Friday, July 30, 2010


Yeah, I have lots of them.

But. I'm at peace with this fact.

I've had some super kind comments left on the blog lately that I am very grateful for but I feel rather undeserving of.

I won't lie, I think I'm a decent human being much of the time. The rest of the time, well, leaves much to be desired.

I feel that because I have this outlet that I perhaps give readers an unfair glimpse of who I am. I always hope to be 'real' as I value that in others (or at least I fool myself into believing I do). However, I realize that most of the time I lean towards showing you things I think, have said or have done that make me look good.

So today I will do a bit of a strip tease for you. With no photo shop involved...

Today I woke up in an ok mood, until I weighed myself and noted that I gained a pound. Quickly things turned sour and before I knew it I had snapped a Wally at least a half a dozen times within a few minutes. I knew I was being moody, I knew I was tired, I knew it wasn't the end of the world. But I let myself be mean and ugly all the same. I was rude, snippy and just plain disrespectful of a man who is ever so patient with his crazy wife. He let every single sentence roll off of his back. when I apologized in a text later his words greeted me with grace and love.

I don't deserve him, but I'm glad he's my husband.

While I was at work lastnight Wally got a phone call from my mama. She was calling to ask when we were planning to take time off in the fall, so that her and my papa didn't book the same time. Why? Because they wanted to be available to look after our dogs for us. After all of the times I am short with her and gripe about family stuff or how this should go or that, she always let's it be and goes with the flow of my ever present complaining or need to control things.

I am so lucky to have her for my mom.

A couple of months ago I received an e-mail from a relative who happens to be in my 'Top 3'. My 'Top 3' are the people in my life that I look up to because of how they live, approach, and react to life. They are people who 'get' me and I aspire to remember when I am fearful of making changes or taking risks. This person e-mailed in regards to something I said. They were super soft, caring, and respectful about how they approached me on this issue knowing that it could set me off or that I could take things the wrong way but still wanting to resolve the question they had. Instead of acting patient, respectful and caring back I reacted immediately and flew off the handle like a mad woman. I even knew as I was doing so that I was doing so. Part of me wanted them to know I was human and had deep feelings but really? I'm sure I could have done what they had done and tamed it down a tad (or A LOT). Even through my ranting and raving my person listened and responded with respect. Time went by and I sincerely apologized for my indiscretion (and then another I had committed soon after - will I ever learn?!).

My person gave me more than just forgiveness, but comfort knowing they saw my heart. They definitely deserve a spot in my 'Top 3'.

I am seeing more and more in my life how I am perceived by others as some very brave people share how they feel about me.

Dee told me today that he was really intimidated by me - at least at first. I laughed and he said he really was. He's used to all of his 'charms' as he puts it working on the ladies and he said in 3 seconds he knew it wouldn't work on me, because looks and status don't really mean beans to this girl.

There are a couple of people at my work in management positions that seem to almost get scared when I start speaking. I don't mean because I'm all worthy or anything but because I call people on stuff sometimes (don't worry, there are definitely many times I'm one who's afraid). I hate that because they are people that I am submitting to in my work and I expect to pull me up and challenge my thinking, I need that. I don't want to be under someone who needs me to like them. I mean it's cool if I do but don't be sweet to me if I need a kick in the pants. This is something I am grateful Dee wasn't afraid to do. I respect him for it.

I'm sort of meandering around with this one. I guess I just want to share that I have serious flaws (along with my good points). I'm not under any assumption that I'm perfect or even great. However I don't think I'm a piece of dirt either. This balance seems to be a fine tuning act to get right. On one hand you run the risk of becoming arrogant and prideful and then there's the chance of rolling over and letting people walk all over you.

I don't want either extreme.

I want humility, grace, acceptance, respect, wisdom, love, open eyes and listening ears. Oh, and I cant' forget a soft yet strong heart.

There should be a workout routine for these things, but then again different people require different exercises.

This post is dedicated to my wally, my mama and one of my 'Top 3'. Thanks you for showing my these incredible lessons in grace.

I am humbled.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Because I love lists

Seriously why do I have issues turning my mind off?

Tomorrow (or at least the next day) I am committing myself to going to the natural health place and getting this miracle spray I keep hearing about that helps turn your mind off. Then I'm going to buy shares in it and then figure out the magic ingredient and sell it myself.

Who am I kidding? It'll probably be worth enough to just have it for myself.

Anyways, on to other things...

This is going to be simple but right now it seems necessary, as I'm up and always feel drawn during these times to write. Whether it's worth reading or not is another story.

This is a list. Because I like lists. About what? I'm not so sure. But that's what it is.

* In this moment I am feeling overwhelmed by the love I have in my life (which I have to mention is in shear contrast to how I felt a couple of days ago - clearly spreading the love is a good alternative to hate).

* Yesterday, though I felt almost run off of my feet and was definitely exhaustified by the end of my day, I was energized by having responsibilities at work. I felt like I was accomplishing something, being good at something, and actually contributing to something. It felt good.

* It's 3:55am and my tummy is nearly growling

* I looked at my planner yesterday and felt joy at how 'in control' everything looked. I realized that my lack of a regular schedule is a main ingredient contributing to my anxiety with my job. If I can get that under control I may start feeling the joy at work more regularly.

* Lastnight I took a young lady I was supporting out for a swim in our pool. I felt discouraged at how much work I've done to get in shape and how I'm not yet 'there' (where ever that is). I am ever struggling to celebrate my victories in this area as I have completely changed my life and in many ways overcome my mental anguish with food. I am determined to continue the fight to not only celebrate but to succeed!

* The other day I was told that a big problem someone had with me was the fact that I 'need to get over myself'. I thought long and hard about this. I told the sharer of this news I would never stop being excited about who I am because most of the time there's no one else to do it. Too often in life we get feeling alone and uncared about by others and the only way I know how to keep myself from feeling unloved is to celebrate myself - even though it appears, and maybe is, very self absorbed. If it keeps me from hateful, self defeating, no good thoughts about myself and others I will do it. My other option is to be depressed, hateful and suicidal - all things I've tried before and they don't generally aid in healing.

* By learning how to celebrate myself I feel like I am more and more able to celebrate others as well, or at least I am trying. Forgive me if it takes some study - getting an A in real life is a hell of a lot more difficult than getting one in school.

* As much as I think my immediate family (the one I was born to) is a little quirky (certainly myself very much included), I really really love them. My mom is overlooks my shortcomings ever so naturally, my dad is always the encourager and positive one (and well ... tremendously odd - I really do take after him), and my brother is a defender of his sister who would fight for her to the death. How much better does it get?

* At some point in my life I want to succeed at living well. I plan to break through the mysterious barrier and have the world say 'wow'. Ok or just at least give my heart a peaceful smile :)

* I have a great view from where I am of very admirable people. Some of them I've told, some of them I haven't - maybe I should get on the haven'ts.

* It's now 4:17am and I feel electric joy just by focusing on the good. Which is generally all great but at 4:17am a wee bit annoying.

* I just re read my post and had a 'light bulb moment' with my fifth bullet. I am already there. My body just hasn't caught up with me. WOW!!

* It's 4:25am. I'm going to eat something then hurl my bod back into bed because hello. It's 4:25 am.

Good morning :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cranberry Story ...

I wanted to explain further why exactly helping our friend with an act of kindness in the area of her car was significant to both Wally and I. This story has two parts of kindness in it that will forever have a place in our hearts.

Without further a due, the 'Cranberry Story' ...

It was a few weeks before Christmas several years ago. Wally and I had just found out that our little Neon needed a heart transplant and that it would cost approximately $3400. At the time we were living in our house, had mortgage payments, Wally had just started a few months prior trying to work his way into selling insurance and doing financial advising. I was self employed teaching piano and house keeping, also working at the church as a youth worker 20 hours a week.

We were both getting frustrated but trying desperately to be patient while Wally 'grew' his business. Money was tight but we had a bit of money in the bank for emergencies, we quickly learned not enough.

Our car went in to get fixed and was gone for 3 1/2 weeks. We got it back just two days before Christmas when it broke down the very next day putting it back in the garage for another 3 1/2 weeks. At the time we only had one car and so I was using my parents' second car to do my work - everyone's patience was wearing a little thin. Especially when we had an additional $1600 in car repairs and maintenance after the initial amount. We were sapped.

Soon after the car went in the first time Christmas festivities were beginning to get underway. For us this meant a lot of family gatherings and hosting a few ourselves. Every year since the third year we were married we have had both sets of our parents and each of our grandmothers over for a mini family meal. I thought it would be a nice tradition to develop early in the month of December as by the time we saw each other at Christmas there was a crowd of family and we didn't ever really get to enjoy eachother. And usually, to be honest they were the ones that did a lot of the work. I thought it would be a great challenge for myself to try and put on a full turkey dinner by myself to treat them.

