Twelve months of blessings


There is something so special about Christmas time. Something magical and spiritual and absolutely good. I don’t feel that way every year, some years it was just too painful coming on the heels of a death in the family or some other grievous situation. But this year I am so very thankful for the blessings granted us over the past twelve months. So thankful, and Christmas is bringing me so much peace, so much joy this year.

It’s been a challenging year in so many ways, and, as I think back over it, it was an uphill climb in so many ways: emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. It’s not finished with us yet as we wait for a spot to open up in the dialysis unity here in town so my husband won’t have to be flown to Edmonton once again. I think we’ve had enough of that for one year. Yet, it was a year so filled with blessings as well. So many people people stepped up to help us in more ways than I can list here. God really does work in mysterious ways and I am so grateful for all the people who allowed the Creator to work through them; who reached out to support us in every way imaginable. It is through adversity that we may be tested, but we are also so very blessed, if we are open to receive. I read somewhere that issues come up to either bless us or to help us learn the lesson it brings.

Here it what I learned once again: we are never alone, unless we choose to be. No problem or challenge is too big for the Divine One. People are so intrinsically good and unfailingly kind. If we are open we will receive what we need, and often even more than we pray for. People remark on how they see me as being so strong. Well, I will let you in on a little secret: it’s not my strength they see but the strength of God who sustains me, no matter how big or contentious the issue may be.

So, I am praying that we each receive all we need; that we are open to receive the gifts the Creator is waiting to grant us; that we find true joy in the season; that every moment is peace-filled. I wish you well, my friends. I wish you more blessings than you can count. I wish you enough, always. God bless and Merry Christmas.

A little good news a.k.a. small blessings


I am often inspired by the patrons I serve at the library where I work. Often it is the little things, small and inconsequential to some, yet positive signs of love and care that make my days so fulfilling –  Like messages of hope, light, and love in my day.

We have a regular patron who comes often to borrow movies and games, and sometimes to use the computer. He’s a young man with many challenges and so-called disabilities. Often, he seems very sullen and unhappy. I don’t know his story or much about him at all. He gets frustrated easily and sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to deal with him. But one day last week he came to the front desk with little packages of cat food, which he was trying to give to my co-worker. She told him she doesn’t have a cat, but I know another co-worker who does and I told him so. I then asked if he’d like me to give them to her. (He seems to especially like this particular person). “Yes,” he said. So, while he gives them to me he looks me in the eye and says “Happy Thanksgiving”. Now, thanksgiving weekend had past a week or more before, but I thought it was so sweet. I returned the greeting and he walked happily away.

I think it is the small blessings, the half-withered dandelion proffered by a small child; the wagging tail of a dog; the way my cat purrs; the smile of delight when I meet someone I haven’t seen in a while. All these and more are reminders that life IS good. And reminds me that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is without consequence. I am grateful for these small blessings – reminders that it is the littlest things that can make life worthwhile.

Bloggers!


Just a quick few lines as I have to work today. I just wanted to give a shout out to my fellow bloggers for keeping it real, and at the same time adding so much joy to life with your inspirational posts. I so admire your courage, your support, and your honesty. I have been moved more times than I can count by your encouraging words and bravery in sharing real life struggles and challenges. Yes, we may all be a little broken in one way or another, but we are also wounded healers. Thank you for bringing light and learning to a weary world. Wishing you all more blessings than you can count. Cheers!

Quality of Life


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I write this to honour a young man I once had the privilege of working with. He was confined to a wheelchair and spent his days alternately in his chair or laying in bed. He could not see well as he was partially blind. He also could not speak much and only uttered two words that made sense: “mama” and “No”. Mostly he uttered guttural sounds, but oh my, he could laugh. I remember describing him to friends of ours and the first thing they asked was, “what kind of quality of life is that?” And they felt sorry for him. Yet it was this young man who taught me much about what ‘quality of life’ really means.

No, he couldn’t walk and his limitations were severe and many. He could move his legs and one arm, and he could turn his head to a limited degree. He also had a feeding tube in his stomach through which he was given nourishment – liquid ‘meals’. I had been asked if I would come work with him as his usual care giver was going off on leave. I was scared. I didn’t think I could do it. I had never done this sort of work before and didn’t think it was a good fit, but his mother encouraged me and, in the end, I agreed to try. It has been a blessing that has had reverberations in my life.

Here is what J. taught me: He taught me there are many ways to communicate without ever speaking a word. He taught me patience. He taught me grace, endurance, forgiveness, and so much more. He taught me what real love looks like.

I would arrive in the early morning and he would be laying awake waiting for me. I would bend over and whisper good morning in his ear. He’d smile. He always smiled.

After the morning routine of bathing, dressing, and breakfast was done I would sit beside his bed and read stories to him. Sometimes I sang songs, he seemed to enjoy that. He also enjoyed games I made up as we exercised his limbs so the muscles would not atrophy. He laughed a lot. It was gratifying to hear him laugh, and when he would turn his head at the sound of my voice and smile his beautiful smile.

