The Mechanics of Kindness

Nowadays, getting lost in a quagmire of daily bad news is pretty easy. One bad incident can destroy the reputation of millions, and societies become fractured by color and culture. Without experiencing human interactions, our understanding that we have more in common than not is diminished and distorted. Beneath our skin, however, we share the same wishlist for a happy life: love, food, shelter, respect, and belonging.

My husband and I travel. Our job is managing people’s properties and caring for their pets in their absence. We accept neither job lightly. It’s our reputation and our way of life. On this return trip to the Mexican Baja, we came mentally prepared for what to expect. Heat and humidity. Of course, COVID makes everything more complicated, and restrictions hinder the usual 4.5-hour trip, and it turns into a 24-hour ordeal. Such is life. While the Baja is an agricultural breadbasket, its prime source of income, which is directly related to people’s cash flow, is the tourist industry and the booming construction hub. Both of which the pandemic hampered.

Although Cabo’s quaint airport was like a beehive when we arrived, it hasn’t yet translated into cash for those in downtown Cabo San Lucas who rely on tourist money. But wherever we go, we interact with locals. We ask questions and take an interest in their lives, and we don’t consider ourselves tourists; we come to experience living in la vida loca style minus the loca.

On this particular Saturday, we planned a quick in-and-out shopping trip to the vibrant resort city of Cabo San Lucas. We were excited about the prospects of a beautiful day and, as a treat, a portable breakfast before hitting the stores. Wham bam, and back at the hacienda by noon, we thought. Our vehicle, however, had other ideas.

We grabbed breakfast and decided to eat in the parking lot. Because of the pandemic, we try to have less contact with people (which makes me sad) and surfaces. Our breakfast was delicious; we were ahead of schedule, and then everything changed. Our vehicle wouldn’t start. When my husband turned over the engine, all we got was rattling grrrrr, no spark, no engine response.

While the highway, snaking its way from Cabo in the south to Tijuana in the north, is pristine, sideroads are hard on cars. The paths are either a jarring washboard or a rough ride through miniature mountain ranges and troughs. The struts in most cars grind because sand gets everywhere, and if it isn’t screwed down, it will fall off.

My husband is pretty handy; he popped the hood and tried to adjust the loose battery cables. Since we lacked tools, he ran across the street to buy a set of vice grips. By then, we’d noticed three guys milling in the parking lot, smoking, washing their company vehicle, their gaze drifting toward us.

Mexico is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. Being cautious is wise no matter what country is on the travel agenda. We also understand that less fortunate people tend to view Canadians and Americans as wealthy people with abundant cash. This is sometimes true but not always, and I’ll casually mention here that we have never had a bad experience in any country.

After trying everything he could, my husband shook his head. This was beyond him to fix without some help. In my bad Spanish, I asked one of the men if they could give us a boost. As I discovered, this gentleman, Alejandro, from Venezuela, spoke excellent English. They hooked up the booster cables; I was very hopeful. Our battery, however, was deeply wounded.

Next thing, we had three men under the hood performing surgery. They brought out their tools and gadgets and tested where we had power and what was wrong. They went as far as climbing under our vehicle. After trying everything, including adding water to the dry battery, the diagnosis remained the same. A dead battery. Alejandro walked with my husband, taking half the battery weight, across the street to the club store, where he had a membership to buy a replacement battery. This was after about two hours of trying to resuscitate ours.

While they were gone, I chatted with Sergio, whose English was on par with my lacking Spanish. He explained to me that he earned twenty dollars a day. Cabo is very expensive, he said, and I agreed. A head of cauliflower grown in Mexico and shipped to Canada is the same price as in Cabo. On twenty dollars a day, that’s not too many heads of cauliflower for dinner. Sergio and I learned a lot about our cultures that day. I explained that Canada had its pitfalls too. And that the cost of living was a struggle for many. The pandemic brought it to the surface. The myth that we were all born with silver spoons in our mouths was dispelled.  

When my husband and Alejandro returned, they installed the battery and juiced it up, and we were so grateful when our vehicle sprung to life. My husband tipped the guys half a day’s wages, but Alejandro refused his share and instead offered it to his coworkers. He explained to my husband that he had lost his job two weeks earlier and struggled to get his payout from his ex-employer. And while feeling bad about it at his daughter’s graduation, not wanting to ruin her day with news of his dire situation, he chatted with a man who offered him the job he now has. He now earns decent money as a supervisor. 

