We’re taught to tell the truth from a very early age. There is even a

Commandment stating “Thou shall not lie” and a further commandment stating

“though shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour”, which translates into,

you shouldn’t lie when testifying against your fellow man. Seems pretty clear,

doesn’t it? Don’t lie.

But do we even know what the truth is? At truth is defined as “the

true or actual state of matter” So, is there any room here for interpretation? or is

it “black and white”? It would seem from the definition and the commandments.

it is very straight forward Absolutely no lying!

My sister and I were grown and out on our own… Brenda (13 months my junior)

was living in a college residence at Dalhousie University. I was in Annapolis Royal,

boarding with the wonderful Lane Family (an experience which forever shaped my

life for the better!).

Late one night, my sister calls. She tells me of the most recent events in her life.

She wanted “to talk” She’s audibly uncertain about some of these events, but,

she had reached adulthood and I suppose talking to her big sister was preferable

to confiding in her dorm mates.

There were some life-changing things happening in her life.. things that would

impact her outlook to her future. She was talking very slowly, as if choosing her

words very carefully. I could tell she was having a hard time getting her words

out, almost stuttering trying to explain so I could understand “where she was

coming from” At times, I strained to be sure I got the entire story I had difficulty

hearing her. she had done something ..something I didn’t agree with. There was

a huge silence on both ends of the phone. I proceeded to tell her my feelings on

the subject…. more silence… deeper silence…… Was she crying?

I couldn’t sleep that night. I called her first thing the next morning. I was finally

realizing something. Remembering the previous evening, It occurred to me that

Brenda hadn’t called for my advice. She hadn’t asked for my opinion. The next

morning I apologized for being judgemental,, when really it wasn’t my place or my


Why, oh, why, couldn’t I have done that to begin with?

To this day, my stomach churns and my eyes ear up thinking how all Brenda

wanted was to talk to maybe get an encouraging word maybe an “it’ll be okay”.

But NO! I had to tell her how I was feelings about it. My truth!

About a year ago, My good friend, Anna, was here at my home for a small get-

together. After almost everyone was gone, three of us were left sitting around the

Kitchen table. telling “tales from the heart, which tends to happen at kitchen

tables. The topic somehow turned to “truth” and how we deal with it. Anna said

how she was talking to a young member of her family with whom she’s quite

close. He was doing things with his life that seemed to be potentially taking him

down the wrong path. being older and more experienced with life, Anna

explained how she expressed her fears to the young man. It was her truth. Our

other friend asked if Anna felt better after giving her opinion, Anna said no, she

really didn’t But, it’s a good question .

It’s clear, in both of these circumstances, the receiver of our truth had not

requested it, but both Anna and I felt completely justified at the time sharing our

unsolicited opinions.

Why do we feel we need to give our “advice in these types of situations? Is it to

make us feel we’ve done everything we can to help the other person? Or is it to

demonstrate our superior knowledge? Did they want or need our help? With

Anna’s loved one as with my sister, both were telling the elder family member of

events in their lives.

I know in my own situation with my sister, I succeeded in making my sister feel

unloved and misunderstood, not my intent at all!

Do you have a situation where you’ve shared unsolicited advice. that you’d like to

share? Become a follower and tell us your experience!

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The importance of strength comes more from its origin than its definition

What is strength? I use the word frequently. It is in my blog tagline and pops up regularly in my blog text, but, what of the word? Do we use the word correctly? Do we even have a good handle on what it means?

One definition is “the “quality or state of being strong”, while another goes like this, “a good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing”. It would appear I’ve been using the word according to these definitions. So, I got to thinking about it. Do any of us really think about such words as we’re using them?

Do You?

When I started thinking about what strength means, I looked around me. I saw my beautiful, old-fashioned yellow roses standing up straight and tall in the scorching July sun. They must be strong. They must have strength. Then, I saw the beautiful living room furniture my dear, late husband, Kent, made with his own two hands. There the tables stand, straight as can be, no matter what I pile on them. Is it the wood that has strength? Or, perhaps, it’s the way the wood pieces are positioned at right angles that gives the tables strength. Or, maybe, is it the love flowing through their craftsman’s hands and into the finished piece that provides the strength? The crafter knowing that, filled with the strength of his love and artistry, these pieces would live on past his earthly life to give me pleasure and memories long into the future. The strength of his love flowed from his heart, through his hands into the wood to keep the pieces together. How strong those pieces are to hold up the countless cookbooks and magazines I’m addicted to, often much too heavy for one person to carry. Yet, just like his love, which never once buckled under pressure, these tables stand tall, pitting their strength against the enormous pressure of the books’ weight.

What about you? Is there something or someone in your life that displays a strength you find hard to put into words? Tell me about it in the comments section. I’d love to hear about such strength that marvels you!

