Life

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I have known since I was in my twenties that life is fleeting.  Working in hospitals, having the honour to be at a person’s last breaths with their family surrounding them or in some cases just hospital staff bear witness to those last breaths.   All the trappings of life fall away to just that moment.

There is a peace in that moment.  There is  the realization that things that we think are important, money, power and climbing the ladder to success, fall away.  There is bargaining for more time, or a prayer to end the suffering.  We hope to see the people who mattered to us in life and hope that we mattered to them too.

This knowledge has changed me.  My parents both died young and still years later I think of all they missed.  Sixteen great grandchildren and counting, family dinners, weddings, lazy days and busy ones too.  They are always with me and in this manner, live still.

We have no guarantee as to the number of days that we have left.  We live far into the future, though the ground shifts like teutonic plates. We plan for years, though in a blink of an eye, time is whittled down to seconds, days or months.  Our plans shift to this new reality, and life is stripped to its basic.

We hold each other a little closer, the sky bluer, the sun brighter.  We take a breath and  then another because we can.  Our bucket list shifts, we remove items that  aren’t possible anymore and look at the list closely.  Is any of it really necessary?

We hope we have made a difference, that one person breathed easier just because we existed.  That we left our mark, were good people, someone to count on in a pinch.  We say sorry to the people that we have wronged, accept an apology from those who wronged us and live with a clean slate.

I’ve lived this life since my twenties.  I know that life is fleeting–really know.  Somedays I’m better at this, somedays I fall short of the mark. Still,  it is a gift to know.

Martyr, not me

Martyr
My father died 28 years ago, more than half my life and still his words echo.  He told me never to be a martyr.  At the time I had no idea what he meant, the word not in my vocabulary.  He explained its meaning sharing vivid examples that have stayed with me all these years. His lesson, chart your own course, be yourself, resonated.

Many moments his words reverberated as I discarded the path of least resistance in search of something more.  I left a marriage that did not feed my soul, my wings effectively clipped and embraced the life just beyond.  The decision led to the opportunity of building a new home in the country, training and running a marathon and facing my fear of being alone.  Turns out, you can never be alone as long as you don’t  lose yourself.

I left a relationship that was toxic and embraced the not plus one category.    Trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole sapped my energy and my soul wilted.  This decision led to meeting my husband and the life that we would create just beyond this choice. I learned a relationship should be easy and not exhausting.

I left a job that paid well with great benefits for many reasons, not least was a toxic co-worker who worked hard to make my work life miserable, its effects spilling over into my home life.  The goal was retirement, though I realized I wasn’t ready and worked to educate myself, and build my own successful company. Work should seem like play and it is once again.

There are many moments in life where the path of least resistance seems the easy choice.  Situations where we can wrap the cloak of martyrdom around us like a warm blanket and remain in place, comfortably uncomfortable.  We can even tell ourselves that we are the better person, though in the course of a lifetime it matters little.  Inertia, chips away our authenticity and makes us less, not more.  We cheat ourselves and in many cases prevent the people we are being martyrs for from moving forward to their most authentic selves.  It is a full circle that leads to defeat.

We have only this one life.  My parents died young and working in healthcare taught me it can all be gone in an instant.  We must not waste this gift, for at the end of life no one will applaud us because our souls died for useless causes. Likely, no one will spend a second thinking of what we sacrificed.  It is the work of life to have meaning, purpose and to become our best selves.  I have much to learn, though I thank my Dad for his wisdom so many years ago.

 

 

The Sweetest days

If I Could Turn Back Time 

When I think about reliving a day in my life, at first its difficult to choose, I’ve been blessed with many great days. The day I met my husband, became a Mom, passed the registry exam, landed the job of my dreams or moved into the house I help build. All wonderful memories, each deserving a chance to enjoy it again.

Still, when I think about each of those days, it is only in retrospect that they are the greatest days of my life.

I never knew when I met my husband that we would be married 8 months later and be so happy. When my daughters were born healthy, while great at the time, it is only with the passing of time that I know what a blessing they have been in my life. When the envelope arrived advising that I passed my board exams, I was happy, though guarded that perhaps it had all been an error. Landing the job of my dreams was exciting, though working with the families and children and having a small impact in their lives had that moment pale in comparison. When I moved into the house I helped build, it was a busy day, the joy lessened by the volume of work remaining.

The memory of those pivotal moments in my life grows sweeter with the lens of the present looking into the past.

