Thursday, 26 October 2017

Parents of adult children with addiction illnesses - this is for you!

I was asked by a friend yesterday for advice in dealing with her adult child who she has been supporting to get healthy enough to access rehabilitation for addiction illness. This is not the first time she has done this, she has stood by him but not enabled him for much of his adult life. As she is facing this again and doing a wonderful job of supporting him she was also frustrated with some of the mundane parent/child relationship issues that we all have. Manners, ignoring direction etc.

After a long night of thinking this is what I came up with and sent her. I think it applies to all parents living in this situation, forgive yourselves for whatever blame you are taking on, this is about your child - not you.

1. Trade expectation for appreciation, 2. Remember he has been living a toxic life for so long he probably doesn't know how to be "socially acceptable" and he is now in a healing environment and will need to experience that for a while before he can be comfortable with living in a supportive environment. 3. his accomplishment may not be huge or worthy of the typical proud parent praise but it has been really hard to get where he is and that is an accomplishment, praise him every time you have a chance. 4. Love him unconditionally but don't break your own rules. 5. be firm but supportive, encourage and remind him that his hard work is getting him to what is important to him. 6. let him be angry, let him freak out, it may feel disrespectful but its how he is coping and someday he will apologize for it if he continues to get better. 7. Pat yourself on the back for being there for him, being an awesome parent and give yourself permission to feel all of the emotions you have as well, take "me time". 8. Do your best and pray for the rest, if he doesn't stay on the path to sobriety feel comforted in knowing you have done the best you can. I love you!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Life and death - both so personal

The experience of death is surreal. Often difficult to accept and understand yet we all know it is the inevitable end to our existence. Why are we so afraid to talk about it? Are we afraid that if we share our wishes it will happen sooner? Is it just too emotional a conversation to have and show our vulnerability?

The experience can be sudden or expected, that's about the only two ways it comes. If its expected we have some time to have conversation and ensure a quality end of life. But when it is sudden, especially for young people, how do their loved ones know what they would want if they have never thought or talked about it? And do we really have quality conversations when it is expected so that we can truly honour peoples wishes?

I think part of living an EPIC life is living today, expressing our true passions and wishes. Talking about our inevitable end. It is also about ensuring that you live the life you want, make stuff happen because we just don't know when the end will arrive. When we now they end is coming we need our loved ones to listen to us and honour our wishes. I can bet living in a long term care facility isn't on the top of the wish list for most people yet we have a huge wait list in Ontario. What if we started having these conversations and creating natural support networks around people so they can stay in their homes? What if our province used more of the available resources to support in home care where necessary and requested. What if people just don't know how to build these services and networks and feel like a facility is the only option?

I have witnessed death personally twice in my life. One in hospital, one at home. The in hospital was a young person who had been in a car accident and required intensive medical care to remain alive for the 7 months he lived following his accident. His care was awesome and as personal as it could get because of family advocacy and kind medical staff. It still wasn't what the person would have chosen. And those conversations were never had before his sudden departure from the conscious world. In the end it didn't feel 100% right that he died in hospital, in hindsight when doctors said there were only hours left he probably would have preferred to be taken home and rested peacefully on his couch. What would it hurt, he only had hours?

The in home death I witnessed was much more peaceful. It was an elderly person who had been given weeks to live and had requested no further medical interventions, hospitals, or hospice and wanted a "do not resuscitate" order on her file. Her family respected this and came together to provide care in her home in her final hours. She passed peacefully in her own bed with her family around her. Her children took turns sleeping with her, her favourite tv shows were on her tv all day. Her passing was beautiful.....difficult but about as beautiful as it can get.

Recently I read an obituary that was written by the person who died while awaiting the inevitable. It was a beautiful piece that expressed his true appreciation for the life he had. How will people know how we felt about life if we never tell them? Why do we wait until people are gone to celebrate their existence? What do you want in the end? What if you don't tell anyone? Life is about personal choices, so is death.....these conversations need to happen to ensure we are honoured as we want to be.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Dedication in dementia - TRUE LOVE

During a full day of travelling I witnessed one of the most beautiful things humans can experience...TRUE LOVE!

As I was waiting for my second flight of the day I was dozing off in a big comfy chair and heard the sound of full belly laughter; you know the kind when you tickle someone so hard they can't stop or you manage to make a baby go into hysterics? That kind of laughter. I popped my head up instinctively to witness the hilarious sight.

