Guest Blog Post from Don Wings

While listening to positive people, reading motivational books, and chatting in encouraging Facebook groups is nice, ultimately you have to foster a positive belief in yourself. You have to write the good news. This is the second phase of the Replace step. Step one was to Surround Yourself With Positivity, which was outside influence. Now, replace […]

via Nurture​ Belief in Yourself — DonWings

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Featured Author of the Month: Pat Cloutier

The Lady in the Red Hat

by Pat Cloutier


“Meet me at Earls at 5:00 p.m. I’ll be the one in the red hat. Happy Valentine’s Day.” Smack! The bold, handwritten page adorned with a smattering of hearts was sealed with the unmistakable pucker of a luscious red hot chili pepper lipstick kiss. I trembled with the excitement of a schoolgirl as I fed the juicy invitation into the fax machine at work, and quickly punched in his number.   Would he know it was me?  Would he think I was being silly?  Would he be away from his desk or even out of the office for the rest of the day?  Sudden panic paralyzed me.  I held on tightly to the sheet of paper, feeling an irrepressible urge to pull my daring invitation out of the fax machine before it was swallowed up into the unknown.  No…little tug.  Yes…release. No…little tug. Yes…Release.  The message disappeared into the abyss. Too late.

“What do I do now?” I asked myself, suddenly feeling very foolish.  “I have no choice.  I’ve got to show up!”  The butterflies in my stomach were bouncing off the walls trying to make their way up and out.   “Oh….it’ll be fun!” I assured myself.  “They do it in the movies all the time.  Play dates for couples at the bar.”

“But what if he doesn’t show up?  What if someone else picks up the fax?” my worried parent voice exclaimed.

“Oh, don’t be such a teenager, for heaven’s sake!” I berated myself.  “You’re a mature woman.  You can do this.  It’s sexy and fun.”

I finished off the day wearing the red cowgirl straw hat with the silver buckle that I had picked up in San Antonio on a winter holiday.  After all, it was Valentine’s Day.  Everyone was wearing red, and it was a great look with my jean skirt and jacket.

As the day drew to a close, I became more and more nervous.  “I wonder if he’ll get into role too,” I asked myself.  I imagined him sauntering in like Robert Redford, walking straight towards me with his sky blue (hazel really) eyes glued to mine until we were inches apart.  He would gently but firmly slip his arm around my waist; slowly remove my red cowgirl hat from San Antonio with the silver buckle; smile, and tilt my head back only enough to bring his warm moist lips to mine for a prolonged sensuous kiss.  There would be a drop jaw silence in the bar with all heads turning to savour the embrace with envy.  Sigh…I found myself swept away with this romantic, or as some might say, “edgily lusty” daydream, which drifted in and out of my thoughts throughout the rest of the seemingly endless day.

At precisely 4:30 p.m., I made a bee line towards the exit.  As I burst through the door, dizzy with excitement, I came to a skidding stop. “Oh, no! It’s snowing!” I cried out in despair as the huge flakes forced me to squint, visibility reduced to merely a few feet ahead.  “I hope I can make it on time,” I fretted.  Turning my collar up, I forged my way to the car, gaining confidence with every step.  “No reason to panic, lady,” I reminded myself.  “Drive slowly and safely.  This is not the first time you’ve had to battle the winter elements in Manitoba.”

4:50 p.m. Despite the hazardous driving conditions, my destination was clearly in sight.  It had taken less time than I thought.  I found a parking spot, remembered to lock the doors, and scampered into the vestibule at Earls.  As I stomped the snow off my feet, I removed my red cowgirl straw hat from San Antonio with the silver buckle, shook off the snow, and quickly placed it back on my head before making my way in through the revolving doors.

