What Is A Family?

What Is A Family?What is a family?  The definition I have always held to would be: husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – which covers just about all the bases, right? Right. Well, I’ve lived awhile, and learned a little, and plan to continue to learn until the day I leave this world for another.  I am also open to a change of heart and change of definition, which is what this blog is about today.

Since I can first remember, my family was everything, all that was important in my world.  Our clan.  Our people.  Us.  As siblings, my brothers and I weren’t permitted to continue squabbles. Period.  It was “Kiss, hug, and say you’re sorry RIGHT NOW”, with no mumblings under the breath, and no dark looks at each other.

When one of us in the immediate family was in trouble, we all rallied around that person, giving support, and helping them see it through, whether it was a medical problem, school, financial, whatever.  We helped each other because we were “family.” When there was a bigger problem that needed more help, the whole clan stepped in and did what they could, because the clan is family.  The clan is uniformity, solidarity, one heart, the basis for our shared values.

ClanHowever, recently I’ve had a number of reality check moments in my life that opened my eyes to just exactly “What Is A Family?” Many of these incidents were uplifting and life-affirming. Unfortunately, others left me heartbroken and disillusioned.  I realized it was time to take another look at the word “family”, and in doing so, have changed my long-held definition.

In the most recent event, my daughter and son-in-law had to rush me to Emergency, because I suddenly developed a life-threatening health situation.  Luckily, I received treatment just in time and have been able to come home to recuperate.  Because of what occurred during and after that, I have widened my view of “family”.

There is my blood-family, defined by me as those with the same bloodline as myself.  There is my husband’s clan, or my in-law family.  There is also my extended family, gained through my daughter’s marriage – my son-in-law family.  They are all either directly related to me, or related by marriage.  Still another special group I now consider family – close friends, good neighbours, friendly acquaintances, and my cherished business partners.  Lastly, there is my virtual family consisting of people I may never have met face-to-face, and yet who are closely connected to me, and that is my Facebook and LinkedIn families.

FacebookFriendsIt was astonishing to me how many people responded to the news of my illness with prayers, text messages, cards, update requests, phone calls, e-cards, flowers, and visits when my health permitted.  I received one really unusual bouquet I fell in love with the minute it arrived – from my “son-in-law family”.  Every day new blooms appeared, and the colour and arrangement itself was spectacular.  Sitting in bed, I could just glance over and gaze at them, instantly feeling better.  I also received many messages of concern and encouragement, either directly, or relayed to me through my daughter.

Floral BouquetSocial media is a wonderful way to keep in touch with each other, and my Facebook site is limited mostly to friends and family.  Some of my blood-family, ironically those that you would think should be closest to me, probably still don’t know that I had this health crisis. Almost all of my friends knew, and my various in-law families, and they really lifted me up and out of a very bad place.  Even people I only knew peripherally enquired about me and wished me back to good health.  The encouragement, the loving care of my daughter and son-in-law day after day after day, really opened my eyes and my heart.

Hugh Thomson (1894)

Hugh Thomson (1894)

I now define “family” as those who truly care whether you live or die, or survive life’s harsh trials.  They are the ones who will rush to your rescue in times of need and will sacrifice in order to help you. Usually, they don’t even need to be asked, but when they are asked, they “step up”. If unable to do so, they will still make every effort to encourage and support you. Under this new definition, and with the exception of a few blood kin who remain close, I consider my “family” to include my husband’s people, my son-in-law’s people, some steadfast friends known since childhood and some just newly met, and finally, the people I’ve chosen to do business with.  I’ve even decided to include certain cats, dogs, and bunnies in this group because they love you unconditionally – some even “signed their names” to cards wishing me well and others have simply brought joy to my life! I especially love my daughter’s little bunny Cooper, who sacrificed having his “Mom” with him every day, so she could look after “Gran”.

Cooper waits patiently...

Cooper waits patiently…

My redefinition has given my heart and my life a boost of energy, and I thank God for each and every one of you who are now in my personal family/clan, and I look forward to extensions of that family in the future.

Family can be anyone who thinks warmly of you, cares about your well-being, aids you selflessly in times of need or “just because”, prays for you, attempts to lift your spirits or make you laugh.  If you have performed loving deeds or expressed caring thoughts to me, then you know who you are – You are my “Family.”  And I hope I’ve earned the right to be called yours as well.

