L.M. Montgomery’s “The Blue Castle:” An Inspiring Tale of Obliger Rebellion

One of my best friends sent me a treasure last month: a Montgomery book I had not read before, not even once, let alone two or three times. The Blue Castle is one of the few books Montgomery wrote which has an adult heroine, rather than a young girl, and while it contains lots of classic Montgomery sparkle and rejoicing in the beauty of nature, it takes some time to get there.

The story is one of a woman named Valancy (a shockingly old maid of 29! 🤣) whose lacklustre existence is dominated by conformity to family pressure, lethargy, and fear…it is downright depressing at first. Montgomery really allows her readers to enter into the pain of a woman who feels that her life is not her own, and that no one really loves or even properly knows her. She constantly represses her honest reactions to conform to the strict standards of her unfeeling family, and even so is unable to please them. Everyone takes her for granted.

We could look back on her harshly, and speak of her weakness and dependence on her family in making all her decisions…but are we as a society truly more free? Our fetters may not be so much familial expectations, but what about the cages we build for ourselves online, the slavish fear that drives so many to keep up appearances and impress, or at least to fit in with the latest fads? How is living for the “likes” of strangers more free than living for the approval of those we know?

Everything changes one day when Valancy dares go to the doctor alone and gets a fatal diagnoses of her heart condition, and is given only a year to live. It is at this point that classic obliger rebellion, as described by happiness author Gretchen Rubin, kicks in. She decides to no longer live to please others at the cost of her own happiness and well-being.

Only by losing the fear of dying does Valancy cease being afraid to really live. Set free from the fear of her family’s opinions and the long dreary years ahead, she finally finds the courage to simply be herself, and discovers that life is so much more rich and beautiful when authentically embraced. At last she is able be herself and get comfortable in her own skin, which, as it turns out, is a pretty great place to be.

How would you live this year differently if you knew it could be your last? Perhaps with more courage, authenticity and joy? With more honesty, conviction, and simple delight in all life has to offer? With more generosity both towards yourself and others? Wherever you’re at in life, may you find your place of joy, your “blue castle” and embrace it fully.

Bad Day Mama Blues

Sometimes when you’re tired it feels like the world is ending, even though everything is actually ok. So this is a shout out for all the moms out there who had a bad day, or even a bad week, and don’t want to feel alone. If you’re tired of airbrushed social media images of perfection, this post is for you. 

So it all started with running out of coffee. Think alarm bells and

Code red, code red: mom down, mom down!


A disaster of epic proportions…leading to an immediate need to at least consume extra chocolate. So how ’bout you join me? Here’s a chocolate quiz. Eat one chocolate for every time you answer yes (chocolate chip or chocolate bar? That’s up to you!).

  1. Did your baby spit milk on you within 3 minutes of getting dressed? (Hey, good job getting dressed!)
  2. Was there a civil war at breakfast over who was looking at whom, followed by the building of a cereal box wall?
  3. Did you have to chase your naked toddler around the house to get his or her clean diaper on, right before you had to leave?
  4. Did you wonder if climbing the piles of laundry counted as a homeschool sport?
  5. Did your dishes magically reproduce the second your back was turned?
  6. Did you daydream about hammocks and drinks with little umbrellas in them?
  7. Did you feel inadequate or incapable…especially late in the afternoon, during that “witching hour” before dinner?
  8. Are you getting a toothache yet? 🍫🍫🍫
  9. Did your kids run screaming or getting suddenly faint and ill when you mentioned chores?
  10. Did it take three tries to call your child by the right name when correcting them?

Well, my friends, you’re not alone! Hope you’re munching something yummy, and ignoring those little ugly voices that sneak up when you’re tired and tell you you’re not good enough. If you’re worn down and feel like you have nothing left to give, it’s likely because you gave it all already. Like a fireman, you’ve been putting out fires all day…so the smoke and dust are a sign you’ve worked hard. Battle scars!

Motherhood is a tough job, and requires all your strength and all your heart. Chances are you’re doing an awesome job…not perfect, but awesome, so keep it up, and here’s to moms everywhere, struggling to love their little ones and make their homes happy, even when disaster strikes, and the coffee runs out! 

Trumpet Lilies Rejoice

Welcome summer! Beautiful, wonderful, summer… nothing like sunshine beaming through green leaves and white flower petals.

There is amazing strength and resilience in flowers…no matter what goes on around them, what hatred or anger floats about the air, they continue to be themselves. Delicate and beautiful.


They don’t grow spikes unless they are meant to or turn black when those around them are harsh…but continue to be ever the same…vulnerable perhaps but strong in their vulnerability, because they won’t be put off course. They follow the plan inscribed in their tiny cells, and become the gorgeous things they were meant to.

May we all learn from this to be ourselves, our best selves, no matter what happens around us to pull us down.