You know how I like challenges, well it was definitely that the first couple of years, but I got the hang of it and am now the 'turkey cooker' for Wally's family Christmas dinners (one year I did three birds over the holidays!). My favourite is the home made stuffing!!!

Anyways, that year as I looked at our drained bank account and contemplated the cost of a turkey dinner for six and the fact that we really didn't have any extra money for groceries I thought 'Maybe this year we'll have to let this go'. After a bit more thought I decided I didn't want this infant tradition to get forgotten so I decided I would just do my best to trim the trimmings and be even more frugal than I already was.

As I was going through the grocery store I looked at where I could save money and one thing I remember distinctly was that the no name cranberries were significantly cheaper than the name brand cranberries (yes I bought them in a can). I gazed at the 'Ocean Spray' can and for some reason was saddened. It had never generally bothered me to buy no name anything but for some reason I felt on that day that Ocean Spray cranberries were essential for our meal. Unfortunately I had committed to be frugal. Plus, really? What did it matter about the cranberries when they were a mere small addition to the meal - who would even notice? Like I said, at that time the cranberries meant something to me and so I was disappointed when I had to give them up.

As Christmas got a bit closer one night I got a phone call from a friend of ours who lived down the street but went to our church as well. She called up and said she wanted to drop off your Christmas card. I told her I had just finished teaching and I was home.

A few minutes later in the windy blowing snow she pulled her car up and got out. In her arms she carried a cardboard box, a grocery bag and of course the Christmas card.

She literally whisked in, dropped everything on the floor, gave me a quick hug and whisked out. It was clear she did not want any recognition.

I was overwhelmed with her kindness and began to cry (I'm not much of a crier usually). I began going through the treasures she brought.

In the grocery bag was a frozen turkey. In the cardboard box: boxes of Kraft dinner, homemade jam, pickles, sidekicks, cans of soup and a few other stray items. As I sifted through my heart nearly stopped when I discovered one last thing. Ocean Spray cranberries.

I couldn't believe it. I was shocked. Of all the things to be packed into a box of non perishables, why cranberries? Some might suggest the gift was for a Christmas dinner but nothing else (other than the turkey) fit into the traditional scheme of things, nothing.

I knew exactly why the cranberries were in there. They were a gift. From that Papa of mine. They were a reminder to me that even the little things in my life mattered to him and that he indeed would supply all of our needs in perfect time.

I've never in my life been so changed by a can of food in my life. Especially one that, to be honest, I don't generally ever even eat.

The story doesn't end there.

When the car returned to us a couple of days before Christmas (the first return) and we learned what the bill would be we were deflated (even more so after it broke down the next day after we paid it and it had to go back in!). We were sure exactly how we would both pay our car bill AND survive over the next few months as we were using that money to help carry us over with groceries and gas.

We got a call from Nathan's team manager in his somewhat of a new career. He wanted to let us know that he and his wife would like to lone us any amount of money we needed to get through this rough patch completely interest free and for as long as we needed. We were astounded. For a couple of reasons...

For one when you are in the financial industry there are a few rules with managers and team members, one being: managers sign off on an agreement that in no way ever will they lend money to those working under them.

The other reason is because we barely knew this man and his wife. We'd met them a few months earlier but really didn't know them that well at all.

Initially we didn't think we could take their help. Like I said, we barely knew them, and we didn't borrow money from anywhere. The only debt we'd ever had as a married couple was our mortgage so we were rather fearful of what this would do to us, both financially and relationally.

We talked and talked about it and pondered our options. In the end we decided we had no other real choice and we were considering this our answer to much prayer. We accepted.

The couple lent us $3000 interest free and we (once Wally started working at the pig farm at the end of March) had it paid back by the end of June that year.

We will forever feel the impact of these two generous acts of kindness and continue to share the stories. They still stir our hearts now.

This hopefully explains why we felt drawn to help our friend out with her car problems, we definitely identified and felt it was our turn to 'pay it forward', even in this very small way. Knowing the back ground of how greatly we've been helped in the past hopefully gives you a glimpse into why we aren't anything special to share a tiny bit of what we have now.

My hope is that we will continue to remember what it's like to be in these situations and be open to being used in interesting ways to help with the solution.

Remember the cranberries.

We do. We keep a can of Ocean Spray cranberries on our kitchen shelf to remind us always of how we have been provided for.

Sometimes the little things are the big things.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ideas and #34 - Random act of Kindness

Too many of my thoughts lately have been taken up with negative things I don't have control of. Things I want to be able to 'fix' or change but things I simply can't.

I realized just moments ago I need to let go of the negative and once again do my best to focus on the positive. I'm no pro at this so clearly it's a great opportunity for me to practice.

As I am almost through my dreaded July and heading into a more acceptable August (Yay!!) I am beginning to look ahead to my (hopefully) successful September. (I'm not sure what that means I just liked the two s's).

Now is he perfect time to start thinking about what I want my work schedule to look like. How many hours I want to have. What I want to do with the extra time I should be setting aside. Relationships I want to nurture. Books I want to read. Goals I have. And ... so much more.

I've never really had this dilemma before. It's a good one to have I think.

My time with Dee will be over yet my challenge may not yet be fulfilled. I think I'll be close but probably not there. I will still have that to work on.

Hmmmmm ... I've been thinking a lot about family and how Wally and I can better stay connected with them. We haven't paid nearly enough attention to our grandmother's as of late and really would like to see both of them (sad that we've not been more vigilant about these very precious relationships).

We also feel as though since finishing school we haven't kept in as good of contact with friends as we used to, so we'd like to entertain more and nurture some of those relationships.

I haven't been to my home church in over a year now and would like to get reconnected.

I have a ton of scrap booking to do however I admit that I find it overwhelming. I know though when I get it done I feel good. I think I should make an effort.

I'd like to read more.

I've talked to Wally about my job and how I love what I do but feel that I have many things I would like to try that I don't get to do right now in my job. For example: I miss teaching - I would love to do that again. Not sure how but it's something to think about. I also just realized I could probably write for the agency newsletter - I've heard that they are always looking for stuff. I love being creative with fundraisers and I have an idea for a big one that would be lots of fun but lots of work - I may just look into it. Wally mentioned that it wouldn't be horrible to work on my resume a bit in that regard so I think I will look for opportunities to do that.

Of course this degree thing is floating in the air - we'll see. I love learning.

Wally and I are thinking seriously about starting to research the kid thing in the fall. We realize it could take a while so now might be a good time to look into it.

One huge thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is how I can better give back - you know, to the world, my community and stuff. I've been thinking about my orphan babies (ok so they aren't mine but in my head they are). They are so ingrained in my heart that I was thinking of them last night as I was going to sleep wishing I could hold them. I know that likely makes me sounds a tad on the psychotic side but I'm at peace with this.

I just feel that there is more that I should or could be doing than wishing I was with them or just visiting for a mere 10 days. I want to connect with them. I want to do something other than give a monthly PAP (pre-authorized payment). It seems like a waste of longing to just sit here and cry about how I can't blah, blah, and blah when I am perfectly capable of taking the initiative to get involved myself.

Of course I'm not sure how or what I will do but as I am writing I am deciding that I will do something soon in this area. Hmmmm ... now I'm excited.

Ok so onto my community idea ... This sort of relates to the random act of kindness number I had on my list. I told you that Wally and I completed it and right now am wondering why I haven't told you about it already. How 'bout now?

I know I may be judged as boastful for sharing but I share only to encourage you all to do the same (only maybe better as we're not perfect at it).

Initially when I added this to my second '40 day adventure' I figured I would end up loading my car with granola bars and water bottles and just start handing them out while at intersections with homeless people asking for money. Of course this is a good idea, one I hope to do soon as I've just mentioned it but for some reason it wasn't resonating with me as a 'challenge'.

I let this one go for quite a while because I couldn't think of what I (or should I say we) should do. Until, out of the blue, an opportunity seemed to come to us that definitely challenged us.

I was sitting the garage where we go to service our cars and as I am sitting there reading my book, pretending to be waiting patiently, in walks Wanda a schoolmate of Wally's who is around our parents' ages. She graduated along with Wally and has been out of school 6 months and is yet to find a job.

Here's a bit of Wanda's story: She is a mother of 4 grown children (the last one just finished high school a couple of years ago), she has 2 or 3 grand children (sorry I can't remember) and she raised her kids by herself mostly during the past 15 years or so. She had a degree and a college diploma already when she decided to go back to school again.

Wanda did not have an easy time getting through school but she did it. She also hasn't always had an easy time raising her kids but she did that too. She's a tough lady who is very thoughtful and generous with her time and talents. Her parents are from Holland and you'd know it. She is someone I'm glad to know.

Anyways, Wanda walked into the garage and was waiting to talk to the own when she saw me and we started chatting. I already knew her car was not well as the school gang had just gotten together the week before and she mentioned it. We chatted and then she was able to relay her car problems to the owner of the garage whom apparently is very good with people in dire financial situations (or at least he has been with her in the past). She was telling him her situation and that when she said she had no money it meant she had NO money. No grocery money, no car fixing money.

