Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


« Hope springs eternal in the human breast. »

(So please pay it forward!)

True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

I had intended to write something about Family Day but my elderly mother fell and was rushed to hospital during the night, this past Saturday. Family emergencies always shift thoughts about the dynamics of life. I completely lost my train of thought as my weekend plans shifted also. My sister suggested we put a plan forward in the event that our mom’s weakened heart and congested lungs would prove fatal. I had no plan in mind.
Scattered thoughts flip-flopped as I tried to focus on my weekend and up-coming week’s obligations. Life demands constant effort and a lot of juggling. Sometimes, I feel like a tightrope walker. Fortunately, Don made sure my weekend had some joyful moments. We kept our promise to visit Angela Verlaeckt Clark’s exhibition featuring her latest sculptures at the Harrison Gallery and Don suggested we go for brunch at Tucker’s beforehand. It made my spirits soar. “Happiness comes from what you feel.” I was in a better frame of mind, as I made my way to the hospital.

Angela Verlaeckt Clark

at the Gordon Harrison Gallery

"I truly appreciated visiting with all of you.  When an artist steps from the isolation of their studio, they are strengthened and encouraged to see a smiling face.  They would be at a loss without it!"
Angela Verlaeckt Clark's exhibition continues until March 30 and, should you wish, she will meet you at the Gordon Harrison Gallery, 495 Sussex Dr .
She may be contacted at  or through the Gallery 613-746-6853.
* Buying her book at the Gallery you will receive a Free CD with selected poetry readings, set to original music by Dan Woods.
Please drop in!  Thank you!
Website: Book, Witness Stones and Reflections now available on and

How will my mother fare in the next week? Hard to tell! What I do know is her quality of life has greatly diminished! I sincerely hope she does not go through to the final stages of her Alzheimer as my father did! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

HOPE!! Tuesday, as I scrambled to catch up on the weekend newspapers scattered on the dining-room table, I came across an article written by Scott Barry Kaufman, adjunct assistant professor of psychology at New York University who writes the blog Beautiful Minds for “Psychology today”. The caption instantly caught my attention: Talent, grit, inspiration – they are all important for success. But research suggests nothing matters more than hope.
I instantly cut out the article and started reading. Kaufman stresses the fact that it’s the psychological vehicles that take you to the top. As he points out, “You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive, you won’t get anywhere.”
In 1991, psychologists Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues apparently came up with the “hope theory”: the person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved and sets of different strategies will be at their disposal to reach their goals.
When I think of my mother’s life, I can’t help but remember that she was pulled out of school at age twelve because her mother was very sick. Somehow this seemed to stunt her will. She seemed to lose her motivation and drifted into a fairy-tale attitude where someone, anyone, would make her dreams come true without her having to work at achieving her goals. I have always called this the magical mind and found it to be a problem with quite a few women. She carried this attitude into adult life, losing herself in daydreams of becoming rich and famous and indulging in those famous illustrated “roman-savon” of her time which were so out of touch with reality.
Kaufman explains that hope is not just a feel-good emotion, but a dynamic motivational system which leads the person to choose performance, or learning goals. “Learning goals are conducive to growth and improvement. People with learning goals are actively engaged, constantly planning strategies to meet their goals and monitoring their progress to stay on track.”
My mother did not instill this form of hope in us because she didn’t have it. Her children’s future was never discussed, neither were their aspirations. I wanted to become a teacher but my parents never paid attention or helped me reach my goal. Fortunately, Mrs. Winters, a neighbour that I housecleaned for when I was a teenager, encouraged me to pursue my dream. She gave me hope. She was a university graduate and a feminist. She believed women had a right to higher education and were natural leaders. She made sure her daughters understood that…
In another caption, Kaufmaun ponders the question, “Why is hope important? For starters, life is difficult and full of obstacles. Hope allows people to approach problems armed with a mindset and strategies suitable for success. And that increases the chance that people will accomplish their goals.”
A study led by Rebecca Gorres at the University College in Utrecht, Netherlands showed that participants who were instructed to think hopefully were better at making remote associations, generated a higher quantity of ideas and added more details to their ideas compared to those who weren’t instructed to think hopefully.
Those psychological vehicles that Kaufman mentions even help you build up that ability you never thought you were capable of displaying… and HOPE is certainly one of the most important vehicles of them all.
I can attest to that! Hope helped me to go on even when the challenges seemed almost impossible. Hope made me reach out to others and use my writing skills. Hope is what I offered my daughter as a basic skill while at the same time teaching her to be flexible.
This month, I shared this “psychological vehicle” with young women in my writing workshops. I hope I touched their lives in a positive way because I was touched by their willingness to share their stories.
My final wish would be that everyone spread high hopes around them. Studies have shown that high-hope students have a higher success rate, are more likely to graduate and are less likely to be dismissed from school. Let’s create a wave of hope to counterbalance the wave of negativism our present government has been spreading around.
Hope is apparently a better predictor of outcome so let’s share it!