Ready to welcome 2018

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2017 has provided me with many things, not in terms of wealth or possessions but things that mean so much more.  It has urged me to embrace the people who mean the most to me, to ignore the negative energy and to run with my full self towards the things that engage me and avoid the things make me feel trapped.

I don’t make resolutions on New Years’s Eve.  I don’t go out to a party.  I spend a very quiet night at home with my dog.  I make a tasty dinner for myself and enjoy some nice wine and reflect on all of the things I love and the few things that I barely survived.  Writing my book was, by far, the thing I am most proud of.  It was a daunting task that I saw to fruition.  The story was a very worthy adversary but I put forth a solid effort and, in the end, I won the battle.

Although I don’t make resolutions, I do make a vow to be the best version of myself and to give as much of myself as I can to those around me.  It is a simple task and one I find easy to do.   This coming year will also be the year I aggressively pursue a literary agent or publisher in the hopes of seeing my book in print. I am also set to tackle book number two (once football season is over!).

May 2018 bring us all love, health and happiness.  May those special moments and special people still be able to surprise us and remind us that each moment is precious.  And may we give as much of ourselves as we can to those less fortunate.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope this will be the year that we all have the courage to hold on to the things that make us the happiest version of ourselves.

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Hope is the most important thing

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I was speaking to a guest of the lodge yesterday who is currently embroiled in a nasty divorce.   He skimmed over a few of the distressing low-lights of his battle and said something during our conversation that really struck me.  Responding to one of my remarks he said, “Hope is a dangerous thing.”

I thought about his comment for most of the morning.   I carried it with me throughout my day at work.  It followed me while I was delivering meals to the Food Bank and even while I was walking my dog after work.  How disheartened he must feel thinking that to hope that there are good things waiting for him in his future is a treacherous slope to climb.  How unfortunate that he is so skeptical of the one thing that he should embrace – hope.

Hope is not a dangerous thing.  Hope is the most important thing.  It is the thing that provides the light at the end of that dark tunnel.  It is the thing that gives us the aspiration to dream of something better.  And it is the thing that makes what we see through the windshield so much more important than what we see through the rear-view mirror.

Hope is anticipation.  Hope is longing.  And hope is having enough faith in our choices to think that leaving the stressful things behind allows us to carve a better path for our future.

I know that he will never see this blog post but, Richard, my wish for you is that you are eventually able to see the goodness in hope.  It will support you in ways your relationship never did and it will give you the chance to have the true happiness you deserve.

 

 

Remembering a post about Remembrance

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This was written two years ago and I could not think of a better post for today, so I am putting this out there for those who read it to read it again and for those who missed it to read it for the first time.

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Undoubtedly, you’ve seen them.  The men and the women of the Royal Canadian Legion Branches have been doing their duty, standing at local businesses with their trays of poppies, collecting donations.  I see them every year.  I donate several times every year and I am proud to don my poppy to show my support.

But Friday morning, November 6th, 2015, will stand out in my memory as the day I was truly humbled and I knew precisely what I would be thinking during my moment of silence on Remembrance Day.

My friend Karen was enveloped by her navy blazer, her hair neatly braided, and a bright red poppy radiated from the lapel on her jacket. But that bright poppy was no match for her vibrant smile as she stood in the rain with her tray of poppies strung proudly around her neck.  When I asked her why she was standing in the rain as opposed to being under the shelter of the covered entrance to the store, she paused briefly, looking into the sky while summoning her response.  When she replied, it stopped me in my tracks and hit me right in the heart.   She said, “I don’t know.  They stood out there for us so the least I can do is stand out here for them.”.

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For a few seconds, I was frozen in my spot.   I smiled at her and continued into the store to buy my morning paper.  I reflected on what she had said to me and, once out of the store, I stopped and chatted with her in the rain some more while I donated the rest of my change.

The thought of what she said still brings a tear to my eye every time I recall her voice saying that brief but overwhelmingly gracious line.  That sentence was profound.  One simple line put Remembrance Day back into perspective for me.