After my husband offered to pay for his membership at the store and the box of popcorn he bought, Alejandro explained it was his privilege to return kindness. He felt he’d been blessed by kindness and how grateful he was for the opportunity to live with his family in the beautiful city of Cabo San Lucas. 

That man is a walking life lesson. Alejandro experienced so much turmoil when he braved the challenges of being evicted from his homeland because of the dangerous political situation. Yet, he’s blinded by gratitude for the blessings and opportunities he’s given. That man is an angel and ambassador for loving-kindness. His spirit permanently marks us.

The Cover Page & Center Fold

So cool to finally see my first children’s story published. The School Magazine (Australia) did such an amazing job and I’m just thrilled that, “Swimmingly, Willie” is the cover story and the center fold in the June edition of Blast Off.

The Cover Page, Blast Off, The School Magazine

Page 1, The life of bees isn’t a big secret, but they have a quirky sense of humor.

The 2nd Installment

Not everyone knows this but the Calgary Public Library has such a cool story dispenser program. Lovingly, Willie is part of the 5-Minute Read rotation. There are four dispensers right now. One is at the Edmonton International Airport.

Read the story here:

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The Magnificent Pacific

Whenever I stand on the shores of the Pacific, I begin to understand myself and my insignificance on the beautiful ball circling in the universe; a place I call home. 

El Pescadero, Baja Sur, Mexico Sunset

It hardly matters that the endless blue I’m looking at is the largest and deepest body of water on Earth and that without it, I, and humanity, wouldn’t exist. Knowing that I’m glimpsing only a few thousand square miles as I stand on the shore of 60 thousand square miles doesn’t impact the sensation. I finally understand the meaning of‘ breathtaking.’

The Pacific in size is greater than all the landmass combined. Pacific means to pacify and be peaceful. Magellan got it right when he named the ocean as he sailed across the tranquil waves in 1520, not knowing that the Pacific had the power to wipe entire fleets off the face of the earth with its killer rogue waves and violent storms.

The beauty and tranquility are overwhelming. Standing on the shore of this magnificent body of water, I breathe in unison with Earth. Bathtub-warm water tickle my toes, sand massages my skin at the beach at Las Lajas in Panama with each frolicking wave. I’m beginning to understand how lucky I am to experience my minor role on this planet.

When my husband and I drove down from El Valle de Anton (Panama) at five in the morning, heading west toward that sliver of silver shining in the distance,  a miraculous thing happened. A moment in time that shaped me as a person forever. 

El Valle is a picturesque town nestled on the rim of a volcano and similar to Boquete in Chiriqui, a tourist mecca. I’m going to skip over the details in the part where at dusk, following behind a pick-up truck, we slowly saw details emerge in the cargo. At first, we saw household goods and a chicken coop. But like a mirage, we were soon able to discern faces among the brick-a-brack—a child holding an infant inside the cage. 

As we turned a bend on the winding road, our eyes on the children, a miracle happened. Not sure about where you went to school, but l learned that the sun rises in the east. Yet, I was facing west, seeing the Pacific in the distance and an orange globe emerging on the west-facing horizon. In Panama, I saw a world not entirely upside down, but definitely sideways.

The Skyline from Boquete toward the Pacific

That morning I thought I’d seen it all. It was a lesson on learning not to pass judgment. Don’t compare your way of life to those living in another country and different circumstances. Where I come from, you will face criminal charges for allowing children under twelve to take public transportation without supervision. In Panama, where the family unit is the pinnacle of society, you can transport children in a chicken coop.

With my mouth agape, I watched the sunrise in the Pacific. I’ve seen whales breach in the distance in this body of water, and dolphins perform acrobatic acts. I’ve seen who I am as reflected in the water and that humanity is never satisfied. It’s why we pillage the ocean’s depths, overfish, mine, pollute, and invade this deeply mysterious ocean.

Oceans and algae help control the Earth’s climate, which is always in constant flux. It acts as a set of lungs breathing and exhaling. Only our human interference has given the oceans (all our oceans) a set of smokers’ lungs. The oceans are coughing. There’s a good chance we’ll need to operate.

Although dipping my toes into the tranquil waves in Las Lajas, I understand that the ocean is the birthplace of great violence. In this deep water, hurricanes are born. Back in 2018, it gave birth to super typhoon Mangkhut, which swept across the Philippines and China, reaching 165 miles per hour. The annihilation epic.

