Better Days Here and Now

Here we are at the close of 2020 and, quite naturally, we are taking time to look back at what has been a very challenging year. 

Most of us will be none too glad to see 2020 pass into the halls of history. However, we have found a way to persevere and begin to address the loss, hardship, suffering, and injustice that has defined our year. A closer inspection may also reveal to us some positives. For example, I have never been granted so much quality time each day with my partner Darlene. Sharing space as we work virtually together, long walks, adventurous hikes, and paddles. Distance from others brought us even closer together. For this aspect of 2020, I am grateful. 

Entering a new year, as always, we look ahead with anticipation. Beyond the typical resolutions made this time of year, we can also look forward to the end of this COVID rampage. The vaccines have provided a much-needed light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel. I am also grateful for, and humbled by, the many brilliant minds and the courageous volunteers during the human trials phases that have made these vaccines possible in such a short time! The words ‘thank you’ seem not near enough!

Pondering both what we have come through and what lies ahead, I wonder, today, that if we allow our eyes time to adjust, we will find that there is enough light, right here and now, to provide clarity for living in this present moment. 

I was reminded this week of the Carly Simon song, ‘Anticipation’. She begins:

We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway

And I wonder if I’m really here with you now, or just chasin’ a finer day?

Carly Simon

I particularly like her outro refrain, “These are the good old days” where she values living each moment to the fullest.

The lyric makes me wonder how many times, in anticipating some “finer day,” I have entirely missed the ‘remarkable’ that lies in front of me, right here and right now?

As we continue our journey in 2021, my wish for us all; may we plan for a better, kinder, and more Just future. May we also live with an intentional and present focus on BEING better, kinder, and more Just right now. In doing so, perhaps we can make these, the good old days!

Greetings, my friends, from Skagit. And Happy New Year!


Dean Snider


The Y: We’re for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Broken Hearted Joy

Broken Hearted Joy, by Dean Snider


If you are like me, watching your children grow up and move out of your house was a process that tapped wildly mixed emotions. “Every time I think of her, makes me laugh, makes me cry.”

In 2008, our oldest daughter, Madison, graduated from Walla Walla High School and was planning her departure to college in British Columbia. She would be entering the new world of young adulthood. How fabulous! What Joy! The college years are wonderful in so many ways.

At the same time, her choice of college was a 7-hour drive away. She was launching into the independence of adulthood. It was breaking my heart to think of her gone from our daily world and experience. She has now graduated from college and is living and working, thriving by my observation, in Vancouver BC.

‘Broken Hearted Joy’ is a product of the conflicting emotions during Madison’s exit from childhood and entrance into the independence of adulthood. Since that time, Madison’sBialey's grad dinnersisters, Kennedy and Bailey, have followed that similar path; High School graduation, a 7 + hours drive to college and an independent treck into adulthood. These emotions – joy, and sadness – alternating between lifting and crushing me – persisted with each experience, with each departure.

These days, however, I have been amazed – not surprised but certainly awed  –  by these rather remarkable human beings who have grown into young women of strength and grace,  of creativity and resolve, of courage and empathy. It has been the best part of the last few years, together with Darlene, just watching them step up, step out, try bold new things and forge their own unique and fascinating paths.


Dearest Madison, Kennedy and Bailey, your mother and I are overflowing with pride at the creative, strong, independent, and gracious people that you have become. We anticipate, with confidence and curiosity, how you will continue to shape your lives, loves, and careers. Although this song was written for Madison first, it applies equally to each of you. These days, however, I think we can agree that we have grown well past the broken heart and are living in the joy as we share in your lives together.

Joy and Pride mixed… three times over!



A Thought Experiment on Civility

As a follow-up action to my last post, I engaged in this ‘Thought Experiment on Civility.’  Albert Einstein used ‘Thought Experiments’ to explore scientific ideas that ultimately revolutionized the science of his day. I am no Einstein. Still, I have always been intrigued by his thought experiments and, given the state of public discourse these days, decided to engage in a thought experiment of my own. Perhaps it will help to reduce some of the Walking Blues!

Consider a world, a community, or perhaps a single relationship, to make it less complex, where one assumes the best about another, and that assumption is reciprocated. Hmmm… Intriguing!

Curiosity takes primacy over assumption

Consider the possibility, for just a moment, that a thought could be uttered, perhaps still incomplete, and that a listener could ask questions about that thought; its origin, its intent, and explore it along with its author. There is no risk to the author that they will be chastised for verbalizing the thought. There is no threat to the listener that this idea is somehow a personal attack on them or what they believe. Curiosity takes primacy over assumption.

