Because I can

I can do things you can’t do; you can do things I can’t do; together we can do great things.”

Mother Terea

I have been thinking of a song of late by Dwane Drost, a country gospel singer from Durham Bridge, NB. My folks met him a few years ago when they visited dad’s family and friends in that community during a jamming session of guitars and pics at the old general store. I have to chuckle as I remember how both my folks had huge smiles as they talked about their summer evening with Dwane and the old gang. Anyway, this one particular song speaks to me, a song that I think is dedicated to his mother (hopefully I am not wrong) as he sings about his mom struggling with alzeihmer’s. One of the lines in the lyric from Just the Same goes like “And it breaks my heart to see her as she looks into the mirror with a smile and she asks me what’s my name…”. A lump sort of gathers in my throat. It is reminding of my own mom and who she is becoming with dementia. I feel so far away and thinking of her.

Life is precious there is no doubt in my mind. One day you are kicking up a storm and the next day…well you wish you had stayed in bed. The crystal ball syndrome does not work let me tell you. But the beauty of the human heart keeps plugging away to try – just turn on any news or go on any social media to help you get that. We are bombarded with life and all its frailties. The spread and wake of COVID-19 is a perfect example. The measures that countries are taking to protect their people (thank you Canada) is staggering, welcomed for sure, but still overwhelming to the nth degree. And at the same time, it exacerbates the many human frailties that mark everyday human lives and social conditions existing already. Whew! That’s heavy…yep like a ton of bricks heavy. This is where you want to…(fill own words).

For a moment (too many to mention but feel) I can get into a frozen state (you know the brain-freeze-after-slurping-a-ice-cold-freezie state) where you feel numb, have to hold one’s breath and allow the needle-like feeling of glacier icicles piercing on an addled brain to slowly ebb. In other words, it is where the heart greets the hurt with pleading; pleading for the norm of yesterday as the new norm comes into play.

So what now? One step. That’s right. Why?? Because I can. That is what I have been coming to terms with lately. One step because I can. What does that even mean? At this point in my life, I can do. I can be. I can make. I can walk. I can pray. I can breathe. I can….There are way too many things or events or situations in our life that are out of our control but will still weave in and around you regardless, good or not so good. Things that can directly impact you and life as you know it changes. So I can becomes real to me now because I can. For now, I can go on a walk (Crocs not so great. I should have purchased new running shoes which I should have got back in November – my bad). For now, I can call my own name (of course I mix up my daughters and grandchildren once in awhile – sorry). For now, I can do physical distancing (absolutely do as I’m told). For now, I can make dinner (I would rather my daughter make it..please) , I can bend down (yep I love my knee pad and creaky bones). For now, I can weed (oh my mom would love that, probably laugh too). For now, I can help others (or at least reach out). For now, I can pray for strength and courage. For now, I can.

Putting things into perspective, even in the numbing unexpected times of life, I can because I can for tomorrow I might not be able to. And you? Can. Blessings.

Its All Good…

but not today

It’s all good. That phrase has been my mantra for many years. I have walked with these words, shared them, and have tried my hardest to live in that way. But, sometimes the heart catches up to the hurt (or craziness inside) and you do not know what to do with it. So maybe it’s all good but not today. I think our heart and mind can be like the car on a rollercoaster doing a 360 then uprights itself after a spell. So while on that ride, cause you can’t get off it, you have to aaahhhhh. What to do? What to do? Me, I take a deep breath and breathe (lots…but not to the point of hyperventilating okay). To just breathe in and let go – whatever and wherever that takes you.

My morning breath of breathing (I do gargle with Listerine) turned into a grin yesterday, not a Cheshire cat kind of grin, but a full out smiling broadly one. When I got back from my walk yesterday (zippity-do-dah great feeling) , I checked my cell phone and noticed a text from my sister. Unbeknownst to her, she sends a little seed of joy, blowing up my heart strings, in a few little words of hers (you gotta love sisters and so mine, she’s a keeper) reminding me that yes “brighter days are ahead”; she is good like that for spirit lifts. I guess she read my last couple of blogs which sort of spoke of a reality in my headspace that I am awakening to. So yes sister, it’s all good – just need to breathe for a bit.

