The Power of Music

Sometimes there is no cure for a person’s illness, and we are can only find ways to treat them with kindness and compassion to ease their suffering.  A  few years ago, as my mom’s illness progressed, she went to a hospice for comfort care.

She always loved music, so we continued to play music for her while she was there.

It transported her to a happier time, when she was free from illness.

One day she had a wonderful visitor knocked on her door.

I was sitting by her bedside and I noticed he was carrying a guitar.  He asked if mom would like him to sing for her. “Would she ever!” I replied. ‘She would love it!’

Music had been a constant source of joy throughout mom’s life.

She was no longer able to sing, or even speak or open her eyes, but she could gesture and squeeze my hand to show she understood me.  They say hearing is one of the last senses to go before death.

The soft spoken man settled into the love seat beside her bed, and began singing a gentle serenade of sweetness.  I felt her grip tighten on my hand, and for that moment, she forgot her suffering, and surrendered to the divine sound.

It was like the voice of an angel had transcended all barriers, with an elixir of peace and love.

His kindness came at the perfect time – she passed away two days later. He had made her happy, and it made me happy to knowing her soul had heard such sweet kindness.


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Week 9 – Bettering Yourself – Feb 25 – Mar 3, 2013 – Release The Past and Forgive

This weeks’ bettering yourself  topic is to release our past and forgive ourselves and others.  

This process of letting go of the past, allows us to be free of our burdens and create a better life.

Debbie Ford, a spiritual teacher, is my inspiration for this topic.  Debbie battled addictions, then overcame her past and used her experience to help others release their burdens.  Sadly, Debbie recently passed away from cancer.

In honor of Debbie, this week, I will see where I need to release the past and forgive myself and others and move into the future, as she said we all deserved  I will let you know how it goes next week.

Review of Week 8 – Eating Less Meat

As I ate less meat this week for the bettering yourself exercise,  my family also ate less meat because I cook for them.

I cooked vegetarian lasagna, potato salad, crepes, spinach salad, greek salad, natchos, and vegetarian chili (see recipe below). 

Reducing our meat consumption provided many benefits, but my family would go on strike if they had no meat for dinner, so I cooked chicken breasts and bacon.

For for the first five days, I ate no meat, and I didn’t miss it. I ate one piece of chicken (poultry), and two pieces of bacon by the end of the week.

I got my 40 to 60 grams of required daily protein from non-meat sources.  One medium sized bowl of the vegetarian chili contains 20 grams of protein alone.  The cheese in the lasagna contains protein, and spinach contains protein as well.   typically in North America, we get more protein than we need from a variety of sources.

Digesting my food was easier when I consumed little or no meat.  My stomach didn’ t feel heavy after dinner, where I want to fall asleep on the couch.  

I also felt good doing my part to help the planet, as  increased demand for meat with a growing population is devastating for animals, the environment, and our own bodies.       

The high fat content of meat also raises cholesterol and the antibiotics fed to animals contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans.  I am going to continue to eat less meat due to the many benefits.


Eating Less Meat with Vegetarian Chili

Eating Less Meat with Vegetarian Chili

Recipe for Vegetarian Chili:

The Ingredients


1 can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable broth

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 heaping tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp (or a bit less) cayenne pepper

A couple splashes of soy sauce

1/2 tsp salt

Black pepper and paprika to taste

The Directions

Step 1: Chop the garlic, onion, and bell peppers. Saute lightly over medium high heat in 1-2 tsp olive oil. Meanwhile, wash the beans until all of the canning liquid is gone.

Step 2: Once the veggies have sauteed for about 5 minutes, add everything else into the pot (tomatoes, beans, spices, etc.). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 min or longer as needed.

Recipe from The Picky Eater blog:

photo courtesy of i stock photo.

photo credit: <a href=””>I Believe I Can Fry</a> via <a


Week 8 – Feb 18 -24, 2013 – Eat Less Meat

For four weeks now, I have been eating more fruits and vegetables, and I have lost weight and I feel  healthier. For this week’s bettering yourself exercise, I am going to focus on eating less meat.

We watched Vegucation on Netflix, a movie about a group of meat lovers who embark on a journey to become vegans.  It explored how the increased demand for meat in our world results in animals being treated like production machines,  and how increased meat production is more detrimental to the environment than automobile emissions

Since North Americans typically eat too much meat, health problems  like high blood pressure and heart disease are on the rise.

I am going to investigate ways to obtain protein from other sources,  so I can eat less meat to help save my life, the life of the planet, and maybe save a few animals’  lives in the process.

This week I am going to cook my vegetarian lasagna with alternate sources of protein, that I found by watching Mimi Kirk on Youtube and search out other meatless recipes,

Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

, and I will let you know how eating less meat went next week.


photo credit: <a href=””>TM

Review of week 7 – Making Other People Happy

House of Love

House of Love

Making other people happy this week made me happy too.  I gave small gifts for Valentine’s Day, and had a chocolate mousse cake made at The Sweet and Chic Cake Boutique to share with family and friends.

I also made a “house of love”; transforming a gingerbread house kit from Christmas that didn’t expire until June, by adding heart shaped candies to it for Valentine’s Day.

I also drove for 40 minutes to visit my brother and we went to a restaurant for lunch.

