Category Archives: Life Reflections

Reflections on life

The Beauty of the Fall Season

The Beauty of the Fall Season

One thing that is great about living in British Columbia is the change of seasons. I am so fortunate to live in such an exquisitely diverse province where flora and fauna, oceans and rivers, mountains and farms, city and rural living weave their way across this landscape. The crisp air mixed in with this sunny day tells me Fall really is around the corner.

 

Car Pool Karaoke with Paul McCartney – Thanks James

Car Pool Karaoke with Paul McCartney – Thanks James

ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

WHEN JAMES CORDEN STARTED CAR POLL KARAOKE WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN IT WOULD LEAD TO A RIDE WITH PAUL McCARTNEY .

THIS INTERVIEW WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST INTERVIEWS I HAVE SEEN WITH McCARTNEY BECAUSE NOT ONLY WAS HE ABLE TO SHARE HIS INCREDIBLE STORIES – AND WALK LITERALLY DOWN PENNY LANE – BUT HE ALSO APPEARED TO HAVE A REALLY GOOD TIME WITH IT ALL. TO SEE JAMES EXPERIENCE HIS OWN EMOTIONAL MOMENTS WAS SO TOUCHING TOO.

I STILL CAN’T STOP SMILING. THE ICING ON THE CAKE CAME TOWARDS THE END AND WOW!… WISH I’D BEEN THERE.

I HOPE THEY BOTH KNOW HOW MUCH JOY THEY JUST SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD.

The Face of Suicide

The Face of Suicide

With the death of Kate Spade, a highly recognized fashion designer, the topics of suicide and mental illness come to the forefront of media yet again. For those that do not suffer from mental illness, committing suicide seems like an extreme act. But, for some people who have considered taking their own life it’s not extreme at all, it’s just an option.

In honest conversations with people who struggle with severe depression I have learned that suicide can be considered a relief – a way out of their discomfort. They see themselves as sparing self,  family and friends from all the problems that exist with their condition. Others say, they are trying desperately to suppress such thoughts and urges but find it difficult at times to control the voices in their head. Embarrassed by it all, they try to keep the talking about it to a minimum.

It’s tough to know what will act as the catalyst for ending life, the one thing or day that will make such a thought become an executed decision. Outside of those that make their suicide a public spectacle, it is quite likely a very lonely way to go. Somewhere – while drowning in the torture of one’ s mind – comes the drive to go through with it. It is so very sad.

I may be taking some liberty in assigning the word lonely to such an experience as we never will know what each person feels in the moments before death.  If notes were left, like allegedly in Ms. Spade’s case, there is some answered questions and feelings described to others but ultimately the last seconds are personal.

We have multiple therapies, medications and groups that endeavour to help sufferers of mental illness. Through such support they are heard, validated and given reasons to continue life. However, all our knowledge and compassion unfortunately can’t save everyone.

There is no face of suicide. It is found in the stories of all people, all ethnicities and age groups, regardless of economic status or gender.

I have witnessed people recover from suicide attempts who go on to lead their best life. I think it’s important not to judge what “a best or normal life” is but to support whatever that looks like for them.  We should continue to try to offer support, call suicide prevention hotlines for guidance, or contact professionals on behalf of someone in distress.

All is not lost,  hope can rise again and what seems insurmountable can be challenged. One more day might make a big difference.

Resource:

Suicide Prevention Canada

Thinking About Suicide?

In Memory of Dame Daphne Sheldrick

In Memory of Dame Daphne Sheldrick

A I write this I’m fighting back tears. Today, I learned that a woman I greatly admire has passed away – her name was Dame Daphne Sheldrick. She was the founder of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which has been rescuing and protecting wild Elephants and Rhinos since 1977. Her passion for wildlife conservation was nurtured alongside her husband David Sheldrick and after his death she remained committed to supporting wildlife in Kenya.

I wish I could find the perfect words to honor this woman but I’m afraid that will not be the case. I can’t capture the feelings fast enough in order to eloquently speak about her impact on my life.

My awareness about the plight of elephants came through an interview she did many years ago. After I finished watching her speak I was moved to find out more about DSWT and from that introduction I became committed to its success. Since that time I have continuously supported the charity and proudly sponsor two elephants.

