The French are proud of their high couture and cuisine, the English have their fixation with propriety and political institutions, the Americans' greatest passion is their pop culture. And here, in Canada, we obsess over... the weather!

Rarely will a conversation pass without some mention of the weather. The weather makes the top headlines in the news and is broadcasted several times a day. Nor can you blame us Canadians for this mania, living as we do in a country that experiences such extreme changes — from hot, humid summers, to blistering cold, snow-banked winters.

On days when the sun shines, people's faces shine brightly as they express how happy the warmth makes them feel. And on days when the clouds loom dark above us, when the winds gust and the rainstorms pound the pavement, you'll hear conversations about headaches pounding on throbbing temples. Tempers will flare as the atmosphere becomes as dark and gloomy indoors as it is outdoors — all due, of course, to the weather!

After all, aren't we all products of our environment, allowing the outside atmosphere to permeate within?

Each of us has his days.

There are days when I feel like the sun is smiling down on me. Just about everything is going right.

My kids and husband are happy, generous and loving. My car starts with hardly a purr and drives uneventfully through calm traffic. My friends call just to share a kind word and strangers smile at me at the grocery checkout counter. If I'm really lucky, I'll even get a compliment from my boss at work.

I'm riding the clouds, exulting in the love and kindness around me. On these days, I smile inwardly and luxuriate in self-love.

Then there are days when everything seems to be going wrong. The dinner burns. My favorite outfit no longer fits properly. My creativity is stymied, my work unproductive. My children are complaining. And to top it off, my car gets a flat tire.

On those days, I want to crawl into a corner and never come out. I feel like an empty, valueless thing. Any self-love or self-worth has utterly vanished.

Last week, on just such a day, my usually cheerful daughter came home from school completely despondent. Slowly and reluctantly, she pulled out a test paper from her knapsack and, with downcast eyes, asked me to sign it. She was trying to fold over her low grade, but I need not have even seen the crumpled paper. The sad look in her eyes told me more than any number on a paper could reveal.

Her grade made her feel like a valueless failure, not worthy of being loved.

Looking down at my precious daughter, understanding so well her inner turmoil, I wondered how I could convey to her that she was loved despite any failed endeavor. Being so intimately familiar with those feelings myself at the time, I knew how important it was for me to reach into her sad eyes and explain to her that she was worth so much more than red pen marks on a paper. That no event in her day — or in her life, for that matter — would take away from her intrinsic worth. That nothing would diminish from who or what she was, or of how deserving of love she was.

Certainly, I feel proud of her accomplishments when she succeeds. But that is pride, not love. Of course I prod her to exert her greatest efforts and extend herself to her limits. But all that is only ways of finding expressions for her talents and capabilities.

None of her successes or failures increases or diminishes one iota of her intrinsic worth as a creation of G‑d, or the love that I will always unconditionally feel for her as my daughter.

And as I spoke to my precious daughter, I, too, realized that though it is up to us to try our best and exert ourselves to the utmost, no grade, no failing on our part and no negative circumstance in our lives can ever affect our intrinsic worth as a beloved child of G‑d.

Somehow, despite the dark clouds of our Canadian weather outdoors, I no longer felt any desire to crawl into a corner.

The room was filled with too much sunshine.