I recently read that when you want to bulk up your muscles by working out, it tears your muscle and creates a scar. That scar is what makes your muscle bulkier and makes you stronger.
Reading that reminded me of the above quote.
Every scar. Every physical, emotional and spiritual wound. Every stretch mark you endure, tells the story of your life. It shows what you have endured and survived, and makes you stronger.
Our scars make us stronger. They make us more beautiful, more uniquely us, and as an extra bonus, more compassionate and kind toward others. They tell the story of our life.
But just as with any workout routine, you first decide to be healthier, you embrace the current discomfort, you work through the pain, you rest when you need to, and then do it again. it takes time to see the results.
I’ve been working here at Oxford House for just little over two years and I can attest to what a great organization it is!
Hardly a day goes by that I am not hearing an amazing story, or learning something new about myself about honesty, integrity, sweating the small stuff, and the list goes on and on!
So I’ve just now decided a small way I can give back. As soon as I’ve published this post, I am making a $22 donation to Oxford House in honour of its 22nd birthday here and I’m going to challenge you to do the same.
if you’ve ever been helped by Oxford House, or you know someone who has, or you knew Ron MacMillan, Founder and past executive director of Oxford House, and want to donate in his name, or you know someone who is struggling with addiction or has lost their battle with addiction, and you just want to help someone else in their name, who is living in an Oxford House, will you consider donating today?
This loss spills out over things I never thought it would touch and i am shattered by the falsehood of permanence.
– Chloe Frayne
She’s slipping away, bit by bit. In many ways I’ve already lost the woman I’ve known as mother all my life. She’s being replaced with a new woman, one who has endearing qualities of her own, one who although a stranger to me, I’m struggling to know.
What a conundrum to build a new relationship, when memories created moments ago, are forgotten as quickly as they are experienced.
Yet what a gift it is in teaching me how to ‘live in the moment, love in the moment,‘ right in the moment we have.
She may not remember my visit, or the laughs we shared at the dinner table, or the conversation we had on the phone, or that the big-comfy-after-bath-housecoat I bought her, is hanging in her closet, but I hope with all my heart, the love shared in these moments transcends the moments, and makes its home in her heart forever, even if one day, she forgets me.
“What is the name of that singer I really liked?” mom asked me, sitting across the booth from me at her ‘second home’ at Vieux Chateau in Hawkesbury, ON. “You know, the guy who sang, ‘You ain’t nothing but a groundhog?’“
How interesting that mom would ask that question, with the mistaken groundhog instead of the actual hound-dog from the song she so loved by Elvis Presley, since my brother and I had recently discussed how life with mom is sort of like the movie Groundhog Day.
Two years ago, mine and Mike’s dad, and mom’s husband of 56 years passed away. Mom hasn’t been the same since. How can someone go on when their husband, whom they have spent more than half their life with, is suddenly gone.
It hasn’t been easy for mom, or for us kids who are witnesses to the profound sadness that saturates mom’s reality. And just recently mom has also had to give up driving and leave the home that she and dad built together to move into a retirement home.
Getting old sucks!
We try to tell ourselves otherwise to make ourselves feel better, but it’s a shit show of giving up independence and autonomy. Sure, one can still find joy in moments and be grateful for what remains, but as in the case of mom, that takes a great deal of re-focusing and determination.
You see, mom isn’t who she once was. She has become very forgetful and displays signs of dementia, and she knows it. Imagine if half your brain was breaking down, and the other half was fully aware of it. It can’t be easy for her. And she is different. She’s not the mom we knew. But the new Margot is beautiful. She’s compassionate. She is concerned about the future of, and misses, her family immensely.
During my one-week visit, I watched mom reach out to others who are struggling, doling out hugs, taking the arm of a woman who has pain when she walks. Mom is fierce in her efforts to help and protect others, because she knows firsthand what it means to feel helpless. She is beautifully compassionate when she hugs and cries with those who are hurting. And although she doesn’t feel it, she is brave, emotionally connected and a light in the darkness.