A point of fact: When Dame Daphne Sheldrick began rescuing orphaned baby elephants it was difficult to keep them alive without their mother’s milk and loving guidance. It is through pure dedication that Dame Daphne Sheldrick managed to develop the right formula in which to feed baby elephants and developed a program in which a person would be assigned to each orphan. With this type of personal care and companionship these elephants thrived. Within Tsavo East National Park, and beyond, there are generations of healthy adult elephants who live because DSWT cared.

Now the tears stream down my face….

Dame Daphne Sheldrick had gentle hands caring for elephants and rhinos but a determined voice as their advocate. She knew that a world without these majestic, incredibly intelligent souls would not be right. She brushed up against their bodies and listened to the beating of their hearts. She looked into the eyes of an orphan and knew she couldn’t take away their tragic memories of loss but could lessen their grief with an introduction to a new family. Dame Sheldrick and her team knew all souls would not be saved but accepted this as their reality. She was incredibly brave to fight this battle and her final battle with breast cancer.

In 2009, one of my earliest blog posts was a two-part interview with Wendi Wendt – who’s picture you see on this post with a baby elephant – she was the Vice President of The US Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I was thrilled to speak with her. Wendi and I spoke about our first encounters with this project at more length than what’s written in my blog. I know I share with many people today a tremendous amount of sadness and a renewed sense of purpose to keep Dame Sheldrick’s vision alive. Please feel free to read US Friends of the David Seldrick Wildlife Trust Interview Part 1 and Interview Part 2.

I offer my condolences to her family, friends and dedicated colleagues.

Please help support their cause – For the Love of a Baby Elephant or Rhino. Donate

 

If Needles Could Talk

If Needles Could Talk

The needles lay scattered across the concrete, the only reminder that pain stood here. It came through the experiences of a human being and it lingers because up to this point Pain has nowhere else to go. A back alley, bathroom, locked bedroom or random space is all that is needed to accommodate self-medication and annihilation.

Dignity has long since disappeared and so to have the values that were once held close – no foundation exists. Uncomfortably aroused by traumatic memories it is difficult to escape and so today darkness takes over.

I was a compassionate Teacher, brilliant Lawyer, safe Truck Driver, respected Business Owner, top Sales Person. My role as a Husband, Father, Uncle, Brother, Son, Mother, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Aunt, wasn’t enough to keep me from falling.

When something triggers me I don’t know how to cope. I know you wish I could learn to manage myself better, and handle life like “other people do”, but my pain is too great. The grief, loss, trauma, voices, all the memories flood over me and I can’t keep my head above, I’m drowning. I haven’t shared all of this with you because….

I had good parents. I had screwed up parents. I grew up in Foster care. I’m University educated. I was on the honor roll but barely graduated. I hated school so I dropped out in grade 10. I live across from you. I work with you. We play on the same sports team. We’ve been at the same parties.  We vacationed together. We were introduced by a mutual friend.

It was one incident. I suffered from an undiagnosed mental health condition. I’ve survived multiple traumatic/abusive situations. I had an injury and was put on prescription drugs but then they stopped treatment. That sent me over the edge and though I’ve often considered entering rehab the needle exchange support is more accessible than a bed.

There are times when I float above to see me and that damn needle both lying on the ground. Its empty of what I thought would save me. My story is laced on its tip but discarded so easily.

I know you don’t want me in your neighbourhood but I’m here.

 

Ironing out the Wrinkles

Ironing out the Wrinkles

I looked down at my hands,  Wow! That’s a lot of wrinkles, I thought. The hands are a dead giveaway that we are aging. We can plump lips, dye hair, nip here and tuck there. We can strap in and flatten out, shape eyebrows and pluck unwanted hairs. Clothes can make us appear younger or distract the viewers from challenging areas but hands, well they keep it real.

It was while I was ironing that I had this moment of self-reflection. I hate ironing. I let shirts and pants pile up in the to be ironed zone until I can no longer classify it as a new decorating style or art installation. If my stupid iron had the capacity to iron out body wrinkles then maybe I would show it more love.

My mother used to have a home in Palm Springs, California. Every year during the winter months I would fly down for a week or so just to bask in the sun and shop for new clothes. We would hit all our favourite stores and I would chat it up with the ladies who ran those businesses. These women were impeccably dressed and looked exactly the same way as they did the year before. Everlasting beauty was clearly something to strive for.

