Do good, feel good

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Over the last few years, I have found myself very driven to spend a great deal of my spare time volunteering.  I have always liked helping people so this step was a natural progression in my desire to offer my time to help those in need.  With a background in hospitality and a passion for cooking, it came as no surprise to me that I have combined all of those things about myself and I have become very active with our local Food Bank.

When you weave your way into the world of volunteering, you see just how many people are right along side of you, driven by the same aspiration to lend a hand where they can.  The faces you see in your daily life suddenly become the hands behind the volunteer work that you didn’t know they were a part of.  They don’t do it for the recognition, they simply do it because they want to help.

I have been very fortunate to become a part of a group of people with a vision that continues to grow to serve our small community.  Sure, there are a few people who need more recognition than others and an occasional public pat on the back, but there are always a few of those people in every crowd.  Thankfully our intentions come from the same place and we put forth the same effort to achieve the desired results.

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If you have ever entertained the idea of volunteering, I highly recommend it.  Just knowing that your efforts make such a difference in people’s lives, regardless of where you volunteer your time, is a truly heart-warming feeling.   And there is no shortage of places that could use an extra pair of hands or two.  The amount of time you commit to volunteering is always up to you but every second you spend helping those who struggle is well worth the time you take to show other people that you care.

 

 

It’s all in the signs

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I admit to having a warped sense of humor.  But in my defense, I have many friends who share my love for the strange and twisted things that make us laugh.

There is a road sign about five minutes from my house that I am assuming leads to a lovely cottage on Lake Muskoka.  It was really just an innocent sign until I told a friend about it and our back and forth texting about that sign had us both in tears we were laughing so hard.

The simple amusement about the sign itself turned into a full-on laugh fest when we thought about invited guests coming up to this cottage but, before they drove down the road, they decided there was no reason to go any further.  The point was moot.  We pictured groups of people milling about at the end of the driveway wondering why they even made the drive up in the first place.  The more we thought about it, the more we laughed.

My friend drove up here to have lunch and we made a point of stopping in the driveway to take some pictures of the sign.  The laughter that we had shared before was brought back quickly as we sat in our seats, tears staining our cheeks as the laughter started all over again.

Now, every time I drive by Moot Point, it makes me giggle.  One innocuous sign is now the thing that can bring a smile to my face because it brings back memories of sharing great laughs with someone who is just as warped as I am.

Sometimes you just need a hug

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Emotion is a very worthy adversary.  It can lay dormant and sneak up on you when you least expect it.  On Monday I fell victim to its stealthy attack and was on the verge of an ugly cry in my office in the middle of the day.  At that moment, all I wanted was a hug.

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Being affected by a wave of feelings is nothing new to me.  I get overwhelmed by, not only my sorrows but, the melancholy felt by those around me.  Like a kettle that is too full of water, that emotion has nowhere else to go and eventually it spills out.

In those moments, I feel like a child holding my arms in the air, waiting for someone to come and pick me up and tell me it’s going to be okay.  I know the surge of sadness will pass, but sometimes you just need a hug to make everything feel better.  The comfort of an embrace is what we are born knowing and trusting.

We had a senior’s bus tour at the lodge this past fall and I met one of the sweetest ladies during that tour.  She was all of 4 feet high and spoke with a wee Scottish brogue.  Every morning she would come into the office and ask if I wanted a hug.  I never turned her down.  And she did the same thing with the 38 other people on the tour, always careful to ask the wives’ permission to be able to hug their husbands.

She gets it.  She knows there is nothing more heart-warming than a genuine embrace that will make the sorrow seem less sad, that will make life seem more manageable and that will make reality more acceptable.  A hug can speak more than words, can drain sadness from your soul and can let people know how you feel about them without having to say a word.

While life may try to challenge your reality, one simple hug can bring you right back to where you need to be.  Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication and it allows someone to know that you truly care.

 

 

If I say I’m fine….I’m lying

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Many memes and many jokes (mostly at men’s expense) have skirted around the fact that if a woman says, “I’m fine”, there is an emotional undertone that means something far beyond being fine.  My experience with the phrase ‘I’m fine’ has completely surpassed that, to the point that nobody in my immediate family uses those two words to describe their current state of being.

Both of my parents were alcoholics and suffered through a myriad number of complications through their later years.  It is an ugly disease with ugly consequences.  The worst part of watching the effects of alcoholism deteriorate a human body is having that person tell you that, while they are suffering numerous symptoms and contrary to every doctor’s diagnosis, they are fine.  Fine is no longer a word I use to describe how I feel and for very good reason – it’s bullshit.

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I sent a text to a friend yesterday to ask about their well-being and was given the response “I’m okay”.   Although it was not the tried and hated response of “I’m fine”, it ranked right up there and it made my Spidey senses tingle.  I knew there was more going on but I also knew not to push.

When you get a text message from someone you know on a very personal level, the inflection in their voice is heard loud and clear above the silence of a text message.  The only thing I can do is be here when they need to vent, to be present when they realize that I know they are not “fine” or “okay” and just be ready to listen.

 

I just called…..to say…….I love you

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I was sent a message by a friend who, like me, has been struggling to find a reason for all the recent losses that our small town has endured.  In a community like ours, you either know everyone or you know them by six degrees of separation, so when someone passes away the ripple effect of that loss reaches everyone.

It is times like these that I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support shown to the families of those who have passed.  And it is times like these that remind me to hold my loved ones that much closer.

My dad was a very emotional man who never shied away from saying ‘I love you’.   He was very demonstrative about his feelings and nobody was ever left guessing about his affection for them.  My mother didn’t start out that way, but she eventually found comfort in sharing her feelings as well.  It wasn’t until after my parents had passed that my brother and I drew much of our strength from sharing that same three-word phrase with each other.

It saddens me that some people feel uncomfortable saying ‘I love you’.  Even though they have the feelings, they are unable to comfortably share those sentiments when, ultimately, that is how they feel.

I don’t want to regret anything in the brief time that I have in this lifetime.  I don’t want people to not know how I feel about them.  Everyone one of you, whether we are family, friends or we have met through this blog, has had a tremendous impact on my life and I love all of you.  Each of you has taken time to comment on or like the thing that I am most proud of, my writing, and I am grateful for that and each and every day.  You all hold a very special place in my heart.

So, if I say I love you and it takes you off guard, just know that I am not trying to make you uncomfortable nor am I expecting you to tell me how you feel.  I just want to know that I took the opportunity to tell you before it was too late.

Grief cannot be fixed, it can only be carried

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I have suffered my share of grief through the loss of many people I held dear.  There was no reason for those losses to occur in the way they did and dealing with those wounds has not made me a stronger person, contrary to popular opinion.

It is tough to find words to say to people after they have suffered the loss of a loved one.  There are no magic phrases to make it all better.  There is no invisible salve to heal the wounds.  There is only comfort in a hug.  There is the ability to hold them when they can’t stop crying.  And there are the moments to share the wonderful memories of the person who has passed.

Loss never becomes easier with time as much as people try to tell you it does.  The only thing that time changes is our ability to live our lives in a new way and deal with the absence of that person on a daily basis.  It is true that some days are better than others.  But it is also true that you can be so overwhelmed by the pain of loss that you cannot leave your house because your tears are uncontrollable.

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There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Emotion will control you, not the other way around.  The only thing you can do is carry that pain with you and wear it like a badge of honor.  That pain reminds you of the connection you had to the person who has passed.  That grief is the glue that binds you to the soul who has left this lifetime.  And those tears are the reality that make you painfully aware that grief cannot be fixed.  It can only be carried.