4:55 p.m.  I had arrived with five minutes to spare. The warmth of the restaurant and bar, seasonably decorated with red hearts, greeted me at the door along with a dazzling smile from the young and cheerful hostess.  After a few polite exchanges, I quickly glanced around the room.  Whew!  He wasn’t there yet.  It never was his style to arrive early.  I would have time to catch my breath, check my appearance in the ladies’ room, and put on a fresh coat of red hot chili pepper lipstick.  I would then calmly enter the bar,  find a romantic spot with a round table and two bar stools, most fitting for the occasion, I thought.

Soon after, feeling quite alluring, I sauntered into the room, and executed my plan.  Perched confidently on the stool, I glanced up at the bartender, and gave him a sophisticated nod, well aware that all eyes were on me.  Of course they were…I stood out like a lady wearing a red cowgirl straw hat from San Antonio with a silver buckle in a Winnipeg bar on a snowy February 14th evening.  I was obviously waiting for someone, maybe my special man, or perchance, any man.  Time would tell, and time was beginning to tell.

It was 5:15 p.m.  I gave the bartender an assertive look.  He quickly responded, serving me the red (of course) crantini I had ordered on a red heart-shaped coaster. As all experienced bartenders, well trained in their field to assess various situations and to read body language fluently, he slipped me a flirtatious wink and a smile before returning his attention to the growing number of patrons in the bar on this Valentine’s Day at Earls.

I sipped intentionally slowly, so as not to appear too nervous or eager.  Several minutes, several sips, and several knowing glances later, I began to feel somewhat ill at ease. How I wished I were a smoker.  It would at least give me something else to do with my hands, looking more like a sophisticated dame rather than a nervous debutante.

5:45 p.m.  Where could he be?  Had he gotten the fax?  Was he caught in the snowstorm somewhere?  Had he chosen to ignore my silly invitation?  There was only a drop of crantini left in my glass.  Would these people please stop staring at me over their glasses every time they took a sip.  I gingerly raised my index finger with as much style as I could muster to catch the bartender’s eye for another crantini.  By this time, the flush of my face reflected the colour of both my crantini and my hat.  I was sure that others were whispering comments about that pitiful but striking woman sitting in the corner of the bar wearing that ridiculous red cowgirl straw hat from San Antonio with the silver buckle.  She had either been stood up, or she was hoping to attract an interested cowboy.

6:00 p.m.  Halfway through my second crantini, the revolving door suddenly spun around with great force, completing a full 360 degree turn as a good-looking man walked into the bar.  There he stood, his head and shoulders covered with fluffy, white snow, powerfully contrasting his jet black hair and equally black overcoat.  With both feet firmly on the ground, shoulder width apart, hands resting calmly at his side, he stared right at me with his intense, sky blue (hazel really) eyes.

Time had stopped on this snowy February 14th night at Earls. With a slightly upturned smile, the dashing man advanced slowly and confidently toward his lady.  The entire room came to a standstill. Who was this man with so much presence? All eyes turned and looked at him, and then at me; back at him, and back at me, until we were inches from each other. Finally, exuding the same charisma with which he had entered the room, he gently but firmly slipped his arm around my waist; slowly removed my red cowgirl straw hat from San Antonio with the silver buckle; smiled, and tilted my head back just enough to claim my moist lips for a prolonged sensuous red hot chili pepper lipstick kiss. There was a momentary drop jaw silence in the bar as all heads turned to savour the embrace with envy and a sigh of relief, followed by a roar of applause.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Ma’am,” my husband whispered in my ear.  “Nice hat.”

© Pat Cloutier  June 25, 2008 

The Lady in the Red Hat was originally published in “Time for a Story? Heartspace Writers Anthology” Copyright 2008 by Heartspace Writing School.

Biography – Pat Cloutier (Feb. 2, 2018)

Pat has participated in three Heartspace Writers Anthologies since she retired from teaching in 2005. She loves the creative process, be it storytelling, art, or other mediums of expression. She delights in weaving both imagination and truth in her storytelling, loosely enough for the reader to get carried away in the magical world of make believe, yet tightly enough in reality to make the story believable.

