Tag Archives: love

Why Are Able-bodied People So Mean?

Each week I  volunteer to serve stroke patients at Mackenzie Hospital. Though I truly appreciate this work, I get a little dis-heartened the mornings I walk into a room of physiotherapist and occupational therapists. In this room filled with 6 or 7 people, I can find but one pair of eyes to genuinely acknowledge my smile or my presence. I can find but another one or two faces to share a glance or a word that welcomes me into the room.

I walk out, a little less bubbly than I walked in. I then walk into a room with one or a group of elderly patients. I expect to be greeted with smiles and love, and I am rarely disappointed.

What Does it Mean When the Strong and Able-Bodied Lack Friendliness

Does this mean that many, who are so strong and able-bodied, are so preoccupied with themselves that they appear inconsiderate and mean! Maybe; or maybe it means something else. Perhaps it means that more often than I would like to admit, my expectations for the seemingly strong and able-bodied are too low, my compassion invisible, my smile barely noticeable.

Expect Good and You Will Create Good – Expect Bad and You Will Create Bad

With my expectations, I create my reality. Have I been helping to create a disadvantaged character of meanness for those who appear to be stronger, more able bodied than me? Can I not see that in many ways they are like me?

Though I flash a quick smile, I quickly hold my head down in worry about my disadvantages, leaving little time for them to see my disappearing smile. With my thoughts caught up in my must-do’s or challenges, I cannot notice their own preoccupations and needs. I do not let them know that I care a little about them. No wonder they live up to my low expectations. I am likely living up to theirs.

Change Your Perception – Change Your Relationships

I must change my stereotypes of those who are different from me. When I see others as mean, I limit the possibility of us uplifting, working or doing business together. When I see others as kind, I wait for and encourage their positive response to my greetings, to my presence. I open the door to impact, and be impacted by, their achievements.

Try This

I now ask you to reflect on another more pertinent question. What good do you see in those who are different from you, how can you help to bring it out, and how can this impact your achievements? I too will reflect on this, and share what I see.

Are you living your life your way?

It was not until my brain attach that I understood the meaning of Frank Sinatra song, “My Way.”  The first stanza of the song follows.

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

This a song not for when we are old or dying, but for that point of our life when we begin to lose ourselves to people, things or the status-quo. No one wants to find out when it is too late, the importance of living life “their way.”

Thank God for my stroke, for without it I would not have realized that I was not living life my way. For example, I need to dress colorfully, find “out of the box” ways of doing things, and relate to people in an honest way. I need these things to bring out the fire in me. Sometimes I feel I need them, just to breathe.

When I wear funky red clothes, I feel filled with as much light as the very material I am wearing. My attire does not always fit with the unspoken dress code of most workplaces or churches, but it sure fits with me. When I develop a virtual training session for soft skills development, this may be out of the box for many people, yet it bountifully boosts my ability to break down barrier to learning and sharing. When I share my honest thoughts, this may be uplifting or terribly disappointing to someone, yet it is my commitment to inserting true love that will heal us all, certainly me.

Up until my 20’s and early 30’s, my way of being seemed to push me to full expression of self, like the vibrancy of youth. At that time, my appearance and my spirit was colourful, out of the box and honest in my life and work. One example of this was when I worked for the Canadian International Development Agency. I came up with and created the Agency’s Self-Directed Learning Centre, which was one of the first such centre’s created in the Canadian Government. It became a model for other departments, and was hailed as one of the best accomplishments that came out of CIDA’s Human Resources Department.

As the years went on, my way of doing things became lost in my inner-fight to fit in, to be like others, to have what others had. I wore darker clothes, conformed to the status quo, and kept my mouth shut, leaving people to believe whatever they wanted.

With my stroke began the re-emergence of my individual and colourful being, my out-of-the-box thinking, and my desire to courageously share the truth instead of hiding under the falseness of saying nothing. As a result, though I am getting older, the youth in me is re-emerging.

I just bought pairs of red, orange and yellow pants – and if I may so myself, they are rocking! I am loving introducing more and more previously intimated people to doing meetings and training via Webex. Finally, I now have the voice to share my faith and tell people if I believe what they are doing or saying is hurtful to themselves or others.

