Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Month: December 2011 Page 1 of 2

So It Ends

A few hours to go. This is when it behooves me to reflect on things and such. So here I go. Unlike other times, this end of the year feels different. I have to remind myself is the last day of the year or else the hours will slide off and I’ll wake up in 2012 without warning. The way I think of it as I sit at my kitchen table with my blue toes peeking out from the cast is like this. I will write about the things I did and the things I’ll do.

The last 12 months have been a good mix of everything, you see. A good year by all means. In no particular order, just as they trickle out of my brain, they go like this:

  • I got to explore yet another year of amazing times with my boys, see them grow a bit more, I laughed, cried and tumbled with them. They make me a better me, every day
  • I learned to accept myself, to be kind to myself through the amazing people who offer me the gift of love. A good step towards being kind to others
  • I learned the importance of listening by being listened to
  • I traveled more than I did the years before and loved every second of it
  • I had more courage to stand up for what I believe in and for the people I love
  • I had the most soulful talks with my sister whose unconditional love is one of the greatest gifts in my life
  • I had the courage to say a proper goodbye to my Dad whom I am hoping to have around for many years still, while at the same time realizing that his present life is a tough one to endure
  • I got to meet beautiful people who have been tried by life in ways that are cruel and unfair, but their courage humbled me and made me reach inside and understand the depth of the human spirit
  • I learned to say no more often and be true to myself
  • I learned to open up and accept myself with faults and all
  • I learned to forgive, myself and others
  • I learned that by affirming my worth I will help my boys affirm theirs
  • I learned that I have great friends, and what a beautiful, heartwarming gift that is
  • I learned that asking for help is as important as offering it. And both are humbling necessary experiences
  • I learned to appreciate the simple joy of sipping a hot chocolate on a cold rainy Vancouver day and the beautiful quietness of a writing morning
  • I learned that as much as I want to I cannot change people, they can only change themselves and I can be there to offer my support should they need it

As for the next 365 to come, I wish for the following:

  • To remember that each day is a gift and make the best of it
  • To make people I care about feel loved and appreciated
  • To listen; really listen
  • To judge less and understand more
  • To count my blessings and teach my boys count theirs
  • To worry less about the things I cannot change and try my hardest to change the ones I can and should
  • To allow myself to be happy and encourage my boys to do the same
  • To laugh more
  • To simplify all that can be simplified
  • To open my eyes more and see more of my beautiful adoptive country

Here’s to a great year! See you on the other side!

Blue Foot, Hopping and Other Cast-Related Issues

I woke up to a blue foot. All five sleepy toes lined up as usual, three of them a confusing blue. Splitting the white prison open to free them was my first thought but a couple of phone conversations with BC orthopedic nurses got my fright levels back to normal. Bruising is normal after a fracture they said. Fair enough. I am becoming my own blue avatar. A hopping one.
My learning curve regarding broken bones, casts and how to manage life in crutches is a steep one at times, but there’s daily discoveries and I celebrate them accordingly.

  • Stairs are becoming less and less terrifying.
  • Strangers/store clerks offer help and the majority will say “Take good care” when we part. Sometimes they repeat that. They feel it’s necessary and I cannot but appreciate the concern.
  • I can hop fast around the house, I can take the garbage out and I can move things by kicking them along with my crutches. Hockey style. This is the place for it, no?
  • I am making time for cleaning up old files from my computers and backing up valuable ones. Wait, that’s not true. Time was made for me. A gift in disguise. I feel humbled and grateful.

Due to my last two posts my blog was found through searches such as broken ankle/crutches/cast and crutches. A different perspective for sure. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that when the going gets tough I can say “everything happens for a reason.” Because it really does.

Toe Wiggling (With A Chance Of Walking)

You’ll say it’s silly, I’ll argue it’s not. Toe wiggling, that is. Such an easy thing to do for those who do not sport a cast. It’s not my first cast but definitely my most challenging, pain and duration that is – I’m still aiming for four weeks in case you’re wondering. Today I managed to wiggle my toes and the realization of it added some well-needed spunk to my day. I can do some exercises that do not involve pounding on my left foot and that gets some endorphins going too, one can never have too much of that. Empowering stuff. Here’s the rest of what I’ve discovered:

  • Going up and down the stairs can be daunting if one leg is not working the way it usually does. Doable nonetheless.
  • Stairs without railings are a cruel joke for people like me. Doable though.
  • Slippery surfaces are my worst enemy. Never underestimate the power of wet pavement tiles. Never underestimate them. Ain’t no mistake, it has to be said twice.
  • Most chores are done by me on a regular basis (read “when my legs are not broken”) which is why the boys are now asking “why me, I just finished the other one.” Responsibility builds character, right? By the end of January I’ll hear the question less and less.
  • The boys are lined up to be gifted the crutches once I’m done. Nifty toy, they said. Can’t argue.