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5-Minute-Meditations: Resolve

By Farrukh Akhtar

This above all: to thine own self be true,

and it must follow, as the night the day,

thou canst not then be false to any man.

(William Shakespeare)

I have been thinking about Nelson Mandela and his quest to be the best that he could be. He spent 27 years in prison and left thanking the guards who held him captive. Me? I notice every micro-aggression and hang on to it for dear life. I use it as an excuse to make others wrong and batter myself further, to remain in a heavy, doubting, hurting place.

Am I reading too much into something? Perhaps, but I don’t want to stop seeing with the depth and range of detail that is my gift. I do want to leave the heavy, lonely place I inhabit.

Better, not batter. That seems to be the key. I want to be able to have an honest dialogue with others, irrespective of who I am communicating with. I want to remain true to myself, not lose or diminish myself or others in the process.

I speak my truth without offending others.

In speaking my truth, I seek resolution.

© Farrukh Akhtar 2016

Resolve was originally published in “Creative Journey Five Minute Meditations for Transformation” Published by Heartspace Writing School.

Biography – Farrukh Akhtar

Farrukh, a senior lecturer at a London university, has been involved in the helping profession for over 25 years. As a Transformative Life WritingTM (TLW) facilitator, she runs workshops at the university and in the community. She is the TLW Facilitators’ Co-ordinator for Europe and edited their training manual. Farrukh is founder of an incognito but internationally acclaimed book club. She loves writing, the theatre, communing with vegetables on her allotment, and having friends over for dinner.

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5-Minute-Meditations: Shift

By Ted Klassen

Joy is always just a thought away.

(Unity, The Daily Word)

I walked from the parking lot to my office after a daily radiation treatment, aware of feeling depleted and worn out. As I dragged my feet to where I wanted to go, a conversation began in my head.

“How are you Ted?”

“Feeling the pits,” came my instant reply.

“Let’s take that from the top, again. Ted, how are you?”

This time I answered, “Terrific, great!”

Immediately I felt a surge of energy. My thoughts turned to the kindness of the staff at Cancer Care, then to the supportive, caring faces of my co-workers.

By the time I reached the familiar comfort of my office chair, I was aware that my steps were lighter and the day had suddenly become brighter.

I acknowledged the shift with a silent thank you.

Optimism is always possible.

What I focus on expands

to become my reality.

© Ted Klassen 2016

Shift was originally published in “Creative Journey Five Minute Meditations for Transformation” Copyright 2016 by Heartspace Writing School

Biography- Ted Klassen

Ted began his career in a one-room rural Manitoba school. He then worked as a consultant, human resource manager and general manager. He is an advocate of life-long learning and transformation. Ted logged many miles on his motorcycle trips with his sons across North America and with his friend to Alaska and the Yukon. He is passionate about Joanne, his wife, five children, extended family, Plautdietsch (Low German), golf and the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre.

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This YouTube video came at just the right moment, early in the new year with all its competing calls for our attention and action. With simplicity, gentleness and passion for what we do, it brought me home to my own heart space. Please write your thoughts in the comments below, I am interested in your experience of the video and of writing today.
All the best,

( We do not own this video and claim no rights to it. If you like this video please follow this link to Lauren Hales’ Youtube Channel and let her know.)

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Can you use a little inspiration today?

For Presence

by John O’Donohue

Awaken to the mystery of being here
 and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

From: To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O’Donohue

/ Photo by AlicePopkorn /

A blessing poem for us today in ways to be present. One way to understand a blessing is that it is just that: opening a pathway to be present. The idea behind a blessing is that it helps us, in some way, to receive more fully the best possibilities of the moment, the fulness of life, the goodness ready for us, and the bliss hidden in the heart. These are all different ways of saying that a blessing somehow ushers us into the magic and wonder inherent in our own full presence within the present moment.

A blessing doesn’t need to be “religious.” It doesn’t even need to have words. What it needs is your presence. And your goodwill. And then a gentle call to the presence of another. A blessing is presence + presence + All That Is…

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.


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