He loved it when his little brother, a toddler at the time, was placed on his lap. The little guy was very curious about this big brother and would often hug him and caress his face. J loved that. At other times though, he would slap J or inadvertently hurt him in some way. J would cry, deeply hurt by his little brother’s actions. But he never had the smallest inclination to strike back – he had no desire for revenge. He simply expressed his hurt and pain through tears. J never seemed to get angry – it was just not part of his makeup or personality. Thankfully these occasions were few and far between.

I worked with J for a little over a month, but the time spent with him was overall a joyous experience. He was endlessly patient with my fumbling in the early days and I came to look forward to my time with him. It was a time of great learning, on my part. And it was a time filled with grace, peace, and goodwill. J has many blessings to share with the world, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the benedictions he imparted.

 

 

Homelessness and Hunger


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Is God trying to reach me? I don’t know if there have been divine signs or if it’s my natural proclivity to be drawn to people in need, but I have been noticing more often than usual the stories of hardship, homelessness, poverty, and hunger – and not only the physical, but the spiritual as well. Yesterday I was one of many listening to a presentation from a local organization that is doing its best to face the twin challenges of homelessness and mental illness. Last night I chanced to watch a documentary on television called, “God knows where I am” about a homeless woman who starved to death due to mental illness that prevented her from reaching out for help.

I want to help people. But I have no idea how to do so. So, I write it out. To hold all the pain I perceive in others is just too much sometimes. So, I hope you will forgive me. I do try to share positive messages, I really do. So, I am going to try to flip the switch now.

There are things we can do as individuals such as donating to food banks, being kind to one another, sometimes really simple small acts can and do make a difference. There is a woman who comes sporadically into the library, where I work,  but over the years I have come to know her a little. She is a single mother of a large family. I often chat with her a bit and I am always so glad to see her. I don’t know her well, but I know she has had a lot of challenges in life. In 2016 Fort McMurray was evacuated due to wildfires and it was several months before I saw her again. She was one of many people I often thought about and prayed for. I was delighted when I finally did see her again. She fairly threw herself across the desk to give me a hug when I did. I was so grateful she was okay. And, I was happy, so happy. Of course, I hugged her back. Perhaps the time I spend with her is of little consequence, but I like to think it may make a difference in her hard life.

Life is hard, too hard for many people. I think the smiles we offer are important, time spent, if only a few minutes with people who are lonely and in need of kindness, is important. It costs us nothing, but can make a world of difference to people in need – and we are ALL in need sometimes.

God, if you are trying to reach me, You have. Now, please, grant me wisdom and grant me courage to do all I can to honor and help my sisters and brothers. They are yours. But they are also mine. Be with me as I try; and be with me when I fail. Help me to be gentle with myself and with others – always!

One life that made a difference: Lt-Colonel Richard Alexander. A farewell and a tribute to a wonderful man


Seven years ago, I interviewed Lt- Colonel Richard Alexander for the Western Star, a daily paper published in Corner Brook, NL, Canada. He died on September 14, 2018, leaving behind many people who were touched by his life, myself included. He has been described as a hero, for he truly was a hero, and not only because of his actions during the Second World War as well as the Korean War.

When I went to his house to interview him I was a little nervous. I had no idea what kind of story I would write. I only knew a few small details about this man, but I knew he was a well-loved and respected member of our community. I remember his warm welcome when I arrived and his kindness and hospitality. I didn’t have a set list of questions. I had met and spoke with him briefly on another occasion and looked forward to a casual chat with this man who had intrigued me.

He had a way of making people comfortable, of easing any discomfort and making one feel like an old friend. Here is what I remember about that day that was not published in the story I wrote. You see, my editor had zeroed in on the Colonel’s heroic act in St. John’s during the Second World War – an act that was not recognized until sixty-six years later! But what stands out in my memory was his genuine humanity, his kindness, and his concern for all people.

Many people are horribly altered by the experience of war, the Colonel (as he was known locally) did not seem to be. What he seemed to most want people to know was that war is an awful thing. He had seen terrible atrocities during his assignments. He spoke about visiting schools on Remembrance Day and doing his best to deliver his message about the horrors of war and how it should be avoided at all costs. He became very sober, and sad, as he related this to me.

He showed me many photographs and he showed me his medals, of which he was rightly proud. He laughed when he showed me the citation from the government lauding his heroic actions that saved many lives in St. John’s. He found it amazing that he would be remembered for something that had happened so long ago.

The Colonel was a gentle man, humble, and down to earth. His life touched so many people, both at home and abroad. His courage and bravery are commendable. However, I think it is his faith, his kindness, and his intense respect for life that made the deepest impact. He was the kind of person who many seek to emulate, including me. I was blessed to spend time in the company of a truly great man.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and get to know a little about the man we called the Colonel. He will be missed and remembered with great fondness. May he Rest in Peace.

http://www.thewesternstar.com/news/local/heroic-act-recognized-66-years-later-korean-war-veteran-richard-alexander-honoured-for-putting-his-life-on-the-line-115722/

 

Ruminating on Autumn


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Autumn is just about upon us. The days are growing shorter. As summer draws to a close I feel sad. Sad that I did not make the most of the warm season. Sad, I did not languish longer under the blue skies and hot sun. Isn’t that just life – to take the days for granted as though they are infinite. But like summer itself, life is short. We tend to take it for granted until something terrible happens. Perhaps that is the silver lining and the lesson in tragedies – they make us aware of the fragility of life.