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Hi!  Choosing music for my Mom’s “What Is A Family?” blog was easy. The difficult part was paring down so many choices to a manageable number! Most of the videos I’ve picked have the song lyrics shown, so go ahead and sing along. I did.

The first tune is James Taylor’s classic“You’ve Got A Friend

Here’s the famous “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Next is the great Ben E. King singing “Stand By Me”.

From TVs “Golden Girls”, it’s Andrew Gold with “Thank You For Being A Friend”.

From the movie “Home On The Range” here’s a song from The Beu Sisters – “Anytime You Need A Friend”.

This is country music’s wonderful Lady Antebellum with “Never Alone”.

A happy tune, “Count On Me” by Bruno Mars.  I dare you not to tap your toe along with it!

An old favourite of mine by The Pretenders called “I’ll Stand By You”.

For a 70s Flashback, here’s Sister Sledge with “We Are Family”.

Another newer favourite of mine, “Fix You” by Coldplay.

That’s an even 10. I could have posted so many more. Sorry if I missed your favourite but I ran out of room! 

Paws for AwhileAs I mentioned above, there are beloved pets, mine, and others, past and present, who I consider part of my “family” and here are a few of them.My daughter and son-in-law’s Cooper, as he is today, is shown above, but here is his “baby” picture!

Cooper at just 42 days old. That cute face and those button eyes tell the whole story of Cooper.

Cooper at just 42 days old. That cute face and those button eyes tell the whole story of Cooper.


My own dear departed Mickey

My own dear departed Mickey. Wise and affectionate.


My first sweet bunny Pippin

My first sweet bunny Pippin. Yes, he was named after the Lord of the Rings hobbit.


My daughter and son-in-law's first bunny Thumper

My daughter and son-in-law’s first bunny Thumper. The Great Adventurer.


Their second "wilderness rescue" bunny Pepper.

Their second “wilderness rescue” bunny Pepper. She was like Royalty!


My daughter's friend's beautiful cats Wellington and Keiren

My daughter’s best friend’s beautiful cats Wellington and Keiren


Milo, from my son-in-law's sister's family

Milo, from my son-in-law’s sister’s family. Still energetic after all these years!


O'Malley, from the same family...we miss you!

Precious O’Malley, from the same family…we miss you!


Bagerah & Fluffy , from son-in-law's second sister's family

Gorgeous Bagerah & Fluffy, from my son-in-law’s second sister’s family


Maggie, from the family of my niece-through-marriage

Steadfast and loving Maggie, from the family of my niece-through-marriage


Humphrey, from the family of another niece-through-marriage.

Fun-loving Humphrey, from the family of another niece-through-marriage.


And last, but definitely not least, here are Maliika, Muzby & Trevor, from daughter and son-in-law's, and my, friend's family from Australia

And last, but definitely not least, here are the ever-playful mischief makers Maliika, Muzby & Trevor, from the family of my daughter and son-in-law’s friends, and my friends too, from Australia

Signing off, with love and admiration for true family,

E. Joyce



Who Are We?

Who are we – really?

Sunnyside 1924

Within the time-frame of a half-hour, how difficult would it be for you to sit down and write five things you like about yourself?   How about 10 things? Let’s make it harder – could you name 15? or 20? What about 25? or more?

If you are able to write without hesitation a goodly number of ways you see yourself in a kindly manner, good on ya, mate!   However, the chances are pretty good that most people would not be able to do that. Since we all start out at birth as human beings on a pretty well equal playing field, then – Why?  Why don’t we see ourselves as excellent representatives of what is best in the human race?

A few years ago, a group of 20 women were gathered at my home, willing to do a little experiment for me – and for themselves, as well.   We had come together as strangers in a business venture I had started, and had worked fairly closely with each other for several weeks, and in some cases, several months.


I asked the group  to list the names of everyone in the room on a piece of paper, writing what they liked about each one, excluding themselves. On a second piece of paper,  I asked them to write down what they thought about themselves.    The results were very surprising.   Although the group found it very easy to write complimentary assets about all their fellow members, every single person there wrote negatives about themselves, with very few positives,  if there were any at all.

Some comments I remember were – “I’m overweight” – “I’m not very outgoing” – “I’m plain looking” – “I don’t smile enough” – “People don’t like me” – “I’ve always been clumsy” – “I’m not a good parent” – “I’m very disorganized” – etc.