They talked further and it was decided that he would look at her car. She made it clear that she just needed to know that she could drive it until the wheels fell off. He basically told her that he felt that's exactly what would be happening if she didnt' get it fixed pronto. They set a date for further inspection and she left.

I had listened to their entire conversation (I was sitting right there) and thought about it. Hmmmm...Wally and I have certainly been in her position: serious car troubles and no job. At the time we were on the brink of disaster and, well, it's a long story involving cranberries that I think I'll share with you soon.

Anyways I knew instantly that this was or should be our random act of kindness. The problem was it was a little bigger of an act than I anticipated. As I over heard the conversation Wanda's car problem could be any where from $500-$1000 to fix! Not exactly a box of granola bars and a case of water.

Initially I thought we could just offer the mechanic a couple hundred dollars to 'help' out the cause and then Wanda would only have to worry about the rest. That would get our point across right? For some reason that wasnt' enough, especially when both Wally and I were working and had money in the bank. We could commit to whatever was wrong.

I thought about it more and then brought the idea up to Wally. When he whole heartedly agreed that this was the thing to do I figured out that worst case scenario would likely be $1000 and we could, if we had to, pay it off in 3 months - if we had to.

Wally called the garage the next day and told the owner that we would pay to have anything fixed on Wanda's car, but she was NOT to know anything about it. There was some back and forth but finally Wanda's car went in to be fixed the following week. We got the bill and it was only $275!! We were so glad we just went ahead to pay the whole thing.

We were even more elated when Wanda put this on her facebook status:

" Wanda is incredibly grateful.... please know that you have made a difference not only in my life, but in my attitude. I will pay it forward when I can."

Wow! That was worth way more than the $275!!!

Wanda is still looking for a job and I ask you to pray for her or think of her with hopes of getting one soon. Our desire in doing this for her was not to be able to brag but to give her hope in a situation that has brought her much discouragement.

As I mentioned earlier I would love to start something, perhaps a bit more organized that could spontaneously help or give hope, or even just relief for regular people who are just trying to make their way in the world. We all stumble upon hard times, discouraging times or just plain burn out. How great would it be if in that situation you got encouragement in whatever form.

Right now I am thinking of a lady who works where I do. She too is a mother of four grown children (still in college but grown) and is divorced. She works two jobs and I don't think has a day to herself, because last time I asked when she was getting a break she said she had 2 days off in August, one of which she would be taking her son to college. She shared that she too felt burnt out but I got the sense that she was doing what she had to do to keep things together.

She's a lovely lady and since my retreat she's been on my mind. It's kind of weird because I barely see her. I was thinking she could benefit from a couple of days away on her own just to enjoy doing nothing. She may be my next surprise. She also mentioned how her gardens needed help and I immediately thought I should gather a team of people together to surprise her with getting that done (as you would not want to set me loose in a garden alone, as I would likely end up ripping up all the perennials and leaving all the weeds!)

Anyways, these are just some thoughts I've been having lately on things I could do to feel like I have an ounce of meaning in my life. If you have thoughts or ideas or share interest in helping let me know. I'm thinking I could post a few connections on my blog once I figure out what I want to become involved in.

I think the fall could be a wonderful new beginning for me. And maybe for you too!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More pie

I've mentioned before that my blog has taught me a lot. Well lately I've been discovering many new lessons. Mostly things I never wanted to learn, at least not by making the mistakes I've made in order to find them out.

I've learned that once things come out of my mouth (or in this case keys) there's no getting them back.

I've learned you can't control how you are interpreted, it's truly in the eye (or mind) of the reader.

I've learned that having a good intention is different that acting perfectly appropriately (and I haven't acted perfectly appropriately all of the time, though my conscious intentions have been).

I've learned that admitting your faults can often just give fuel to the fire, but that's ok.

I've learned that honesty can create connectedness or tear you apart from others.

I've learned that I don't have a perfect gauge when it comes to what I should and should not write about in terms of conversations I have with others.

To be honest I wonder if a large reason I write so openly about how I feel (or at least that's my desire) is because by doing so I learn. Most of the time I am humbled. People enlighten me to a new perspective and that's what I love. Sometimes people agree with me, I won't lie - I love that too. At times I even get praise (no doubt it's my favourite). Recently I've had the honour of being humiliated (and honestly I mean that in the good sense). I say this with no sarcasm or anger, just in truth.

I believe my humiliation, which has not been public (yes you can be humiliated privately), has come and helped me realize many mistakes I've made amidst my revolution of truth telling.

It's because of the last two lessons I mentioned combined that I have really been trying to discover and focus on what I should and should not be sharing when I write.

I realize this should be a no brainer. When I started it seemed much easier. But as I've gotten more honest and more open I've allowed myself to go places and share things I never thought I would. In the heat of it all I crossed a few lines.

As much as I would love to be able to share every little thought that runs through my mind (because honestly I believe we need that from each other not to feel so alone in this world, yet I say as I am feeling rather lonely), I am discovering that unless I want to end up with no friends and a family that has abandoned me I have to use more sensitive discretion.

There is a reason thoughts run through your mind BEFORE coming out of your mouth. AND there is a reason why you keep some things to yourself. Clearly I have forgotten this. Though I've thought very carefully about everything I've written I haven't necessarily thought about the consequences.

It's funny that in my pursuit to be myself all of the time (by the way I'm not sure why or how I ever came to the conclusion that the world really wants to see or be with my most honest self all of the time - really we all just want 'nice' sometimes, myself included), I lost regard for others' feelings when it came to how I wrote of my interactions with them.

It would be much easier to just forget it. Forget writing, forget being 'real', forget family, forget friendships. But, I can't let go of any of these things, all are important to me.

Instead I will challenge myself with the lessons of humility I've so kindly received and choose to learn from them and do better. Figuring out how to juggle all of the things that are important to me and giving respect to each.

Obviously in many ways I can't have my cake and eat it too but I know from my recent lifestyle changes in 'eating clean' you can still bake a pretty good healthy cake, eat it and feel no guilt at all.

I'll do my best.

And though I've done this privately to ones I know I have hurt or disappointed, I want to say to others who may not be so forthcoming with the humble pie, I truly am sorry if I have disrespected our conversations in any way. I do care about your feelings and invite any desserts that (hopefully) help me build character.

There's a reason my blog is called 'A work in progress' because I truly am.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vivvie Update and Other Admissions

I wanted to make sure to let you know that outcome of my co worker's and my actions last week in regards to our 'higher ups' and any possible trouble we thought may occur.

Well it turns out we (in so many more ways than one) did the (obvious) right thing by taking Vivvie without formal approval.

When we returned to work afterwards I think it's a fairly accurate description to say that the office was 'a buzz' about what we had done. Really what Chi Chi had done - I simply sat in the passenger seat providing snacks, oh and I nearly killed Vivvie during her lift into bed that night - seriously I'm not trying to be humble just telling you the truth. Chi Chi was the one who checked us into the hotel, communicated with Vivvie's hearing impaired sister and brother in law (in sign language - yes she does it all!!), AND had to get in and out of the wheelchair van hooking and unhooking all of the belts and stuff in the heat while I stood there pressing the deploy and lower buttons on the lift. You really could have put a sequined dress on me and called me Vanna (though admittedly I'm not a size 0, nor will I ever be as my 'tent posts' are too far apart).

Anyways people were talking and by the end of last week both Chi Chi and myself had been spoken to be Vivvie's manager in our agency and were told that the person making the initial call didn't really know the extent of the situation and was under stress from other chaos in the office and had made the wrong call. We were both going to be paid for both days gone as if it were any other trip.

I had mixed reaction. Ashamedly, mostly I was glad because I had given up 9 hours and an overnight (that I was praying to get out of anyway) and had a shift cancelled later that week. But this was my super, incredible selfish side.

The smaller more generous caring part of me was a bit disappointed becasue deep down I wanted to be some sort of hero. You know, the REAL kind that does things out of the goodness of their true and honest heart. Not the kind that even thinks about getting paid for it.

I thought about getting paid for it. I hoped I'd get paid for it. I wanted to get paid for it.

All three of these sentences proves one thing to me.

I am definitely no REAL hero.

I mean I won't lie. I do think it's great and I LOVED going against the rules and making this dream of Vivvie's come true (scratch that - HELPING make this dream come true). I'm proud that honestly in the moment of offering to go I was not thinking for a second about a paycheque.

But once the fun was over (and maybe even during). I thought of money. I thought of car problems, house saving and my own monetary benefits.

Just admitting this shallow notion makes me want to cry. But it's true.

I'm not sure I can do a whole lot to change this as (by no means is this an excuse just common knowledge) I am human.