Juan de Fuca Strait Victoria looking at Mt Baker

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones all feast on the warm waters of the Pacific. In the eastern Pacific, these violent storm patterns are called hurricanes. In the southwestern Pacific, they’re called cyclones, and in the northwestern Pacific, they are classified as typhoons.

Pushcart Prize Nominee

I always wondered if I would ever have the opportunity to learn what a Pushcart Prize nomination would feel like. Now I know, because this morning I received the news that nominated “The Glass Wall Between Us” for the prize.

Mythical Creatures June 2021 Print Edition

Mythical Creatures June 2021 Honeyguide Literary Magazine

And guess what? It feels amazing.


I know a little boy who uses this phrase, seriously, and it’s got me wondering too.


What happens to time? When I was a child, I remember that an hour seemed like an eternity when we were told to sit still at my aunt’s house. Now, each Friday I’m aghast that another week has ended. Where did the time go? How can I slow its breakneck speed and passing?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Astronomical Clock in Prague

Success is a goal that is set yet hard to reach because it’s a moving target. I’ve been writing, seriously, for about 10 years now. It’s a labour of love and hate. I love it because it’s what I’m meant to do. There’s no point in arguing or debating. Whether I’m good enough or not doesn’t matter. It’s like breathing and comes naturally.

I hate it because it consumes me wholly and leaves no room for anything else. The constant teeter-totter struggle of success and failure is tiresome yet motivating.

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Seriously, if writing was about writing, I’d be happy.

For the last three months, I haven’t looked up. My nose has been bent to the grindstone churning out internet content for an agency. It’s official, I’m a professional writer, and I get paid for each word I contribute.

But man, it’s a tough gig.

The creative me struggles with producing regurgitated web-oriented, cookiecutter content because I’ve always been the sort of person who likes to colour that space outside the lines. But writing isn’t just about putting words on paper; it’s about learning and moving forward.

Las Lajas Beach, Panama. Courtesy Dorothy Larson

Writing is who I am, yet I don’t enjoy that other side of writing that I need to embrace. Self-promotion.

I’d much rather get lost among the characters living inside my head. They are good company but also demanding, and I’ve neglected them.

This morning, I decided to edit two stories that I wrote as companions to “Swimmingly, Willie,” a children’s story about a bee, soon to be published and illustrated by The Australian School Magazine.

Reading those two sequels reminded me of the pure joy of writing.

Photo by Pixabay on

Seriously, that is why I write. For the joy, the small successes and the big ones and the failures that are mere rungs on a ladder.

Run Don’t Walk

Shortlist Winner published in Adelaide Literary Award 2020 Anthology

The footprints we leave behind.

In light of the travesty unfolding in Canada, where authorities are unearthing hundreds of Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves, I thought I’d share this scandalous story with you. Several months ago, I came across the story of Catherine Corless, an Irish woman who exposed the sickening truth behind the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Ireland. The similarities between what the church inflicted upon the children and their unwed mothers and the Indigenous are a breathtaking reality. This revelation is not to diminish the travesty inflicted on the Indigenous community; it is to highlight and support their cause for justice and reiterate that what happened to them is criminal.

I can honestly say I’ve never recovered from discovering these facts of what the Irish government and church officials sanctioned as appropriate. What is alarming to me is that we allow the real culprits an escape when we hide them behind the terms: government and church. Government and church are the names applied to people in charge of organizations. It isn’t a building or conglomerate–it’s people.

In Ireland, as many as 35,000 unwed women entered into the care of these horrific institutions. As many as 6000 babies are assumed buried without records across the beautiful Irish countryside. And at best guess, as many as 15,000 children were sold in an adoption ring without consent (or forged consent) from their mothers by the nuns in charge of these institutions.

Just as devastating is that these women and children were abused to such an extent until 1996. Even now, the government of Ireland can’t face the horror and no matter how you say it, Sorry, is simply not enough.

And there is yet another layer that needs to be brought to the surface. Just where were the fathers of these children? The families of these girls who were subjected to such inhumanity?

The excuse, times were different, doesn’t fly.

It was never okay.

SpamMan Chronicles

(Backstory–see bottom)

This is my imagined image of SpamMan Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on

Dear SpamMan

Thank you for devoting so much effort to promoting The Lucky Man-An Act of Malice with your rather unconventional methods and for no payment/ransom fee. Just saw a nice spike in my book sales, thanks to your action. Maybe there is something to reverse psychology. You might be interested to know that someone who read my book mentioned me in the same sentence as Hemingway. (I think that was so nice of them, don’t you?)

