Off The Menu, Outside The Box, The Road Less Travelled

Thank you for visiting “Life & Random Thinking” today – today I turn the keyboard over to a guest blogger.

I started a new category on this blog called “Off The Menu” and I hope that fellow bloggers will share their stories here, along with a few of mine.

Off The Menu are stories where you took a chance, or you know someone else who took a chance.

Today’s post certainly is all that, and if I say anything more, I will spoil it for you. – Hugs, David

The author’s wordpress home is and this is her blog post that she is kindly sharing with us.

Please visit her blog – I am sure she would love to meet you! – David


Off the Menu, Outside the Box, The Road Less Traveled …

Ever since fellow blogger, David Folstad posted a blog entry called Off the Menu in 2023 – That’s My Order ! I’ve been thinking about it; the content and the title. The title made me think about doing things ‘outside the box’ and taking the ‘road less traveled’ but neither of those things, while similar, were exactly like the meaning of ‘Off the Menu.’ I tried to apply the Menu reference to myself and even though I think of myself frequently as thinking ‘outside the box,’ that just didn’t seem quite right for ‘Off the Menu’ either.

In his blog entry David described an encounter in the 1970s he and his family had with a very different young man while camping. I guess Gary could best be described as a hippie of the day; off beat, free-spirited and instantly likeable. Later he ended up ‘crashing’ with David’s family for a few nights as he was passing through their hometown.

As a gesture of his appreciation for having him stay with them a few days, Gary took them to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and ordered from the non-English menu for everyone. They told him how impressed they were that he spoke Mandarin and could so easily order from the menu. Gary explained that he DIDN’T speak the language at all but enjoyed ordering that way, not knowing what it was he was ordering and enjoying the surprise when the food came. Amazingly, they all enjoyed their dinner. It was ‘off the menu’  because of the chance Gary took at being surprised, not only for himself but for ALL of them.

It was a delightful blog entry that left the reader with the idea that taking a chance now and then, doing something different and unexpected that had a surprise ending was a GOOD thing. Blogger David determined that taking a chance and ordering ‘off the menu,’ not only at a Chinese restaurant but as we travel our journey through life, offered many good outcomes as well as the joy of surprise.

While I was digesting all of this I thought of my own ‘off the menu’ experience.

While not the fun experience of ordering unknow delicacies from a non-English menu, it still had some pretty positive and life changing results.

Growing up I was the kid in elementary and high school that got sweaty palms, a mouth as dry as any desert and a rapid heartbeat. I could HEAR booming in my ears when I was called on to give an oral book report.

I was a very social kid, had many friends, joined in all sorts of activities without incident but speaking in public paralyzed me and followed me into my adult life where I avoided it altogether.

Years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor was very small, found very early and had not spread. I was extremely fortunate. The treatment, however, still included radiation and chemotherapy, which are harsh and difficult under any circumstances.

It was a HUGE wake-up call for me. I realized we aren’t promised second chances and I became determined to try to do all those things I’d always said I wanted to try … using the talents I’d been given above and beyond my most satisfying career as an Operating Room Registered Nurse. 

Towards the end of my chemo, the local cancer treatment center where I was treated offered a public program on Women’s Health with a focus on breast cancer. The event coordinator invited me to be one of several women that would speak at the program about our unexpected journey through the murky darkness of breast cancer.

Without considering my fear of public speaking, I accepted the invitation.

The night of the event I was nervous but very invested in my opportunity to share my experience with other women. I hoped I could possibly encourage them to get mammograms preventatively or if they were struggling through their own breast cancer experience, perhaps sharing mine might help make theirs a bit easier.

While giving my presentation, I was met with smiles and laughter and tears and gratitude. ♥

I was elated and at that moment … my moment of going ‘off the menu’ and doing something for which I had a life-long fear, I set in motion the path my life would take from that moment forward.

I discovered while veering ‘off my personal menu’ that when speaking on a topic about which I felt passionate, my public speaking fear dissolved.

From that point forward my life changed and became enriched beyond imagining.

I hosted a local television talk show for 6 years, annually featuring breast cancer awareness topics, and began speaking at breast cancer seminars, encouraging women to be responsible for their health care, to be pro-active and breast cancer aware.

Today I still speak publicly about breast cancer. Those appearances have led to speaking to nurses’ seminars and retreats about any number of nursing topics and speaking to any group that invites me to speak about topics with which I’m familiar. I LOVE it!

Because I was brave enough to try it and passionate enough about wiping out breast cancer, that first public speaking experience encouraged me to find a real and definite positive in the breast cancer experience. I put fear aside and struck out and ordered ‘off the menu.”

