Precious Life

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Today in Toronto, just two hours away from me, on streets I’ve walked more than once, ten people were killed another fifteen were injured. It came on the heels of another tragedy including the loss of sixteen lives in a bus crash just a few weeks earlier. It has been a difficult month for our country to cope with. Many are rattled to the core by how close to home these situations hit.

Today people just going about their lives, starting their day and week in the same fashion they had any other Monday. Only to have their lives torn apart by the decisions or choices of another.They never imagined going out for lunch would be a fatal mistake.

Those families never dreamed today would be the start of a nightmare they can’t wake up from. Some families still don’t know their loved one is gone. Soon to have a sad story on the news turn into their own personal hell.

None of them considered a stranger would be so cruel as to mow them down on the sidewalks as they enjoyed the first day that’s truly felt like spring.

Laughter was replaced by gut-wrenching screams. Both on the streets and later in the homes of those personally impacted.

More Than a Day Job…It’s Life

People watched in horror as others faced mortality. Some doing everything they could to save, comfort and care for those around them. Lives saved by the heroics of strangers. Courage, compassion, and strength were abundantly shown in the aftermath.

First responders, started their day prepared for anything but never imagined the emotional and physical drain their day would turn into. They will never erase the scenes they encountered today and every day on their jobs. They have been internationally praised and recognized for doing their jobs.

They aren’t as naive as the rest of us in life. They go to work every single day knowing life changes and is lost in a minute. They know there is carnage in this world and experiences in life that will haunt you every time you close your eyes. And yet they go each day prepared and willing to face and see what no one should have to.

Standing on Guard

They know people make life-threatening, dangerous, ill-conceived horrible decisions every day. They have taken on the responsibility of being the ones everyone else looks to in times of crisis for protection, safety, direction and information. They are expected to bring justice and compassion, act immediately but not impulsively. They deliver the worst news people could ever receive and face the worst situations anyone could face.

Often being criticized no matter what move they make. The first responders’ lives are forever changed by every scene they carry in their memory, every action that they take. Most of us don’t have to make life or death decisions every day. We don’t face trauma as a routine part of our day.

We are brought to our knees and crushed by its intensity when our fragile mortality becomes a reality we must face. We hug our families a little tighter, treat our neighbor a little kinder, appreciate life a little more.

Precious Life

It’s easy to watch the news or look at our world and see all the bad that is happening. There is so much hate and injustice, greed and just plain cruelty. People hide behind computers and emotionally torture anyone they can. Others have so little regard or respect for life they’ll take it from another without a second thought.

That’s not what life is about. Life is what happens in the face of evil or devastation. Life is the compassion of a nation mourning with those who mourn. Life is the courage of those who risk themselves to save another. Life is 1000s of hockey sticks placed on doorsteps and lining trees on streets across the nation to show support.

Life is a police officer in British Columbia being in a vegetative state for 30 years and his fellow police officers visiting his bedside for three decades.

It’s not about the things that go horribly wrong, the evil or destruction, it’s about the unity, compassion, and strength that continues on. It’s about the love that is remembered and the courage of our persistence to try and do better.

Life is precious. My thoughts prayers and love go out to anyone who is struggling to deal with what life has thrown at them. May you be surrounded by and comforted by the good in the world and may you always have love and support to carry you through.

 

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PTSD is Courage

 

I have friends who have experienced or are struggling with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I wanted to share something I wrote for you.

PTSD is not trauma

From fighting a country’s war,

It comes from pain and fear

that shook you to your core,

Bravery is not found

when one’s life is going right,

It comes from surviving

your darkest, coldest night,

Prayers to your God

seem hopelessly ignored

So you muster every ounce

of courage you had stored,

You replay all the things

that went horribly wrong,

Taken back to that day

by just one smell or song,

No rockets ever fired ,

you didn’t wind up dead,

But your favorite place after that,

was the comfort of your bed,

The world changed in an instant

to never be the same,

Now you’re brought to tears

by a single word or name,

It hurts all over

the worst pain is in your heart,

And you feel on the verge

of falling apart,

Your soul has been altered,

Beyond anyone’s belief,

Your broken heart begs your mind

to find it some relief

Tears stain the pillow

as you physically weep,

Exhausted when you finally

cry yourself to sleep,

Your eyes start to focus

As you force yourself to say,

What battles must I fight

on this peaceful day.

It’s not a warzone

no one’s shooting with a gun,

But each day that you conquer,

many gruesome wars are won.

