Spring 2016

spring 2016

life is –

life is a garden,

not a road

we enter and exit

through the same gate


where we go matters less

than what we notice

~ Bokonon ~  (The Lost Book)

Each time I read this poem, different images enter my life. The road has been planned by someone else and is fixed, permanent. A life as a garden, who needs to explain? But the concept that matters more than anything else is that we notice. This truly got me looking out the window by my computer at an April Toronto morning. I see the activity in my garden with squirrels appearing, robins and cardinals visiting and the dory man’s oars of my Nova Scotia whirligig turning in the blustery breeze. What greater gift do we have to offer than bearing witness? In so doing we experience, feel and potentially positively contribute to the world in which we find ourselves wandering.

As you well know my Key Life Journeys  website focuses on three of my “wanderings” – care giving, spirituality and travel. I hope you are stimulated by the articles in this newsletter engaging all three.

Bearing Witness in Care Giving

By Susan M Ellis


In recent years attitudes towards care giving have changed. One sees more media coverage of the subject and a growing industry for those offering fee for service. There is a great deal of “taking care of,” but not so much “providing support for” the emotional strains of care giving. In my video Aspects of Hope I talk at length about why some people should not be caregivers. I should add, not before dealing with some of their issues.

On my website is an article entitled   “Why some people should not be caregivers.” The example is of someone who had no role models of people caring while growing up. The article ends with –

“This is not to say that all those who experienced abusive childhoods will behave the same way when they grow up. But it is worth noting that family behaviour does repeat itself. It is essential that we are aware of our own attitudes towards disability, disease, and giving care. It is important that we recognize our true feelings towards our parents or for whom ever it is that we may be asked to give care. Sometimes it is safer to back away from the responsibility, delegating to others. It is essential we seek professional help be it through counseling or by attending a support group. We must never buy into the belief system that all people can be care givers. It is a learned skill.

Many of us fail to accept that we must acquire the skills, believing we are failures when faced by the first problem. Few of us anticipate ahead of time that we might be caring for another and fail to prepare ourselves with knowledge. We often believe we must go it alone and asking for help is a sign of weakness. In hindsight we may believe we could have done things differently, but we must remember that at the time, we did the best we could.

Face your attitudes and beliefs with honesty and then make appropriate choices when faced with the responsibility of being a caregiver.”

For many years my mother cared for my father who had a progressive dementia. It was at a time in Britain where you “did not air your dirty clothes on the line.” This was your secret and “your cross to bear.” I was living in Canada and working with those with Alzheimer’s disease. I knew this societal attitude was not good for her. Aghast, she heard me blurt it out to her friends. How supportive they became, sharing their own hidden secrets too, but bearing witness to each other.

Recently I was excited to hear about a group of friends in a small community in California who had decided to be proactive. All were aging and all had partners who now, or in the near future, would need care. They were not going to travel on this road alone. This is what I learned from one of the group’s members.   Read More…

Briefly San José

By Susan M Ellis

SJ gold museum

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America, about the size of West Virginia, separating Nicaragua to the north from Panama to the south-east. The Caribbean washes beaches on the east side, and the Pacific is to the west.  The country offers an abundance of natural features, wildlife and the people show heart and passion.

The country’s population is around 5 million with San José having an estimated population of 1,393,000 people. San José, the capital, rests in the central valley at an altitude of 3,839 feet (1,170 m) and can be a cooler place to stay. It is the transportation hub, a commercial centre and the place where all the cars and motor bikes in the country seem to gather. Tourists spend little time here with so much more countryside, rain forests, volcanoes and beaches to attract them. But with a main airport and roads radiating out from it, most people pass through. It is a city worth seeing purely to get a greater understanding of the history which makes this country unique.

By choosing a central hotel in which to stay, one can cover much of the city on foot. One such is Hotel Balmoral   located on the pedestrian-only Avenida Central between Calle 7 & 9. Stepping out of the hotel and turning to the east (left) along Avenida Central, one comes to the impressive Jade Museum located between Calle 13 and the National Artisans Market. Much confusion abounds on the internet as the old location is still well documented putting it between Calles  9-11, Avenidas 7-9. Ignore those directions.

jade museum in San Jose
jade museum CR.
jade museum costa rica
costa rica jade mus.
The collection of jade artifacts date from 500 B.C. to 800 A.D and the history is exquisitely laid out with wall panels, models and display cases. Jade is not native to Costa Rica and would have been acquired by trading. It is a very hard stone and the carving of it would have been arduous. The objects tell the story of the life and times of the people.

The history, rituals and cultural practices are also revealed through the large collection of pre-Columbian poly chrome terracotta vases, bowls and figurines. The display is on several floors and each room has a different ambiance, never leading to boredom. A pleasant café on the ground floor serves sandwiches and coffee.   Read More.. .

There Can be Consciousness in Commerce

By Susan M Ellis

“We Are One with humanity and all of life. Business and all institutions of the human community are integral parts of a single reality — interrelated, interconnected and interdependent.”

london england

We are encouraged to live in a selfish world of individuality where my needs, my profits, my desires are more important that my relationship to the whole. Such behaviour is destroying us.

But in my spiritual practice I embrace a oneness with all things. I see myself in an interconnected universe where all actions will have an impact on the whole. This means I react when I know the bees are dying partly because of man-made chemicals; when water, which should be a human right for all, is bottled in areas where drought conditions exist and the water is only sold back to those who can afford to buy it. I cringe when corporations sue countries for not allowing their poisonous product to be sold  or prohibits them from raping the country of its minerals or forests.

According to a Statistics Canada survey, there are at least 850,000 people diagnosed with environmental sensitivities in Canada. This number went up by a whopping 34 per cent from 2005 to 2010. Such people can no longer enjoy living in the world we have created, often have difficulty finding jobs, housing and medical care. Imagine not being able to enter a hospital or doctors office because you cannot tolerate the chemicals in the air? We have created a toxic world.

To restore my spirit I go to the annual Green Living Show in Toronto and learn about companies selling products and communities working together promoting sustainability, natural and organic products, lessening our carbon footprint and saving what we have.

Joy was added recently when I read about a movement encouraging businesses to learn more about being conscious corporate citizens. They have created a Conscious Business Declaration and those who sign, vow to adhere to these principles.

5 Ways To Harness The Magic Of Spring

Posted by Nick Polizzi from The Sacred Science


Here we are, in the beginning of yet another beautiful spring. Something is rumbling beneath the soil, a thing of beauty waiting to burst from its cocoon, a promise made long ago that is about to be kept. This is a ripe time of year to reshuffle the deck, shed skins of the past, and give yourself a fresh start.

Here are 5 sacred life practices that have been used throughout the sands of time to usher in the spring and flourish in its green glory.

1) The Art Of Letting Go (of unneeded stuff)

We’re literally talking about physical stuff here. Not mental or emotional baggage, but the stack of boxes in your closet or garage that contain god-knows-what that you’ve been keeping for god-knows-why.

Our clutter collections sometimes feel completely justified and harmless, but I assure you they take up more space in our psyche and energy field than we realize.

I invite you to slap some spiritual symbolism on these cardboard and plastic keepers of memory, and see them as physical manifestations of inner blocks, just waiting to be dissolved.

Crack open these containers, and figure out what you actually need, and what might be useful to someone else. I know it may seem like a thankless task, but I guarantee you will start to feel lighter as you begin to find a new home for these belongings.

The local thrift shop or the Salvation Army are your best buds in this department.


I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes


Susan M Ellis                                                            

SME Productions                                                     

P.O. Box  22060, 45 Overlea Blvd.,

Toronto. Ontario M4H 1C0   Canada

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