I took the negative lists and read aloud to the group what each one thought about herself, followed by what 19 others thought about her in a positive way. Incredibly, every time I read a negative comment someone had written of herself, it was disputed by others in the room, who saw her in an entirely different way.

A few examples I remember: – “I’m too shy. I’m scared of people.” And the room thought: –  “Outgoing… Friendly… Personable… Warm.” Another: ” I’m not very friendly.”   The room:  “A witty conversationalist… Delightful person… Has become a wonderful friend… Good to everyone… Charming and helpful…”  And: “ I feel clumsy and ugly.”   The room’s response:   “Attractive…  Good-looking… Beautiful…  Walks like a model…” And: “I don’t know how to talk to people.” The room:  “Great speaker… Handles meeting so well… Very friendly with newcomers… Explains things really well…”

That’s not all… Some of the other positive attributes others gave about them, surprised them – almost shocked them – because they had never realized others saw them in such an uplifting and favorable way. I then gave them back the page with their own perceptions of self, again read aloud what the rest of the room thought about them, asking them to write down those positives below their own negative perceptions of themselves. It’s not every day that we can have such an uplifting testimony to read whenever were feeling a little down on ourselves. It’s also a wonderful way to cement friendships, when we know we are seen in such a favorable light by others – a truly win-win situation.


The profit in that little exercise was that people who had come to know each other, were able to influence the way other people perceive themselves. Instead of continuing to be down on themselves, they began to see themselves through different eyes. It gave them confidence to change their self perception, and absolutely made it much easier to be a team player in our endeavor.

Another immense benefit was that they subsequently found it easier  to see positive things in others as well as themselves.

What causes us to think so badly of ourselves that we feel insecure and doubtful and shy, or even self-hating?   I suppose in this stage of our lives, it doesn’t matter how it was started, or what person or persons or circumstances nurtured our negative conceptions of ourselves.   The sad thing is that when we think badly about ourselves, we can sometimes do to the people we love the most, the same things that were done to us, and the cycle continues. Trying to find the causes may be helpful, but it doesn’t matter much in the here-and-now of this day and tomorrow and the day after that.

What does matter is that we recognize that everyone has a need to be cherished for who they are and what they can become, no matter their age or background. In this life, we can choose to ignore others and what they think, or seek out their opinions, and weigh what they say in a positive manner. If someone drops out of sight, we can say “ah, well” and forget them, or we can take the time to send them an email and ask “Are you okay? I’ve missed you.” Or pick up the phone… Or send a “Thinking of you” card in the mail.


I love people and I particularly love the good vibes I get from them. It is a wonderful thing to see folks cautiously come out from under their shyness, their feelings of inadequacy, or unworthiness, to realize that we all have value, and each one of us has our own place of worth. If, as a friend or acquaintance, we can maintain a nurturing and friendly atmosphere toward others, with good fun and caring at the top of the list, I believe the dividends can be enormous, especially to ourselves. It certainly doesn’t hurt to send a little message to those in your circle of family, friends  and acquaintances, now and then, to let them know you care..

I believe that loving and caring becomes so imprinted on your own psyche that it is even picked up by strangers, making their day a little better place to be as well.   I also believe that our loving and caring needs to start with ourselves.




…On Self

A baby is born with a need to be loved and never outgrows it.  (Frank A Clark)
A man should look for what he is, and not for what he thinks should be. (Albert Einstein)
A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man. (Archibald MacLeish)
Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.  (Leonard Cohen) (Geo. W. Crane)
All I need is my brains, my eyes and my personality, for better or for worse. (Wm A Allard)
All of us love applause, and so we should – it means that the listener likes us! (Emanuel Ax
Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul. (Wayne Dyer)
Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them. (Benjamin Franklin)
Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity. (Sean O’Casey)
First say to yourself what you would be;  and then do what you have to do. (Epictetus)
For us she is not the iron lady.  She is the kind, dear Mrs. Thatcher. (Alexander Dubcek)
Happiness is a hard thing because it is achieved only by making others happy.  (S Cloete)
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.  (Churchill)
I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved. (George Eliot)
I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being. (Confucius)
I want you to start a crusade in your life – to dare to be your best.  (William Danforth)
If I respect myself and believe in what I’m doing, no one can touch me. (Fiona Apple)
If I told you about a land of love, friend, would you follow me and come? (Yunus Emre)
If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself. (Benjamin Franklin)
Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it’s being done to him or by him.  (Frank A Clark)
Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. (Mark Twain)
My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake. (Aristotle)
O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.  (Robert Burns)
Resolve to be thyself:  and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery. (Matt Arnold)
Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody. (Benjamin Franklin)
Today I see beauty everywhere I do, in every face I see, in every single soul. (Kevyn Aucoin)
Unless we love and are loved, each of us is alone, each of us is deeply lonely. (M. Adler)
You get the best out of others when you get the best out of yourself.  (Harvey S Firestone)