So easily at 11:00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, we all take a moment to share silence to remember the fallen, praise the heroes and thank those still serving to protect our basic rights and our freedom.  But how much do we think about what those soldiers really endured to fight for us?  How deeply will we let our brain delve into those dark places to be able to scratch the surface of the atrocities the fighters of those World Wars, and the many conflicts since, have been made to bear?

As the previous generations fall into the past and subsequently we skip quickly ahead to the next epoch of humanity, how many stories of our fallen ancestors will continue to be shared?  My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack long before I was born.  He served and I know so little about his sacrifices for our family and our country.   His stories of bravery seem to be tucked away with his photographs and his absence.

Hearing Karen’s thoughtful reasoning behind standing in the rain with her tray of poppies made me want to research the time my grandfather spent serving his country.  I want to feel that connection on Remembrance Day and I want to share that legacy with my nephews so their generation will understand what it means to show courage in the face of adversity, so they will appreciate what it means to sacrifice yourself for the greater good and how bravery is defined by doing something you believe in, no matter what the outcome.

To all of the men and women who are currently serving, to all of those who have served in the past and to those who are finally enjoying the peace they fought so diligently to preserve, I salute you and I thank you.  And at 11:00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, I shall bow my head and take a moment to truly appreciate everything I have because all of you made it possible for me to have those things.

 

Follow the bubbles

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I have learned many things about the ocean and its inhabitants by watching documentaries and several TV mini-series.  I have been amazed by the palette of colors the ocean is able to use to paint itself, the varied species of creatures who contribute to life under the sea and the vast array of reefs and wrecks still waiting to be explored further.  But I learned more from the bubbles than I did from the documentaries.

Scuba divers follow their bubbles to the surface when they don’t know which way is up.  When they are so far into their dive that they become immersed in their surroundings, those bubbles are the true measure of reality.  Divers can become so convinced that the path they are following is the best path for them that they become disoriented and swim sideways, not realizing that their journey may put them in peril.  Sometimes the simplest solution is the one that helps you the most.

The more I began to think about that, the more I realized that those bubbles represent the most important people in our lives.  When we find ourselves a little lost or unsure of where we are headed, we look to those people for support and guidance, knowing they will always lead us to the place where we can once again catch our breath and feel like we are above the surface of our problems.

The ocean diffuses the light, just like life diffuses our perceptions.  We may feel weightless in the ocean, we may feel hopeful and trust our feelings, but our feelings can play tricks on us just like the light can alter our judgement.

No matter how lost you feel or what your brain may tell you, trust those bubbles.  They will always lead you in the right direction.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you can’t go back

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Not so long ago, I ran into a person who used to be a friend of mine.  We parted ways after I grasped who this person truly was and I realized that their definition of a relationship was far from how I defined my friendships.  It was an awkward reunion, to say the least, and after the uncomfortable hug was over I left thinking about the many things that had occurred during our friendship that helped me to redefine my idea of a relationship.

I have grown up knowing that a true relationship is born of empathy and that a relationship, in its purest form, receives as much as it gives.  Thus was not the case in this instance.

It is difficult to put a relationship under a microscope and analyze the small parts that make up the sum of those parts.  In the initial stages of that friendship, the sum seemed to make complete sense, but upon further scrutiny, those parts did not add up at all.  It was easy for me to dismiss the signs that our friendship did not compute, but I was unwilling to see the failure in the equation, for whatever reason.  Seeing this person again made me realize that I was right to stand behind my feelings and although there is always the urge to keep a hold on what is familiar, sometimes you can’t go back.

I can’t forgive many of the things that happened in our past and I certainly can’t overlook that this person could never see beyond themselves to put me first, in any situation.  I can’t disregard the fact that my needs never came ahead of theirs, and I can’t ignore the numerous times that I put my needs aside to get them through their next crisis.  I wanted to move forward and so many of the parameters of our relationship needed to be redefined in order for me to do that.

I  will never be sad that I gave so much of myself in that relationship because that is who I am.  I will never regret the time I spent trying to help.  But at some point, I realized that my needs were just as important and, even though there had been many good times in our relationship, the need to move forward was more important that the urge to go back.