Thank goodness for cheerleader moments. You probably can name a thousand of those times where you get them unexpectedly or you intentionally go to a place to find them. Me, my go-to place is any Hallmark stores or novelty one-of-kind shops (Flowers and Friends in Kensington or Luna Emporium in Charlottetown) because they have the most unexpected smiles waiting for me – cheerleader moments. You know those times especially when you least expect it, and yet really need it, and you get a POW. I’m thinking about this mug I saw once (not in Hallmark for sure) with a character looking grumpy and it said, “who peed in your soup today?”. Talk about a belly laugh. I like those that get your funny bone. Okay, that is a bit TMI but you get my point… if it gets a smile or chuckle out of you… rah rah cheer to the heart. A breather. It’s all good. Yeh?

At the end of the day, there is hope. There is a beautiful song by Steven Curtis Chapman that reminds me of cheerleader moments. I think they are God moments of grace where you feel a calm amongst the turmoil. And wonder of wonders, you smile, hang on and it’s all good. Be Still

Wanting to See You

I see you.

I remember taking this class a few years ago around technology tools/devices and the impact on people, especially the younger generation and their spiritual wellbeing. Many of the articles we read spread across a spectrum of absolutely necessary to the destruction of the social fabric of society’s mental and physical well being. How do you sift through the rhetoric and bias, to come to own conclusions as to the need for technology devices in our world? Good or bad? I think of loss of hearing or needing glasses earlier or getting a permanent pouch or arthritis in the fingers or…You know what I’m saying. I really cannot say too much as I spend a great deal of time on computer or my cell phone. But I do recall that I was dead set against having a cell phone for a long time as well as curbing my girls time being on computer or game system for any length of time. I felt that computers or cell phones seem to control a person’s time and let’s face it time is a precious commodity to begin with. I just see lots of people together walking down sidewalks or the park or wherever but not really being with each other as majority of time is on their phone either texting or talking. And don’t get me started on gaming. Not going there. Whatever happened to..oh I don’t know…a good old CONVERSATION with the person NEXT TO YOU; remember where you go face to face making eye contact, seeing the expressions of the person as you converse… nose twitching or mouth smirking or eyes tearing up…any or all of the above for goodness sake.

Alas, I eventually did break down to get a cell phone because my daughters’ nagging kind of wore me out (nag me, their mother!!…that’s my job). Of course, I saw the light as safety and being accessible, reducing the worry, car breaking down, being lost, taking pictures, capturing a video clip, sharing news, and on and on. I got it!!! Pulling at the old heart strings, I think they had the gift of gab down pat back then, a little too well. And now, three against one…really girls!! You know you get to a point and say, if you cannot beat them…eat cherries instead. I love them.

As much as I profess strongly to a technology time out in my day, I cannot be more grateful in knowing I can see my family and friends in real time through the lens of technological devices whether FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, FaceBook, Twitter or whatever ‘itter’ – I want to see. What is that old adage, oh yes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. (Okay, I know that I blog, crafting words to create images but to see…I guess that is why I like images to go along with my blog). Sidetracked. Oops. Anyhoo, I want to see the whites of their eyes.

So Easter weekend comes. Celebration. Where I usually can scooch and hug my family, I am put on hold with face to face, skin to skin. Where one goes to church to celebrate with joy the Risen Christ, new life, and fresh start within. I am put on hold. But I get the next best thing – I get to see. Easter messages from near and far…Skype with my brother and his family; so good to see them as they share themselves with me. Thankyou. Which followed with a video link on a Mass recorded and sent to me by a friend and colleague of my former Board, with Father Jim, a retired pastor who works Board, presided. Now I can partake in the Mass virtually. A faith lift.