How fortunate that we are able to remember the days of our lives and at any moment relive that moment, day or period in our life all with the lens of today where we know for certain that it all turned out exactly as it should.

A challenge

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.”  Why did I choose the title of my blog?

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I chose my blog title name as it encompasses my core belief and need to surround myself with positive. I’m not a Pollyanna and do know from first hand account of touching the centre of my own sorrow and rising out of the ashes like a Phoenix reborn. I know from a  career that has seen me witness to great sadness, at times more than a life can endure. I learned early that dwelling on the negative, sadness my soul, makes my heart heavy and does little else for myself or people around me.

The media is brilliant at focusing on angst, suffering and sensationalistic news bites coupled with photos that are etched in our minds forever. My blog was started as a way of continuing to find the silver lining or if no silver is to be found then to search for more and at least find copper and share with all who read my words.

i survived 27 years in healthcare with my heart intact and my soul only slightly tarnished. I took photos of beautiful things to combat the ugly. I surrounded myself with beautiful souled people and learned. I looked into the eyes of a child struggling and saw hope.  I have spent time with people on their last days of life and learned what truly matters when the trappings of life are stripped away.  I learned to focus on the positive and to accept life as it is and not what it might be in some long distance future which may never arrive. I am fortunate.

i look at life through a child’s eyes of wonder and amazement and at my best treat each day as new with a clean slate. I never remember negative and only remember the positive of any encounter  For certain, some interactions the memories are scant as only the good remains.

I do know each of us is fortunate. Where there is breath, there is hope, life and endless possibilities. I suspect there are others more fortunate than myself, though I do not know the intimate details of their lives  I only know what I can see and what they tell me, both are suspect  I suspect there are people worse than me, though they likely have gifts that I do not possess and they do not see their life as a hardship, they see others strife as worse than their own. We can choose this or the alternative.

What is right in the world today?  Everything!  I challenge you to look and see with wide eyes and wonder. I challenge you to only keep the best and to trash the worst. Look.  The good is always there sometimes you just need to look closer.

D.O.G. rescued us

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Menagerie.”

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/menagerie/”>Menagerie</a&gt;

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My  daughters and I went to a local animal shelter to “visit the animals.”  While we were walking between the kennels, my  youngest daughter Michelle’s  attention was drawn  to the puppies.  Across from the puppies there was a forlorn looking white dog with black spots.  I wanted to teach Michelle an important lesson.  I pointed to the dog and explained that he would have great difficulty finding a forever home as it was unlikely many people would notice him across from the puppies, and wondering out loud how many times he looked his best only to be ignored.  His chances were limited as he was a grown dog.

Michelle went right to him, opened his kennel and gave him a big hug.  She stayed with him while Danielle and I continued to look at the rest of the animals. When we returned, she was still with him, stroking his fur and making his day.  Tears streaming down her face she pleaded with me to take him home.  My earlier message was received and my words boomeranged back to me as she stated that we must take him as it is unlikely anyone would want an older dog.

Reluctantly, she left him and shortly a young woman arrived and took him out for a walk. As the young woman was saying good-bye to him she promised that she would return the very next day and take him home forever.   Michelle had me promise that if he was still here in two days, then we would take him home. I made this promise easily, convinced that the young woman would return.

Two days later we returned, and were greeted with a grand smile and a wagging tail. We promptly named him Lucky, as we felt he was lucky that we chose him.  The name never suited and we changed his name to D.O.G.  (Dee-Oh-Gee).  This unusually usual name was perfect for him.

He helped us through the teenage years where he acted as a conduit to connect the generations and keep the communication lines open.  We spoke through him and wisely he listened and then offered advice sagely as we spoke for him.  In a bizarre twisted way, it broke the tension and  it always worked.  He had amazing insight into the most complex of problems.

He was my constant when I started the next part of my life alone. It was a year of upheaval. I sold the family home and began the process of building a new house.   D.O,G. moved in with another family temporarily and I became a renter.  Every week-end I picked him up and together we walked around and marvelled at the progress of the new house. He watched me learn to build and paint and stain.  The day arrived when I picked him up for the last time and brought him home for good.  He sighed and so did I, we were home.

He helped combat my loneliness  as I talked to him about my dreams and plans.  He was present nightly, keeping me safe in my country home with its strange sounds.  He listened while I cried about another bad date and then listened with interest when I told him about meeting my future husband, John.