I sort of think though the more often you do stuff to help others spontaneously the more it will become natural and perhaps more genuine. And probably the first step is just purposefully giving. I think I get the first step, I would just prefer to jump to the last step. You know, and be Jesus or Mother Theresa or something.

Surely they had to start somewhere right?

Anyways I'm making this about me and that's not the point. The point is Chi Chi and I were recognized for our efforts and it felt good. I don't want you to think that I think it's wrong because that feeling definitely gives me the urge to do it again. But I want the urge to do it again to come more from the satisfaction and peace I know Vivvie and her family have gotten rather than what I've gotten out of it.

I printed off 3 pictures to remind me of this experience. One is of the moment Vivvie and her brother first embraced, the other of the two of them posed together, and the third of the two of them with Chi Chi and I.

All reminders of all of the things I've learned.

I'm kind of glad the 'buzz' is over because it was feeding my pride to the point of gluttony and it was making me a little sick.

I'm doing my best to be healthier these days. Funny how gluttony comes in so many different forms.

Something else for me to tackle. I'm up for it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#12 - Read a book

I'm back to my list. Well sort of.

I finally read and finished my first book in months. I've began reading several but completing them seems to be the challenge for me. I seem to get half way through and lose interest. Leaving me with several books scattered through out our apartment with book marks in them (ok so I never seem to use book marks, usually just receipts or subscription cards from magazines).

The last book I read was just after Christmas. I mentioned it on here and totally loved it. So much so that I felt as though I could've written it.

This was the first time I've ever experienced this feeling. I remember getting to the end and feeling so sad to say good bye to my book. It seemed a part of me. It seemed to be actually connected to me, and I didn't want to lose that connection.

I didn't think it was really possible for that to happen again. It's kind of like a kindred spirit. You can't plan on someone being that to you, and you can't really look for it, it just happens.

Well, I've been fortunate enough to find yet another kindred book spirit in my recent read from my retreat 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

I just finished it on the weekend and I had the exact feelings of sadness when I was finished. Not really about the story but about the fact that there were no more pages to read.

As I said, this is a new experience for me to have. I've never been so tied to a book, or in this case books. Note these were both memoir type books not fiction - fiction is a different ballgame altogether. I don't find it difficult at all to become addicted to the story in a fiction novel. I mean everything seems to run together and flow so well. All the characters are perfectly placed with drama popping up at the perfect times. There's usually sacrifice, heartbreak, recovery and at some point love - romantic or otherwise.

Memoirs however don't generally seem all that alluring. I mean you already know the ending to a degree. If the author is writing they obviously lived through whatever happened. You even get to skip ahead to the end where they have a blurb about them and update where they are now, who they are living with and how many cats are prowling around their newly acquired abode due to the success of the book that is in your hands.

These two books though took me somewhere real. They took me on a journey with, in one case a man, and the other a woman, who were searching for meaning in their lives.

Both made huge sacrifices in order to find what they were looking for. Both realized the spiritual aspects of living a life of meaning, yet also knew the humanity behind it too.

Though the Donald Miller book was a while back and I can't remember every detail I know that he along with Elizabeth Gilbert opened themselves up to learning. They opened themselves up to being wrong, but taking the time to figure out how to do things better. Maybe not perfectly but better.

Certainly this is what drew me to both books and resonated with me. I love adventure. I love risk. I love a good story. Yet, like anyone else I want all of these things to happen while I'm in the comfort of my own home.

Can't I have a good story and still have a regular job? Sure. Can't I create a telling tale from my 7 story apartment? Why not. Can't I experience excitement in life while doing the same thing I always have done? That's (in my opinion) a no. Sorry.

I think it's funny that we all (or at least most or many of us) want a fantastic life story. We all want to be proud of what our lives look like. This may look completely different to each person but that's a good thing. However I don't think many of us want the key ingredient: sacrifice.

We want to hang on for dear life to the things that we know: where we live, with whom we live, our friends, our jobs, our hobbies even. I'm guessing this is just our overall human response, because it is natural for all of us to do this. I know that for both writers giving things up and changing their lives wasn't easy at all.

Why do it at all then? Why not just live happily ever after in the same spot for the rest of our lives? Tell me: how would you feel if your life stayed exactly the same for the next however many years you have left?

I think as much as it is natural for us to keep comfortable, there is just as much of a desire to grow and experience life. I'm by no means saying we all need to sell our homes and travel around the world for a year to 'find ourselves' because to be honest if I did that I'd likely end up losing my mind, my luggage and most of my hair.

I guess these reads reminded me, as I am at a point when I am expected to 'settle' into a 'normal' life, that I'm never going to be done. I'm never going to be finished searching, or learning or experiencing.

I have a 75 year old grandmother that is a testament to 'it's never too late to ...', as she got her ears pierced at the age of 72, got her first boy friend in 60 years and still wants to someday ride a motorcycle.

Though it's not always easy to step out and shock people (because to be honest I think it's other people's opinions that trap us into monotony more than anything else), but sometimes it necessary.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who, if she didn't have an anchor of a husband, probably would be a floating willy nilly crazy person hopping here and there and everywhere yet not ever getting grounded in the lessons available. It isn't just the act of moving about that gives you experience, it's the act of thoughtfully living out what you are called to do and be.

I often wonder if my challenge in life is learning how to grow in a stationary position, where many people's challenge would be to grow by being stretched to move. We need to constantly be aware of what we ourselves are being asked to do and stepping out and doing it.

I think I've written about this before, I clearly need reminding.

I feel like I'm rambling.

I read a book. Front to back. I feel like I made another friend and learned another lesson.

Now ... to write my own.

Sleepless dreams ...

Once again I find myself over exhausted yet awake and up in the middle of the night.

I have an array of thoughts swirling about in my mind.

A long upcoming shift with Lady who, so far, I've had good times with but as of late has been having meltdown after meltdown with different staff (no fault of her own in my opinion, nor am I blaming her staff, just a lot of change). Putting me in a nervous position for our upcoming time together, as I have only actually worked one on one with her once.

I also continue to think about a few of the accusations thrown my way as of late regarding my blog and myself. They bother me but not for reasons some may assume. Which brings me to my sleepless dreams ...

I had a discussion yesterday with someone whom I am closely tied but I don't often chat deeply with. When I do it's generally very beneficial, for both of us. But when I don't our relationship seems to hang in the balance. Doubts about me seem to arise and assumptions seem to be made. I suppose a logical thing to happen when communication breaks down.

As I chatted with this person yesterday there were several concerns that were brought up regarding Wally and I's new life. By new life I mean post school, no large financial responsibilities and general freedom as we do not have any children to care for either.

This person had expressed their thoughts on the fact that we seemed to be having no problem enjoying our new financial abundance (I have to insert that everything is relative - we don't make all that much more than we did before we went to school really but we also don't have a house to look after and we are fortunate to love our jobs which definitely all adds to our abundance). They had no problem with that really but they were a bit worried that we were forgetting what it was like to be 'poor' (I guess).

People have seen us enjoy the benefits of a trainer, something I have talked about a lot here and how it was a big deal for us to go ahead with one as we weren't raised to spend our money on such things and to be honest even now we don't have an excess of cash that makes having a trainer 'no big deal'.

We have bought a new (yet used) car. We did need a second vehicle and have always been the type of people that realized our limited abilities with cars and fixing them ourselves so have always purchased ones with little need for major repairs (at least in the first few years until they are paid for). To us this is just a protective measure.

I have spoken openly to people about the fact that, after 9 years of marriage it is nice, for probably a short period of time, to enjoy the freedom to do a little of what we want. By doing so for the first time ever we have not worried about saving up for a house (which of course is delaying things on that front quite a bit), paying a mortgage or renovating a house. All things we've spent most of our marriage doing up until this point, leaving us with no availability to do anything else with our lives previously.

I try not to speak about these things with an 'I'm better than you because I can do blah, blah, blah' pride but I could definitely see how some may feel that way. To be honest I feel as though the years of unemployment, self employment and doing seemingly menial and not always loved jobs has earned us the right to have some fun. That is, as long as we share. Which we have been doing.

The one thing I was called out on though I was not expecting. I heard the words: 'Eva, when you got married to Wally you said you'd be happy in a mud hut in Mexico doing missionary work. What happened to that dream?'

I literally laughed out loud and replied 'I married Wally!' Meaning: 'That was/is my dream, not his!' It struck me a little funny that it was me that was the concern but I had to let that go and it wasn't all that hard as ironically during my time at the gym with my new friend that very morning was spent talking about the fact that if I were a single woman who had never gotten married I would be living in a mud hut somewhere else in this world caring for orphaned children - there's no doubt in my mind.

This absolutely shocked my questioner, which kind of shocked me but I had to laugh it off as clearly we were reading two different books.

I'm not sure what happens when you are young and in love as Wally and I would both claim not to have really experienced this feeling. I was anything but a welcomed item initially in his life but as I've mentioned before over time that changed (for the most part). We were so blissfully poor when we got married I can't imagine why we ever thought it was a good idea. But I am so glad now that we did.

