Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Tag: hope

In troubling times, choose what to focus on

Life as we know it is changing every day. New routines and measures are popping up every day and it takes some solid pep talk to not succumb to panic. We will see better days, just not yet. Not for a while. There will be bad ones, possibly many, before things get better. There are graphs and simulations and news coming from all directions. Some will provide good information and others will also make your hair stand on end, factual as they may be (try this link for a reliable bird’s eye view.) Still, the worst is not knowing. And yet, putting all your energy into hunting down more information than available in the media (which is by everyone’s standards, A LOT,) might not take you to the place where you are settled enough to do your work, or connect with your loved ones, or just be with yourself without panic.

So, about that.  

Why it matters that we exercise simplicity (while it is still a choice)

Every now and then I play an interesting game with myself. I deliberately avoid buying more food when we still have enough supplies in the house to make a few more meals. The process conjures creativity but that’s what makes it interesting. That’s where empowerment sprouts.

Seriously though, why do it?

Why not decide on a menu and then shop for ingredients? Spoiler alert: this is not a cooking post; as you will see below, it goes far beyond that. Why cook with whatever available, when available? Because:

The Search of Meaning Behind Darkness

‘Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.’ Martin Luther

I have a round rock on my desk with a word on it: tranquility. It was given to be by the elderly lady who lived across the street from us during our first years in Kamloops.

It was after little boy’s most violent so far asthma attack when ambulances and fire trucks created the show of bright lights no one wants to be a direct part of. The rock is a reminder that someone cared enough to think of me needing it, then went looking for it and put it in my hand. That our former neighbour is almost blind makes it that much more meaningful.

The rock makes me think of that desirable state every time I pick it up and my thumb caresses over the word, erasing a few more molecules of paint every time, reminding me of how fragile the very concept is and how blinded we are when it comes to finding its meaning or at least stay on the path leading to it. The word eludes me still and, I dare say, most of the people out there.

Today the world got shattered again by two terrorist attacks in Brussels. The shadows are back again. In our world that is, the world where you can walk, on any given day, by a golden daffodil and actually see it without having to fear that a bomb or a bullet might kill you. Yet so many other people in other parts of the world do not get to see their daffodils bloom or they don’t care anymore if they are in bloom or not because life where they are does not allow for it. Today is a reminder of all of that and more.

It’s senseless. The death some humans hurl onto others. History has proven time and time again that hurting will only bring more of the same. The death of the innocent will make some turn to forgiveness and the rest to hatred, which is the unfortunate fuel that powers such attacks and the short unproductive answer to the most unproductive question of all: Why?

Today people were killed in retaliation, following the arrest of a suspect of the Paris attack just four days ago (claimed by the Islamic State). It makes no sense at all to most of us. It only casts a shadow as big and dark as the shadow of crime can be, leaving us bewildered as to how to find our way back to hope and faith in humanity. Tranquility?

That the world has been an unkind place for too long is no secret. We have made it to the moon and back more than once, we have split the atom and yet here we are, still clueless in the face of unexpected violent death that humans inflict upon humans. As much as I want to think that one day such things will not happen, I cannot.

Today is a reminder that we carry both love and hatred in our hearts, light and darkness to use as we see fit, two sides to learn from and employ in our search for meaning. Today will make some more hateful and others less so as they understand that hatred and revenge lower us to below human while pointing to the obvious: we are all the same, capable of both, and the choice of one over the other is what makes us different in how we live.

Today comes with grief and questions. It reminds of death and hope also, and it reminds of how choosing to unload the burden of hatred makes us light enough to carry on with the search for what makes sense.

Today is a day to remember to pray for all of those who suffer as they go to sleep tonight knowing that they’ll wake up without their loved ones, for those who try to not lose their hearts to hatred and for those who are hiding in its dark corners still, ready to take more lives and refusing to understand that meaning will never come from killing and causing someone to suffer. Today tries us and our strength to carry on hoping, yet again and despite of.

20160321_180232Today reminds of the truth we so often forget… The day is all we have, the chance to make it count renewed each day. On any given day, we catch wisps of hope from wherever we can find them and hurry to unravel strands of despair, crushing them as we strive to find our way through shadows and refusing to give in to fear and hatred, because meaning is never to be found in places where they exist.

Life Like A River We’re Better At Paddling Together

Initially published as a column in the Armchair Mayor News on August 29, 2014. 

Two days ago I wrote an obituary; my father’s. It’s never an easy thing, even when you know that people wanted to move on because suffering was taking too much out of them.

The hard part is seeing the world reshaping itself after they are in it no more. It’s a feeling we learn to fear, and we forget that the rhythm of life could not be a harmonious one unless we acknowledge death is part of it.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotions, ups and down of awakenings, staring reality in the face, knowing that it is the only way to do it right.

Through this and many other rollercoaster jolts life had in store lately, clouds crowding a sky I wanted blue and serene thinking it is mine to decide, I was reminded of the one thing that matters the most: I am not alone. No one really is.

My family has been guarding my well-being with love and patience, keeping guard from winds that would’ve kept me down for too long. Close friends made their presence known and felt, ever so gently, ever so unconditionally bringing themselves into our lives, knowing that when we make room for joy, sorrowful as it was at times, the rough seas will let me see the silver lining. They did.

I went through piles of photos, I dug out my dad’s memories, us four, mom, dad, my sister and I, and through telling stories to my soon-to-be husband and sons, and to our friends, I relived a childhood that was magically beautiful and fully belonging to me.

I’ve been sailing many waters since, walking through sunsets that had me tear up or jump high with the expectations of tomorrow. You soar high one day, and then you tumble and dust off your knees the next.

My dad’s passing, preceded by my mother’s eight years ago, reminded me of the journey they hoped and wished for me when they brought me into the world. It reminded me of how my sons came, started their own and of the flurry of hope I padded their wings with and keep on doing so every day.

My dad’s passing was a sad reminder of how nothing is permanent, and that only makes every day worth more than we are often able to realize and it also reminded me that we are not alone. The most cynical of us will say that we come alone and we leave alone, and that has truth to it. Life is a singular affair by default, at the entry and exit points. But the in between does not need to be.

I have friends holding my heart through this, and I have the kind of family I wish upon everyone. They are present because I let them, because I no longer hold the secrets of life to myself and by doing that I open up doors that all of us know the contour of too well.

There is a wealth of goodness in people around. They open up arms and hearts and through hiccups of discovering who’s in for the long haul and who is not – a necessary part of it all, we learn that being alive is something we never do alone, and it should not be. We all have stories we carry around, we all need to share them because when we do, we give permission to others to share theirs and we find that though details may differ, we build life towers with the same building blocks, we see the same sunsets and sunrises, we love and let go, and through it all, we keep on going no matter what because going while someone is there to share the journey makes it all better.

Losing people we love dearly hurts, it always does and the pain may grow dull but it will never go away. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel, when you think it all unfair, but through the thick of it all, the silver lining makes itself seen brighter than expected: it is all worth it, every moment of it.

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