As for my long-term plan, here it is: I’ll keep wiggling my toes, I’ll keep my exercise routine up and running – no pun, why should there be one anyway since I’m only wearing one running shoe these days – and most importantly, I’ll make sure to remind myself myself yet again by how blessed I am. To have the restricted mobility just for a short time yet hopefully long enough to add another facet to my understanding of the world around and the miracle of simple actions like walking. Just walking, with occasional jumping if need be, should the boys challenge me. Which they will. I am looking forward to it.

 

Broken. With a Silver Lining

Do you know those times when you feel like saying “If only I had not…” Maddening at best, wouldn’t you say. Hindsight is a taunting friend when you don’t need one. I hurt my knee two weeks ago, was confident that I am recovered enough to go skiing again which I did. Mostly because I had promised the boys I’ll take them. Turns out that good intentions have to be backed up by mindfulness. Mild, unadventurous skiing can be peppered with just enough mishap to compromise joints. Again. A loose knee joint is not something I wish upon anyone. Not the most painful thing I’ve been through but definitely the weirdest. Backwards knee buckling is a mouthful and rightfully so.
Last night rain, wet leaves and slippery sidewalk edges made my ankle slip and break. My knee was simply not able to hold its own given the above mentioned. A split second later I resembled a crumpled leaf. And moved as much as one. At all, that is. With the closest emergency room closed I ended up in the Vancouver General Hospital Emergency Room. Never been there except for driving a friend once. Quite frightening for me to be the driven one this time. Germs aside, the vulnerability of my body needing urgent medical care scares me. There, full admission.
Three hours in waiting rooms and after being scanned by robotic long-armed x-ray machines I found myself face to face with a kind-faced doctor who built me a cast. For the next four to six weeks he said. I tried to get him to say four but he only smiled a kind smile and repeated “Four to six.” Before he wrapped me up I mentioned that I should say goodbye to my leg. The good doctor raised a brow and most likely thought what my closest ones think at times: “you’re strange.” A bit of a break will do me good, he added, by then the knee will be healed too. Two birds, one stone.
I was ushered to the car in a wheelchair with my brand new crutches resting on my lap. Quite an awful feeling for someone who does not admit to physical limitations, not even when they are staring me in the face. Humbling, you could say.
I am now looking at four to six weeks of limited mobility and a whole lot of learning about counting my blessings.
Last and not least, there is a lot to be said about people who know how to take my vulnerability and wrap up my bruised limbs and ego in it like it’s the warmest blanket. I had one as my guardian angel last night.

Counting my blessings feels right. Necessary too.

 

Christmas Spirit and All

There is a camellia bush outside my kitchen window. On the north side. That’s where the sidewalk licks one side of the house. The camellia bush is thick and oval-shaped like an oversized green egg. Perfect to drape some Christmas lights around. Which I did, on December 1st. They looked pretty until today when someone ripped them off and threw some in the middle of the road. I found them in shape of Christmas lights roadkill. I was not sure whether to feel sad or angry. Actually I did, I felt angry. Why would someone do that? When our Thanksgiving pumpkin was stolen I assumed it was a joke. A bad one, but still, I offered the benefit of doubt. Now it’s the lights. The boys kept asking me why and I had no better answer than “because someone felt like it.” They both concluded that the people who did it were “mean idiots” and I could not bring myself to be socially meek and reprimand their judgmental attitude.

So much for the Christmas spirit, you’ll say. Well, mine is just temporarily dampened, but it’ll be back up by tomorrow morning. I fixed the remaining lights, will go get some more to replace the ones that got destroyed, but the worst of this whole thing is that I lost the safe feeling I had all along since moving to this neighborhood. As a recovering nictophobic – afraid of darkness and all that’s encompassed by it – well, it’s not easy. It took me years – not a figure of speech at all – to convince myself that taking the garbage out is not a deadly deed and people actually live to tell the story. If you’ve never lived through fear like that smile away. It’s not pretty. Invisible meanness and the concealing darkness as a perfect accomplice gnawing at my innocent Christmas lights made me both fearful and angry and brought back some shards of that old stiff-like-ice fear feeling.Threw them out with the rest of the garbage tonight though. Because I have choices, you see. To yield or not. I choose not to.

I will continue to assume that people are good, most of them anyway. The ones who show meanness will only reinforce the belief that we don’t live in a perfect world and that’s that. That’s one of the reasons why I could never approve of those children’s books where all characters are good and noble and loving without an ounce of malice. They ain’t real. They’re not telling of the real world and are therefore bound to build a bubble that will burst eventually. And when it does it’s both noisy and stinky. Been there done that so I can talk about it. Yeah, it was before the Christmas lights got smoked, no pun intended.