In this scenario, the listener is not offended because the assumption is that we are all a work in progress and that the other is a good person who wants to add positively to their shared reality. The author of the thought is not afraid to explore their idea knowing that the listener will give them the latitude and assume their best intention. Because of this, thoughts and ideas tend to get thoroughly examined from two (or more) perspectives. Thoughts and ideas will wrestle with opposing thoughts and ideas, both explored from multiple angles, and both evaluated on their own merits and weaknesses.

Two people often look at the same data and come to different conclusions 

In this place, there will be disagreement. Two people often look at the same data and come to different conclusions. In the dispute, however, there is relatively high understanding of another’s perspective because the topic has been considered from multiple angles and openly discussed without fear of reprisal. And when understanding, and being understood lead the way, acceptance and tolerance of difference easily follow.

This is not a place where a person speaks disrespectfully of another. It is hard to disrespect someone while also assuming the best of them. It is also a place absent of brash thoughtless statements. When one believes the best of another, one also wants to give of their best and add positively to the conversation in some way.

Damaging and disrespectful thoughts may still exist. These thoughts, however, would be challenged and exposed for their fault respectfully and in a way that does not shame the author but rather to gently point out other thoughts and ideas that may benefit everyone. Over time, damaging ideas might even diminish.

It is time to lead with civility!

This sounds like a pretty good place to me. If only it were real!

Come to think of it, I can control at least 50% of the equation.  Indeed, in freely offering my civility someone else may even be lead to reciprocate.

Enough of this thought experiment already. It is time to lead with curiosity and assume the best in others. It is time to lead with civility!

Care to join me?




PS. Here is an instrumental titled ‘A time to Reflect’ that felt right to add at the bottom of this post. Cheers!

Other Resources:



Walking Blues

Walking Blues  by Dean Snider

Thumper’s mother (of Disney lore) had it right when she scolded her son by asking him to recite his father words from earlier in the day: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothin’ at all.”

It’s not all fun and games out there. Come on folks, let’s be kind to one another!

In thinking about this post, I found the Choose to Be Nice website. Great stuff! Kudos to the folks who started this social movement that is “dedicated to encouraging and inspiring kindness wherever and whenever possible.” What a great mission! Thank you! I can now be counted among the 7,871 who have made The Promise to be kind. This is a good start, but… more would better! Check it out!

I also found the Be Kind People Project that is working to “build a generation of respectful, responsible, healthy, and caring citizens and leaders”. Their Mission is “to initiate positive social change in schools that will improve academic achievement and the overall learning environment, motivate respectful interpersonal relationship skills, build accountability for personal decisions and wellness, recognize teachers, encourage family and community involvement, and provide a framework for lifelong values. Another outstanding mission to be engaged in!

I can additionally highlight the Global Youth Service Day that is asking youth to Pledge to be “Fearless and Kind: To be inclusive. To stand up for those who need my help. And to make a difference whenever I can, wherever I can, because I can! Another fabulous group pledge that I have now added my name to.

I really love to see creative educators working with youth to build a more civil tomorrow.  I also really like how the Arts seem to be an excellent medium for teaching this stuff! Programs, such as these, help our youth to learn more, live better and to be a better example for adults.  How about that for an ironic twist in the natural order of things!? 🙂

There are some great things out there, people doing stuff that gives us a reason for hope! Really good stuff folks!

Go forth and be kind… and let’s all try to avoid giving anyone the ‘Walking Blues.’ What can you do today to build a more compassionate world?

That is a good thought to end on.




In this moment

‘In this Moment’  by Dean Snider

At the edges of infinity, just west of the Divide. In the gentle shade of serenity, pure beauty by my side

In the shadow of a titan, grand mass reaching for the sky. In this cathedral to divinity, winged raptors gliding by.

I want to stay… Please let me stay… Forever within this moment.

By her side, I will abide, remaining within this moment. And we will be forever free just you and me in this moment.

Leaning into the silence, the music of the air. A crescendo into gratitude, time without a care.

I want to stay… Please let me stay… Forever within this moment.

By her side, I will abide, remaining within this moment. And we will be forever free just you and me in this moment.

At the edges of infinity, just west of the Divide.


I wrote this song on a rocky beach. Specifically, this song came to life while I was looking out into Puget Sound from a narrow strip of public access beach next to Poverty Bay park in Federal Way WA. It was a peaceful day in the summer of 2017. Darlene and I had spent the previous day driving through the Cascades on White Pass, hiking and running a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. We made a full and fabulous day of the trip across ‘the Divide,’ and it just needed to be captured for posterity.

This song is my attempt to do just that. It was recorded at Coffee Ring Studios in Walla Walla with Michael Simon recording, mixing and playing bass. Thank you, Michael! Let’s play together again soon!

Perhaps it is just me but I enjoy a January glance back to the days of summer. I hope you do too!