Now and then, go Off The Menu, take a chance Outside The Box, and Take the Road less travelled.

My hope is that you discover what I discovered when I went outside my box. My recommendation to you reading now, is to take a chance now and then!

Because as blogger David clearly described, going ‘off the menu’ can be filled with wonderful surprises.

 I’ve found this to be true, even if you don’t happen to speak Mandarin or like Chinese food.


Posted in guest blog posts, Off the Menu ! | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

God is well connected – so he makes God Shots!

Thank you for visiting my blog named Life and Random Thinking today.

My blog consists of a number of posts and I place them into categories, such as Thinking Out Loud (an example post here, or the short short story series with Ravi and Maria called CB and PB ( their nick names standing for Cinnamon Buns and Peanut Butter) – episode 3 here

I am not sure what category this post will fall into, probably a few different ones.

A week or so ago I was watching a subtitled Korean show on Netflix, just a normal morning – my right hand intertwined with my wife’s and my left holding a coffee. Then I heard the phrase – God Shot.

In the series a young man begins a job working as a barista in a small coffee shop with the proprietor who has previously always worked alone. The proprietor’s girl friend described the young man as a God Shot.

My ears popped when I heard that phrase “God Shot” and I have been thinking about it daily since then.

The Netflix show talked a lot about coffee but that is not the way I understand or envision the term “God Shot“.


A “God Shot” seems to have a number of different interpretations so this is mine.

A “God Shot” is when the perfect person, happens into someone’s life semi – miraculously.


If you have ever sat with someone and listened to their story/situation and had a Eureka moment (forehead slap – joy of satisfaction from knowing or discovering) because you know “just the right person” to help that other person.

Well I have been thinking that God is always listening and “God is Well Connected” – he knows everyone – so he does the best “God Shots” as in connecting the right people at the right time.

– but the surprising part is that he uses everyone. Everyone is you, me and us.


Sue’s photo of Okanagan lake – a beautiful day and walk together.

This happened so long ago that I can’t say for sure what year it happened.

I know it was Christmas and it was before 1983 when my daughter was born.

My friend, Gerry, loved to tell this “God Shot” story and told it over and over and he especially liked to tell it when I was there to hear him tell it again. He never called it a God Shot, it was just how we met.

This is the story of how Gerry and I first met.

Around 1981 Gerry was at a low point due to a business collapse and had to phone the Federal Government tax department, and I answered. But I shouldn’t have been there, I was only there to answer the phones for a couple hours.

I was covering the phones for two hours in that department and he called the one and only time I was there to answer that phone.

I was able to answer his questions and encourage him with empathy and understanding. He had called the Tax Department with trepidation, and nervousness; not knowing what to expect.

He didn’t expect encouragement and support.

Gerry said he hung up the phone stunned, and said “that’s the Tax Department?” (then he would grin and laugh when he told the story!)

I even called him back a few minutes later, and I gave him my name and direct phone number, in case he ever needed it.

Gerry said that our two quick calls were very special and just what he needed at that time.

Gerry never forgot that call and my name; but we never met in person.

Until two years later, at that time my kidney was failing, it was probably spring of 1983 and I was getting sicker. I was not on dialysis yet but ………

My friend Steve had invited Gerry for dinner and I was coming over later that night to Steve’s house.

Steve asked Gerry to hang around for few minutes so he could meet me as a group of my friends were going to pray for my health.

Gerry listened to Steve talk about it, then he asked Steve – what’s your friend’s name?

Steve told him. It was a God Shot introduction.

Gerry stayed after dinner, and we met and he became family and a special, amazing friend to me and my family.

That friendship lasted four decades until Gerry passed, and I miss him still. We had so much fun together and it was always mutual, relaxing and delightful.


Gerry and I were friends for decades, so many wonderful stories to tell, including;

When I was in the hospital five months, Gerry was there to visit a lot, he even snuck me out, with permission, to have Chinese food one night.

A lot of nights in Vancouver General Hospital where I laughed because Gerry was there.

Gerry was not a friend, he was family to me, and us.

Definitely now I see it as a “God Shot”

God is very well connected and he makes the best introductions – the neat part now for me is seeing that I was a God Shot for Gerry when we met by phone, and Gerry was a God Shot for me when we reconnected in person.

I hope that this post will bring to mind someone, or many someones in your life that made a difference.

“God Shot” persons.

I certainly can think of quite of few in mine.

They are the people who make phone calls and connect, they travel long distances to support you on birthdays, they send books and cards when they can’t be in person.