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True Love Is A Beautiful Mess

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My parents just celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary. Several of their long time friends are also celebrating close to a half century of marriage. I have known these 10 or so couples most of my life and my best example of course are my parents. Not only are these marriages filled with love but so are their lives. These couples have taught me…True love is a beautiful mess.

It is beautiful but it isn’t always pretty. Love isn’t just about the best moments in life. It isn’t about all the rainbows and bouquets of roses. It is about every moment in between. It is about weathering the storm before the rainbow, and keeping the love long after the roses have  wilted and died. It is about celebrating the small victories and cherishing the little things, it is about compromise and sacrifice. It is about always seeing the best in your partner even when they are at their lowest or worst. It is carrying them through their grief and dusting them off after their failures. It is knowing they are all you need and showing them they are so much more than they ever realized. It is being their sounding board, their shoulder to cry on, their strength in weak moments and their cheerleader as they chase their dreams.

It is wanting their happiness, safety and comfort as much as your own and learning patience, understanding and acceptance. Not just of the good moments, the successes and the achievements in life but especially during the moments they stumble, the nights filled with ugly cries and frustrated actions. It is forgetting your own pain in the loss of a child to comfort the pain of your grieving spouse. But your pain is not forgotten…because they are also selflessly comforting you. It is being strong in the moments they are too weak to stand and being safe enough to share your pain with them as they carry you through your personal refiner’s fires. It is learning to laugh through the tears and to see each moment with love. It is sharing every moment of pain, joy, shame, defeat and victory. It is mourning when they mourn and finding joy in the moments they can’t. It is helping them reach their potential while accepting their limitations it is seeing them through tender eyes and listening with not only your ears but your heart.

True unconditional love is the most beautiful thing in the world. It is a beautiful mess of excitement, hardship, success, pain, laughter, heart-wrenching loss and indescribable joy. When I have moments of pondering why we are all here I look to the couples I have known my whole life and realize they have found true meaning by living it with true love.

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Food and the World…

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In The End….It’s Love.

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I have spent a great deal of time recently in the Palliative care unit. Each room within the Palliative has patients lying in hospital bed, in a hospital gown, made as comfortable as possible Each treated with the same compassion, love and attention by the Health care staff. It is a special quality that each member of the team has.  Compassion.

Different family member and loved ones congregate. It is a floor of making patients comfortable and making peace. It is a floor of love. Love that will always be and Love that could have been…those are the two things that matter.

Tears are shed in love, goodbyes are said with love. Hours are spent in loving vigil watching each breath waiting to mourn a loved one’s passing. And yet they are still here. Often treated like they are not. Families lives stopped, their loved one still here, There is still love to share, memories to make, precious moments to have. You can remember sharing your inner thoughts of life, their favorite book one last time or their favourite song- even if  you don’t think they hear….the love is felt in their heart, in their bones, in their soul….too many final moments are wasted in love of self instead of love of them. They feel when we are loving them and their journey….but often We think of remaining here without them instead of cherishing them and their next adventure. This time, all the time is about love…

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The person in bed may not focus on faces or clearly hear names but they hear and see love…They reflect on the love of their life, they long to love and be loved, they respond to and recognize the love around them.

No success, pain or failure in their life really matters at this point. No number on their bank account, no accomplishment they did or didn’t reach in life really matters in these beds. All that matters is the love in their life.

Palliative is such a sacred area to me. They are completely 100% surrounded with  compassion and love. Both on this side of their journey and on the other…. ancestors and family waiting there to reunite with their loved one.

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Our time on earth is only a moment in eternity. Our relationship, affection and love continues to grow, deepen and exist for eternity. If you think about it we are just visitors on earth….we are the ones still off on an adventure.  Love is what matters to the heart, to a memory, to life and for eternity.

Physical things, bodies and monuments of one’s life may fail and erode away but when love is in your heart and life –That love source walks each day with you in your thoughts and in your actions.

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I dislike the term “loss of a loved one” or ” Sorry for your loss”….you have not lost a loved one. They are still there. Not physically where you can see them, but they are closer than you realize. You have not lost your loved one….

The love is deeper, you are more aware of that love every second of your life, you value that more….you value the loved one more…..you value time more.

Love is more prominent in your life for the time a loved one is palliative until all the goodbyes are said

…and then life of others returns to the daily grind complaining about the pressures of life and the demands of time. We will take for granted all the moments we have, the love we could share….until the next time our love is felt so deeply and we face another goodbye. And we will complain we were robbed of the chance to love them longer and love them more…but could you love them more than you do right now…If we shared that love with those we care about everyday. If we made it about them. Not about how we want to love but about the love they truly need. At the end of it all Love is what matters but… why wait to the end to surround your loved one in it.