Later on in the day, with a smile on my face, my heart jumping up and down, I open up Messenger to view a short video clip of my granddaughter 8 months old starting to crawl across the floor. Watching her little hands spread wide as she slaps them on the floor, trying coordinate her hands and knees to go forward, reaching her a treasure before her. I stare in wonder and awe with tears on my face. Then seeing and hearing my grandson talking to his mom in the background, reminding me of the many times he would ask me, his Rara, to find ways to do something with him. Spoil by Rara. Just being there with them, even if virtual, words cannot express my feelings. Right after that, my phone rings…lets FaceTime. Oh to see baby girl, waking up from her nap, and I think she is smiling at me as I grin and make noises as she looks at me. I think she sees me for I see her. Then to add the icing on the Easter day, my oldest daughter texts me about how she is doing as a new mommy, the delight in her words describing her day with her, and then seeing one month old baby girl in all of her faces. She goes from scrunch to smile to frown to stare…how does your heart not beat faster.

What did we do before technology devices? We waited. And now we do not. Regardless of the burden of abundance that technology devices provide for each one of us, be it a lot or not as much, depending on circumstances, connecting with one another is by far the most wondrous of gift to receive. Unfortunately, like anything else, misuse and abuse can take its toll on the user and receiver so I extend that thought of freedom with responsibility. Nothing can replace first hand human interaction, the joy and sorrow, you get to feel, honour, and live out. Maybe not what you would like to experience at times (I can relate) but, I’ll take the next best thing – I want to see you.

Accepting Own Weakness

“Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness”

― Jean Vanier

Quote citing

Being an adult is hard but being a parent and being adult during times when you need to be an adult,,,well let’s just say I slipped for a minute or three. I had a bit of a melt down on Saturday night (Easter Vigil eve); not the best version of myself that’s for sure. I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself and wanting to just…yell. Why? Not so easy to admit. My meltdown came about out of something so innocent in action but triggered a deeper seed of hurt that I did not realize I was carrying – not being able to be there for and with my family.

Let me back up just a bit. Five weeks ago, I headed off to Ontario to be with my eldest daughter who was expecting her first child, a baby girl. My daughter did not want me to come too early but not too late. Well, as parents know, baby’s have their own clock. I arrived on the Sunday evening, receiving the best of hugs and kisses from my daughter and partner…oh it felt good as we had not seen each other for awhile. Baby was due on the Thursday but no show so instead had doctor’s appointment. What transpired during that visit? OB said no visitors to hospital, may be induced early next week if baby does not come, and that if I flew in, I would have to leave. OB believed things were going to get worse. That Thursday evening, the Ontario government sent a public message out stating that schools would be closed for two weeks after March Break and non-essential businesses will be closing possibly. Holy lightning!! Then a text from my daughters back home saying what was happening on island. All in a span of one week…overnight really, chaos and fear set in like wildfire.

Thankfully, baby girl was born on Monday evening, a miracle of delight in the wake of this fear. How to feel? My daughter and partner were on overload; trying to figure out this thing called parenting a newborn. Not even going there. So I began the practice between self-isolation and social distancing for three weeks… getting their home set up with food and baby needs, allowing them to sleep, disinfecting the home, showering or washing clothes as soon as I returned from outside world (thank goodness for stores introducing shopping only for seniors from 7 to 8 am) and of course the suffering – holding and tending to baby girl’s needs (NOT AT ALL). I miss her so much. Needless to say it was the best and worst of times,

But I knew I had to return home because they needed to get the hang of parenting without me present. You got this kids. My heart hurt to leave but even more so because I could not even go visit my own parents and sister as I could be a carrier and they are in vulnerable. So I left. Driving straight through, 18 hours, only stopping for gas and washroom breaks, washing my hands thoroughly, at each and every stop. I was going to get a hotel in NB but after I was stopped at the border check-in and questioned, license plate and own license taken, I changed my mind. Finally crossing the bridge, questioned at checkpoint again, I drove home for a self-isolation of 14 days.

So why the meltdown. Well, it was when we were trading vehicles back. I had taken my middle daughter’s car to Ontario because it would be easier on gas. Obviously not necessary as it turned out. So in my head, her car was in self-isolation and Saturday night would be safe to trade back. Walking up to the top of lane with my youngest daughter. as that is where her car and middle daughter’s cars are parked (soft laneway due to permafrost), we wait. Then I see my truck come up the road. My middle daughter parks it at side of road, steps out and I notice her wearing gloves (it is not cold out) and tosses me my keys. I toss her keys to her. Then she gets in her car and drives off. Meanwhile, I felt under a microscope as two cars drove by while we were exchanging vehicles – felt like being in a fishbowl with social distancing police. Only in my head.

