Happy birthday to Elsie Neufeld

Author of Grief Blading Up (sold out) has agreed to do Seven of the Proust to help us celebrate her birthday.


1.What is your idea of happiness?

Those moments when everything seems lined up, and “all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” even when they are not.  This could be a moment or day long feeling, but when it’s there, it’s there! And it’s all there is; and you meld with it, unbidden.  Could be sharing a laugh with a friend; an Oceanside walk; pulling weeds; catching the scent of a Mock Orange shrub; a finch singing outside the window; hearing the scratch-scrabble sound of a squirrel ascending the cedar; a look in the eyes of another; a candle’s flare…. 


2.What is your favourite virtue?

Kindness – hands down!!  It astonishes me when I am the recipient of a stranger’s kindness. For example, in a grocery store recently, my arms were overfilled with items, and a woman came up to me and said, “I think you need a cart.” She pushed hers towards me, and retrieved another for herself. Sometimes kindness is returned immediately, and also surprising!  I was having coffee in a café, when a woman in a wheelchair entered. She was buying her elderly mother a coffee, but how would she convey two cups from the café counter to the seat where her mother sat?  I offered to do so.  When they left, the woman in wheelchair pressed a toonie into my hand and said “to pay for your coffee.”  She insisted.  How will the madness of this world heal if we are not kind to one another – our beloved ones, and the strangers we meet along the way? 


3.What is your biggest weakness?

I have so many!  Sloth; lack of discipline; procrastination; over-thinking.  Writing this, I think they are the flip side of my “strengths”! 


4.Who are your favourite poets?

Too many to list!  Wendell Berry; Jane Kenyon; Mary Oliver; Jane Hirschfield; Denise Levertov; and Mennonite poets Patrick Friesen, Di Brandt, Sarah Klassen; David Waltner-Toews – because they were the first poems I read that were written by “my people.” 


5.Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

From the Bible: The woman at the well, “who was seeking.”  Job: because he knew suffering, and abandonment.  All those who have a mental illness and those who love them as they are. 


6. What do you most dislike?

Self-righteousness.  Arrogance.  Judgement.  One measure for “worth and meaning.” 


7. What is your motto?

Listen with all your senses.  Be open to astonishment; then write about it. 




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