It’s not been easy for us, her kids, because we are heartbroken with the cards that life has dealt mom. We feel guilty because we can’t spend as much time as we would like with her. And yet, we are so proud of her and so in awe of her ability to FEEL the moment and experience it in the moment.
I don’t mind so much when she cries, because that is RAW honesty, and it passes. She feels it. Accepts it. And moves on. I guess the hardest part is when she panics, when she feels that she screwed up in someway, when the chaotic thoughts in her head send her into a tailspin. Thankfully, these episodes seem to be less, now that she gets her medication dispensed by a nurse at the correct times.
Don’t misread me. It’s not all gloom and doom. Mom’s only been in her new home for a month. She needs time to mourn what’s she’s lost, and grow accustomed to her new surroundings. We do have high hopes of a meaningful quality of life experience for her moving forward. We look forward to a possible trip with the whole family to Germany, mom’s homeland, and we look forward to a June wedding between my daughter and her fiancé.
But I don’t think we are fully off the hook. Individually, and as a society, we need to take a long, hard look at how we treat the elderly. How do we make sure that there is still “life” in their lives? How do we create an environment where joy can exist? How do we move away from ‘doing everything’ for them to ‘helping them find their new purpose?’ How do we move away from the warehousing of elderly people, to an integrated model of all society that includes children and all ages? And how do we keep the conversation going until we find it?
Getting old sucks, but it doesn’t have to…
Check out the amazing results that happened after this cool 6 week experiment.
~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~
Mom lives at Place Mont Roc now; a wonderful place, run by wonderful people, helping wonderful people. Their kindness is amazing and it’s a great foundation on which to build what we can further do to respect and keep the dignity of our seniors; our moms and dads.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of Louise Gallagher’s company. It has become a tradition for us to meet each year before Christmas. And I always leave our time together re-energized.
Among the many topics we cover, we talk about Louise’s current move to a new home. I imagine, because of Louise’s creative soul, she must have lots to pack as she’d be inclined to keep things that might be used in a future art project.
“Yes I do,” she affirms, and holds up a print out saying, “I look at this and wonder how I could use it for art.” She goes on to tell me about an empty container she keeps that reminds her to ‘hold space’ for things she cannot change, like the hurts she has caused others, or others’ have caused her.
I pull a black, shiny stone out of my pocket – an Apache Tear – and tell her when I feel it in my pocket I remember those whom I have lost in this life, and those who still struggle.
Do you have a meaningful object? What does it remind you of?
Two things that stand out to me, when Dad taught me to drive are, don’t let the guy behind you pressure you. Don’t drive faster for him. Drive the speed you feel comfortable with. And, Look where you want to go. Look as far up the road as is visually possible. Don’t look at the sharp corner you’re on. You saw that a while back, you knew it was coming, you’ll get through it.
Sometimes while in the curves life throws at us, we feel the pressures of life pushing us to do something we’re not comfortable with. We can’t take our eyes off the current situation. We’re looking for a quick fix. It is then when we must fight the urge to focus on the trouble we’re in and keep our eyes on where we’re headed.
~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~
Perspective: Maybe God is taking you through troubled waters because your enemy can’t swim.
WE HAD ANTICIPATED WARMER WEATHER, 19c/67f degrees to be exact, but in Calgary, it is hard to predict weather beyond 48 hours. On ride day, it seemed nice enough outside early in the morning, but it got quite windy and cold after the riders were sent out. And I swear, that no matter what direction the route took, the wind was blowing cold and full blast, into my face. Coupled with that, having gained at least 15 pounds since last year’s ride, I ended up having to dismount, a couple of times, part way up hills, and walk them.