So when I parked the truck and walked back down lane to home, my mind took a turn to crazy sad and hurt. What just happened? Sitting in the family room I felt like having a bit of a tantrum…which lasted until Easter Sunday morn. Are you kidding me? Mature? No. Adult? Not even. And here with Easter day before me, my family and friends sending me beautiful and heartfelt Easter messages and I was not joyful…pouting more like it. Really Karen. God must laugh alot.

What I had come to realize was my insides were shaken up and I was grieving. Grieving for what is not. In that moment of tossing the keys, I was becoming present to my self-isolation, to this whole social distancing thing and its reality on my very being in not being able to be with my family, skin to skin. I was giving into my weakness of being human, slipping for a minute of three (more like a day). Sometimes I think we have to embrace the hurt.

All I can say is that thank goodness for love and forgiveness. Especially to my middle daughter who called me, reminding me that it is okay, I’m not alone, and to find comfort in knowing people around she and I, can relate. Who is the adult now?

I pray for families and our neighbours, near and far, to find strength, care, and support during these times of social distancing.

Easter. Starting Afresh Again

Oh the Lord is good to me.

Happy Easter. Alleluia! I feel like I just want to jump up and sing that old familiar child’s prayerful song of grace “Oh the Lord is good to me. And so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I needthe Lord is good to me,Johnny Appleseed. Amen.” Great day to celebrate the Easter, Easter egg hunt, and the ever wonderful Easter bunny and yes to eat with family. For me, just to be able to sit around the family table and break bread together…talk about taking things for granted. Not this year with all the goings on, but I will hold in my heart those many memories of family gathering at the dining table, pausing to listen to my grandson (shyly mind you) lead us in Johnny Appleseed before we dig in. Thanks my little man…love you for it.

Easter. Celebrating the Risen Lord in our lives and new life unfolding where earth and human interact as Spring comes a calling. There is so much to be grateful for. And so, in gratitude, I celebrate – my walking. Yes! I get to walk now that I am officially off self-isolation…yippee woohoo… it feels good so pardon my exuberance. Not just any kind of walking like in and around my home or up my stairs or down my lane and back (all good to do mind you) but the walk which gives these old gams a good work out. So today, my walk was wondrous and humbling. I was turning my head every which way, taking in the never-ending beauty and vista of fields and sand and sea, enjoying the sunrise, while noting a few changes since last I trekked. I was treated to a treasure of delights even with the sandy beach now laden more noticeably with pebbles and larger rocks and a rougher Cape Road

Maggie May, no surprise, did her own looking every which way…but with head down sniffing then peeing and oh yes… sniffing again. Thankfully she does not need a lead as very little human or vehicle traffic are up at 6:30 am so I can enjoy me and she can enjoy her. And let me tell you, my muscles are burning just a bit…are you kidding me?

I can’t help but think that Easter, however it was derived or originated, and from whom, in its tradition, brings hope and forgiveness. Starting afresh. Spring illustrates that beautifully as it brings new life to a land barren and unawakened. As a person of faith, I can be afresh in my own daily walk to do the good, waking to a Resurrection within me, to be the best version of self in word and deed as Christ has shown. Cultivating the gift of self in being life-giving.

Pondering today. Oh the Lord is good to me. Happy Easter.

Easter Bunny is Essential Worker

PEI Premier King message from Office under Public Health Act in consultation with Public Health Officer, Thursday April 9, 2020

You gotta love it. Early this morning, I was reading my emails (97 in the cue – I can’t be that far behind. Really?) and was caught off guard by one of the most recent entries in particular, a subject line from our Premier, stating “Province deems Easter Bunny Essential Worker”. I started chuckling to myself. What in the world? It sounded weird coming from our island leader…good one Premier. I get quite a few communications from the provincial government as I like to keep informed of what is going on in and around the province and local communities; so this one caught my attention. Easter Bunny deemed as Essential Worker!! But then I quickly realized…holy lightning. Absolutely. It was Holy Thursday yesterday and Easter draws near !? Easter? My family. Church. Traditions. Easter bunny. Easter egg hunt. Easter meal. Easter gathering.

Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs, this is Good Friday and Easter Vigil is tomorrow and what? I have been so preoccupied of late with other things to be mindful of Holy Week and Easter Traditions as a person of faith (and Easter and family traditions as a mom and Rara) and in this, it is my cross to bear. Good Friday, where a Christian stands at the foot of the cross as marked by Jesus Crucifixion and death on a cross long long ago, leaving of himself or herself something there, and in turn bringing something of Christ Jesus into his or her own life. But the traditional gathering of the faithful will be partaking in Good Friday celebration in a way not done before…at home. I can only imagine how the Christian Churches (or any Church or ecclesial group) are responding in prayer and Traditional practices as the coronavirus-19 sweeps its path of harm and despair for many. To hear the pleas. If ever there was a time for prayer of strength and courage, it is now as Easter draws near. We are people of hope even in the darkness.

Turning to the other tradition of Easter, I cannot help but thank the Premier enough as a mother and a Rara (grandmother in grandson’s language term for me) for communicating something that impacts the young children and families on the island. The underlying message of compassion and care for Easter traditions of family gatherings, Easter bunny, Easter hunts…of course the Easter bunny is an essential worker. The fall out from the coronavirus impacts the very fabric and essence of the island community and its hospitality. The Premier reminds me of the editor of the New York Sun in 1897 and the letter received by a little girl about Santa Claus’s existence and his response to her, “Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.” Hope. Assurance. Belief. The communication from the office of the Premier is a significant message in light of the unknown, carrying on a tradition that is important regardless of circumstance…deemed essential. Reminder that life continues and when faced with adversity we need to find ways to help people grapple with something beyond their control. But also, it is an important reminder that the health and safety of the island has to be maintained still which Easter characterizes – social distancing.

Pondering for the day – So today I think of traditions as Easter draws near and what is essential. I know I am not going to be able to make a treasure hunt or watch Easter bunny hide Easter eggs or set the table for a meal prepared for by loving hands (many hands make light work). Nor sit in pew at Easter Vigil in the darkness to see the candles light up as, one by one, the candles collectively bring us into the light. I won’t hear the voice of Amen as newly baptized and confirmed say YES to becoming a Christian. Nor will I. My favourite and most welcomed tradition is when family gathers at the dining room table and they are safe. Knowing my loved ones are with me and I can see them, hold them, be with them. But this year it is not going to be that way. Okay then. Putting things into perspective. So standing here, what is deemed essential? For me? For you? For all? Blessings and prayers.

FYI: On a side note, I just want to say to the Premier that I really do not want snowplow workers to be an essential worker anymore. Okay. Why one might ask?? I SPOKE WAY to SOON yesterday as I look outside my window this morning and SEE a blanket of SNOW covering the ground and the wind howling away as I take note that the forecast for today is snow…all day. Are you KIDDING me!!! Just saying. Be safe and healthy.

Morning sunrise

Can’t wait to see you once again. Good morning.

By far my most favourite part of the day is the early morning especially when the sun comes up, rising over the horizon, peeking its face while spreading its rays of delight, over the nooks and crannies hidden in the dark. Kick my heels and alleluia. I have a smile on my face as it is the fourth day in a row with me singing in my head (my voice is appreciated only by my grandchildren) “Oh Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun please shine down on me…”. A cheery little ditty to begin my day as no need for a coffee fix. Not that there is anything wrong with coffee mind you, but it is not my choice of drink. Never had a cup of coffee. Tea maybe but tea does not really do it for me either. Morning is my pick me up.

But, I do have to say my childhood memory of the smell of coffee made over a campfire when camping with my family ,,,heaven on earth. I remember waking early in the morn in the tent, crawling out of my warm sleeping bag, peeking my head out as I unzipped the tent flap, to see my dad either building a fire or lighting the Coleman stove to get that coffee started. I would see the coffee grinds percolating up into the top of the coffee pot as water bubbled up into the glass tip lid, letting the coffee grains ooze its flavour into the hot liquid. No matter where you were at the camp site, that smell surrounded you. I guess that is my version of Tim Horton’s long line up for a morning wakeup call.