So what do you think? Are you able to do things your way in all aspect of your life? What is the impact?

Here is Sinatra singing “My Way.” Reflect on the words, again or for the first time.

My Gift From 2012: Joy or Pre-Mature Death

DS-1225-3bwebHow did 2012 bring you forward on your quest to living your best life? The answer to this question may be a critical starting point for coming closer to our best selves in 2013. I got confirmation as to why I am alive, and what will heal me as I move forward!

In 2012, as I shared joyful laughter with my daughter, brought hope to stroke patients at the hospital where I volunteer, or chat cheerfully with Mobility drivers, I felt what it was to passionately contribute to life. This past year made it clear to me that I am here to bring joy, love and goodness to everyone around me! Obviously, I do not always do this. However, what I discovered from  increasing my post-stroke interactions outside of my home, is that this loving way of being is essential to my healing. It felt like a choice between the life which I am meant to live or death!

When I was angry, grudge-ful or unkind, I was almost always overcome with a bad headache (sometime a migraine), panic attacks, and severe difficulty thinking or making sense of things. On the other hand , when I was considerate of others, spread hope, or shared joyful feeling with others, I saw shocking brilliance from my stroke damaged brain.

For example I was playing a version of Family Feud at a Recreation Therapy session with patients and staff at the hospital.  I reluctantly agreed to represent my team in the final round of the game, where I competed against a representative of the other team. Each of us got points if we could come up with the number one answer to questions. I was scared of embarrassing myself, for I thought I was so much less than I was prior to the stroke. However, in seconds, I got all but one of the number one answers – better than I have ever performed. And this was no fluke, I did the same with another activity. I had to ask myself, where did that come from? Yet, I knew it was the joy and love I felt around me!

I am convinced  that joy not only gives life, it heals! I felt joy when I put love into my commitment as a mother, a trainer, or a friendly visitor to patients. My goal was to see people be and feel the best of themselves. As a result, they demonstrated joy and hope. They also spread their energy of growth, healing and prosperity to others close to them, such as myself.

2012 made it clear to me. Spread joy and I spread rejuvenation of my body and the body of those around me. The only other alternative would be to consume myself with the sad, frustrating, and sometimes terrifying pain, which resembles pre-mature death. I choose joy for 2013 and beyond.

Pay It Forward at Christmas

I sometimes feel unhappy at Christmas. I thought this year was no exception, until a loved-one showed up with a special blessing.

no giftsDue to the adjustments in my life since my stroke, I have come to realize that it’s not fiscally responsible for me to buy much more than a couple thank-you Christmas gifts for those who have generously helped me and my daughter (Shani) out throughout the year.  The reason is that I feel totally stressed when someone gives me or Shani a gift, knowing that many give to get back. Thus it feels like the most emotionally healthy choice is to remove myself as much as possible from the practice of gifts-exchange at Christmas.

Well, this year has been a little different, as getting and giving suddenly became a stress-free and joyful experience!

Shani and I gratefully appreciate the special gift she has gotten from her Dad, and other gifts she will get from her grandmother, aunt and uncles. However, this past Saturday, neither of us expected the shopping spree that her god-father took us on!

shopping spree

As we walked through the first store, I experienced his joy and listened to his laughter as he filled a basket with loads of sumptuous treats mostly for Shani, but also for me too! I had to bury my pride as I grumbled a little, thinking:

‘This is too much. Who am I, who are we, to deserve all this.’

Even so, it was not over! He bought us to various stores, directing Shani to choose what she wanted. On top of what she already received, she choose another 7 articles of clothing, and a lovely doll set. Then he took us for a delicious lunch.

pay it forwardIt was not just this receiving that made us happy; it was the realization that even though the gifts come ‘through’ Shani’s god-father, they originate ‘from’ God. With this in mind, I believe we must give back to someone in need. Thus I decided we will do as in the movie “Pay It forward.” That is to say, we will pay back this act of kindness, not to the one who gave to us, but to another individual. In doing so, we will ask that they too pay it forward. We ask that they do any act of kindness for someone else, even something as simple as donating a toy.

Therefore this Christmas, we are giving a special Christmas gift to a single mother and her son (my grand-nephew), who are in need. I love the opportunity to help my daughter understand the true meaning of paying it forward, the true meaning of kindness, and the true meaning of God’s blessing.