I can laugh about it today, but another thing I did on ride day, was miss the 10km turn off, so I unwittingly rode about 5km more than I signed up for,(probably a good thing, seeing as I have gained weight), but I took two others with me! So you’d have to ask Earl and Kellie how they felt about me misleading them – sorry guys!
None of that is important when compared to the benefit that resulted through the compassionate efforts of the riders, walkers, donors and volunteers, who all played a role in raising over $20,000 for Oxford House. Practically speaking, this means that eight men or women in recovery, will have a home, and support in their recovery, for an entire year!
I personally want to thank those 20 people who supported my ride – together we raised $1,335! Also, I want to thank the 12 people who joined my team who along with you, fundraised $5,460 in total for Oxford House.
My team, the Riders for Recovery
(L-R) Diana, Earl, Kellie, Tracey, Trish, Dean, Michael, Leanne, Ava and Pat. And missing from this photo are: Jaidyn, Ziyan, Karim and Donald
Who says you can’t goof around and work hard at the same time?
Something I heard said, while growing up in my hometown of Chateauguay many times. And it isn’t fair, it certainly doesn’t seem to be at times.
We plan, we work and we dream about the life we are building, and things don’t always work out the way we hoped. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it crashes down on us like the destructive force of a storm. Yet, sometimes when the storm has passed, we look back and are able to say, “if not for the storm, I wouldn’t have learned (fill in the blank).”
I’m learning that in the storm, in spite of its force, in spite of my fears, I have to be brave. I have to trust that things will settle down, and I have to believe things may even be better than they were before.
The storm wakes us up. It shakes our foundations, and causes us to pay attention. It reveals what is important. It reprioritizes our priorities. And it creates a huge space for love and compassionate action.
Mom is teaching me this. My brother is showing me this, through this frightening time of transitioning Mom to a retirement home.
A new stage in life. A profound sense of not knowing and loss of autonomy. A shaking up of a life hard-worked for, painstakingly planned for, and callously turned upside down.
Yet love is there. Courage to believe is there. Hope that it may even be better than it currently is in this storm, is there.
~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~
Mom and Mike, I am so proud of you. You may feel fear and helplessness, but I see your courage, love and hope; and I know that Dad does too. I love you!
The act of spreading joy does not often come from a place of my own joy. In fact, every time I can recall my own joy, it’s been a deeply personal experience, felt by an audience of one – me.
The wondrous privilege of witnessing nature; a dragonfly landing on me with wings glistening in the sunlight when I was a child in Chateauguay, a hawk calling while soaring across a central BC sky, a spider’s web sparkling in the pre-dawn light of a full moon in Brown County Indiana, the lull of the ocean’s waves crashing against the shore and receding, crashing against the shore and receding in the Dominican Republic, and more profoundly moving of late in Calgary, dogs approaching me with the same trust and love they used to approach dad with.
My joy comes while living in the moment and is deeply personal.
Spreading joy often comes from a place of brokenness; cycles of dysfunction in relationships or, stubborn ways of thinking or being, when I finally reach out with forgiveness, when I decide to break the cycle to relieve someone else’s pain through kindness and friendship.
Remember: Kindness is for all times in all situations – not just when it suits you.
Those times in life when it seems that evil continually prevails, when greedy people keep getting, and vulnerable people keep losing.
Those times when those who don’t follow the rules keep winning, when those who prey on weaknesses are exulted, when those who feel entitled are granted whatever they wish, and those whose genuine efforts and unselfish motives are overlooked time after time.
Those times when I can’t bear to watch anymore, when my anger overtakes me, when for just once, for just one God damned time, my utter hatred of their actions, my complete disdain of them, my raging judgment of them makes me want to squash them, to shine a light on their selfishness, expose their nakedness to every single person, and humiliate them in front of the world.
In those times, although it’s excruciatingly difficult, I must dig deep inside of myself with humility, recognize those same tendencies in me and acknowledge my own shortcomings. I must search for the good in them, reach out with love and kindness and pray it makes a difference.