Not necessary. I am a morning person, not so much for my daughter who lives with me (that is another story for another time), but when my foot hits the bedroom floor, I am ready to go. Like this morning with the sun shining in, I realize it is Thursday and garbage/compost day. Oops. Even though I consider myself a morning person, does not mean my whole body wakes up at the same time. Heading down to the calendar, I need to see G or C noted, so I know which container I need to roll up the lane. Its a G. Maggie May, of course, is at my heels ready and waiting (reminder that I have a few more days of self-isolation until I can really walk walk). Yeah. You gotta love your dog or at least my dog because she is ready when I am ready – attached to the hip. Literally at times.

Anyway, I am out the door and wow the air is fresh and crisp as the sun filters through the woods surrounding my lane. Excellent. The golf course and fields across the way has the sun casting its glory, clear and bright. Lovely. Early morning sunshine show-off the heavy dewdrops (frost this morning) laying on the ground. I am grateful for the frost this morning because traipsing up to the top of my lane, pulling on the large black wheeled container for garbage is not fun when my lane is soft and muddy from spring thaw. Down side about living out in the bush and leaving the lane in its natural state of red dirt, the permafrost does havoc to the lane if you drive your vehicle on it. Crater like ridges caused by vehicles makes the laneway rough for a few weeks. Welcome to spring. Woohoo. And funnily enough (FYI) a silver lining of being self-isolated, no one comes to visit. There you go…good news story.

Pondering for the day – I am not sure what you feel is your morning sunrise, what wakes you up to greet the day? In three sleeps (grandchildren talk) I get to greet the morning sunrise, get up and trek down to the shore and witness the day come to life as the sun peeks up (for however long) above the sea’s horizon to begin a new day. Blessings.

Praise for Education

You got this.

Finally, it’s sunny out, melting some of the snow and allowing me to see the grass beneath. Hope. My daughter and I are still in self-isolation, or at least for me, and her being in the same space…well we are all in this together. Lets adapt. Having just got off of FaceTime with my daughter and her kids, I am thinking of my earlier brief conversation (brief is the operative word) with my 9-year old grandson as he shares that he was working on his on-line grade 4 work that his teacher has created for him and his classmates. Of course, anything to do with teaching, I am all ears. It is a passion of mine even though I am semi-retired from teaching (doing a bit of subbing or was). And now, my grandson’s education takes on a new look as his classroom teacher has had to adapt to her circumstance. This certainly wasn’t in the textbooks and curriculum of BoEd 101. But teachers breathe, its all good.

Oh I do feel for you as teachers (and students and their families for sure). Todays educational environment reminds me adaptation is the mantra of late. This takes me way back (with a smile mind you) to my first teaching experience in northern Ontario on a Native reserve, 300 km north of Thunder Bay. You could only get there by flying in on a Beaver or Cesna airplane which either landed on the gravelled runway or nearby lake (or in the winter you can drive your car over bush roads and frozen lakes). Greeted by the principal, he put us in the bed of truck with luggage, bouncing precariously on a wooden bench, heading towards the compound of the school buildings and teacherages. Out of my element. Oh yes. Did I want to teach? Absolutely. Was I ready? Yes and no. It was the best and worse experience I had in terms of teaching but it taught me that teaching is more than the lesson plans. To me, I think it was more about adapting to my students, the environment and their situation. I can honestly say BEd program did not quite prepare me for my first teaching assignment.

Just imagine entering your very own first classroom. It turns out to be 30 grade 6 ELL students of 20 boys and 10 girls, a local Band hall of the Reserve out in the middle of field (one long rectangular clap board room), kicked over outhouse at the side of the hall, shared space with an disgruntled grade 7 teacher with 30 ELL students, 15 student worn-out double desks, no teacher desk, 1 to 3 ratio of dated text books, one box of broken chalk for a broken chalkboard, two pencils per student for first term, be a kilometre away from the main school buildings, have a limited amount of paper to make work sheets from a mimeograph drum machine (ink all over my hands- oh those were the days), and to top it all off, work with an outdated Canadian curriculum that was not really relevant or supportive to the local Native community. No go-to places to get back-up material to enhance learning. No Scholar’s Choice or Walmart or Staples or Indigo or Dollar Store/Tree or Michaels. Nope. Not even a Tim Horton’s – and I am not even a coffee drinker. One store only – one-stop shopping Hudson Bay General Store. But in the end, what did I learn about teaching…to adapt and modify to work with what I had and what I knew.