Motivating Through Loved-Based Conversations

When I do friendly visits at the hospital,I often see two patients (to maintain confidentiality I will call them Mrs. V and Mrs. L). I estimate that they are in their early 70’s. I have seem them cry sobbing tears as they come to terms with the devastating stroke, which took them from their former strength and independence, to paralysis and total dependence on others.

To motivate Mrs. V and Mrs. L, I engage them in what I call love-based conversations. When I push their wheelchairs or sit with them, we share life stories that are filled with hope and optimism. When we talk of the stroke, I share my own long ordeal, and the hope that lead to miraculous healing, especially of my heart. I point out that they too are likely on a long road, which can be brightened with positive energy and hope. No one knows where that road will carry them. Yet in that moment, that road has brought me to them, and it is my sincere pleasure to learn from them and spend a little time with them.

I have also looked on the saddened faces of the daughters of Mrs. V and Mrs. L, as they struggle with their own desire to see their mother as she once was. As I compassionately make myself a listening for their frustrations, I hear one daughter, or another, say such things such as:

‘She just won’t try. I am trying to help, but she won’t listen. She doesn’t understand that she can’t come home, for she can’t do anything for herself. She needs to be some place, where they have people to work with her, to help her get better. She is angry. I am so stressed.

I have compassion for these daughters, who loyally visit, and want so much to motivate their mothers to get better. I say to them:

Your mother is now experiencing a new normal. Give her the love and compassion she needs to create whatever possibilities the future desires. Do not hold her in comparison to a past that is no more. The paralysis, tears, and the anger are parts of her healing. Try not to be frustrated with her for this, just compassionately be with her. Make an effort to let go of any frustration that may prevent you from giving the hugs, the laughter, and the hope that can motivate your mother to find and hold on to the hope she needs.

The daughters hear, but it is hard for them to listen to more than their pain, to see more than the physical reality. The mothers, on the other hand, have no choice but to see and hear more that what appears real, for their healing is unseen. When they engage in loved-based conversations, they can see a more hopeful possibility for themselves.

In the few weeks I have been there, daughters of both families have told me how much my visits mean to their mothers. Even when I am not there, I know the impact remains. Mrs. V pastes my name on the side of her tissue box. Mrs. L always wants to know where I was, indicating that she misses me on the days I am not there. As long as our love-based conversations remain in their minds, I pray they receive the continued hope and motivation they so yearn for.

The Good on the Backside of Super Storm Sandy

This storm was an unfortunate, yet necessary reminder that we are prone to disasters in many ways and many places. Hurricanes, super storms, diseases, and other disasters are conditions of our life on this earth.

These tragedies are like loud speakers, shouting the love that we are to each other, the love that we need to survive. Even those of us who may be hundreds or thousands of miles away from catastrophic happenings, are engulfed by emotions of love, compassion, and hope. This is certainly great good on the backside of this pain.

Situations and times like this bring out the greatness that lives within our spirit. Here are just a few examples:

  • Republicans and democrats laid down their political weapons and armour and opened themselves up to the love, compassion and collective responsibility needed to aid the storm
    ravaged victims and the world.
  • Good Samaritans set up charging stations, so people can charge their phones. Others used their vehicles to transport stranded victim from flooded areas.
  • Across neighbourhoods,  fire-fighters, police officers, and others courageous people put out fires, as well as rescued families and individuals whose homes were being destroyed.
  • In the middle of the furious storm, nurses, emergency management teams and others, courageously evacuated critically ill infants, the elderly, and other patients from hospitals in black-out conditions, including such acts as carrying a small child, who is struggling to breathe, down pitch-black flights of stairs.

We know that such disasters such as Sandy will come again. Perhaps much worse another time. We know also that it is our good that will be our ultimate lifesaver.

Finding Myself

Spirit moved me to write the following piece, which I call ‘Finding Myself.’ It came as a result of a friend saying that God is everywhere; thus she feels no need for church. I was called to look within myself for my own motivation.

I don’t go home to find love
I don’t go to work to find success
I don’t go to church to find God
I go to find myself
When I find me
I find love,
I find success
I find God