Our apartment was full of rag tag hand me down furniture, and to be honest much of it is now, we've just gotten so much of it through the years we've been able to match it up a bit. It's funny, I used to tease that whenever someone who knew us was getting rid of a couch they'd just call us because we'd take anything. At one point we had 6 couches in our possession, because you know, we needed six couches.

I don't exactly know why I allowed myself to compromise my hopes of going abroad and running an orphanage for the idea of marriage. Probably because at the time it seemed as though having my own family with the expected man of my dreams was much more anticipated (by everyone including myself) than running off to no man's land.

With that said I'm not so sure I did even compromise my dreams but rather, at the time, traded them in for ones that matched my mate a bit better. If you know Wally you would be aware that he's not exactly the type to get excited about sleeping on a dirt floor just to get to hold a little brown baby. And why should he, he has other dreams and good for him.

I have pressed him several times (especially lately) about moving abroad and getting an IT job somewhere I could do mission work. He has been patient and understanding and when I shared my dream of visiting Thai Thai he expressed his desire to share that with me. A big deal for a man who would prefer his own bed at night.

Marriage is about helping eachother reach your goals and dreams not only what's right for you. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to play a part in seeing Wally reach dreams he wasn't even aware of and I know that my dream of giving a home to children who need it will too be realized. It may or may not happen abroad (though Thai Thai will be a wonderful flavor to taste), but I believe it will happen. I have accepted and am excited that however these things play out they will be for a reason and in their own time.

Though yes, being in a different place in life than that of when I was barely 21 and freshly married, has it's benefits - it cannot change my deepest desires or who I really am.

I won't lie. It is something I think about, every once in a while worry about, and often have to keep in check, while living in North American culture, which has a way with suffocating thoughtfully lived out life. But I have been very fortunate to cross paths with amazing people that challenge me in this area. People that are willing to share their dreams with me and believe in mine when I share them.

My new gym friend Glow shared her excitement about Thai Thai with me (her eyes seriously lit up when she spoke of it), she also sent me a link to blog about a couple that adopted 4 or 5 African children and live there running a home for orphaned and sick babies and children, often reuniting children to their parents when they are well again. Ironically, the husband was in IT and it was a forever dream of the wife.

Hmmmmm ... you never know.

Sleepless dreams can be the best.

(Now I am going to pursue some dreamless sleep!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finding the joy

Well, I'm finally back. Not that that is earth shattering news, I'm just sayin'.


I feel like there are a hundred and one things I could blog about today but to be honest there's only one thing on my mind and I am trying hard to fight off the urge to write about it but I'm not winning.

Someone hates me.

For some reason I thought I may be immune to being hated. I'm not sure why I think I'm so great that I couldn't possibly be hated but I have quickly realized I am most definitely not so great.

People generally respond with 'oh they don't hate you, don't be silly', however I am fairly certain I get the honour of being someone's hated.

When I first realized this I immediately did my best to apologize for my wrong doing (as I honestly saw my wrong doing - it did occur). It was unfortunately not exactly met with gushing 'oh I forgive you, I love you, let's dance in a field of daisies!' as I hoped. Instead the hating was only confirmed (along with a few others things).

Anyhow, I proceeded to cry my eyes out. And as I write this wonder how many times I myself have hurt someone to the point of them sobbing themselves to sleep. I am not so arrogant to think this is impossible as I am as human as the next and have my admittedly evil moments (unfortunately). It's now I send up a prayer of contrition hoping that I am forgiven for these past deeds and plead for help never to do it again. However I also know I have a lot of life to go and it may not be possible. I will do my best.

Sleep was lost, my heart confused and obviously hurt - yet not angry. I awoke to the day with a somber feeling. What to do? What to do?

I had no intention of wasting my day getting angry or feeling heart broken over something I can't really fix, other than what I do onward from my apology.

I can't fix how I am perceived. I can't fix if people don't like me (they have every right not to). And I can't fix their response.

The only thing I can fix is me, my attitude and how I move on.

As I contemplated yet again closing down my blog as it is seen as a self absorbed thing to do (obviously it is, I am writing solely about my life - how much more self absorbed can you get, other than expecting people to read it?).

I think of the fact that I pretty much purposefully stand in front of people naked, practically asking them to judge me in every way possible. Pouring out my biggest insecurities, sharing my deepest secrets, and thinking that I have a shred of thought worth absorbing.

Why do I write? Why do I ask people to see me in these ways? Why not quit?

#1 - I write because I get things out of my head, in turn I learn a great deal how to do better when I screw up (which is often), I get feed back from people that helps me realize my mistakes and am shown how to look at so many things from different perspectives. I connect with not only myself but have made much deeper relationships from unexpected people, people I never would have met this way if I didn't have a blog.

To sum it up: I'm selfish.

#2 - I have invited many to read, and I've been asked by many to read. I have given out my address carefully and thoughtfully putting a large amount of trust in those who peer in. My greatest desire is for people to see my humanity and to feel in some way connected to that. Often we feel alone in our feelings, we feel guilty about them and think we are terrible people. Instead I want to be honest about my faults (or maybe even my good points) and celebrate the fact that together we can learn and do better, and accept each other. If I died tomorrow I'd want people to know the real me, that in person takes a long time to get to. I guess this outlet is a bit of a short cut to my heart. No promises you'll love it, but the maps there if you want it.

To sum it up: I'm selfish

#3 - Now this number is a challenge I'm sure I'll wrestle with again and again. I'm going to continue to write for the above reasons and because I've been asked to keep writing by people, which makes me believe (and hope) I write for others too.

Ultimately though: I'm selfish.

Once I figured these things out I let go a little bit and went upon my day.

So, I met a new friend from work (that I connected with through my blog - kind of funny) at the gym to do some cardio.

We had never had much of a real conversation so I was excited to get to know her better. We hopped onto a couple of machines and chatted away for the whole hour. We shared a bit about our lives here and there and then she told me of her trip to Thai Thai a while back when I mentioned going next year. She was full of excitement when sharing and told me stories that sparked my joy.

By the time we were done our hour I was inspired to concentrate on the opposite I was feeling. Love.

I decided that the rest of the day would be dedicated to spreading the love. So I did (or at least I tried).

I sent off a few e-mails saying 'Hey, just wanted you to know I love you!' to people who will likely fall off of their chairs when they read it. Then I went to Wal-Mart and got some of Vivvie's pictures developed. I decided to get creative and make a photo collage for her with the highlights from the trip (it turned out great by the way!!). While I waited the hour for the photos I treated myself to a small chocolate milk, and my newly formed play list as I began to write some love notes.

I think I wrote maybe eight or nine. Some had a specific purpose, some were just to say 'You're great!'. By the end I was feeling ... joy.

Though I did not get through my 'to do' list for the day I did get something important accomplished.

I kicked out the hate and I welcomed in the love.

Does this make me perfect?
Clearly not.

Does this help me cope?

And sometimes that's all you need.

Finding the joy in today! (Hmmmmm ... sounds familiar eh?)
It really is simple.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vivvie's Reunion

I'm trying so hard, the morning after our great adventure, to avoid sitting in this chair to write this story. I determined early that I would do the dishes, ironing, and some relaxing reading before even trying to articulate the experience I got to share over the past two days.

I want it to be perfect.

I want it to be right.

I want it to convey the emotion and complexity mixed with simplicity that it is.

But I know that I will wait forever for these things to all happen and I can only do my best and hope that it will succeed in taking you, in some way, to where I was. And feeling, in some way, what I felt.

Here it goes...

Last Friday I was out with a couple of co-worker-friends for lunch. I had most of the day off and was excited to be able to share a couple of hours with people I am enjoying getting to know better.

During the visit we chatted about our lives, a little about our dreams and probably too much about work. Not really about work in a bad way, just in a way that is inevitable when you have lunch with co-workers. Mostly I got to hear fun stories of past experiences with people I now know and support. It was really nice.

At one point in the conversation my co-worker Chi Chi was sharing how Vivvie (whom I've shared about before and spoken of how she has captured my heart in her own sassy way). Chi Chi said that Vivvie had mentioned to her very recently that after not seeing her twin brother Vaughn for over 20 years she thought she might be ready to see him once again.

This was a very big step as she had done her best to keep separated from him because of his drug addiction and alcoholism throughout the years, along with all of the baggage those activities carry.

I believe much of the preparation to get to this point of readiness lies in the fact that Vivvie, only a few weeks ago, was reunited with many of her other family member after years of being disconnected.

The reasons? Well Vivvie has 4 siblings and they grew up with parents that sounded less than nurturing. Their mother struggled with a drinking problem and I'm not certain that their father was the picture of perfection either. A few of the kids fell into this which, as we all know, can lead to other ill behaviours that in turn lead to sneakiness, lying and well ... back stabbing.