Yet another example of strength – Following Kent’s second lung cancer surgery, I took a brief break from his bedside to get some fresh air. In the front area of the QEII Hospital VG site there are gardens and green areas with benches. The sun was shining brightly that summer’s day. You could hear the spray from the nozzles of the hoses as the gardeners watered the plants. In the background was the distinctive buzz of a weed trimmer. All fairly normal daily sounds. It was amongst this “normality” outside that I chose to take a break from everything inside. As I headed to a bench, following a paved path, looking down, I spotted THE pinkest flower peeking out through the asphalt (I remember it had five little petals), there was not much of a stem growing and no leaves and it didn’t even seem to be growing out of a crack! It was like that little pink flower poked its head through to the sunlight, just to reassure me everything would be all right. Now, that must be strength. I sat on the bench and pondered that flower’s meaning to me. How had it managed to survive the milieu of people surrounding it? Why had some little girl not spied it and picked it for herself? It somehow gave me the strength I needed to go back to my Love’s side, armed with a medium double-double and Boston Cream Pie! I recounted my story to Kent and he looked up with that smile that made his eyes twinkle and said, “You know I’m going to be okay.” So steadfast, so certain was his tone, I believed him and he was right and was released within the week! Maybe, that is strength. Maybe, I’ve been searching for the real definition of strength and it’s been right in front of me all the time!!

Sandra M. Meersflower struggles to survive

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Destroying a very important relationship in my early adulthood and consequently, having to deal with the realities that followed, was the first time in my life I experienced total emotional devastation. I felt an intense achy emptiness in what is often referred to as the heartspace, that space in our chest and upper abdominal cavities where we feel our soul to be. So devastating was that break-up, the feeling lasted, not for days or weeks, but months and years. I took 100 percent blame and could not seem to let go of the blame. A relentless gnawing feeling took hold and persisted, threatening to destroy my life and any future happiness I might find, if there should be any out there for me. Thankfully, I’d met an awesome woman who I consider my good friend and mentor.

thank u

Capturing Faith
In order to survive, I knew I had to gather up my heartspace and try to move on, it was a task I wasn’t really sure I was up to, and I look back fondly at a time when my good friend and mentor, Ethelyn Mosher, used much of her Faith to encourage my ability to make a new life, in a new place. I believe Ethelyn’s strong Faith in God and her belief in me made me see possibilities that could be there, even though life as I knew it (or even wanted to know it) was gone forever. I secured a new job, found a new apartment, made new friends and started a new life, the very thing I thought I couldn’t possibly do. Eventually, I found someone who filled my newly-repaired heartspace with love and laughter again. That, too, I thought was impossible. As long as it remained crumbled and broken, my heartspace couldn’t be open to the possibilities of happiness that lay ahead! Making new friends and allowing them to share my life, and sharing in my dear friend’s awesome faith, allowed possibilities to open up to me.

Relentless Gnawing Lessens
I came to realize that faith in others and faith in a higher power (whatever your higher power is) creates a faith in yourself that allows you to put your heartspace in order. That relentless gnawing feeling inside you lessens a little each day, so you can finally see a new life beginning to take shape. I suppose it is another form of standing tall, although, at the time, it certainly didn’t feel like I was standing tall. I did find a new life; and it was an exciting and fulfilling life.

More Heartspace Aches
I drew on Ethelyn’s example of Faith once again (I often called it “piggy-backing” on her Faith) some 26 years later when a stroke wracked my body my brain and my life, tearing through me like a bolt of lightning, rendering me completely left-side paralyzed. I continued to believe all would be right in the end; that everything happens for a reason, even though we can’t see the reason immediately. Using that, I believed I would get better, even as the medical professionals said I wouldn’t walk and would likely spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I believed, I fought hard for what I felt strongly to be true and that was that I’d not only walk, but I’d also get my life back. I draw on everything Ethelyn has taught me, especially now, following the death of my best friend and life partner, who, over the course of 28 years had become the center of my whole life. The feeling in my heartspace aches as it did in my early 20’s and again just 4 1/2 years ago, after I thought I lost myself to the stroke.
Even as I sit here writing this, I feel a tear sting this toomy eye and hot liquid moving down my cheek. I feel, too, that same gnawing in my heartspace, I remember my life will get better again. My heartspace will repair. There will be love and laughter once more.
As each day goes by, I’m drawing on the faith Ethelyn showed to me, and in me. all those years ago to help me gather up the pieces of my heart space and put things back in order so that the gnawing feelings start to dissipate. It is happening, the hollowness is becoming less and that relentless gnawing is coming slowly to an end.

I had no way of knowing when I met this very incredible woman so many, many years ago exactly how great an impact she would have on my life. It has been as incredible as the woman herself. I’m grateful every day that I did meet her, for where would my heartspace have been without her? How would I have weathered those emotionally-devastating times in my life without having experienced her tremendous love and Faith? I don’t think I really want to know the answer to that question! I can only imagine how the members of her family feel.
I stand tall now with gratitude for everything she has given me. It’s been a redefining of what I otherwise might have known as “standing tall”.

