Lessons from the Reading Room with Hazel McGuiness – Simple Reminders

Welcome back to one of my favourite places, The Reading Room, and with one of my favourite people, Hazel McGuiness. In the last session, Hazel and I talked about kindness and how very important it is; not just while we make our way through this pandemic, but something that ought to be shown at all times. A gift that’s relatively easy to aspire to, yet sometimes very difficult to adhere to.

In this session, Hazel speaks to us about a few other important things in our lives, things of which we could all use a little reminder.

Everyone Has a Story

Hazel begins, “I have literally met thousands of people, and one of the many things that I have learned from others is that everyone is unique, and every relationship is unique. I have also learned that we are all on our own journey. We might not always agree with others, but we must step back and remember that while they are on their journey, and while we are on ours, we can learn from them and they can learn from us.”

Once again, I find myself needing this very reminder. When we see hatred and disrespect, it should be looked upon with empathy. Most times the individual is either scared of, or sad about something which is punishment enough, and often a lesson on how not to “be” in this world.

Balance and Fun

Hazel begins, “One such lesson comes to mind, and although she has yet to come into my reading room, I must share a small story with you about balance. Now, this young woman is and has been in my “bubble” since the pandemic began (I thought I had better make that statement first). She is probably one of the most hard-working people that I know – not in front of a computer, but literally hard physical work, day in and day out, sometimes for even 7 days a week.

However, she’s learned the precious art of maintaining her work balance while still having fun! She texted me the other weekend and asked whether or not I wanted to build a snowman. Now, I can’t remember the last time I built one, but I found myself saying, ‘sure, why not!’ Within just a few hours she had arrived, but sadly neither one of us had thought to check the snow to see if it was the right ‘snowman consistency’, and sure enough, nope! So, while we didn’t build our snowman, her perfect response was to simply shrug her shoulders, smile, and say, ‘Well, next time then!’, and off she went.

Our next adventure (apparently) is tobogganing, and of course, building the snowman – snow consistency permitting!

She thinks absolutely nothing of tobogganing on her own, up and down the hill for hours on end. Her last count was 30 runs, and she was having a blast the entire time!

The point I’m trying to make here, is that this is what life is supposed to be about; living it while having fun as well. And the cost of having fun is quite often zero. I’m blessed to have this young woman as part of my life, she’s a great reminder to remember to have fun.”


This is one of my favourite lessons from Hazel; “If we’ve learned one lesson from this pandemic, it would be that we really did have to get back to some pretty simple basics, didn’t we? We learned that we don’t need all of the stuff that we have, and that we really don’t need to depend on the big guys; for surely buying from our local resources is one of the best things we can do not only for them, but for ourselves and our community as well. The simple pleasure of going to the farmers market is something that I am so looking forward to come spring. There’s nothing like buying fresh produce from our local farmers.”

Immersing ourselves in the “shop local, support local, love local” mantra is a gift of simplicity that was somehow forgotten along the way.

“Keeping things simple, keeping our lives simple, is really not that difficult,” continues Hazel. “I’ll bet when we’re all able to meet up again with friends and family, we’ll be so happy just being in each other’s company, that a simple hug will bring pure joy, and, oh my how I’ve missed those hugs! Having face to face conversations, being able to actually see each other smile; all those simple, beautiful things. My hope is that as we go forward, we don’t forget the simple pleasures in life that are so very important.”


“We’ve all had to show and be resilient over these past 12 months. Of course, there have been days when that resilience has been challenged, but through supporting each other and adapting to the changes that have been laid out in front of us, we’ve no option but to be strong, developing the creativity to adapt to those changes. Doesn’t it make you wonder how past generations dealt with such horrific acts like the world wars? They didn’t have things like the internet, zoom, skype, texting, no such communication technology was at their disposal. However, they showed unwavering will and determination, and if they could do it, we can and will have done it as well.”

And with that, I’m off to Murrays Mountain with my “Crazy Carpet” to see what kind of tobogganing records I can set! And maybe I’ll throw in a couple of snow angels for good measure!

If you would like to learn more about how to simplify and balance in your life be sure to check out: www.learningwithhazel.com


Author: LivingSpaces

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  1. How do we get back to this kind of mindset- reprogram brain to have fun throughout the routine because in my case it really doesn’t matter

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    • Hi Sarah – it’s a great question, and you are correct it can be very difficult to do. Perhaps beginning with something very small, that provides a short break in you routine. Listening to some upbeat music as you have your coffee in the morning, not watching the news or going on to social media for an entire day, or simply going for a short walk, something and somewhere outside of your regular spots. Sometimes it can be a simple break in our day to day habits, a very small shift, that can make the world of difference! You’ve got this! FYI … I put on Justin Timberlake while I’m getting ready in the morning and dance like no-one but the dog is watching …. :). Thanks so much for reaching out! Kelli M. Maddocks

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