I've mentioned before that Vivvie was hit by a drunk driver when she was five years old (a story I will tell more of as we go). Leaving the one side of her body rather useless to her and the other doing it's best to figure itself around. Vivvie can't speak words but has her very own system of communication that can seem to take forever to master. Vivvie is, in all ways, one feisty lady. My guess is that she had to be to make it through this thing we call life.

Through the years she became removed from most of her family as she was being cared for by one of her sisters who did not seem to get along with the rest of the group. This sister cared for her for a time but in the end left Vivvie. In her life Vivvie has lived on the streets (which I can't even understand as she is dependent on her wheelchair - I guess I don't think 'outside of the box' very well), in nursing homes, scary apartments and currently is living on her own with the help of support care on a daily basis for her basic living needs.

When I met Vivvie last September she had no contact that I know of to any family at all. She shared lots with me about them but wasn't too sure if seeing them would be good or bad.

Now I have to tell you about Chi Chi. She is my co worker who has been supporting Vivvie for several years, and through reading this you have to keep in mind she is 27 years old (important to note as she is oozing characterat this young age). Vivvie wasn't exactly a sweetheart when they met. Chi Chi has shared that she's been kicked out of Vivvie's place, called the devil (apparently lots of her staff have), and just not always been loved to death.

Through all of this Chi Chi stuck it out long enough to see Vivvie through some rough times and better times.

It was a day several months ago that Chi Chi was helping Vivie go through some old addresses and found one that peaked her interested. She asked Vivvie who this person was and she was told it was her sister Val. Chi Chi suggested writing a letter to Val and just seeing what the situation might be.

At this point I'm not sure what went about. I'm guessing they received another letter back and I know Chi Chi began corresponding with Vivvie's grown niece (Val's daughter) and very quickly a relationship was formed. Christmas cards were mailed and pictures were e-mailed back and forth through Chi Chi and Vivvie soon had the beginnings of a family again.

A trip was planned for Chi Chi to take Vivvie to finally see her lost family again. Apparently there were many tears and much joy shared that day a few weeks ago. Val had not contacted Vivvie due to the fact that sister Vicky had sort of cut all family ties and she had Vivvie (which remember can't pick up the phone to chat, nor can she read). Val and the family took some comfort in knowing that at least Vivvie was ok because she was with a sister that apparently had always liked taking care of her.

When Val learned, upon correspondence, that Vicky had left Vivvie and that she no longer had ANY family near her she was heart broken. She cried and cried over the injustice.

Now, getting back to Friday's lunch ...

Chi Chi had said that just days after Vivvie shared her desire to see her long lost brother they got news that Vaughn had serious heart issues and wasn't expected to live long at all.

As soon as Chi Chi found out she bolted into action asking for approval to take Vivvie up to see him early the following week. From what I have learned it is this kind of thing our agency lives (or used to live) to carry out. These are the types of circumstances 'run of the mill' agencies neglect because of whatever reason, maybe money, maybe staffing, maybe time. When Chi Chi shared the situation she was not at all prepared for hearing the following words.

'I can only approve for you alone to go, and for one day only.'

I forgot to mention that Vaughn lives 7 hours away. With Vivvie requiring two people to lift her to change her and give a break from her wheelchair due to her back, not to mention the asthma treatment she requires three times a day, this seemed like an absolutely ridiculous notion. Oh and Chi Chi would have to drive straight there and back with no sleep, by herself, on the highway in a sketchy wheel chair van.

How much sense does that make to you?

Now that you know the situation though and what a dedicated worker Chi Chi is, you can only guess that during lunch she also shared that she had every intention to do this trip on her own. She had no reservations.

Interestingly the rest of our table did. We immediately told her she was nuts to consider doing this alone but that this still had to happen. Come one people - Vaughn was dying!!! And Vivvie was finally ready to see him!!!

We continued to chat and I told Chi chi that I had Monday off so that day I was free. I had an overnight to get covered and then realized the shifts on Tuesday were movable or easy to 'figure out'. In that moment we realized that we might be able to make it happen!! (Without Chi Chi dying of complete exhaustion or getting in an accident).

The place Chi Chi was told to call to get assistance helping Vivvie while visiting Vaughn confirmed that they could not do anything to help without several days notice (and we did not have several days), so Chi Chi took this as another prodding for us to take matters into our own hands.

I did e-mailing, Chi Chi did calling and though we had many moments of 'Eek! This may not happen!', through a string of little miracles it all got ironed out.

When did we know for sure we were going to make the trip on Monday? Sunday evening around 7pm. A huge sigh of relief and excitement was made and we agreed to meet the next morning at 7:30am.

I have to admit the night before I barely slept at all. I was up twice to write blog posts and my veins were filled with anticipation. I'll be honest it wasn't all to do with Vivvie either. You see Chi Chi never got approval for a second staff, nor did she get approval for herself to go a second day. We could get in trouble for this. I suppose we could have potentially gotten fired. But at this point we didn't care. We thought really, Chi Chi had exhausted all other possibilities and this was the best we could do. Vivvie would pay for gas and our hotel room, we'd pay for our own food and if worse came to worse we'd split the one day they would pay for and she'd take vacation and I banked hours for the rest. So really we should just get a stern talking to. It would be worth it.

It was Monday morning and we pile into the van and go to pick up Vivvie.

I have to mention that it looked like town meeting when we arrived at her apartment. There were 3 or 4 support staff already in her living room saying their good byes, having already packed her overnight bags for us, her nebulizer (sp?) for her treatments, they even remembered her lunch! (None of these things are in their job descriptions but that tells you the pull Vivvie has on people's heart strings). While waiting they had received a call form the office. Chi Chi and I looked at each other in terror. Chi Chi made the call and had a big sigh of relief - nothing to do with our trip.

I watched as the one staff bent over to say goodbye to Vivvie and Vivvie was in tears holding her worker. They embraced for a couple of minutes and words of comfort were shared about the grandness of this day. Everyone there knew exactly what meaning would be held in this day.

We scrambled into the van and got situated, filled up the tank and were on the highway by 10 -o-clock. On the way up we only stopped once to get more gas and for Vivvie to do her treatment.

We (actually Chi Chi) had driven through pouring rain, when it wasn't sprinkling it was overcast. We got to a sketchy gas station with no sign and found a plug outside for Vivvie to do her treatment under a threatening sky. While we relieved ourselves on a toilet I was sure I would catch a disease on. (Chi Chi figured one of those diseases form the 1800's that were supposed to have been rid of).

We were back on the road and by 4:30pm had found the town we were looking for. We drove past it then remembered Vivvie's desire to share a birthday cake with the numbers 5-6 on it as her and Vaughn's birthday was coming up in another month and they hadn't shared their birthday together in years and years. So we turned around and looked high and low for a cake. Small town bakeries and grocery stores need to step it up because we had to settle for an apple pie and no candles. Oh well, we had something!

We headed next for the home some of Vivvie's family as that's where we thought the action was going to take place but soon learned that Vaughn was in the hospital which indeed would be a much better meeting place.

We followed Vivvie's family there and were met by Val and her husband, their grown daughter, Vivvie's cousin and her husband and their two teen grandchildren. It was a shower of hugs and tears of joy already!

They told us that Vaughn didn't know about Vivvie coming and that it was a surprise. At which point Chi Chi and I looked at each other and wondered if that was the best surprise to be giving a person dying of serious heart issues. Oh well, I guess we'd see what would happen.

We waited with much anticipation and within ten minutes a wheelchair came down the hall. It was Vaughn.

This decades long drug user and former alcoholic was anything but hardened today as he laid his eyes on his twin sister. A person that shared his exact hair colour, eyes, facial features and spunk for life. The years of heart ache and hurt, the memories of separation and disappointment, were instantly melted away with one look.

He broke like a crystal vase hitting a ceramic floor, and willingly let the pieces fall. He got out of his chair and held Vivvie with his head nestled into her neck. She held him with the only free hand she had and they cried.

Chi Chi said that if a year ago you would have told her this would happen she'd never have believed it because Vivvie had no desire to see her brother, but today, after some tilling of her heart field over the past year she was more than prepared to let go of the past and had room to grow forgiveness and love.

We spent the next two hours at the hospital taking many family photos capturing many shared looks, hand holding and even more hugs. Right before my eyes I saw a family melded together once again. Vivvie and Vaughn shared their birthday apple pie with her cousin holding a light cigarette lighter for them to blow out while Happy Birthday was sung (I think it was sung). We captured the memory of Vaughn and Vivvie cutting the pie together and eating it as well.

There really aren't words to properly convey what happened. I myself know little of Vivvie's history and the hardships she went through. However Vaughn shared during our quick morning good bye visit the story of Vivvie's accident and I was reminded of Vivvie's incredible strength as a person.