See-Through Me


Sometimes it is hard

to be around You, Lord,

because You see right through me.

The caverns of my heart

are no secret to You.


There is no hiding,

no pretending to be fine.


The layers of my defences

are shed like an onion skin,

peeled by Your deft hands.


In this raw state,

the tears come

and I weep to think

how much You love

each person

and how much

it must pain You

when they turn away

and refuse the shelter of Your wings.


A Small Step


A small step
in the midst of great difficulties
can be a miracle

The heroic efforts of a bumble bee
more impressive
than a charging rhino kicking up dust
all show

It’s not perfection
but struggle that matters
not impressive credentials
but the straining of the heart
towards something truly beautiful

living a life of love
full of little sacrifices
getting up again and again

Keep trying
keep smiling
remember the ideal
that sets fire to your heart

Never let discouragement
drown the flames altogether

Blow on that ember of hope
Remember who you are

Forget trying to please others
modifying yourself to be more palatable to them

You can never please anyone
by pretending

It’s better to go down in flames
like a shooting star
completely crazy
but lighting up the world
with your own form of madness

You will inspire
or you will be despised
but at least you will be you

There are worse things
than being rejected

Reveal Yourself and Be Loved

Our deepest fear is that if we reveal our true selves we will be rejected.

Our society encourages this anxiety by bombarding us with tons of glossy magazines claiming to have the secret to perfection: perfect beauty, perfect fitness, perfect diet, perfect relationships.

What message does this send? That if we fail to achieve these things, that’s what we are: failures. Unworthy of attention, unworthy of love.

So we feel the need to cover ourselves in layers of protection: foundation, mascara, blush, lipstick…if we had portable airbrushes we’d likely be constantly glossing ourselves over, too. Like a little magic force field to keep away judgement. (Friends who know I’ve never been much of a makeup girl will hopefully forgive me this cosmetic analogy!) We are afraid that if we let our weakness show through the cracks, we’ll be turned away. Not good enough. Alone.

In fact, this false veneer of perfection forms a wall that keeps others out. The pretence of having no real problems intimidates and alienates others, because everyone has some kind of struggle, and wants to be understood, not judged. Being unwilling to reveal ourselves to others makes us unsafe for others to be honest with us, and blocks the development of authentic friendship, which is based on loving acceptance and trust.

Instead of acknowledging our weaknesses and mistakes, and trying to improve and make amends, we deny them, suppress them, and inadvertently, trap them within ourselves. This makes us feel worse then ever. And carrying all this heavy baggage makes us even more afraid to be discovered. We are haunted by all the skeletons hidden in our closet, if you’ll forgive me the cliché. We become like Scrooge’s partner Marley, who is weighed down by the chains of his guilt for past mistakes. Having never acknowledged his faults and made amends, he is frozen in regret.

I always tell my kids that it’s better to be honest and admit they messed up, than to pretend they didn’t make a mistake. My three year old interprets this in a funny way sometimes:

Me: “Who cut a hole in this?”
Her: “Not me. It was my hand that did it with scissors.”
Me: “Can you please tell your hands not to do this again?”
Her: “It wasn’t the one hand–it was playing Lego–only the other hand.”
Me: “Well, you’re in charge so tell that hand not to do it again.”

It’s natural to deflect the blame, especially when you’re three, but the mature thing is to fess up.

Even though it’s humbling and hard, saying sorry it’s actually very freeing, both for ourselves and the one we apologize to. We can let go of guilt and they of resentment. Truth gives us a fresh start and wipes the slate clean: it is lies that trap us in chains. We have a hard time believing this, because our society can be very harsh and judgemental, and the media loves to glorify the gory details of people’s mistakes. Thank goodness I’m not famous and subject to that!

Sometimes we project our human pettiness onto the divine. We imagine some kind of Zeus waiting in the clouds, ready to zap us if we don’t hide under a bush after making a mistake. But I think this is our biggest mistake–not realizing that we can reveal our true selves and still be loved. That we can always start over again and again, and that the only real failure is giving up on ourselves.

For me, when I apologize after messing up, instead of a thunderbolt, I hear a gentle voice of love. Here’s my interior conversation:

Me: “Hi God. I’m sorry. I messed up again.”
God: “It’s ok, I know.”
Me: “I was trying but…I guess I’m still me, and I just manage to screw things up sometimes.”
God: “I know, and I’m still me, so I still love you.
Me: “Thanks for loving me no matter what. You are amazing.”
God: “And so are you. I made you remember? Don’t give up on yourself. I never have.”

I think if we can rest in the assurance of being loved exactly as we are, we can have the strength and hope to struggle to keep growing, and become even better. This is what true love is, what true friendship is: it inspires us to become the best person we can be. So listen to that cheesy eighties song, and let your true colours come shining through, cause they’re beautiful.