Have a fantastic day!

Proud Author, 

Monika R.


Dear SpamMan

Sorry for calling you names, but with all your aliasses, Gavin, Joseph, Kenneth, perhaps something foreign, or Clarissa, it’s hard to decide what to call you. I’m sure your situation is dire. Why else would someone resort to such tactics? Extortion is a crime. But have you ever considered getting into marketing? You’d have to drastically change your business model, but with some hard work, who knows? Look where it’s gotten me. I was published. The Lucky Man-An Act of Malice 

Hope those are raisins in your cereal.

Proud Author,

Monika R.


Dear Joseph and Your Shitty People

#writers #amwriting #authors #readingcommunity #writingcommunity

(In response to a threat I received this weekend.)

(Shitty People is the name Joseph applied to his partners and they pride themselves as being a team of shitty people.)

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Part One: The Ransom Note

Dear Joseph:

Thank you for your last email. It is endearing how you called me a penny-pinching bitch and threatened to destroy my career before it even began—really heartwarming on your part. I’m not going to lie and say your note didn’t affect me. And I’d like to share with you the reason behind that initial emotional bruising, and that you are completely wrong about me. But thanks for choosing me as your target. I’m many things, but I’m not a bitch.

My novel is the catcher and keeper of my dreams. I didn’t just fire it off.  Unlike you, I work for what I have and don’t feast off the efforts of other people like vermin. For me to publish my novel, it’s taken roughly ten years to become even remotely good enough. During those ten years, I have dedicated my life to writing, to taking classes when I could, and never giving up. So you want to fuck up my dream? Well, here’s the truth. Go ahead. I obviously can’t stop you and your team of shitty people. Now why anyone would associate themselves with shitty people is beyond me. My approach has been slightly different, and I reach out and commit myself to partner and support amazing people. Just a suggestion, but try it sometime.

It’s also interesting how you are so kind in the opening of your email and are offering to provide me a service (completely illegal by the way) to work and promote my book and I quote, ‘we want to strike a deal with you’. And whether you meant to imply it or not, I take it that you see the huge potential in my novel The Lucky Man-An Act of Malice, otherwise you wouldn’t bother.

You are suggesting that I am doing something immoral or illegal by using a sanctioned Goodreads platform designed for authors to reach authors and reviewers to exchange ARCs and swap reviews. You must be getting your information from fake news because it’s a practice that has been ongoing and Amazon, who owns Goodreads, is aware. Please read up on the subject. Amazon does have a policy and I follow their guidelines.

About ruining my career. Thanks for that. Not that there’s much to destroy at this time because I just got going, and, without a doubt, it would be devastating nonetheless. But remember how I mentioned that it’s taken me ten relentless years of trying to get here? Well, if you decide to fuck with me, I promise that whatever shit you throw at me, I’m simply and creatively going to spin it to my advantage. Authors are used to taking ‘shit’ and making something from it. 

And here’s a tip. By going after those of us just starting out you are targeting some very tender egos, but I can guarantee that we are fighters. What you fail to understand is that budding authors don’t have a budget to hire marketing teams, publicists, agents, tour managers, and the what-nots, or extortionists scumbags like you, to become rich and famous. Here you might also do the math: count the names of the very famous authors alive making huge money (I’m sure math is hard for you) and then subtract the thousands of authors who don’t make a dime from their efforts but continue to write simply for the love of writing. I’m on that team with thousands of others.

So you and your crew of shitty people, go ahead, make my life miserable. I already learned from the thousands of rejections that I am a survivor. Should you happen to live in a country where life is the shits and this is the only way you can see a way to get out, I suggest you come up with a better, hopefully, more honest attempt. Try hard work, it always pays off.

Wishing you and the shitty people you’re in cahoots with a lovely day. May those be raisins in your cereal. 

Monika R.

Author of

This is it!

Start the car!

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Head to Amazon … by any means necessary.

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Read 5* review:

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EBook coming soon!

Tell your friends!

Call Ron Howard and tell him he should make this book into a movie!

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Tell your friends again!

Move over Grisham, Patterson, Hannah, Owens, McConaughey, Obamas, it’s time for a new face on the list. (And that face is mine!)

And Thank you!

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