He said they were five years old and in a locked fenced in yard. They were playing and both decided they wanted to cross the street and go to the park. Apparently Vivvie being the stronger one hoisted Vaughn up to unhook the latch to the fence and he looked both ways and ran across the street. Out of what seemed like no where a large Cadillac appeared driving across the curb at a fast pace. Vaughn had assumed Vivvie had seen the car coming and gone back to the house. After wards he went back home and looked all over the house for her. In all the little cubbies and closets, in all of the hiding places they loved to play in. He could not find Vivvie. Not long after a police man came to the door with a familiar blue dress in his hands.

Vivvie was not in it.

She had been dragged under the car of an impaired driver for over a block until an on looker told the neighbour he had something under his car. The something was Vivvie.

Vivvie was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital but they got her breathing again. She fell into a coma and remained in one for 16 months.

That is as far as Vaughn went as we know where Vivvie is today. His story only confirmed her strength.

I can't explain how difficult it was the following morning to go back to the hospital and see Vivvie say her good bye's to Vaughn. Vaughn spoke with determination and fight that he would indeed be down to see her when he was allowed to. Things were left with a convincing hopefulness that this would indeed happen.

After the past two days who am I to say anything different. Miracles happen. This one did.

Vaughn's prognosis: he is currently only able to use 30% of his heart. He's waiting for his specialist appointment and will likely be put on a heart transplant list.

That is if he can live long enough for this to happen.

Vaughn's waiting for a heart transplant. Vivvie and her family are hoping upon hopes that he gets one.

I believe he has already had one.

In the mean time I sit overwhelmingly thankful to have witnessed the miracle at hand, one I don't feel at all worthy to have taken part in.

But I did. Because it was a story I couldn't resist. Find a story you can't resist. And get a good part. It may not be the main part but it can still be a good part. No auditions are necessary. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I've learned ...

In the past 36 hours is:

* adrenaline is an amazing thing

* risks are totally worth taking

* love is stronger than past hurts

* people are more important than pay

* old wheelchair vans on the highway make me nervous

* don't under estimate the power of an hour

* so many emotions can be found in tears

* the spirit behind my job is of much more importance to me than my actual job, therefore I can do it getting paid or not getting paid

* there is something special about the family bond - like it or not

* knowing death is near changes even the toughest heart

* you can eat healthy during a road trip

* Vivvie is the cutest sleeping person I've ever seen in my life

* trying to interpret someone who doesn't have a formal language after 36 hours of being in and out of hours of driving and visits requires more focus and patience

* budgets don't make miracles happen

* people need to stop long enough to hear a good story because when they do they will want to be a part of it

* I have an Amazing co worker who went above and beyond her job description (and does everyday). I can only hope to be half the worker she is someday

* joy still exists

* I know the cure for the Sads

* I need to slow down in a grander sense than cutting out a few hours of work a week

* I am a truly privileged person

I learned all of these things because of a little adventure I went on in the past two days. I really hope to write about it soon but it was so overwhelming I want to absorb it first and write it well.

I am exhausted but full of joy in this moment for what I was able to witness. It was indeed an honour.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Needs above wants

So ... yeah ... I can't sleep.

Of course that brings me here.

I don't know where to start really. I'm not going to give any more away about what I'm up to int he next couple of days just that it'll be a story worth hearing about when it's done.

As for now I'm not sure where to start, but what's new?

I guess I should go back to my recent infection of the Sads. It's funny, it feels so familiar that I really do feel like someone who can't seem to shake a bad cold. I started taking vitamin C, getting more sleep and washing my hands more but somewhere along the line I let my guard down and all of these habits melted away about as quickly as I developed them.

Now I feel like I'm back at square one but in a different place. With my first case of the Sads it appeared that I was the only one infected. Of course I quickly learned from comments here on the blog that I wasn't and I got some great advice.

I heeded the advice and tried my best to nurse my illness and it looked as if, for a while, things had cleared up.

However here I am a mere 2 months later (only 2 weeks after the vacation I took) with what seems to be an even more severe case of the Sads. How the heck did this happen?!

I suppose I could give a hundred reasons if I looked back, but at this point none are all that clear. I'm still working on it. One thing a co worker said of someone else in the field who was an amazing working stretched to the limit that just recently had to quit was that she was addicted to stress.

Initially I thought 'Wow, that would suck. that girl must need help.' And then I got thinking about my reoccurring Sads and thought 'What are you talking about you are addicted to something about being overworked!!'

Now I can't say at this point that I know what it is that I'm addicted to but it's there, something is attracting me to give up my life for work. Eventually I'll figure it out.

Obviously I have learned what I need to do (cut back on work), I pretty much know how to do it (say no!!) but for some reason feel a high out of taking on too much of it.

When I say I get a high out of it that is EXACTLY how I feel when I say yes to a shift most of the time. I don't know why because it's not always and I know it's not entirely the 'making people happy' part. But it's something about filling my day planner with names and times that just ... gives me energy.

that is until that date arrives and I completely dread the 10-12 hour day I've booked myself into.

Anyways, I don't know the why yet but I'll keep working on it.

In the mean time while I work to shake of my latest run in with the Sads I seem to have found myself no longer alone in it but rather completely surrounded by crowds of infected people.

I was talking to a co worker tonight on the phone who was a semester behind me in school and in every word she speaks regarding work she sounds like me (only I have to say she's more of a natural in this field that I am).

She's full of fear to say 'no' so she says 'yes' to EVERYTHING. She worked at least 10 hours of overtime last week (which, to be honest, is rare from what I know where we work because they try to avoid paying time and a half at all costs). Plus she's been pulled from scheduled shifts and put other places without being asked (not to mention pulled form more relaxed places and put into high stress situations).

I was talking to her because I was trying to find coverage for the scheme I'm involved in and she, of course, was willing to work. After speaking with her for a few minutes I was enraged and gave her a loud, compassionate, yet firm lecture on work. I told her never to worry about hours because I would promise her myself she'd be fine. I reminded her she WILL burn out within a couple of months (will). I told her she should not be putting up with being told she's being pulled from one place and put into another and she has every right to say no - I have. I know full well people are taking advantage of her newness, youth, and desire to pay the bills.

By the end of our conversation I had let her know to call anytime she was worried or questioned something. (Which is hilarious because I really am still too new to pretend I know much).

It took everything in me afterwards not to send an e-mail out to the managers telling them to stop pressuring new young employees to do all the crap work and making them feel trapped, stressed and like they have no other option but to comply (I'm not sure they do this completely intentionally but they do it). It's so interesting: we learn so much about teaching those we support to have a voice yet we strip eachother of it all the time.

Anyways, all of that to say the Sads are all around.

Lastnight, after my long Saturday of nailing jello to a wall day I was exhausted. When I arrived home to check e-mail, including facebook I see that I have not one but two messages from a young lady I support (who by the way has no clue what 'stop sending me 45 texts a day' means). It sent me over the top. I was angry. One place of my own was invaded.

Later when Wally and I were sitting in the living room my one dog was licking himself very loudly and I threw water from my bottle at him. A lot of it. Obviously he was fine as it missed and it was just water but I could tell Wally wasn't impressed. I went to bed.

I laid in bed before 9pm knowing that I had a whole day of work to face tomorrow and felt completely done. Kind of like I was sinking to the bottom of the ocean with no air to be found. I just laid in my bed thinking 'There's no way out. I can't quit my job. But I can't get out of working what I've committed to this summer. How am I going to survive? What am I going to do? I don't believe in living for my day or weekend off, or my next vacation. It's over. I'll just have to be depressed for the next two months.' Then I proceeded to cry. Then I fell asleep.

When I woke up Wally asked if I was feeling better. I said 'The same as lastnight only with a bit of rest.' Which really meant 'Still sad'.

I went to work and during my first half hour everyone was still asleep. I decided to take the chance to read a few pages in my retreat book 'Eat Pray Love'. I LOVE this book by the way. It's a me book.

Remember back in the early part of the year when I talked about a book by Donald Miller that I said that I thought I wrote but he just stole it from me. Well, I feel the exact same way about this book. I could've written it.

Well, you know, except for the part where I haven't gotten a divorce, or traveled the world, nor am I a best selling author. So there are a few differences .... currently. (I do hope to stay married).

It's just another one of those books that I connect with in a way that goes beyond enjoying. I feel like as I'm reading I'm writing. Sounds weird I know, but it's true. I hear my own voice telling me a story in a tone that convinces me I've already experienced the words I am taking in from that page.

I'm not sure where my little epiphany came from but I suddenly realized that though I cannot change my schedule I can change other things that surround my schedule. (Wow! As I write this I'm thinking 'Duh, that seems like a no brainer').

Suddenly I felt my mind was no longer raining down tears of sorrow, instead I felt a little ray of hope peaking through the clouds.

Of course now the homework is the change that will occur (again!). I have some solid ideas on how I will attempt to handle this, but I prefer to hold on to them for a day or two before sharing. I can say they are related to how I will spend my non work time.