Palm Springs educated me about the quest to defy aging and remain youthful. There were women (and men) with faces so baby smooth and radiant I wondered if one more sanding might be the last. Their lips were perpetually in pre-kiss mode, which I’m sure could certainly be construed as an invitation and laugh lines… what are those? I could never figure out why in such heat there was a need to wear blouses or turtlenecks done up to their chin but to each her own.

It was my dear Mum who said one day, “You know hands are the one thing they can’t change, just look at the hands.”

It was a fair observation and comment. These were beautiful people who have the right to do what they like but all the exfoliation, surgery or injections in the world wasn’t going to iron out hand wrinkles. I best get used to that.

Help Lonely Seniors

Help Lonely Seniors

I walked up to the bakery counter in my local supermarket with my eyes drawn to two Apple Fritters. These were going to be an indulgence my husband and I would enjoy – his with a coffee and me with a tea. As I placed my fritters in a bag I felt the presence of someone and then heard his voice. “Oh, you are just like me. You where a jean jacket with layers underneath – see, I’m doing that too.”

He was an elderly man, slim build with a twinkle in his eyes and a big smile. I said, “Yes, some days layering with a jean jacket makes more sense than a heavy jacket.” He agreed and there he had found a gem of commonality in which to build upon conversation. The man recalled the price of his first jeans and the great fit of his first Levis denim jacket. Another older lady briefly joined in to reflect on how many pairs of jeans she had, confirming that jeans were and always will be relevant in fashion.

As she smiled and wondered off my new supermarket friend showed me photos on his phone and shared that his wife had died of cancer last year and he makes it his mission to get out every day for a walk and talk to people. At 81 years of age he still works as a Commissionaire – preferring graveyard shift – and says, “It’s important to like your job, purpose keeps me going.” As I stood there I heard about his two sons, was given a brief intro to how his parents raised him and his siblings, I learned that he held job at CN Rail in the early 1970’s and so much more.

By this time my husband had joined in the conversation and so there we all stood in small huddle with a cart full of groceries. It briefly flashed into my mind that time was passing and we had a list of things to get but then just as quickly I realized this was more important. This man found a way to reach others, and whether he had always been an open book or was given advice to just get out of his house, here he stood with strangers. There was his smile, sense of humour and a genuine need to connect.

After awhile our time together came to a close, we shook hands and bid each other good day.

This was a reminder that so many seniors live alone. Their life partners and friends have passed away and this world becomes more stranger by the minute. Seniors – just like this gentleman – can spend hours, days or even weeks without meaningful companionship and so today may have been a rare gift.

In our youth we don’t even think about being without friends, lovers and family. In our middle age we consider the possibility of life’s fragility but still, in the midst of challenge, somebody is there. However,  in our senior years there is the real possibility that those that have held our secrets and hands no longer exist and we find ourselves in the company of strangers, trying desperately to move beyond loneliness.

Whether it’s common friendliness or loneliness that brings us together, share a moment with a senior today, a smile or chat. Help at a local seniors centre. Encourage a senior in your life to participate in activities they love. Engage with what they love even if its sitting through one more game of Scrabble, watching their favourite show or anything else that brings them joy. Be present.

 

How to be Miserable

How to be Miserable

The following video 7 Ways to Maximize Misery was created by CGP Grey and has been out for awhile, so I’m a bit late to the party. I have to say I found it quite humorous.

It was inspired by the book, How to be Miserable Forty Strategies You Already Use, by Randy J. Paterson.

There is also a great follow-up article written by Randy J. Paterson about the video and how he tabulated the comments. Check out:

Tabulating Comments to “7 Ways to Maximize Misery”

Sometimes we just have to put all seriousness aside and have a little laugh at ourselves.

 

Cheers to David Bowie

We share a special date – it is arriving. Though he is not here to celebrate anymore, I will do so in my life. I just had a wonderful time spent watching a concert that I – for some inexplicable reason – had not seen, Live in Berlin 2002. With a glass a wine in hand my journey towards another year on earth was made ever sweeter by watching the great David Bowie have fun on a stage with his band, in front of so many fans. We were all lucky to have opportunities to see him live as his shows were indescribably beautifully orchestrated and mind-blowing! Such a talent dearly missed. Cheers Bowie.

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