What I saw was a woman in her mid to late 70's laughing with her husband. I assumed one of them had made a darn good joke. The more they laughed together the more attention I paid to them. I spent the next couple of hours witnessing their interactions and feeling comforted by the apparent comfort they had in each others presence.

The other thing I noticed was the obvious presence of a late stage of dementia the woman was living with. Her husband was often reminding her of who he was, where they were and why. She was consistently amazed by things and people around her and showed it through actions and laughter. Her face would light up like she was seeing everything for the first time.

Then I noticed something I have never seen before. Instead of simply caring for her and ensuring she was safe her husband was interacting with her at whatever level she was at in each moment. Often childlike in conversation, giggling, laughing. He simply accepted where she is in life and joined her.

When we boarded the plane, they happened to sit right in front of me and I got to experience this for the 2 hour flight home. She sat in the window seat and was amazed by the sights. She carried a purse with her knitting in it. She was shy of others so her husband did much of her speaking for her but always asked her what she preferred before he answered. She was dressed beautifully with her hair done swept to the side with a barrette. Of course I assumed these are all things he helps her with daily as I didn't have the privilege to really have conversation with them. It appeared to me that this man was truly dedicated to his vows to this beautiful woman and was planning to ensure she was comfortable and could enjoy a meaningful life.

The moment she said "Look honey, thats the 401 below us" was a moment you could see that he relishes in when it happens. A moment of clarity, she knew who he was, she knew where she was just for a few seconds. The glow in his face in that moment emanated a love that we all dream of experiencing.

Many people in the advanced stage of dementia like this are admitted to long term care facilities or if you see them out with family members it sometimes appears that they are more of a burden than anything because they need so much care. Of course it is hard work to provide care, physically and emotionally and sometimes long term care is the only option for safety. But if we take the time to learn about what people really want for the end of their life we can ensure that they live it meaningfully based on their wishes.

This man clearly knew his wife so intimately and was so dedicated to providing her with a meaningful life.

Living a life of meaning is a right we all have, having a meaningful end to life is just as important. Its time to start having more of these conversations and increasing the instances of beautiful sights like described above.

I have been really struggling with so much death around me this year, sudden and expected. I think this experience was meant for me to put it all into perspective and start some conversations.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Riding the waves of consciousness

A societal shift is occurring around us and has been for quite some time. It started a number of years ago with the introduction of "The Secret", "The Law of Attraction" and all such publications that describe and explain how universal energies work around us. Society has clung onto this like a joey clings to its kangaroo mother; just along for the ride. More scientific writings have also been released by authors/physicists like Tom Campbell that actually often dispute the "law of attraction" principles because they don't fit with quantum physics. Regardless they are all essentially describing the same thing; universal energy and our awareness or consciousness of it. Some are explaining in layman terms or what some would call "touchy feely", others have researched and explain it in more technical or scientific terms. All of them are attempting to describe and share knowledge of a universal energy around us and help others to understand it. It's not complicated, it just IS!

As we know, we are all born with very limited skills and knowledge. We are also very unique and have a journey called life ahead until the ultimate day of death. Our journeys are very unique as they are shaped by the knowledge and experiences that we acquire through our life journey. We do share some similarities in character and experiences and that allows us to be classified in to groups sometimes. In terms of the shift we are seeing there are three groups of people. The surfers, the kayakers, and the whitewater rafters.

The surfers

Riding waves, ups and downs. Some days they ride euphoric waves all day and some days they spend mostly underwater. They choose not to understand the mechanics of how the world works, they just go with it and accept it as it is. Surfers hear or see the information presented to them but choose to ignore it or call it babble. Surfers need tangible, concrete information. Abstract ideas are too much for them or maybe even scary to them. Surfers allow their ego to get in the way, so much so that they refuse to consider that they even have an ego.

Pros of being a surfer
They are in the majority so they are seen as "normal" everyday citizens who are just living life as it comes.
Cons of being a surfer
They experience a lot of struggles in facing the challenges of life and actually create more despair for themselves than necessary.