I have been thinking a lot about my brother. He was killed when an impaired driver crashed into his vehicle in November of 2016. Sudden death is always horrible. It rocks your world and turns everything upside down. I know I am far from alone in experiences such as this. What is it about seasonal change that brings out such maudlin thoughts? And have you ever noticed that there are far more deaths in fall and winter than the rest of the year? Strange.

But I don’t want to be a downer. Chris was a very funny guy. I miss him. However, I will cease to ruminate on the sadness his death brought and focus instead on his many gifts. He was also very thoughtful and generous with a sunny nature. I wish there were more people like him.

Yet, we are all unique with precious gifts of self to offer. Whether we are artistic, creative, or just plain kind – we each have a gift to bring. My sister says she has no talent. But she’s wrong. She has a wonderful gift for helping people. She works in the psychiatric wing of a hospital in a fairly large city. She is well suited to her work as she is endlessly patient and forgiving, as well as wise and compassionate.

Whatever work you may do. Wherever you may live. I hope you recognize your talents, and that others do as well. I hope you know you matter and your life does make a difference.  I hope you rock this world with loving kindness and that you know kindness! Until next time – Cheers!

Negative Ions in the Air?


I had a woman come to the front desk to ask to use the phone this morning. However, policy does not allow us to give people access to the phone. So, before I could explain that she got very angry as soon as she heard “no” and huffed off out the door calling out to someone not within my view, “see, I told you they wouldn’t help me”. Then she looks back at me gives me a very dirty look accompanied by a hand gesture (you know the one). Had she given me a chance I could have explained that she could go to guest services to use the phone there. Oh well. I had actually wanted to help her, but she did not afford me the opportunity.

No, this is not the end of my little story. There were a few grumpy adults today – perhaps there was an over abundance of negative ions in the air? But then again, I also was treated to the smiles and pleasant demeanor of several little people today – maybe they are not affected by negative ions?

I love working with the public. I really do. But today it was the little ones, the babies and children who brought their gifts of laughter, love, and lightness that made the grumpiness of a few adults of no real consequence. Their negativity melted away like fog on a summer’s day thanks to the sunny dispositions of my smallest patrons.

I am grateful. I am grateful that though I may have to deal with a few grumps now and then, for the most part people are friendly, understanding, and kind. Perhaps the ones who aren’t are struggling with something that is getting them down. I think the important thing to remember when faced with such a situation as I described at the beginning is not to take it personally – who knows what that person may be dealing with. But I am hopeful of a better day tomorrow – one without dirty looks and ‘sign language’. Cheers!

The Ripple Effect


“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

I believe in the ripple effect. Sometimes we meet people who are angry and belligerent, but as a woman I know said, “don’t take it personally, we don’t know what is going on in that person’s life, what challenges they face or what wounds they carry”. I think that is excellent advice.

To respond without anger, without judgement is often not easy, but it is always the better choice Responding, or reacting to anger with more anger only escalates the situation. However, it can be difficult. After all we are all only human and each carrying our own baggage, so to speak. It’s not easy to unpack the bag; to rid ourselves of recriminations, desire for vengeance, etc. If we can respond with calmness we often see a much better result.

With that said, I don’t think we should lay down and allow people to walk all over us – we don’t have to be a doormat. It’s a fine line at times, this balancing act between self-care and care for others. But I do believe in the ripple effect – the random acts of kindness; the acts of compassion and mercy. Acts of kindness make me feel good and I believe makes the other person feel good as well. Perhaps they will ‘pay it forward’ and be kind to the next person they interact with.

Conversely to act in anger, to speak harmful words, also have a ripple effect causing us to feel awful and the other person as well. I am only human. I make mistakes, but I hope I have learned enough to not repeat them. I hope I will sow more seeds of compassion than seeds of wrath in my lifetime. We cannot change the world, but we can change what we do in our own small corner of it.

“A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost, he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil

 

 

 

 

Just a cup of coffee


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The smallest things can make a big impact. I remember my first day of work at the library. I was a bit nervous and wondering what this new job held in store. My manager was giving me a tour and introducing me to all the people who worked there. I was hired to work in the circulation department. That’s where I met Margaret. As I was standing there chatting with my new coworkers she came up to me with a cup in her hand. “I don’t know if you like coffee or hot chocolate, so I got a half coffee and half hot chocolate blend for you. I hope you like it. Welcome to the library,” she said as she handed it to me. And that was the beginning of our friendship. It was January – in Canada – it was a cold day, so a hot drink was most welcome. But more than that, it was not just a cup of coffee. it was one small act of kindness that made a big difference to my day, and ultimately to my life. Whenever I think of my friend I think of that cup of coffee and how it is symbolic of her character: warm and welcoming.  Little things matter, a lot!