Homeward Longings


a poem by Dean Snider



Near Lands’ End, where soil meets sea

Ancient cedars bend to a brisk November breeze

Turbulent horizon softened by golden Rae’s

Harmonious rhythms of homeward longings, in heart and mind still plays


The heart knows what the mind sows or is it the other way?


A brief foray into another worlds charm

Transported safely in the Ferryman’s arm

A straight removed, this island remains

A reminder of a home not so well known and an invention of better days


The mind grows what the heart sows, or is it the other way?


Return to the beginning of a life left behind

Something vaguely familiar to these images of mind

Stumbling through a joyous reunion of genes

A long-lived decision, a carefully constructed revision of this historic scene.


The heart knows, what the mind sows, or is it the other way?

The mind grows what this heart sows, or is it the other way… or is it the other way?







Let it Rain


Let It Rain  by Dean Snider


I grew up, to the extent that I can call myself a grown up, in the 70’s and 80’s. For me, that time was defined, in so many ways, by the music I listened to. I still have, and listen to, my collection of Kansas records, Chicago, the Commodores, the Doobie Brothers. I pull out that Dan Fogelberg, that Phil Keagy or that Yes record for a listen now and then.

I was thinking this week, however, about one song in particular from Micahel Jackson’s 1987 album ‘Bad’. ‘Man in the Mirror’ was a powerful song about affecting social change by starting with yourself – the Man in the Mirror. Great thought!

For me, the phrase ‘Man in the Mirror’ came to represent an honest look at oneself. It means that my understanding of the truth starts by looking into my own eyes and being honest with myself.  Am I giving this a sincere effort? Check with the man in the mirror. Am I doing my share of the chores? Check with the man in the mirror. Am I part of the problem? Check with the man in the mirror.  Am I working for a solution or pandering to my own self-interest? Man in the mirror says….?

These are difficult times, and we face challenging issues in our local communities, in our nations, and around the globe. Here in the USA rhetoric is launched, dripping with disdain and often anger, as weaponry from right to left and left to right… as if there were only the two possible positions. Voices that carry uncomfortable messages are often silenced, ignored or altered inciting our righteous indignation rather than our empathy or understanding. There is a whole lot of talk out there and not a great deal of listening. Am I part of that problem? Man in the mirror says… ya, I’ve done that!

The truth, whatever it is and however uncomfortable it may be, can be a cleansing shower – or a raging storm. Either way, its’ water will erode our rough edges, purging and cleansing us in the process. It may even set us free!

For me, I am trying to listen to the voices I encounter with an eye to the man in the mirror. Care to join me? We can help keep each other accountable!

Only in Darkness can we see the stars*, facing the truth, a balm for the scars. Cleansing the spirit in this waterfall, let it rain.




*Quote: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.




A son’s reflections on his mother…


My mom was always there. She was there for the big games, the concerts, the awards nights… graduation, … wedding. I remember her sitting in support of me at all the big occasions. But more than that, she was… just always there.

She was there every morning… up early to make my lunch and send me to school. She would always fold the paper lunch bag so neatly and then cringe when I would grab the top, crunch it all together and run off to school. She was always there when I came home… late after practice or if I had to go home early. She was there when I left for youth group, there when I returned. She was still there when I moved to college…  she was there inviting us home for a meal or the evening.

Mom was there for every birthday. She organized birthday parties for me up through my senior year of college. It was a little embarrassing for me, my mother asking my friends to her 22-year-old son’s B-day party. But she fed us well and nobody ever complained or ever turned down her invitation.

Mom was always there answering a young parent’s questions and babysitting her grandkids. Mom was just always there, honoring supporting and building me up. She was there to share in my life when I was happy, sad or anything in between.

I recall a time in college having just said goodbye to Darlene for the summer and having also just realized that I loved and wanted to build a life together with her. I was sitting at the kitchen table with a hat on my head and, I am sure, a solemn face. Mom quietly came and sat down across the table from me. When our eyes met, I noticed that she was starting to cry. She even shared in my love-struck sorrow. I cried then too. I could do that with my mom.

As a parent now, I look at how my mom was always there for me and am awed. There was no talk of “quality time.” We had many special moments of course, but I think now it is quite probable that we would have missed many quality moments if she had not given her time in such great quantity. My mom was indeed a giver.

I also remember mom’s gift of song. I remember watching her sing in church or a wedding and thinking “my mom is beautiful” her voice filling the room. She once told me that she would like for me to be able to play piano and sing. “Like Burton Cummings?” I said.  “Yes, who is he?” She always encouraged me to sing. She made me want to sing.

