

My Fathers Daughter layout
My Father’s Daughter is a digital layout created with products from

Do you have a family member who is very like you – or very different?  Challenge yourself today to write a story or do a layout to compare your personalities.  You’ll be glad to have the reminder and it will mean a lot to your children or grandchildren as it might help them understand why you (or they) act or look as they do.

Reusing and organizing

Organizing and Reclaiming

Well, despite my best intentions, sometimes I fall back into collection mode.  I have learned that the best way for me to handle that is to recognize that it just a slight misstep and doesn’t have to mean that I revert to previous patterns.  One of the strategies that I have learned is to not let this slip discourage or undo progress but to face it head on  before it spreads.

Take the example of my  t-shirt collection.  I mainly wear T-shirts with logos or messages only when I am doing some work in the workshop or yard.  However, I continue to accumulate them through challenges and volunteer projects with the result that even though I clear periodically and don’t buy T-Shirts, this is an area that demands regular attention.  It is again at a point when my drawers are overly full and need attention. I keep this collection in a small 3-drawer dresser in our guest room and it is looking over crowded.  It is time for a quick clean.   Today was a cold and grey day so it was a perfect time for that task.  I set the timer for 30 minutes.

Time to do some reducing and organizing. Selecting a specific area, like a set of drawers, is manageable in a short time. A perfect 30 minute project.

It can be difficult to let go of some of these the accumulated T-Shirts because, as I mentioned, they typcially have been collected at events and, therefore, stand as testament to some affiliation or achievement.  Knowing what to do with them can also be a block to reducing and when I have thought of donating them, I think that they wouldn’t really have meaning for anyone not connected to the same event.  As I was sorting through, however, I realized that some still held strong positive memories but many, not so much.  I dedicated an hour to these three drawers, set an alarm, and determined to work quickly (not my forte) and get a start on the reduction.


Repurposed materials

I decided to cut the logos/images off the T-Shirts that were valuable memories but no longer worn.  I’ll collect them up and make something of them in the future.  Perhaps a quilt or wall hanging.  In the meantime, I drastically reduce the space required AND still have the reminder of the associated event.  I cut the rest of the shirts into strips for rags for the workshop and garden shed, where they will be put to good use.  An unexpected bonus of this approach is that some of the well worn shirts would not lastmuch longer and this way the most important part of the story is preserved.


Preparing to cut logos and images. When I have enough collected pieces with sufficient variety, I will make these into a memory quilt.


I turned this stack of shirts… 








…. to this collection of images and pile of rags.

Cutting 15 shirts to small squares for saving and strips for use as rags. NOTE: This process took 15 minutes beyond the original 30-minute timer; I had the time and wanted to finish this piece.  If that was not the case, could have put this in my to finish basket for small projects in case I have a small block of time.







New Project

I also set aside 10 golf shirts with company logos.  I plan to cover the logos with a patch or design of some type so I can wear or donate them.  I didn’t have the time to begin that today so I took the shirts that I removed from the drawers and put them in a basket on a shelf in my closet marked “30 minute projects”.

Improved Organizations

I reduced the number of shirts in the drawers dramatically, leaving only ones that I continue to wear when I exercise or do work around the house or garden.



I put clothes that no longer fit or suit, as well as a number of T-shirts that I realized didn’t really have an emotional attachment but are still in good shape – in a bag to donate  While I was at it, I collected some items already set aside for that purpose and bagged those up too.

Result – 1 1/2 garbage bags of clothes and a bag of bed clothes taken out to the car to drop at Value Village on my next trip to the city.

Time well spent

In less than hour, I cleared some space in the drawers.  I do have another small collectin of shirts that are in a plastic bin with off-seasonal clothes.   Maybe I’ll put some unused T-Shirts back in rotation – or perhaps I’ll just take the plunge and donate some or cut  as logos or rags or donate.

What is your T-shirt strategy?

Do you have  a T-shirt collection?  What do you do with T-Shirts from runs, school events or promotional activities?  Do you wear them regularly?  Use them for night shirts? Donate them?  Discard them?  Share any suggestions in the comments.

Welcome to [the new] Keep The Stories


Welcome to my new – or more accurately new again – blog where I plan to challenge you to keep and share your stories while simplifying life by reducing the amount of stuff.

I originally started this blog a few years ago and was generating content regularly for almost two years when other projects took priority and this was put on the back burner. I continued to integrate the core ideas of Keep the Stories with other projects, always with the thought of turning this idea into a more vibrant entity.  I recently decided that it was time to build on this foundation and get back to this idea that has continued to be a passion.

It is time to take action.

To begin, I have cleared the previous content.   Some of the posts are no longer relevant to my goals for this site.   Others will be archived or used in a different context.  Still others will be revisited, revived and republished with new content.

I’m looking forward to new adventures and learning and I hope you will join me on the journey.


Back with new stories

It has been awhile (again). I have been busy with various projects and learning and not keeping up with this blog. Once more caught up in finding a unique or particularly creative and inspirational direction.  perhaps a losing battle and most definitely a recipe for writer`s block.  So, leaving that goal behind to see what happens and what direction evolves –  and whether anyone cares.

Stay tuned.  You know, assuming you got tuned in the first place.