I have been blessed by those people in my life, and I hope you have also. – David

Posted in Thinking Out loud, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Off The Menu in 2023 – That’s My Order !

As the year draws to a close I feel a huge amount of appreciation for the encouragement and kind words from the readers of this blog.

Many readers never leave comments and then will surprise me in person by saying “I read your blog, and …” – for me those moments are like sticking my hand in my coat and finding a $5 bill I didn’t know was there.

So hugs to those people who surprise me in person with feedback

Hugs also to those who leave their comments and directly encourage me. Those spur me on to write my next post and to try to find something worthwhile of your kind words. ♥ Dave


That’s me cooking a hot dog in the white coat – smoke in my eyes!

Off The Menu – Expect a Surprise !

In Vancouver BC there is an area downtown called Chinatown and many years ago I went there for dinner with my parents and an interesting friend of theirs, Gary. Gary wasn’t so much a friend, as an adventurer or maybe a wanderer at that point.

We met Gary at a campsite, our family was next to his at a campsite and Gary was hard to miss. Gary drove a VW camper and he had customized the outside. It was painted with hearts, and slogans that he liked. It was the early 70’s and the slogans were along the lines of Peace and Love.

It was the times for peace signs and Walter Cronkite, and the first moon landing. At the time I had a tshirt I remember that on the front had a bare foot but the big toe and the first two were in a V to say Peace using toes instead of fingers.

The VW van was customized with a horn that sounded like ” Ah-Oooo-Ga” – of course, it was. I loved it!

Maybe you had to be there, but trust me – It sounds way better than “beep beep”♥

Gary was cruising around in his VW van in the Northwest. For a few days he crashed at my parents house after we met him camping.

Obviously I digress, at dinner in Chinatown (it was Gary’s treat to say thank you for his visit at my parents home) – the waiter brought us our menu and Gary chose the one without English and told my parents he would order for all of us.

When the waiter came to take our menu Gary pointed at various items on different pages – they were all in Cantonese or Mandarin.

The waiter wrote it down and left. My parents and I wondered how Gary knew Mandarin.

Gary said – I don’t. I have no idea what I just ordered. Let’s just see what we get.

“When Gary did that blind ordering – I don’t think my parents were looking forward to dinner, except for the not paying part. I am sure their expectations for the meal were low, but they were pleasantly surprised after all.”

All I can remember now is that mostly it was delicious, but spicy! and the octopus was really chewy! So chewy but not like gum, and tasted like curry.

But I don’t regret it at all and though it was 50 years ago – it remains in my memories. Positive!


Off The Menu – Be Positive

This is the time of year that people are looking forward and there are many pearls of wisdom and predictions, and reviews.

I think those things are probably appropriate but should be taken with a grain of salt.

I guess thinking about the last couple of years for me and all the surgeries and things I am just feeling happy that life brings unexpected surprises along with the other things.

I am going to be positive about whatever the waiter delivers in 2023! – and I believe they will be fun, and I will be smiling!

I think people in general like predictability, that’s why menu’s exist and why many of us order the same foods every time when we go to restaurants.

We like it when we plan things and they go the way we expected BUT it’s the unexpected that is often the most fun and memorable.


Off the Menu – Travel

I admire people who travel but those who go alone and take on work overseas are really opening themselves to Off the Menu special experiences.

As in the case of G.

My amazing Summerland friend, G., he took a job in Japan years ago to work on a ski hill. I am sure his plan was to have fun, gain experience working on a ski hill, and learn some Japanese.

But he ended up enjoying something unexpected, he fell in love and it all came about because he went beyond the predictable, he travelled to Japan, and welcomed the off the menu experiences he would Not have had in Canada.


It was not on the menu, my broken heart that is, but after my heart was broken twice I was ready for change…

In the late 70’s I decided to take a job outside Vancouver. I applied for a job I had no experience for. It was in a small city in BC I had never visited and only had a vague idea where it was located. I knew no one there, and had no contacts. I was going off menu.

I got the job.

My job started November 1st, 1978. On October 31st I headed east on the highway towards the mountains, and of course it was one of those days that was blue. Low clouds, and drizzly rain – I remember listening to a Christian tape of Amy Grant. It was safe for me to sing along because I was alone, but not for long.

Somewhere between Vancouver and Hope, BC – a wet hitchhiker stood along the ditch – and though I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, I picked him up.

He sure was happy to warm up in the front seat of my car – maybe less so happy about my music choice, or that I still sang along (occasionally).