My mom was real. There was no pretense. I don’t think she could have pretended even if she wanted to. My friend Wendy Porter told me a story of a time she traveled with dad for their work at the college. They were flying … somewhere and dad left home forgetting his briefcase. Knowing he needed it, mom hopped in the car to try to catch them.  Dad drives fast, and mom would not gain any ground on route to the airport. When mom arrived at the airport, she ran into the terminal calling “Neil” not stopping to worry about the fact that she was still in her bathrobe.

I remember another time with the family all together playing games around the kitchen table. Mom had recently finished chemotherapy after her first bout with breast cancer. She had lost her hair and was wearing a wig. The game was great fun, and we were all laughing. It must have been warm in the room. In the middle of a raucous moment, mom said: “it is getting way to hot in here.” She reached up to the top of her head, grabbed the wig and threw it on the floor. We all stopped, looked at each other and then broke into even more laughter. As her hair grew back in, I recall a lady in church commenting positively on mom’s haircut. “Thank you,” she said “but it’s a hair grow” Mom always said it as it was.

My mom was a strong woman of faith. I remember such authenticity in her belief that I knew I wanted to be authentic like her.

As she faced cancer Mom’s faith was clearly evident. She always had a sense of peace, seeming to know with more than just a head knowledge that God was in control. Her quiet strength kept our family together. We could say, mom is OK, I can be too. Mom had faith enough for all of us.

Today, I remembered that day, 12 some years ago… I was driving up from Walla Walla with my family – about an eight-hour drive. About an hour into our journey, I received a call from dad saying we should do our best to get up there soon. The doctor had said she might not make it through the day. We drove hard. Mom waited. When we arrived at the hospital the room was filled with family and friends. We stood at her bedside and dad said: “Marlie, Dean and the girls are here.” I will always remember how, with great effort to overcome laboured breathing and the hazing effect of the morphine, mom sat up and opened her eyes… several times. It was like she wanted to make sure we knew that she knew we were there. As she had been all her life, even on her last day, mom was there for us.

Miss you Mum!

It’s in the Way

‘It’s in the way’ by Dean Snider

“It’s in the way that you hold me tight,

Version 2
Darlene ‘s gift of laughter… laughing with me (and possibly at me) in Donegal, Ireland.

It’s in the secrets that we share at night,

It’s in the warmth of your loving arms…

that I submit to your tender charms.”


Love is a wonderful thing! I penned this song in what seemed like 10 minutes. The music is simple, and the lyrics flowed easily from a very grateful place within me that has experienced them first hand.

My new favorite thing… dancing around the living room to this song with the one who inspired it.



Long May You Run Old Friend


And then there were two.

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Empty Nest,’ our home now has two birds living in it. Although our youngest, Bailey, is still in college it does seem our three fabulous young women have left us to return to Canada. Oddly, the last to leave, however, was not one of our girls at all but rather the family car that was the icon of their childhood.

‘Woody’ was there for the family trips. He transported our three girls and dog Diefenbaker to woody christmasBC or Saskatchewan for family visits and to the Gulf / San Yuan Islands for camping tips. He carried the Christmas tree home each December and helped teach the girls to drive. He was high school transportation. He was the 20-year identifying feature – at first in our driveway and then later on the street in front of the house. And he was loved… almost as if this marvelous hunk of machinery were a real person. If you ask any of our girls… he is!

young Bailey with woody

To put it in perspective, Bailey was less that one year old when ‘Woody’ joined the family. Later this month she will go travel Europe with friends… without us. I love these two pics of Bailey with this car (family member) that she loved so much.



Madison was first to pass her driver training course in ‘Woody.’

Kennedy was the first to drive him away alone.

Madison behind the wheelIMG_0641

This past fall when Kennedy moved back to Vancouver after a lovely year (lovely for us, probably frustrating for her) at home it was only a week or two later when ‘Woody’ went to live “at the farm.” A nice man in a neighboring town came and picked him up. He had the tools, know-how, and patience for a little restoration project.

Long may you Run old Friend!

woody in watercolour
Woody in Water Colour

It was a sad day. Darlene and I actually cried together when he drove away. Of course, it was not just the loss of ‘Woody’ but rather the symbolic end to a wonderful period in the life of our family. This ending, however, is also the start of this new and wonderful ’empty nest’ life that Darlene and I now share together.

three crazy girls

girls at wedding 2

So, although it may have been sad to see Woody move on, it is also really great to see these three fabulous young ladies launch into adulthood. And beyond that, it is my great privilege to start and finish each day in the arms a most fabulous love and friend, Darlene (Martens) Snider.IMG_1793

It was this thought, in October of 2016, that was the origin of this song. The Neil Young reference is intended.


‘Arms of Love’ by Dean Snider

Woody needle Point
This embroidered image was Madison’s creation, a handmade gift to me for Christmas 2016