Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dear Pain...

Hello, old friend.  This will be my 8th summer with you has my constant and ever loyal companion.  My 7th year since you came unwelcome and unwanted...

You can leave anytime.

I use to have a much different life before you came along.  I had a career that I really, really enjoyed.  I worked with the elderly helping make their life easier and hopefully giving them a smile and a laugh. I shared their later years getting to know them, becoming friends and often my visits were an integral part of their day or week. Sometimes I had the honour to share their end journey as they left this world, hopefully making it easier.  It was humbling, satisfying and joyful work.

You came along and took that from me.

I use to love to garden, go on long walks, geo-cache, go camping, volunteer, visit friends, spend time with family.  I use to do yoga, occasionally try to dance and ride a bike.  I use to have a life. I had plans, dreams, hopes.

Now I have you.

Some of these things I can still do but, not without your relentless companionship.  I do my best to ignore you but, you are a malicious and jealous sort.  You crave my devotion and if I ignore you too long, you turn up the heat.  You will not be denied!

There is so much you stole from me.  So much you snatched away in a heartbeat.

You are so very clever and sly.  You hide where others can't see you deep in my bones, joints and sinews.  Most don't realize what an incredible burden you are to me. You are often barely recognizable and when you do clearly show up, the affliction is usually too great for me to show up in public thus, the worst of you is rarely seen by others. Only a handful of people are even aware that you are always present, always tormenting me.

You haunt my sleep and terrorize my days. You often bring me to futile tears making me despair and feel forsaken.  You are powerful and tenacious. Unless someone has experienced your hold, it is impossible to truly understand.

I long to be free of you.

I've tried so much to rid myself of you through drugs, exercise, physio, surgery and prayer.  Lots and lots of prayer.  But you refuse to leave.

You've left me weak, diminished and disabled.  I've cried, begged and bargained but, every morning...

every night...

there you are...


But, dear pain, you will not win. I cannot let you. There is always tomorrow and one day you may grow weary of this amusement of yours and be gone.

Although you may steal everything else, you won't steal my hope. Because you see; in my dreams I can walk, run, play and dance unencumbered by you. In my dreams I can fly. I will never embrace you and I will always resist you, fight you and do my utmost to ignore you.

You will not win!

So, even if you never, ever go away I shall have the last laugh because...

you really must understand that you truly have the more difficult task...

It isn't me learning to live with you: it's you learning to live with me!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Parenting Today versus Yesteryear...

I recently read this blog on Huffington Post about the quality of today's parenting versus the parenting of yesteryear.
It was an interesting opinion and since I'm a child of yesteryear parenting it caused me pause for thought.

There are some very valid arguments for the brand and style of nurturing done by previous generations.  We did learn independence, delayed gratification, problem solving skills and all the other attributes the author mentioned.

The problem was most of us had no choice in the matter.  It was a knee-jerk reaction to selfish, self-centered and negligent parents.  Yes, we did learn to stand up for ourselves, defend our younger siblings, work without supervision and get the job done right the first time or...

all hell broke loose!

We did learn to self-monitor, use common sense and be independent because we knew our parents didn't want to be bothered by our trivial problems like; being bullied, unjust treatment by a teacher or a difficult school project.  We learned fast that their response would go something like this...

-  You think you have problems; just wait until you're an adult.
-  Go away, I'm busy. (often having coffee and gossiping with friends)
-  I work 40 hours a week and you expect me to do your work for you?  You ungrateful little brat! Quit being so lazy!
-  It'll toughen you up.

That it did, too.  We are a generation of tough nuts who learned to hide our deepest fears, our biggest insecurities and constant anxieties though drugs, alcohol, gambling or promiscuity.

We knew we were to be "seen and not heard".  Our opinions were worthless and we were darned "lucky to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies".

Most of us felt unloved, unimportant and as worthless has we were treated but, eh...

we definitely did acquire those previously mentioned traits.

At a cost.

But what about today's parenting skills.  Well sadly, I've witnessed far too many of the molly-coddling techniques used on kids nowadays.  Not good.  Children do need to learn all those qualities prior generations exhibited but, not by default due to derelict parents.

Molly-coddling, helicopter parenting and the like are probably just as damaging has the lax and sloppy parenting of yesteryear.

How about a middle ground where thoughtful and insightful parents base their actions on lovingly saying no when it's necessary, teaching a work ethic and learning to wait and earn what you desire?

How about letting your child make mistakes and not always be rewarded just for showing up but, still be supportive and encouraging for next time?

How about thoughtfully teaching we can't always be good at everything we try or always win but, to still give it your best and most capable try?

How about explaining that the world can be tough and that they will encounter mean people but, yet demonstrate through example the emotional fortitude to withstand these traumas?

High quality, effective and loving parenting really is possible.  I've seen it. Parents can teach and illustrate all the positive qualities like self-reliance, independence, patience and strength of character to their children; while retaining their own identity and life.

It doesn't have to be either/or.

But excellence in parenting is like anything else; it takes effort, thoughtfulness, sacrifice.

Whether molly-coddling or neglecting our kids we really are truly opting for the easy way out.  Both require little thought or effort.  One simply ignores the child's needs and hopes for the best while the other caves at every opportunity just to keep the kid happy and the parent's guilt at bay.

Both ask little, give little, teach little...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

We all get there one day...

What is good about getting older?  It may be far easier to list what isn't good?  I'd say so...

You have saggy boobs, droopy butt, crows feet that have become more like craters and laugh lines that extend to your forehead.

