Author Archives: Arlene Somerton Smith

About Arlene Somerton Smith

Plain and simple writing on meaningful topics.

The power of +1

Late yesterday afternoon, the COVID-19 statistics for Canada looked like this:

One person had died in my country. I tried to imagine who that one person was. Perhaps it was a mother from Newfoundland, or someone’s petite soeur from Québec, or a farmer from the prairies, or a former lighthouse keeper on the British Columbia coast.

Somewhere in my country yesterday a family was grieving.

This morning I checked the stats. At the time I started writing, there were +1481 new deaths worldwide.

I tried to imagine who those people were. Perhaps they were mothers from Florida, or someone’s petites soeurs from France, or farmers in Russia, or former lighthouse keepers in Australia.

Just now I reloaded the page, and it looks like this. In the last half hour the number increased by +1.

From https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Somewhere in the world a family is grieving.

The number +1 allows us to try to imagine that person. We can empathize. When the number is much larger, it becomes impossible to draw individuals in our minds. The empathy thins out or disappears. But we can’t forget that the large number is made up of 1s.

Here is what 1482 looks like in 1s.

11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 1111111111111111111111111111111 . . . 1 . . .

Each +1 of us can do our part to slow down and stop the numbers. We don’t want to have to try to imagine your family.

Bless that which you want

According to the ancient Polynesian wisdom of Ka Huna, we should bless that which we want.

The shamans of Hawaii use the power of words and mind to heal the self, others and situations. They believe:

  • If we resent people who have what we want, our resentment keeps what we desire away. (Don’t you want to avoid resentful people?)
  • If we believe ourselves unworthy of receiving, that drives away the object of our desire. (Wouldn’t you rather hang around with confident friends?)

Resentment and feelings of unworthiness are both negative emotions. When we bless, there’s no room for negativity. Blessing nuzzles it out of the way.

Blessing has no space for thoughts like:

  • “Oh sure, why does he get to live in a big house when I’m stuck in a tiny apartment.”
  • “Those shoes would look so much better on me.”
  • “I don’t want to be a multi-millionaire. I don’t want to have to worry about handling all that money.”

When we bless others, their day gets a little brighter, and we feel better too. The positives grow in an ever-expanding ripple.

What do you want to bless today? 

Writing life

Another re-post during my mini-vacation. I spent last week participating in the Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop. The writers in my group agreed: Writing is a tough slog. But then, so is life in general! I might as well spend some of it writing and occasionally stumbling into moments of bliss.


At a gathering of our local branch of the Canadian Authors Association, we writers shared words to describe the writing experience.

Words for writing and life

Terror, right above Bliss. 

Mystical right in the middle of everything.

Fun not far away.

Elusive, more than once.

Tranquility and Solace.

Hard work, Glass Wall, Escape.

Mindblowing, Universal, Wonder. 

Our word cloud described the writing experience, and life in general.

On Easy Street . . . again

I’m taking a mini- vacation. I’m re-posting something from nine years ago, because I love it.


Our family was heading to our favourite bakery to pick up cream-filled doughnuts. But . . . our way was blocked by road construction. We had to detour.

We grumbled. The detour stood between us and our doughnuts, and we weren’t happy.

That is, until we read the sign for the upcoming cross street.

Street sign for Easy Street

My husband said: “Look. It’s Easy Street. I’ve got to turn down there.”

My daughter said: “Awesome! Wouldn’t it be cool to live on Easy Street.”

My son said: “You know, there are never any streets named Difficult Street, or Challenging Street.”

The personalities of my family revealed in a few short sentences.

We turned onto Easy Street, and immediately felt wonderfully, irrationally great.

“Oh yeah, we’re on Easy Street now, baby!”

The whole family was laughing and smiling. The name had amazing power to make our day.

But then . . . . we looked ahead. More construction at the next intersection meant that we could only enjoy our ride on Easy Street for one block. Isn’t that always the way? When you finally make it to Easy Street, it doesn’t last.

From this I learned three things:

  • Sometimes a detour is more interesting than the planned route.
  • When you have the chance to turn on to Easy Street, take it.
  • Once you’re there enjoy the ride, because it might not last long.

Mow around the daisies

We have a lawn at our cottage, but it’s not a flawless stretch of green grass. The rural property at this time of year is dotted with daisies, which we resolutely mow around.

The tradition began with my mother-in-law. She wanted to keep the lawn looking nice and well cared for, but she couldn’t bring herself to mow down a beautiful flower in a natural setting. We honour her when we leave those daisies swaying in the summer breezes.

I’m not sure what our neighbours think of the patchy mowing job. Perhaps they mutter: “I wish those people would do something about that lawn.”

My wish would be that they choose instead to enjoy the beautiful flowers and take a moment to feel grateful for the gift from nature.

When life gives you beauty, don’t mow it down.