Oh the good old days. So my heart definitely goes out to the educational community who are working through and adapting to their present circumstance. Bless your hearts and praise to you all especially teachers. It cannot and will not be easy because that is not your reference or your learning environment. This is not a normal situation so the way of doing things may be outside the box. That is okay. Give yourself a break and know that your efforts are important. You make a difference, remember that.

Teachers have a powerful voice. There is a wonderful poem written by a child to a parent and has been adapted to teachers called When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking. It reminds me of the impact teachers have unbeknownst to what teachers may think. Students pay attention. I would want to find out what the situation is at each home so that you can adapt to the needs of students environment (print, on-line, combination). I would also be making calls to each of the students each week (maybe call at least 2-3 times per week to check in by setting up a date and time). Why? They need to know you care, calm them. Maybe send emails through gmail accounts, find some way to assure its all good, you are okay, let them know their friends are okay, let them know their own things in desk or cubby or locker at school are safe, let them know other teachers/support staff/principal/VP are okay. Check out food programs available when necessary.

Just remember you are not alone. You got this.

Pondering for the day – Let us think of those in the front lines especially the parents/relatives of students in your classroom (or in your own family). They may be on the front lines serving the island: medical staff, truckers, long care facility care workers, volunteers with food programs, drivers, waste management, essential business staff, custodians, and any who serve others. Blessings to you all.

Just thinking of my folks

At my folks and sister/hubby’s place

I have been thinking of my folks today as I read a text from my oldest sister of another one of the antics of my parents at home. I want to say antics because it masks their reality of getting older. Instead of me being true to the situation and accepting what is that their health is declining. This is not what they signed up for. Oddly enough, I am thinking of that Skype conversation I had with my dad last week. He took me up to his bedroom to talk (thank the Lord for iPads) and I could see he was tired and worn. Made a joke saying that he is not as strong as he described how mom was getting harder to carry (do not say that to mom dad- just saying). Looking at him, I saw sadness in his face as he shared with me that he did not see this coming. He and mom planned to do a bit of travelling, bothering us (haha), going to different places and seeing friends. When he began his thought with “Well…” and did not finish, I hurt for him in that moment.

I do realize that I am being selfish here because there are so many people who do not have a mother or a father in their lives as they have long since passed. And I pray for them. But in my world this day, blessed with parents still living, I am once again reminded of the preciousness of life. Over the passed year or so, a significant decline in their health has been evident as my sister sends details of the ‘antics’ of what has been going on (like today). Appreciated C. Last year, she and her hubby, bless their hearts, bought a house with the folks, and have taken on the role of caregiver. For that I am eternally grateful for. (That is a whole other conversation for another time.)

But, boy it sucks big time; yes I said sucks because it does. I tear up because I know that life given to us is fragile and a gift. The human body is such a miracle of creation in itself, put together, functioning its parts in ways that are indescribable as witnessed three weeks ago when holding my newborn granddaughter in my arms…unbelievable joy to be hold. Now my folks are at the other end of the stage of life, where a body grows old and tired and sometimes brings more complicated health issues. My mother has been diagnosed with dementia, an invisible kind of disease that slowly takes her away, both physically and mentally, from the person we know her to be. And my dad, oh my dad, a man that has beat cancer, has to watch his wife slowly become someone he is not used to being with (it is the only way I can describe it right now) and who has not ever taken on a role of caregiver. Patience is a virtue and my dad, well lets just say…nope. Dad will always be a Mr. Fix it kind of guy, full tilt and little pause. My mom, on the other hand, has always taken on the role, so generously and patiently, of caregiver for all. But now, if she really knew what was going on with her and her behaviour (for I do not know if she does), it would be such an indignity to her. It is not mom. And to all of this, I feel a great sadness deep in my heart for her and dad.