The boys will ask about it for a while, I’m sure of it, trying to understand why. They never will, because there is no good enough answer. I cannot explain meanness. But I’ll tell them the good news, and that is that we have choices, always. Even in the dark.

The Power of Love

Today I bathed two guinea pigs. No hidden messages or trying to be funny. Plain truth. There’s two of them, they are newly adopted and I did it because of my boys. The adoption, I mean. There. Because in some years from now I’d like for them to fondly remember that December night when we drove to one faraway SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) branch to pick up two guinea pigs which we visited the night before. Why, you ask? Because I have my own fond memory of a good day at the farmers’ market with my Mom, you see. I was 10 or so, it was a nice summer day and as impressive as all those mountains of tomatoes and peaches were, I was speechless when I peeked into a big cardboard box that contained seven bunnies. I asked to hold one, the elderly gentleman¬† chuckled knowing that the bunny will come with and asked me to pick my favorite. I pointed to the white one that had a black patch over his eye and another on his back, a twitchy nose and a whole lotta sudden love draped over it from my very own melted heart. I turned towards my mom, pleaded my case and walked home with the bunny in my arms. We had to stop by a few stores on our way home and no one was prouder than me.

Mom worried a bit about what Dad would say. He smiled mostly and offered to make a nice little sleeping quarter for my bunny. At that point I only had a hamster and chickens. The dog was about to land there in a couple of years. The bunny lived a happy long life, he was almost eight when he died of old age, after summers of roaming free around the yard and befriending my dog.

The memory of that summer day and of that first time holding my chosen bunny made me call the SPCA and discuss the adoption. Yes, it’s called adoption, and there’s many papers involved, all for a good cause. A bit intimidating nonetheless. The memory of my mom shaking her head with that half-amused smile while I was holding the bunny victoriously made me call and arrange for a bale of Timothy hay and then hop in the car and drive to where the city lights fade slightly and pick up two guinea pigs, one blind and both skittish. I signed papers, I promised to take good care of them and prayed that I will not wake up regretting it the next morning. I did not. And if I actually admitted I did it’s all the same.

The boys are on cloud nine. I am for now the one doing the cleaning, they provide entertainment and countless twigs of cilantro which the little fury residents love.
Today we bathed them, dried them in towels and fed them some carrots and peppers.
They live long enough to make my heart skip a beat when I really think about it but the boys’ smiles are worth it. They are gentle and talk softly around the new furry buddies but they still wrestle and do the boisterous boyish things they’ve always done. Good to see both sides.
As for hasty pet-acquiring decisions, what can I say. It may look like that, but I am quite sure I won’t be loading the boys in the car in a couple of years from now in pursuit of any furry creatures that might or might not like cilantro. They’d be too old for that. Yesterday is already gone and today will be over soon. I’d feel awfully bad to look back over the shoulder and think “I should’ve…”

PS: Did the title make you think pets? It’s OK to say no, I know you didn’t.

One Size Fits All? Hardly

Tony learned to read when he was three. Sasha is five and a half and spelling a bit but not that interested in spelling and reading by himself yet. He listens to books on CDs and sits through bedtime readings of thick chapter books like Prince Caspian or Alice in Wonderland. Tony wanted to learn to read and his reading skills have always been above the norm. He is wired that way. Sasha occasionally says that it’d be nice to know how to read but then again he’s so busy drawing and putting together pulley systems with one of his favorite toys – a long piece of string – that he does not see the urgency. I could not agree more.

Yet the school believes otherwise. Children his age who are not eager readers/spellers are prodded, albeit gently, to get up to speed. Sasha is such a kid. His world is a rich one that pulsates with so much enthusiasm yet he’s not where he should be apparently. He’s not like the rest of them. Not that Tony was either. He was on the opposite side of it, he was supposed to slow down to fit in. I’m tempted to say he did not and I hope he won’t. Just like I hope Sasha will learn to read when he’ll see the point and he will. Pushing him would defeat the purpose of what real learning is about.

So the question is “why”? That’s the elegant soft spoken side of my frustration with this issue. There may be good intentions behind the gentle prodding but the danger of it is that it may make children feel inadequate or even worse, less smart. At Sasha’s age I think playing and listening to stories, whether on CDs or read to him by an adult or his older brother, is the right thing to do. I fail to understand the need to make each child fit into a mold. They each have their own interests and curiosities and they still have the guts to affirm them without the fear of being judged. They explore and poke the world around in a way that makes sense to them. They want to learn and they seek knowledge. Isn’t that what we’re after ultimately? Or should be? Why not let them be and encourage them in their curiosity rather than make them self-conscious of what they are not yet capable to do not because they are incapable but because they don’t see the point yet.

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