He put many smiles on faces at stop lights, his arm on the armrest, leaning to the side and looking intently out the window at the road ahead.  He made me smile many times as he refused to be caught by the girls, effectively dekeing them out, proving that he watched closely when they played soccer.

His favourite place was sitting on the top of the hill overlooking his pond.   He would spend hours watching the birds, ducks, geese and wildlife who call our backyard home.  He looked like a Buddhist monk, serene, like he had it all figured out, perhaps he did?  We had him over fourteen years and though its been 5 years since he passed, his memory is easily accessed, he was one of a kind.   We are forever grateful that he rescued us, we were the lucky ones.

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Mentors along the way

  

The definition of a Mentor is a trusted and experienced advisor. In essence someone who has been there and done that. 

Life for me is like a road with convoluted twists and turns.  It is not always possible to see what lies just ahead. The many forks in the road leave only one choice open though it’s difficult to choose. The road behind me has clarity though as time passes, memory fades.  Today holds promise, where a seemingly benign decision can change the course dramatically. It’s a wonder we ever put one foot in front of the other.  We all need a Guide, a Mentor to help us find our true North, our path, our destiny. 

I think of the Mentors in my life as folks who were slightly farther down the path beckoning me onward providing me with a glimpse into what lies ahead and a smoother route to get there than the route they took. Their life experience has been invaluable as I navigate the path and avoid pitfalls and potholes

I think of my Mentors as voices from behind, words and advice given long ago that whispers it’s message, then shouts when ignored. These voices are the loudest during times of growth and inevitable change. 

I think of the Mentors of my life as the men, women and children who have walked beside me.  We chat about our experiences, hopes and dreams. Mentorship is a fluid concept as we share the reins and lead or follow depending on the situation that presents. We nudge each other ever forward. 

There are times when the path is only wide enough for one, uncharted territory. As I trudge through the overgrown terrain, careful of my footing and forge a path that few have travelled I glance behind and shine light on the path so others can follow. 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/mentor-me/”>Mentor Me</a>I

That’s a Wrap!

Shortly after Costco opened its doors in Edmonton in the mid 80’s, my Mom purchased Resinite all purpose packing film. Really it’s just plastic wrap. The roll 2500 feet long and 11 inches wide has been in our family since that time.

It is not pretty having lost its luster  and serrated edge long ago. The box is falling apart, likely weighted down by all the memories its trying to contain. If the house was on fire, it is on the short list of items I would grab. Let me tell you why.

When Mom purchased this item, I laughed stating she now had a lifetime supply. Ironically, she did, though the present question is how many lifetimes? And whose?

Mom died in 2003 and as my siblings and I were sorting through her things I laughed when I saw the wrap, and shared the memory with them.  We all had a good chuckle, then they insisted it was now mine.

Later that year,  I moved into my new home and the wrap moved in too. Most days it wrapped mundane things,  chiefly leftovers as I struggled to learn to cook for one instead of four.  The following year it wrapped sandwiches for lunches, and rarely leftovers as my daughters moved in with me.  There was much entertaining for family, friends and later neighbours as I opened my home to the next part of life.

I met my soon to be husband and with him came more friends, family, entertaining, lunches, and our wedding   A few years later, we hosted a wedding shower for my youngest followed by her wedding reception.  We had a 50th wedding anniversary for his parents and a catered event for coworkers.  We hosted birthdays for friends and family, life events and special occasions and at every turn the wrap was there.

It’s used every Christmas when my sister, her family and mine get together. It’s there every Easter when we gather with our grandchildren,  great nieces and nephews for the annual Easter egg hunt. It’s there on Valentine’s Day as John and I prepare a special dinner to celebrate our love. It’s there every family birthday covering the leftover cake, or a care package to send with the girls to their homes. It’s there every BBQ in the summer covering the steaks and prized potato salad that Mom taught me how to make so long ago.

It preserves our memories too.  Now in addition to wrapping up today’s memories I can’t help but remember all the times it was used by Mom.  Vividly I remember her wrapping up tea biscuits after spending a day baking with my Grandma. It was used to wrap up the dishes she brought to family events, birthdays, BBQ’s, holidays.  It was put to good use wrapping all the Christmas baking we made together every year.

I’m almost afraid to see how much remains. These days I use it sparingly, partially to preserve the wrap itself and partially opting for other methods that are more convenient, bags, plastic or glass containers. My parents both died young. I think often of all that they missed and will miss and yet on the days when I pull down the ragged cardboard box, they are there, silent witnesses to life that continues to unfold.