You diligently seek that ONE coloured hair left on your head and are so delighted and smug you share on Facebook for all your friends to see!

You hurt in places that are illegal and if you sit in a chair that is too low, you need to turn fully around, coming out butt first. Or else need the help of four friends and possibly, a crane...

Your morning pills fill you up for breakfast and fibre has become your new BFF.

You hear perfectly if the person is speaking directly in front of you and no more than 3 feet away.  And preferably has a very deep voice and/or knows sign language.

You own at least three pairs of glasses.  One for reading, one for driving, one tinted for daylight.

Your shoes are on trend in a nursing home.  Likewise your outfit.

Your social life is catching up with your doctor and his receptionist.

You know the Lab Tech gal's first name, birthday, wedding date as well has the ages of her hubby and kiddies.

Your vacation plans must include baggage weight for medications, neck pillow, heating pad and a collapsible cane. Travel health insurance would've bought the car of your dreams when you were twenty.

The most excitement you get is watching true crime mysteries on cable.  You find yourself visualizing the dance show competitors having bad backs in 30 years and feel their pain. Speaking of pain...well...

everything hurts, even brushing your teeth.

You have light bladder leakage which you discreetly refer to has LBL while, your grandchildren tell everyone, "Grandma pees her pants"!  In Walmart, the mall and church!

But seriously, isn't there anything good about getting older?  You betcha!

First and foremost must be those darlin' aforementioned grandchildren.  They are the honey with the medicine, the kiss for the broken heart and the smile amidst tears.

Being older gives you license to reenact your childhood playing dolls, building Lego, dressing ridiculous or laughing until pee your pants...

Then there is the freedom to excuse yourself early or even forgo attending certain events without guilt.  Most everyone totally understands (because you're old afterall) and those who don't sympathize, well... you feel free to not care.

Not caring is a huge advantage when you're older.  Oh, you still care about what counts; family, friends and God but, acquiring the most and the best, impressing the elite or achieving greatness just doesn't hold the same allure.

It's enough to be a good person and help others where you're able.

You feel justified to dress absurd like mismatched socks (poor eyesight), wearing yesterday's jammie's all day (even if you do go to the corner store), going bra less (it hurts your shoulders), donning silly hats (the grandkids love it) or dressing in your fave 1980's outfit (assuming it still fits).

After all, you're old and completely out of touch anyway!  Which by the way, is a great excuse to get the younger generation to do things for you such as fix your computer, adjust Netflix...

You just don't get it!!

Then there's those times when you deliberately forget.  You're suppose to forget things with age, right?  It's expected...

Oh yes, it's a great hoot to screw up when you're texting except well..when it isn't (like to your banker, lawyer, pastor).

But all kidding aside, getting older helps you feel more at ease with yourself. You've become increasingly okay with your limitations and the truth that certain dreams are never going to happen and...

it's okay.

Never has the brevity of life and the passage of time ever been more vivid.  You feel things more deeply, take the time to slow down realizing life should to be savored and are in awe of the sacred. It's much easier to live moment by moment because you recognize the moments really are so few and tomorrow might not come.

You are more selective who you spend your time around because there's little time to waste it schmoozing.  You select your people more carefully looking for traits like positiveness, empathy, genuineness and loving kindness.

This is the true stuff of life.

There is a downside to our declining years.  It is not meant for the faint of heart but, it does nurture me about grace, forgiveness, authentic relationships and becoming more vulnerable.

It's so welcome to leave behind those frantic, rushing and stressful years and just don my jammies, put on a silly hat and play lego with my grandkids!

Toodle loo!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I can't...God can...

There is so much sadness, unrest and tragedy in the world today. I pray for it to stop, for peace and love to prevail. Honestly, I wonder what can I, one person do that could possibly make a difference.   The problems seem too big...too complicated. People can't even have peace and love prevail in their own individual lives, let alone on a global level.   Then I thought this is where I can make a difference.  This is how to be significant in a world wrought with misery.  Start with me in my own modest corner of this world.

This is not a new notion or a sudden brain wave.  I’ve often heard throughout my lifetime that change must begin with the individual but, as I’ve gotten older it all of a sudden hit home.  It wasn’t just an agreeable intellectual notion that I could discuss among my friends; feeling righteously sorrowful, then go on my way.  Not giving it another thought until the next time the conversation turns in that direction.  NO! 

I can talk about the sad state of the world, shaking my head and wringing my hands; having never done a thing to change anything but, that doesn’t alleviate any of the pain. Perhaps this is what is truly wrong with this world; too many head shaking, hand wringing folks who never, ever step out of our comfort zone and do something!  Including ME!

So, what can I do?  I find myself still reverting back to the can'ts;  I can't go on a mission trip halfway around the world, I can't bring world peace, I can't feed the millions starving.  I can't, I can't, I can't...  How pathetic!  

Maybe I can't go on a mission trip but, I could make it my mission to perhaps help a hurting person or family on my home turf.  I can't bring world peace but, I can resist gossip, be kind to others, smile.  I can't feed millions but, I can donate and volunteer at my local food bank.  Can't I??

What is your excuse?  If you're not contributing you are most likely making up reasons why you're can't do it.  I know.  Because I have done and do the same.  The world isn't narcissistic, selfish, entitled and full of weak excuses.  

I am.  

You are.  

If I'm too busy and have too many commitments to give back to a hurting world, then I'm too busy and need to cut back on time devoted to myself and my needs. I need to quit making excuses and step up!  

I can't keep excusing myself.

I'm NOT that important.

And neither are you...