Three unexpected gifts


For nine years now, I have been keeping a journal I call “Three Good Things.” I write in it every night before going to bed, sometimes for less than a minute and sometimes for much longer. The only requirement is that I choose three positive things from my day to note down. It can be a whole experience; a special event or time with someone; it can be something tiny—a snippet of conversation, or something I read, or something beautiful that I saw or captured with my camera.


Even on the most awful days, I’ve always thought of something to write.

Yesterday was extraordinary. When I went to write in Three Good Things, I realized what made that day extraordinary was that I received three totally unexpected “good things.” To have had these three out-of-the-blue gifts bestowed in one day jolted me into writing this piece.

A new friend

The first gift was an email. To protect privacy, let’s just say it was from someone I met and interacted with in a Zoom meeting. He had a businesslike reason for sending me an email but chose to write a lot more about his personal life and goals than required. 

Most importantly, this person revealed an astounding genius with words, which I had already gathered from listening to him in the Zoom meeting. His email was a pure delight to read. Unlike my rather simple writing style, he was consciously poetic in his language and displayed a wonderful facility to play with words. I was so taken by some of his expressions that I copied them and, in my reply email, told him which ones were my favourites.

His words were not purposeless toys, though; his story made me want to emulate his creativity and work harder at reaching my own creative potential.

The long-lasting part of this gift is recognizing that I have met a “kindred spirit,” another person who loves words. I suspect we will have a fun and fruitful friendship through sharing words.

Loads of money

I must protect my own privacy here so I will only say that I received an unexpectedly decent sum of money yesterday. Like many people, I have lost money and work during Covid-19. This sum of money will “buy me time” to search for editing work that challenges and excites me. I can also spend time learning new skills that will help me with my editing business.

Eventually, when Covid-19 is over, I might use some of my newfound money to travel. I suspect that will stimulate me to produce many new words and photos!

An old friend

Early in the evening, I got a phone call from an old friend, Hans Fenz, who used to run sometimes with the Phoenix Running Club. Hans is 84 years old now, and he can’t run anymore because of foot injuries, but he keeps active with walking. In his time, Hans was an elite runner and mountaineer.

I was surprised to hear from him because we haven’t been in touch recently and the last time I saw him was probably at a Phoenix party almost two years ago. Hans started the conversation by telling me how wonderful my photos are—I guess he’s seen my photos on Facebook even if he doesn’t post there. Hans is a serious photographer himself—a much better photographer than I am. His compliment made me feel good. Then he went on to tell me about a trip he took to northern BC a few years ago, when his group’s guide got them very close to grizzly bears feeding on spawning salmon. Hans said he would like to send me some of his best bear photos.

After I asked him some questions about his bear sightings, Hans mentioned that he had planned to go to Europe this summer to visit his brother (he’s German) and do some hiking in the mountains he used to love. Now he can’t go because of Covid-19.

I could hear the fragility in his voice, and the sadness of an old man who was once a great athlete and can no longer participate the way he used to. And he knows his time of being able to hike mountainous trails is running out.

Hans finally got around to the supposed reason for his call—he was asking me if I had the phone number of a certain sports medicine doctor. I didn’t, but I was very happy Hans had called, and I told him so. It made me reflect yet again on the long-lasting bonds of friendship that running creates. Hans and I will always share this love of our sport and our understanding of what it has meant for us.

It seemed so special to get a phone call in this age of email and social media communication.

When Hans sent me his photos, I was pleased to see that, along with four bear photos, he had included a photo he had taken of me (holding my camera) at Jericho Beach perhaps eight years ago. We would have both been spectators at some important cross-country race. I liked the photo a lot—probably because I was younger!


Me at Jericho Beach, ~2012. Photo by Hans Fenz.

Giving back

As I sat out on my balcony after sunset last night, in the lovely cool air following a heat-wave day, I reflected on the significance of the day’s three unexpected gifts.

I felt wealthy—not just because of the money part, but because I’d been reminded of the value of friendship, and of opportunities to continually grow and be creative.

I also have a basic idea about karma: that in some way, at some time, I will be returning the gifts I received. The currency of the gifts will be different. I don’t know exactly what I can give, and I don’t know for sure what my mode of giving will be. It might be something to do with writing; it might be something to do with my editing work; it will surely be about appreciating close friendships and all the other gifts that are part of my life every day.


Sunset from my balcony.

About nancytinarirunswrites

I used to be known as a competitive runner, but now I have a new life as a professional writer and editor. I'm even more obsessive about reading, writing, and editing than I was about running. Running has had a huge influence on my life, though, and runner's high does fuel creativity. Maybe that's why this blog evolved into being 95% about running, but through blogging I'm also learning about writing and online communication. I'm fascinated by how the Internet has changed work, learning, and relationships. I love to connect in new and random ways!
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