Sandra M. Meers


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This post is dedicated to my friend, Alnoor, and all of you who are trying against what seems like impossible odds to stand tall against the various food industries to make a better life for yourselves and your families. Attempting to avoid genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics, force-feeding and other questionable profit-generating methods used in the farming industry, as well as trying to use organically-produced ingredients in your meal preparation and avoiding ingredients with more than five syllables can all seem hopeless, not only to the newly-converted, but to seasoned “veterans of the healthy-living population”… Then… curveball!

What group do you fall into? Please comment to let me know.  I’m among the latter group just mentioned and I got the wind sucked out of my sails so suddenly, I’m still reeling from the impact! Are you all nodding in agreement at my most recent experience, or perhaps it is one you’ve already had it yourselves? Have you had a mystery ingredient experience? Sign up to this blog and tell us about it.

Buried TREASURE?  I’m reading the ingredient list on a carton of ice cream, your typical Maritimes-produced brand, seeing all of the usual foodstuffs. Cream, sugar, eggs… then, BAM… carboxymethyl cellulose!! What the? I look again and spell it slowly in my head …C A R B O X Y M E T H Y L   C E L L U L O S E.. I’ve never used that in my ice cream! It has more than five syllables, so, therefore, falls under the category of “shouldn’t go into my body. I decide to research.

I don’t have a handy-dandy set of encyclopedias (for you younger readers… that’s a set of books used for old-school researching.) I, do, however, have the World Wide Web. I get a good hit right away. Carbooxymethyl cellulose is a cellulose derivative, commonly used as a thickening agent and sometimes used in products that relieve dry eyes, among other things… Yep, I can see the connection, there!

Science brings it home  If that wasn’t enough science for you, get this… Carboxymethyl cellulose (aka CMC) is, in fact, the sodium… (Oh, heck. There’s no layman’s language for it). The description does include its use in ice cream, and as an emulsifier in toothpaste, personal lubricants and laxatives.  Although it is considered a chemical, it is also generally considered non toxic and hypoallergenic! (Good to know!) So, I guess for an ingredient with more than five syllables, it isn’t that bad. For those of us on a journey toward better health, this carboxymethyl cellulose is one of those items unnecessary to our bodies and still a relative “unknown” by way of its long-term effects on our well being. I wonder if it is the off-putting flavour I detect when eating soft ice cream?

What, then, to do with carboxymethyl cellulose? For those of us standing tall for the betterment of our health. This biggy we’ll not beat anytime soon, but you do agree you don’t have to join ‘em? The occasional ice cream surely can’t hurt… it’s just a part of the journey, right? That voice in my head is saying, “Wait! You have to fight ‘em. If you don’t, who will? A consideration for another day, I suppose.


 Upon further research, and finding that carboxymethyl cellulose is produced under the ingredient name “zanthan gum”, I discover I have used carboxymethyl cellulose in the past.  I’ve used it to make gravy during a  “low-carb” diet. I found it caused clumpy-like thickening, rather than the smooth effect you want when making gravy.


Sandra M. Meers

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“Stand up straight. Stand tall” Those words echo in my head from decades ago. They are the words of my mother, as she watched her eldest daughter sprout up, towering over her own petite 5’2” frame. I knew what she was trying to tell me; at the time she was concerned my height would cause me to adopt a stooped stature. What I didn’t know then was how important those words would become to me later in life.

Standing tall has helped me succeed in all I tried. My various journeys seemed less troublesome when I listened to those words. Mom’s words kept me strong and confident after a stroke invaded my brain and my body in my sleep one night.

Struggling to make it down the narrow staircase in our home with a paramedic steadying me on one side… “Stand tall”, I heard in my head. At that point I still really didn’t understand what was happening to me, but I obeyed the words.

I’m here living my life as I choose simply because I listened to those words every time I heard them, no matter what I was doing. It’s how I’m sitting here, welcoming you to this, my new blog – the launch of my re-vitalized writing career.

My youngest step-daughter gave me a gift of a small plank of driftwood she’d found in Point Pleasant Park following Hurricane Juan (one can only imagine how many turbulent miles that board had traveled before Stephanie rescued it from the shoreline). On it she inscribed with the prophetic words of Lao Tzu. The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I read that quote every day.

Lao Tzu-001

We all travel many journeys each day. With this blog, while we keep the words of Lao Tzu in mind, I’d like us to explore those journeys, the challenges we encounter and the strengths we develop after taking that first tenuous step. It is my hope we can make this an interactive experience, whereby we learn from each other’s journeys.

As we look at those journeys, challenges and strengths we’ll see how the view (our perception) has changed .The development of new strength develops a new you.

Sandra M. Meers


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