One feels lost, walking in a wilderness, not knowing what is before you. That is how I feel with my folks right now. Lost and helpless. I know they are taken care of as my sister is ferocious in her demeanour. She is kind of like my dad in a way and works to make things work. Goodness help their household (just kidding C). I know that worrying is not going to solve anything (but feeling sorry for myself and worrying too – yeah I am going to for a moment or three). But in the end, I believe God is here, holding my folks gently. They are not alone and however I can help…ask. I always try to see the good in things that are happening. One of my favourite mantras to my girls is “its all good” so somehow I have to find the good. Humour helps. A bit of wit in times of yuckiness (is that a word??) and this is muddy up to the neck. So thinking of my folks today and their antics now and beyond, I have to smile with love (or I will tear up which ever comes first). It is not a funny time but it is my folks reality now and getting my head around it. Holding on to my sister saying,”I got this. Not. But I got this”. Yes you do C.

Pondering for the day – With thoughts of gratitude and hope those who struggle with health and well being with their loved ones near or far, may strength and courage be given to you this day and know you are not alone.

On Your Own

On my own

I am wondering if we can see the good in the chaos bestowed upon us in the wake of our current way of living demanded…social distancing. The term itself, social distancing, is not really new for the medical profession has always encouraged the practice of removing self from others when sick or coming down with something. I can think of this scenario playing out multiple times whether at home, at work, an event and be asked “why are you here?” as you look or sound sick; or jokingly a person, making a cross with their fingers, stepping away from you saying, ” Stay away from me, I do not want to get sick.” Funny. Well let me see…NO. At this very moment, the non-practice of social distancing can have ramifications of epic proportions beyond human comprehension…and that my friends is the new. Funny…not so much. So how does one see the good in all this? The beauty of the human condition is that we are social beings by our very nature, and l -o – v – e to be with others (or most do lets just say). And in that, there is the rub. It is not to be. We have to practice that which is not in our nature… .to be on our own, alone in many cases (my girls would say to me mom must be loving it – I really like my own company – just saying). Nevertheless, the selfishness of wanting to be with others, and I mean that in the most gentlest of ways, we cannot ignore what is being asked of us. Of course I feel like breaking out like… I really want to hold my 8 month old granddaughter in my arms and give her a scooch; I want to play with my 9 year old grandson who likes to play jostle with his Rara (my grandma name); and yes I want to see my family who live eight minutes around the corner from me. What else? Well..oh…Okay. I would like to go to Coles, spend time in looking at the latest book releases or sit and be served food at the Starlight Cafe because I want someone to spoil me. Sorry daughter J, but I do not want supper prep to be my turn. AGAIN. And no daughter N, I do not want you to come over and walk around my home with your family so I can see them and not touch them. Love you for that but that hurts my heart. Love you though. So, not today, Karen, not today.

Thank goodness for cell phones, landlines, Skype, FaceTime, social media tools, and such to at least feel connected to family and friends, colleagues, and whomever, wherever. My self-isolation has another week to go and I am not sure what comes next. Putting things in perspective…I am praying for strength and knowledge. I can be a part of the solution. HOW?? Stay at home…I can do that. Wash hands…I can do that. Respect the wisdom being given…I can do that. Walk in my own yard only…I can do that. It is not about me. What is that phrase, ‘there is no I in team’; no there is not. So if being on my own (or at least living with my youngest of daughters is it for awhile – oh Lord give me strength (just kidding) – then so be it. If I have to stand away from others (to other side of sidewalk) then so be it. If I am limited to social outings, then okay. If I go for a walk , I greet with a wave or go the opposite way (not funny). Be on my own, I can do that.

Pondering for the day – Let us pray to have the courage and patience to do what is being asked of you and I. There has been so much that has changed as we do not know what we do not know. On the island, as in everywhere else, real hurt and fear have been taking place and I cannot even begin to fathom the extent of the suffering and loss. But there is good coming out of this for you can see it in the practices and messages all around. And for that, we have to believe it is all good.