I asked him where he was going, he said “Kamloops”.

I said “Perfect!” and do you know the way?

He said “Yup”

I had my guide to Kamloops and someone to talk to. We had a pleasant drive and I dropped him off at the top of the hill that lead down into Kamloops.

I parked my car downtown on the street where I would be working, it turned out to be in front of the sole Christian bookstore in Kamloops in 1978.

My work was 5 doors down from the store and the young lady who worked there was my first friend I made in town. By 7 pm that night she had introduced me to another person, and in 24 hours I had a small furnished basement suite to rent for myself.

Off the Menu – who knows what can happen?

In Kamloops? I met my future wife there in about 9 months, and six months later we were married!

I certainly was not planning that when I headed down the highway on October 31, 1978.♥

(This blog post was inspired by my experience that day – )


Off The Menu – Can be Small Experiences also –

Last week standing in freezing gale winds pumping gas I totally enjoyed myself!

As I stood there hoping my fingers would not freeze to the gas pump I had a wonderful off the menu surprise.

A bald eagle flew by slowly in front of me at a Shell Gas Station. He was 20 feet off the ground, pumping hard against the wind and going slowly as the wind was not in his favour.

But that brutal wind was in mine because I could enjoy the view of that eagle slowly cranking into the wind !


Next year is going to have some Off the Menu amazing, fun and memorable experiences for me, I expect most of them to be great, special and opportunity filled!

Those off the menu events I hope will be filling my face with stories and smiles, maybe new friends! I am planning to order off the menu next year – I hope you will give it a try!

Posted in Off the Menu !, okanagan related, Thinking Out loud | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments

Tis the season for and of……

Dear WordPress friends, I apologize for my posting absence and since it is a week to Christmas Eve, I wanted to share my thoughts of Christmas before it arrives.

Firstly thank you sincerely for reading my posts this year. The time taken to read and comment is a gift to me which I truly appreciate.

I know it is almost Christmas now for sure as I went to bed with wet hair and woke up looking like a citizen of Whoville today. My hair pointed up like a tall soft ice cream cone.

And what happened then?

Well, in Whoville they say

that the Grinch’s small

heart grew three sizes that day!

– Dr Seuss

This is the season of gift giving absolutely, and you, my wordpress friends, truly are gift givers as demonstrated recently with the many sincere wishes sent to my friend Bob. He was in the hospital for months and you reached out to him and now he is home, still recuperating but doing so at home which is immensely nicer. Such wonderful priceless gifts you gave.

My thoughts turned this morning to memories of Christmases as a youngster in East Vancouver. My parents and my brother and I had a tradition each year. We would bundle up for the cold evening and my Dad would have some certain homes picked for us to visit unexpectedly (or was it surprise attack?)

Unexpected, in the dark, and usually breathing steam we would have big smiles on our faces as we approached homes and pushed their doorbells.

The next sequence of events was always fun.

The outdoor light would come on, and a puzzled face would appear.

When we burst into song “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – the face at the door changed from puzzled to joyful. The occupant invariably would call others to the door, and for a few minutes they tolerated our off key renditions of Christmas favorites.

Our nosies may have been cold but my heart always felt warm in these moments.

After a few songs, and the exchanges of “Merry Christmases” – we would move on feeling quite chuffed about the whole experience and looking forward to the next home and surprise attack with our tonsils.

There was nothing angelic about our tunes but the smiles and warmth were genuine absolutely and the warmth inside had fewer calories than the cocoa we had when we got home.

Now looking back I can see these were gifts of “presence” and the message I learned as a youngster about the season.

Perhaps “Christmas indeed did not come from a store, perhaps it meant something a little bit more”.

Now in present time, our tree at home is decorated and the multi-coloured lights and seasonal decorations look cheerful. The stockings are along the fireplace and these stockings mean a great deal to me because they bring out memories of Christmases past.

Christmas is gift giving of all types. The sharing of goodwill to strangers, of appreciation to friends, to family and to the many others in our orbits that make our lives better.

I love how at this time of year people’s gift giving goes outward. Unexpected gifts being perhaps the most meaningful gifts of all.

In cities, towns, apartment buildings and condo’s all over – people are sharing unexpected gifts of all types. Some might open the door and find a frosty nosed Christmas caroler, or they might find an envelope or package of food that brightens their day and renews their hope in who-manity.

Unexpected gifts, these are the gifts that truly make the Christmas season special for the giver as well as the receiver.

  • Merry Christmas hugs to you! – David♥


Final thought:

The weather here in the Okanagan has not been that frightful at all. Minus temperatures but in the low double digits only.