Here in the quiet of my room
Here in the morning’s light
Cobwebs swept by my mental broom
Along with the fears of the night.

Here I can see light shafting through
Curtains almost full-drawn
Arise from your bed:  there are things to do
And the time to start is at dawn.

© E Joyce Finn/Collie



I capture this moment
and hold it.
I clasp it tightly,
savoring it.


Even if only for a moment.

© E Joyce Finn/Collie


Did I Tell You?

And did I ever tell you
how you make me feel alive?
How you make me want to conquer?
how you make me want to strive?

I want to be perfection
when you look upon my face,
I want to be your beauty,
full of gentleness and grace.

I want your eyes upon me
saying “Love you” all the time,
I am so hungry for you,
that I feel it like a crime.

Every day I’m with you
opens up another door —
Every day I love you —
more and more and more and more.

© E Joyce Finn/Collie


Leonard Cohen – Who Is He?

leonard-cohen leonard_cohen_1208796c

Leonard Norman Cohen, Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, was born September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Quebec.  Honours have been heaped upon him including his induction into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.He has been awarded the Companion Of The Order of Canada (the nation’s highest civilian honour), the Chester MacNaughton Prize for Creative Writing, the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Poetry, the Prince of Asurias Award for literature. (For the complete list, check Wikepedia.) His music has been covered by many singers, and used in many films. He has been in films, and has had documentaries created about his work.

I love this man’s music and poetry.  Leonard Cohen instills into his words, a warm, breathing picture of who he is, what he’s experienced, what he’s seen and felt, to create masterpieces of insight and compassion, perhaps depression and despair, but ultimately reflections of life. He makes me feel what he is feeling.  He makes me see what he is seeing.

Here are seven (yes, I like him that much) selections I listen to over and over again, but truthfully, I can listen to anything he sings with great pleasure. And do –

Album 1967 “Songs Of Leonard Cohen”
The Stranger Song  (1967 live on the Julie Felix Show) (upl. absentreferent YouTube)

Album 1969 “Songs From A Room”
Bird On The Wire (Live London 2008) (upl. RElapso1 YouTube)

Album 1984 “Various Positions”
Dance Me To The End Of Love (upl. 1984 LeonardCohenVEVO YouTube)

Hallelujah (2009) (upl. WolfenSteed YouTube)

Album 1988 “I’m Your Man”
Ain’t No Cure For Love (Live London 2009, with spoken preamble, prepared video upl. sabhti)

…to hear more wonderful music from Leonard Cohen click the links below…
Everybody Knows (2008 live in London) (upl. ilnee YouTube)
Everybody Knows

I’m Your Man (live in London 2009) (upl. alcyoneeffect YouTube) (also recites “A Thousand Kisses Deep” as a poem).
I’m Your Man/A Thousand Kisses Deep



Why Some Men Have A Dog, But Not A Wife:

281234d1365251218-i-m-so-excited-can-t-wait-excited_dog565The later you are, the more excited your dog is to see you.

Happy-Dog-Pictures-3Dogs don’t notice if you call them by another dog’s name.

CuteMessyDogNeedsDogCrateDogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.

images-1Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.

Harrisburg-DUI-Lawyer-horse-dogDogs find you amusing when you’re drunk.

duck-hunting-dogs-1Dogs like to go hunting…

h-armstrong-roberts-1920s-1930s-farm-boy-wearing-straw-hat-and-overalls-sitting-on-log-with-spotted-dog-fishing-in-pond…and fishing.

excited-dogIf a dog leaves, it won’t take half of your stuff.

Signing off ….. ej