I generally profess to be a lover of learning. And generally I am. Right now I'm tired of learning. Right now I want to rest.

Sometimes what we want isn't what we need.

Sometimes we need to learn first and rest later.

Admit it you always rest better once you have exerted yourself.

I'm exerting so that soon I can rest.

Quick blog post with husband looking over shoulder.

I want to write so bad but I'm in the middle of helping a co worker make a difference in Vivvie's life. (You remember Vivvie right?)

Will have tons to write about in a couple of days. Hopefully I will still have a job.

That's another story. One worth living though :)

It's helping me keep the Sads at bay for another day or two.

The last 24 hrs have been a roller coaster of emotion.

Pray for us.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I have a brain wave!!

I think I know something that may indeed help me (and any other sufferer) beat the Sads.

I don't have time to share right now, but that's the next topic of discussion.

AND I have to share with you soon about one of the numbers on my list that Wally and I completed recently. I think it's part of the solution.

I'll share soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I-I-I-I-I'm c-c-c-c-c-cold!!

It's a ridiculous hour to be up and writing but that seems to be how I roll, especially while readjusting to schedules.

I have so many thoughts right now on work and the realm of it I don't even know where to start.

Today (or I suppose yesterday at this point). I got home from only my second full day of work since arriving home from my vacation, which was followed by my cottage excursion (and to set the record straight does NOT equal a vacation - though fun times were had).

By my 23rd hour this week I was done like dinner.

When I say done, I don't mean perfectly done. I mean overdone, beyond toasted, and more like burnt. I like to refer to this as my 'fried egg' state.

I left my nursing home shift with Dolly ready to yell at the staff there, cry in my car and/or tell someone off.

None of these things are terribly unusual desires while supporting someone in the nursing home but yesterday they were magnified by my already jittery state.

I had prearranged a get together with a co-worker/new friend to 'vent' in hopes of, as she put it, 'finding positivity in eachother'. Really I just wanted to vent.

To be honest I was feeling better by Tuesday and had thoughts of sayin' 'no need to vent, I'm all better' once my feet were wet again, but I didn't and I'm glad because as much as I didn't want to have venting emotions they were definitely there.

Right off the hop I let go of some of my feelings which were met with an 'I totally get what you're sayin' look. Chatting occurred and I definitely saw how new I was at this.

I shared with her how over the past few days another case of the 'Sads' had made their way in and I was really struggling with my inner voice telling me once again what a failure I was, how useless I was and how ridiculous it was for me to think that I should even have a right to feel stress considering my position at work. I was beginning to think of myself as stupid, dumb, incompetent, and a myriad of other horrible things.

Unfortunately I am not in a place to argue with myself but rather take each observation rather seriously.

It was mentioned how once in this place it is very difficult to get out of. How true.

During my last case of the Sads it took a huge 'letting go' of worrying about feeling justified not working full time. I finally got to that point and it was amazing how great and peaceful I felt about saying, what no manager wants to hear, 'no'. (By the way I haven't been living my 30 hrs a week plan which doesn't help).

I had finally accepted needing a vacation and taken on the job it can often be to take the time off. I met a bit of attitude from myself and a person or two that work at the agency but overcame and felt strongly justified and even great about the choice I had made.

Now two days back into it I feel as though i have failed miserably at continuing the lesson past the vacation. I literally feel like I've allowed myself to be sucked back into the vacuum of life. Work without heart life.

I went into the office on Tuesday to chat with a manager type about an issue quickly before starting my day and I felt like a juicy piece of meat walking through the office. I seriously had wished I had wore a paper bag over my head.

Reason: it's summer time and everyone's on holidays, people are taking last minute time off and they are scrambling for people to cover shifts. I (and anyone who walks in) is fair game to fill what's needed (of course if we comply). From what I've noticed most young ladies that work there are very willing and very compliant to whatever the office needs, whether it's good for them or not. I was like this too for the first 5 months until I realized I also have needs that need attention and I am the only one responsible for this (or the only one that can take responsibility for this).

Luckily the shifts a baffled manager approached me about required larger chunks of hours that I could not give do to my already full schedule, but it definitely left me wondering what I would do in the future.

I really need to exercise my 'no' muscles more.

It's kind of funny because initially I always thought that if you did a favour for a someone that you'd get a favour in return at some point. Whether that meant understanding when you took a holiday, help for coverage if you were sick, or perhaps a good word to say you were great. Now I realize though you may get these things you may not at all. There are no returns guaranteed at all.

Knowing this makes me a bit sad as I'm not sure how far I'll get career wise in life when I choose to live out my needs (for the good of all) first rather than the good of everyone else every time. By no means do I plan on being selfish all of the time, there are definitely times you have to pull a little extra weight to help out your team, but I don't believe it should ever be to the point of no return of taking care of yourself first.

However with the previous paragraph being said, deep down I know that when you live out of peace and awareness of your decisions being the best for all I know that things work out the way they should.

I sometimes worry that my honesty will get me in trouble but then I remind myself that most times it's coming out of a completely real place with pure intentions so I can't help if someone takes it the wrong way or is insecure with what I say. It is though my responsibility to use this wisely and be very aware of those I am sharing it with and how they may or may not be good receivers of it. Some of it I can help and some of it is out of my control (you can't control someone's perceptions).

As I chatted with my co-worker friend I came to the realization (again) that if you are not living out of joy you aren't really living. You really are in control of how much you do that.

The trick is finding the confidence to live it out and to do your best to be honest with yourself and others about what that joy is. If it's not working 40 hours than for goodness sake don't work 40 hours. If you truly don't feel comfortable or right with something, don't do it!!

Being stretched for growth is different than putting on something that just doesn't fit and won't ever fit. (Wow, I'm totally having an 'aha' moment!)

In the midst of saying all of this I have to admit I still have the jitters from getting back into what feels like an ice cold lake. I still hear my inner voice mocking me to no end and am not able to muster up an answer to defend myself. My hope though is that as I wrestle with this, as I seem to with everything lately, I will work it out and yet again find the answer I'm looking for.

Isn't it crazy that you can return again and again to what appears to be the same issue but learn that it is yet another angle of the one you were working on before?

This is sort of driving me crazy, but hopefully we'll end up at a different location as I keep getting in the car.


I seriously wonder if I'm the only person that ever gets discouraged with these things. Over the past week I've really struggled with thoughts of failure at my job and wondering if I'm really cut out for it. I may or may not be right for it in the long term, but for now I stand on the belief that this is right for me now whether I'm feeling it or not, just because I know somewhere in my heart that this in true. Also I have to remember that if I'm not living out of a place of peace NO JOB is going to seem right. None!

(I am sooooo thankful for this perspective because when I was newly married I looked toward having a family as my 'way out' of a lifeless job when things got tough rather than working on my attitude or changing something in what I was doing. Now I look at myself and say 'If this is how I feel doing this job now, it's not going to be much better doing another job until I figure out why I am unsatisfied and do my part in fixing it. It may be the job, or may be my approach to it').

Knowing that gives me comfort and endurance to work this stuff out.

I do love my job and feel privileged to be where I'm at. It's just all of this life learning that goes with it that gets a bit overwhelming at times.

I'm choosing to believe right now that I haven't taken two steps forward and one back, but rather taking a step or two in a direction I haven't gone before.

By the end of our visit I was reminded that I have the power to change things and that I alone can determine how I react to things.

This once again, gives me hope.

Though I still desperately need someone to bring me a towel to warm up in from my icy little swim over the past two days, I know that it will come.

Did you know that people naturally jitter (chatter their teeth) for a reason? It is the body's way of naturally warming itself up.

See the jitters were there for a reason!

(However, I'm more than ready to get rid of them!!!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mojo's back

I'm not really sure what this means but it always sounds like a good thing.

This is just a quick line to say I've learned that I believe going back to work after a bit of time off is one of the most stressful things to do.

Now that I'm into it it's not so bad, but let me tell you the initial easing felt like tip toeing ever so slowly into an ice cold lake, with eels, slimy eels, slithering around me waiting to ... well whatever eels do.

I told a sort of manager today (whom I wish was a manager, specifically mine) that when I opened my inbox and saw so many e-mail I was shocked. I said 'I can't imagine what it would be like if I were actually important!!'.

Anyways, I'm here to say I'm alive and not as frail as I was two days ago and that I have way more thoughts on this whole thing than I have time to write about now.

Too many thoughts ...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Retreatville pics

I thought I'd show off some of the pictures from my retreat...

Here's one of my 'island'

Here's my other oasis (note the flowers I brought). And THE mirror I learned a lot from!

My views from my room

Here are a few from my nature walk...

Here's proof that I found Lover's Lane ...

A couple of others from outside the Bed and Breakfast ...

Looking at these pictures makes me definitely want to retreat again. It's amazing how much you take something for granted until it's gone. I guess something to think about.