The kayakers

Gliding along, enjoying everything around them, living in the present moment. They pack the essentials into the kayak. The kayak gets tippy at times but they quickly steady it so they don't lose anything. Kayakers are willing to see the abstract ideas and contemplate them, they are willing to do the self exploration and hard work needed to become mindful and have the ability to pull back from their ego or situations that can cause distress and make peace with what is. They are not immune to their ego, they are just more aware of it and make decisions that bring peace to their lives. They value peace and are happy to avoid the challenges that their knowledge could bring them if they allowed themselves to deeply contemplate the deeper realities.

Pros of being a kayaker
Peace and tranquility of their journey by choice. Ability to feel emotions yet put situations into perspective to stay on a path of peace. They make choices that create a journey that they choose and they handle unforeseen circumstances with logic. Living in a state of euphoria and awareness of the blessings around them
Cons of being a kayaker
People see them as "hippie like", sometimes a bit "out there". They are said to be living in a dream world. Its really hard work to stay mindful and continue a self reflective journey keeping your ego in check while living in a world of surfers.

The white water rafter
They want the challenge. The hit the water with force sometimes riding with great adventure and sometimes flipping the boat, getting back in or causing injury or loss. Rafters grab the abstract ideas with full awareness of the implications of it for society. They have a passion for all people to "see" it, know it, acknowledge it. They struggle with people who do not understand universal energies and the science involved. They want to make people "get it". They want to change society and challenge the systems that they know are taking advantage of humanity. They are very aware of their ego and do the hard work of self reflection and being open minded and mindful of the present.

Pros of being a rafter
Living a journey of choice. A state of euphoria that others often never experience. A full understanding of what universal energies and the science means for humanity. Ability to share and encourage others.
Cons of being a rafter
Not a lot of people understand them, they are the minority leaving them with less relationships and people to have conversation with. Often seen as eccentric, selfish, cold hearted. They struggle in their own brains so much that they create their own distress and frustration unnecessarily.

There is no right or wrong place to be. No group is "the best place to be". Its all personal choice, where we choose to be on our own journey between life and death based on the experiences and knowledge that we have acquired. We can all be more conscious of others. Surfers could have more open mindedness, kayakers could choose to join the momentum of the rafters, rafters could try harder to accept the world as it is and that they cannot force people to understand; that some just don't care to learn about the science. 

Differing levels of consciousness are sometimes misconstrued as people having a "higher level of consciousness" being more intelligent. Consciousness is simply having awareness, physically and intellectually; awareness of ourselves and others. A "higher level of consciousness" simply means that you have done the hard work of self reflection and you work hard at keeping your ego in check to understand others.  It doesn't equate to superiority, it's not a destination; it is a personal journey that never ends because our energy never dies.

We all experience, live, ARE universal energies. Society seems to be shifting to a higher interest in learning; possibly creating more kayakers or rafters.We choose our level of consciousness. It's not complicated it just IS!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Unconscious rituals created by childhood trauma

Some days I am amazed by the power of self reflection on an hour long walk.

I have recently, like just 5 days ago, begun the transformation to a ketogenic lifestyle which essentially is a low carb diet. I also recently started bullet journalling. These two things combined have created a huge shift in my life and health in 5 small days.

The bullet journal helps me stay on track with my daily routine, habits and self care. This includes my new diet.

I have been feeling GREAT! So yesterday when I went to town and I suddenly felt like Fall was upon us and started feeling down I was boggled. Why does Fall always get me down? Heck it's only July, why am I thinking Fall?

As I walked this morning (part of my routine and habits tracked in my journal) I thought about why I woke feeling down and didn't even want to walk. It's Fall! It's an unconscious ritual that has been living in me since I started school in kindergarten. It begins when I see school supplies in the store.....which coincidentally happened yesterday (what are you thinking Walmart, it's only July?).

So I thought more about the transitional rituals in my life and the feelings that go with them. Here they are:

Back to school (Fall) - depressed
Christmas break - excited, feeling great
Back to school (winter) - depressed
March break - excited, feeling great
Back to school - (end of year) - depressed
Summer break - the best times of my life

There is a pattern here. The childhood trauma I experienced was in the school setting. Light bulb! I have been living out these learned rituals for my whole life. Now that I am conscious of them I can change them. I am going to start with the Fall. I am going to learn a new, celebratory ritual for transitioning during those "back to school" times of year.