Sometimes you get into a habit of interacting with people on autopilot, assuming you know them.  For the happiness experiment, I gave people my full attention, and listened to them without getting distracted or thinking about other things. This made them really happy, and I learned some fresh new things about them, so ultimately it made me happy.

Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

Make Me a Channel of Your Peace Songs from our youth can remain in our hearts for life, like the soundtrack to our memories.  A hymn based on the prayer of Saint Francis Assisi, that I learned in cathecism at age 7,  has stuck in my mind ever since.  In 1967, Sebastian Temple adapted it to music, in a song titled: “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”.  (see youtube video below).

Since then, it has been recited in various versions on numerous occasions, notably:

Mother Teresa recited it in her morning prayers at her Missionaries of Charity, and in 1979, when she received the Nobel Peace prize, she asked for the prayer to be said.

It appears in the book: “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”, by the Alcoholics Anonymous organization.

Margaret Thatcher paraphrased the prayer after she was elected Prime Minister in Britain in 1979.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner said it was “an integral part” of his devotions.

The hymn was a part of the funeral for the dear Diana, Princess of Wales on 6 September 1997. Sinéad O’Connor’s version was on the Princess Diana Tribute album.

In October 1995, President Bill Clinton quoted it to Pope John Paul II before he addressed the United Nations.

There have been many musical adaptations of the prayer, including one by Sarah McLachlan.

Here are the lyrics:

Make me a channel of your peace:

Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,

Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,

And where there’s doubt true faith in you.


Make me a channel of your peace:

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,

Where there is darkness, only light,

And where there’s sadness, ever joy.


O Master, grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand,

To be loved, as to love with all my soul!


Make me a channel of your peace:

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

In giving of ourselves that we receive,

And in dying that we are born to eternal life.


^ Renoux, Christian. “The Origin of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis”.

 photo credit: <a href=”           



Happy Valentine’s!

It was love at first sight.  His wide eyes observing every detail about me, accepting me exactly as I am, totally in the present moment, no worrying about the future, or regretting the past; simply welcoming my embrace, his warm body softening to the rhythm of our heartbeats, then drifting off into a soft slumber, bathed in a warm sunbeam. 

A warm bundle of love

Ann with her great nephew, her niece’s son.


Week 7 – Bettering Yourself Feb 11 – 17, 2013 Making Other People Happy

Monkeys lending a hand

Monkeys lending a hand

“Making other people happy is what makes us most happy.”
Depak Choprah,”10 Keys to Happiness” Huffington Post

This week I am going to do my best to make other people happy. It may be in the form of a grand gesture, like taking my kids shopping to the US, or a smaller offering like visiting my brother, or giving a driving lesson to a young lady I know.

Since it’s Valentines Day this week, I am going to get in the spirit of making those I love happy. I am also going to construct a “house of love” out of valentine candy. I will post a photo next week and let you know how the happiness experiment went.

Review of Week 6 – Practicing Gratitude

Vincent Van Goghs swirling masterpiece

Vincent Van Gogh’s swirling masterpiece, “Starry Night”

As I woke up each morning this week, I thought about many things I am grateful for. I was totally in the present moment when I was feeling gratitude, forgetting about my problems and focusing on all the good things I have, and the good in myself and others. I felt really positive, as if more good was coming into my life, and it involved more than my thoughts or my mind – it involved my ears, my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my spirit and my body. Here are some of the many things I am grateful for…

My life
My supportive relationships
The place I live
Clean water
My dog
Spiritual Teachers

Happy Valentine’s Day

Ann's niece with her fiance

Ann’s niece with her fiance

Two sweethearts kiss in the forest, while I see a grandma buying a chocolate rose for her 3 year-old granddaughter at the grocery store, and I carry my grocery bags home to cook chicken cordon bleu for my husband of 30 years. All celebrations of LOVE, the greatest gift of all, on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

Acting from love, says Oprah, you show: “grace, respect, kindness, forgiveness, cooperation, collaboration and understanding.”

When you’re in love you feel no pain, you’re invincible, quick to laugh, and your light shines on others; its’ beauty creating a ripple effect that is contagious.

Love makes you do the impossible, overcome all obstacles, keep faith in the dream, risk it all, remove all conditions, let go and trust.


Dragonfruit for Chinese New Year 2013



Tastes like a pear/kiwi

Tastes like a pear/kiwi


To celebrate the year of the water snake, Chinese New Year 2013, I bought a dragonfruit at The Langley Farm Market. It looked so unusual and brightly colored, my curiosity compelled me to buy it, so I could find out what it tasted like.

Remembering the time I tried to cut a whole coconut, and ended up in the carport hitting the top of a screwdriver with a hammer to no avail, I prepared for battle with the dragonfruit. Instead, its’ thick skin was soft, and easy to cut, like a succulent plant.

The fruit was as beautiful on the inside as on the outside; bright white with black seeds. I cored it out with a spoon and sliced it into pieces. It was yummy!! It tastes like a tangy pear with seeds in it like a kiwi. You can serve it chilled with sherbet, or with sugar sprinkled on it, or use it in fruit smoothies. It only cost $1.84.

According to, it is really healthy too. It is from the cactus family, thus the thick skin. It’s high in vitamin C, B1,B2,B3 vitamins, and also contains calcium and phosphorus,plus phytoalbumins to fight cancer, and lycopene to prevent prostate cancer.

“Gung hay fat choy!