Last Sunday the weather relented and it was warm-ish night as we climbed the steps of the Kettle Valley Steam train in Summerland. It was our first family outing in the winter on the Christmas train, the whistle blew and steam abounded.

The conductor called “All aboard” – the whistle blew long and loud.

Inside the cars we were cozy and the cars were decorated with Christmas lights, and we looked out on the white hills and homes of Prairie Valley in Summerland and the train trundled along. The Christmas lights looked beautiful. The hot cocoa disappeared quickly. ♥ Santa brought candy canes and smiles.

Posted in Christmas, okanagan related, Thinking Out loud | 37 Comments

Sending you a hug♥

Kind readers ♥ – thank you for visiting Life and Random Thinking today. Before I get consumed by the black hole I call my gmail inbox – I wanted to check in with you and give you a hug.

Did you feel it?

I can’t tell what it feels like, there are no words, to express how I felt reading all the kind messages to Bob.

I think you threw a blanket of love over his room, and it was a homemade quilt. The squares were the messages from far and wide and as he read each one it touched him.

It was probably the first time his smart phone warmed him up like a mug of hot cocoa between his fingers.

It worked too! Within a few days, and much earlier than expected they let Bob go home. (play the trumpet ) Home to his pillow, his kitchen, his own bathroom – home to use his own shower and what a wonderful feeling it was to him to arrive there. ♥♥♥ He sounds so much better on the phone also!

Warm messages still arriving to that post and dozens and dozens all together. What a wonderful example to what I keep telling people about why I continue to blog. I am privileged to meet and know you through this experiment of mine.

Blessings and hugs to each of you – thank you for your gifts of wellness. – sincerely David

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
Since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

It doesn’t show signs of stoppin’
And I’ve brought some corn for poppin’
The lights are turned down low
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Frank Sinatra
Posted in Christmas, health, music related, okanagan related, Thinking Out loud | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Friends in Life – A Moment of Your Time Please

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I am struggling to find the right words for today’s post and I appreciate your understanding.

Today’s post is about a friend I never knew I had, but I finally did discover.

This post is also about taking a moment to encourage someone in the hospital.

2019 – My Third Transplant miracle

Yesterday I tried to call Bob and sing him Happy Transplant birthday but he wasn’t home. Bob had a kidney transplant in 2008.

I tried to phone my friend Bob yesterday and instead I was shocked to learn he has been in the hospital for 68 days.

He is also a kidney transplant recipient as I am and learning of his situation, being in the hospital for so long, I was shocked. All this time I didn’t realize.

I felt helpless since I live a few mountain ranges away and hundreds of kilometres.

Today I will write a card and mail it to his wife who will bring it to him next week.

But I know he has his phone in the hospital so he can read books and he reads my blog which leads to how I would appreciate your help.

My request to you the reader: Would you please send Bob a “Thinking of you and Get Better” comment?

I thought to myself, how cool it would be if my friends around Canada, the USA and the wonderful blog world would send Bob a “get better wish” and where they live in my blog comments.

He could read those and each one would be like a card to him and make him smile.

That’s the favour I have to ask,

You see, Bob is the friend I never knew I had at work who understood kidney failure and dialysis.

When I finally met Bob at some work related situation – I found out quickly that Bob had a lot of empathy and understanding. Bob told me his history relating to kidney disease because his father had it, and so did he.

I found out how easy he was to talk to and what an easy laugh he has. I saw why his staff who reported to him liked him also. He is a listener and genuine person.

I remember one day walking with him in downtown Vancouver for fifteen or twenty minutes and how nice it was to talk to someone at work who understood what dialysis felt like and the excitement of “getting the call because the hospital has found a tissue match”. I felt pretty happy that day and really enjoyed that chat.

At that time he was new to having his own kidney transplant. I had had mine for over 20 years at that point and he was and is a big fan of my health journey and I wanted him to match or beat my record!

I was excited for him about his transplant and how he would feel better, and more energetic. I wanted him to have every success that I have had with longevity and health due to the gift of having a kidney transplant. I still do.

Bob is my friend even though we haven’t seen each other in awhile. You probably have friends like that also.

Friendship with nice people like him doesn’t diminish at all but now he is sick and I want him to know people are thinking about him.

Thanks everyone for understanding♥ Hugs ! David

The Rest of the Story is Here – My Third Transplant – Miracles Happen

A new tree in the park received this knitted love treatment. I think it’s awesome that some people do that in town.
Posted in health | Tagged , , , , | 82 Comments