If a loved one is heading home….Have peace that they are at peace, have gratitude that such love was in your life and share your love with those still here so when you look back on your life it is not a reflection of the love you could have given but didn’t but is the love unconditionally given that will live on forever.

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Who Are You? Not Who You Think!!!

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Who are you? Hmmm. What would your answer be? Some will answer quickly with all the things they use to define themselves- with their name or occupation, wth their marital status or role in their world. Some define who they are by their successes, others measure themselves by their failures. The question is not Who have you been? or Who will you be?…Who are you??

No other moment of time, no one decision, no set of failures or successes determine who a person is. I believe we miss so much of our lives worrying about who we are suppose to be and forgetting who we really are. We are spiritual beings living a human experience. Each moment is a chance to define who we are now.

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It is incredibly awesome if you really think about it. Every single moment of your human experience is the universe asking “Who are you?”….it doesn’t matter who you were a year ago, who you were a moment ago….who are you in this moment whatever that moment may be.  You can’t change if you were the biggest jerk in the world for every second of your life before this….who are you in this moment? Who you were is the past cannot be changed, the future is who you will be it hasn’t come yet….. you only have the choice of who you are right now.

Are you kind? Are you compassionate? Are you surviving?

Sometimes when you feel your weakest, you are gaining your most strength because you are surviving the moment…In this moment you are ok. The future….hasn’t come yet. You will deal with that moment when it gets here….but for this one second in time you choose who you are…Are you loving? Are you grateful? What do you appreciate about this moment? Not what stresses you have or what is going on externally that will be gone through and over in a day or week or year…but in this very moment what are you grateful for?

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You may be having a hard time but is there someone who is helping you through it? Someone who loves you? Someone you love….maybe you love them so much that is why you are having a hard time….you are blessed to love them that much…that it hurts when they are sick or hurting or gone. It is a hard moment but a moment of love.

Are you worried about paying your rent? Breathe….at this moment who are you? You have a roof over your head….at this moment. you are in out of the cold and while the future may have a difficult moment of moving or stuggling….in this moment there is a home to worry about? Did you do something stupid for the past few minutes, or years….that is in the past, who are you? Right now.

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I have been thinking about the Parable of the talents lately. What are you doing with your talents….right now. If you were given the talent to love….Is that who you are right now? Are you creating more talents right now….if you weren’t patient in the last minute…will you be in this one? Will you develop that talent. Who are you right now? don’t worry about the past…you are not there anymore….you are not yet who you will be in the future…you can only be who you are in this second…so Who are you??? You choose in this minute for the present…It is an eternal question with a possible new answer each and every moment of this human experience.

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Dear Elderly…On Behalf Of Society I Apologize

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I feel the need to apologize on behalf of society to our elderly and vulnerable. We have let you down. This is obvious to me with cases like that of RPN  Susan Muzylowsky who admitted to abusing 19 different residents under her care yet she is not being criminally charged. The two other nurses that knew of the abuse are still employed and the director of care who had abuse going on in their facility for a year claims ignorance and keeps her job. The “inspectors” responsible for investigating the abuse originally found no violations and everyone is “being educated on the importance of reporting abuse”…..

How is this possible? I am sorry to those who have loved ones in need of care. You must be terrified to know these things go on. Please know there are caregivers who will respect, love, worry about and care for your loved ones. There are caregivers who are physically ill by the thought of things like this going on. We refuse to conform to the money-saving corner cutting practises of healthcare. We take our time feeding, caring for, supporting each patient.

I hope the government will allow more elderly and vulnerable individuals to choose the care they recieve. Better care means better health- physically and mentally. Our system of housing and feeding the elderly is broken. We need to actually make changes that provide a whole health caring environment. Where residents are not rushed out of bed at 7 am for an assembly line breakfast to then sit in a wheelchair staring at the wall until lunch or all afternoon until supper. Staff only giving a few minutes of care or attention when absolutely called for. What happened to providing quality life. We extend peoples years to have them vulnerable and at risk of abuse.

There are executives in fancy offices making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to make excuses as to why more staff or better care is not in the budget. You deserve more. You deserve a loving, caring, safe and healthy home. You may not be able to stay in your home and family may not be able to take care of you….but you should know you will be respected, cared for and supported.

I am sorry we have let you down. I pray and hope one day those people in offices will stop seeing dollar signs and will start seeing a heartbeat. I will fight til my last breath that you may have love and dignity for each of yours.

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