Optimism Bias: Good, bad, indifferent?

As you may have picked up from the About section of this blog, I’m typically an optimistic person.  I always have regarded this as a good thing, but I recently watched a TED Talk by Tali Sharot that explored facets of optimistic bias in people and it has given me food for thought on both the benefits and pitfalls of optimism.

Interestingly, Sharot notes that those with optimism bias continue to seek to succeed, even after facing a failure, because they attribute failure as something unique to that situation and if some some condition were to change, they would save succeeded and they would definitely succeed if they tried it again.

It seems that optimism makes you try harder.

The TED Talk is worth a watch (link below), it’s about 17 minutes long.  Take a few minutes to watch it and let me know are you inflicted with optimistic bias as described in Sharot’s research? If you are, is that a good, bad, or indifferent as you think about how  how you live life?

#SavorySunday: Toscanna Soup

This #SavourySunday I’m sharing a tried-and-true recipe that a friend gave me.  This recipe is great for this time of year when the air is chilled, and it’s particularly good when you have it from returning home after a brisk walk by the Bay, which is how I first experienced it a couple of years ago.

My friend said it was a copy-cat from a staple soup on the Olive Garden menu.  I’m sharing this today in honour of my friend because she’s moving about an hour away from me this week and I’ll really miss seeing her as often as I do now.



On going grey

A few years ago I tried of colouring my hair. I’d been colouring since my late teens, more for style than to cover grey hair. 

When I first made the big decision to go natural, I was 47, and I bravely let it grow out so none of my colour was artificial,

But I  was just not ready for the look yet.  The grey then was not as spread out as I had hoped and looked like sparse patches here and there.

Three years later, when 50 was approaching I decided to give it a try again.  This time the grey was more plentiful so I was more comfortable. 

I doubt I’ll go back to colour again.  I love being free of the chemicals and the time and cost commitment of colouring. 

A friend shared this trailer for an upcoming documentary about growing out your grey.  It’s worth a watch, I identify with the sentiments shared.

You can find the Facebook page for the upcoming documentary at this link: Gray is The New Blonde

#SavourySunday: Slow Cooker Pork Loin

With the first snowfall still lying on the ground, a cozy slow cooker pork loin was ideal for a dinner plan today. This recipe never fails to satisfy everyone in our house. I served this with mashed potatoes, steamed beets, and boiled carrots.

Slight variation from the recipe link: sometimes I add 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the broth the pork loin cooks in.

The gravy (or jus) that comes from this recipe is delish!

The meal was so enjoyed I failed to get a photo 🙂

Understanding and challenging bias

I recently was fortunate enough to have the experience of completing an eighteen-month program in corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

The full program covered a vast array of CSR topics, but one subject that I reflected on a great deal is diversity and inclusion.  The theme came up in a variety of ways as we explored or were exposed to theoretical frameworks, best practice cases, and both literature and personal testimony.

A key takeaway for me came in learning how, even though we may not realize it, we as individuals carry our own biases about age, skin colour, nationality, ethnicity, cultural and religions origins and traditions, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, political affiliation and many other dimensions of diversity.

Even the most enlightened individuals carry these biases.  Unknowingly in many cases, and perhaps because it is what is most comfortable, we often seek to align ourselves with people who think like us and look like us.

Part of an exercise we took part in during our course was to do a few of the Harvard Implicit Association Tests (bias tests) and reflect on our findings.  An important part of overcoming bias is to accept that it exists.  The next most important thing to do is to work on mitigating these biases by exposing yourself to experiences that challenge them .  In doing so you become more aware and familiar of your own biases, and more accepting of differences in people.

If you’re ready for the challenge, I encourage everyone to check out the resources available for businesses at Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion(CCDI).  CCDI is an international leader in developing and delivering diversity and inclusions programs and resources.

In Canada, I also encourage individuals and businesses to check the resources at Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and particularly their Progressive Aboriginal Relations program.

Together we can all do our part to ensure all humans have the same rights and freedoms.


Growing up in an artist’s house

My father’s birthday is Sunday; he would have been 78.

In 1980, on the Easter long-weekend, my parents told me he had cancer, and that he would be getting treatment but it was a terminal.  Over the next several months he tried to fight it but he became sicker and sicker.  The last time I saw him was later that year in the hospital was on his 40th birthday, November 11.  Three weeks later he was gone.

Prior to my father’s death, I had an unconventional upbringing compared to most of my peers.  Once I started school, for the majority of time my Mom worked outside the home, and often my Dad was home with me.  This was still about a decade before the movie Mr. Mom made having your Dad at home part of popular culture. What it meant for me was plenty of one-on-one time with my Dad and many memories of him creating art.

Here are 3 things I learned in that decade of life with Dad:

Being an artist is part of your soul, and it’s a frugal life

From time to time Dad would take a job outside our home, usually when times were financially tight.   Those short bursts when Dad worked outside our home were challenging. You could tell he was not as happy.   The happiest times were when he could create. Of course this meant he also had to sell, either on consignment or by commissions.  For a brief period, we had a business at our house, ‘The Brush and Knife”.  We even had a sign cut in the shape of a palette at the end of our driveway.  I have fond memories of those times, we didn’t have much but living in creative household was wonderful in so many other ways.

All rooms in the house pale in comparison to the space allotted for art

The studio space in our house was always of prime importance, and a spot I knew not to play in.  The most interesting thing about the art studio is that it moved around the house, as though Dad was trying to find the perfect spot.  There was one area of the house between the kitchen and bathroom that he decided would be the new studio space. This may have been alright but the space must have been too small to suit his needs once he moved there because he moved the wall between the studio and the bathroom, to increase the size of the studio. Naturally, it made the bathroom narrower.  My aunts, who often came to visit from Ontario in the summer, had great fun teasing my Dad about how the bathroom dimension changed between visits and that in the end or our time in that house you had to slide along the bathroom wall to get to the toilet.  I still can recall one aunt reenacting this by the campfire to the hilarity of all assembled.

Explore your world

Dad and I would spend all day, out with a picnic lunch, walking in fields, by streams, and down old country roads. He looking for some new subject to draw or paint, me just tagging along.  These walks and drives in all seasons took us to many places in Southern New Brunswick that I still explore today. I often think of him, particularly in areas around Sussex’s covered bridges and homesteads, and along the Fundy coast in Alma, Martins Head, Big Salmon River, St. Martin’s, Hopewell Rocks, Chance Harbour, Dipper Harbour, and Maces Bay.

When I’m in these places, he is still with me.

Happy birthday Dad.


#SavourySunday: Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Casserole

Who knew I’d be preparing my second #SavourySunday post sitting in the dark, listening to the gentle hum of the generator outside.

Last night we had a tremendous wind storm, winds between 87-119 km/hour in various parts of New Brunswick. More than 95,000 households lost power, ours was just one of the lucky ones. We are 23 hours without power now, and could be up to 72 hours.

We lost our garden shed to the storm, two

The crumpled shed.

40-foot tall trees fell on it and crumpled one side like a paper bag.

While my husband took care of the yard today, I zipped over to a friend’s house and whipped up a new recipe for slow cooker cabbage roll casserole. A quick Pintrest search led me to the recipe and voila, dinner for the family by LED lantern.

I brought it home still bubbling hot and it was a big hit, destined for lunches and leftovers tomorrow.

Now off to listen to podcasts in the dark by the wood stove, almost like the olden days.