Rituals, conscious or unconscious are very important to explore. They have a great impact on who we are, what we do, who we choose to be with. They tell us a lot about what is important to us in life. They identify areas where me might need some support to cope. I know my husband has recognized these negative transitions for me and I have always brushed them off. I have never identified how to support me with them. Now I can do that. This Fall I will identify ways to help me cope and work toward creating a positive way of embracing the new season because there possibilities for good things are endless.

Rituals are something that I am consistently conscious of (or try to be) because they are a great tool that I use in my job. I use rituals to get to know people, I train other to use rituals to get to know people. Again I am reminded of how useful the work I do can be for anyone in any situation. Most importantly they have helped me change my life.

It's amazing what a good walk and some self reflection can do.

"Once you know better, you do better!" Maya Angelou

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bold or duty to society?

I have been mulling something around in my head for many years now -

making contact with the man who so graciously inserted all of this trauma into my life, my brain, my world!

It started with wanting to contact him to angrily force him to hear all of the awfulness he left me with without a second thought. I wanted him to feel guilty, I wanted him to remember like I do and feel as sick as I do every time I am triggered.

As I started the healing process and did some therapy and I learned how to "forgive" or rather let go or release my own responsibility in it....I wanted to contact him to let him know that I was leaving all of the responsibility with him and that I was no longer going to carry it with me. I was going to force him to feel guilty and be angry that I didn't carry it anymore.

Then it changed to simply wanting to write him a letter and tell him he no longer has control over me, I have grown and healed and know how to cope now.....that I am an adult just like him and he no longer scares me.

I have never contacted him. I don't know if it is because I'm not 100% sure I believe everything I want to say to him or because the thought of even hearing his voice or being within a bazillion feet of him makes me nauseous, shaky and feel like that little helpless girl again. Yet every once in a while I look up his address and phone number and consider taking the step.

Lastnight I found myself considering it again. I think its time to make a decision, do I do it or not? What would be the purpose in doing it? How would I benefit from the contact or would I only suffer? What am I trying to prove anyway?

So I took the time to really think about those questions last night and I have come up with a potential answer for myself. I would like my readers input and support.

I came to the conclusion that I still haven't brought the awareness to society that I feel is the only potential silver lining to my experience. I have always believed it is our duty as humans to share our experiences in order to help others. It's a huge item on my bucket list and I have put it by the wayside for a while now making small attempts here and there, mind you those attempts have been successful but I feel like there is more to do.

Here's my plan. I want to work with a convicted pedophile who has had successful treatment to bring awareness to both sides of the issue. I want to have a public conversation of sorts that explains what is happening in the minds of both victim and abuser. I want to write a script and act it out or have actors act it out. The script will need to be developed with a convicted "healed" pedophile as I have no idea what the script would say on their part. Maybe this is all just another piece of my healing journey but I think it is important for society to understand how intricately woven sexual assault is and how difficult it is for people to come forward when the current stigmas continue to exist.

Here's where you can help. Do I make the contact and approach my abuser about working on this with me? Of course I think this would be the most powerful or do I work on it with a random convicted pedophile that has done a lot of work to understand themselves and reduce the possibility that I become revictimized by association? Personally I think I have done a lot of work myself and I am in a healthy space to be able to do this and cope with it with support from others but I question that as well.

So what say you? Bold or duty to society?

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Found and lost

I was born into a family of two parents and two older brothers.

I had no idea what I had found. My sister came along to add to our blessings. Over the years there were many ups and downs.

The bond we built between the 6 of us was unbreakable.

I lost a cousin. I hurt.

I lost aunts and uncles. I hurt.

I lost amazing grandparents. I hurt.

I lost my oldest brother. My world was shattered.

I have been blessed by not having lost my parents or my children....God willing I will outlive my children but reality is I will experience the loss of my parents. That pain will be it's own.

All year I think about the great memories. This time of year I think about those last month's,  days, minutes.

I wonder what he was thinking, what he wanted me to do. I try hard to reassure myself that I did right by him.

I will never know.

This pain will never leave. It is the worst pain I have ever felt.

I miss him and want nothing more than one more day, one more moment, one more smile, one more beer, one more phone call, one more campfire, one more Hollywood howl!

Johnny I miss you! I love you and my heart will never be as full as it was when you were here.

We found each other by luck, through biology and we lost each other by death but only until we meet again. ♡