A powerful request – Choose Life

As the old adage goes, ‘the best laid plans often go awry.’  Since I was to be spending the past two weeks in sunny California, how come instead I found myself sitting at my daughter’s bedside in Intensive Care Unit, Toronto Western Hospital?  I hadn’t planned on honoring that old saying, but there I was, day after day, praying for my daughter’s recovery.

As all of my readers know, Lorie successfully underwent a heart transplant exactly two years ago.  In the ensuing months she has barely looked back.  Other than medicine adjustments and the expected days of not feeling great, Lorie has recovered with no setbacks or serious side effects.  So how could it be that on March 17th, rather than celebrating the second anniversary of her new heart, she was undergoing another life threatening  surgery, this time in her brain?

Cancelled vacation plans never entered my mind.  Priorities shift in a heartbeat when faced with a personal crisis and this crisis was unlike anything we had encountered before.  Two weeks later, it still seems surreal .

I’ll spare the details of Lorie’s surgery, but  it has been determined that she suffered a rapidly growing abscess deep within the brain which was the result of a simple bacterial infection.  Infection is a dreaded side effect of transplant but not normally deep within the brain.  Her medical teams are now exploring the primary source of this bacteria in order to avoid any further infection.  I’m relieved and thankful beyond words to report Lorie survived her surgery and is recovering miraculously well and we hope to have her home in a few days.  Even so,  I find myself still trying to make sense of this sudden, unexpected turn of events.

Once again, with the prayers and kind thoughts from friends, acquaintances and even strangers, faith and love got us through.  Since Lorie was suffering a brain infection, she was in a semi-unconscious state and for the first time I can remember, had lost her fight and spirit.  For me, that was the scariest part of all as she always called upon her faith and her angels no matter what she was facing.  I decided the night before her surgery that it was up to me to do it for her.

Life is a serious of synchronicities and I believe it was no accident that the weekend before all this happened I had attended the Hayhouse I Can Do It conference in Toronto.  What better preparation could I have had for the stressful days ahead!   With numerous speakers offering their expertise on health, nutrition, and all subjects spiritual, I was armed with a renewed strength, faith and spirit.

The evening before her surgery,  I pondered all of the wonderful messages I had received and one thought kept resonating in my mind -  Choose Life!  I decided this would be my mantra and prayed to God and talked with Lorie all evening that life be her choice.  I then decided to write a letter to God and to Lorie further imploring her to choose to stay.  It was my hope that if she reached a point of decision where she had the choice to leave us or stay,  her choice would be easier.  Every time I awoke during the night, I picked up on my mantra begging her to stay with us and begging God to help her to choose life.  We all needed her and she still had so much to do here on earth!  However, I was fully aware that with my limited view of the future,  my need  for this situation to work out as I wanted and my deepest longing for my daughter to return to us whole and well was not mine to make.  So along with Choose Life, I had to include another prayer of mine, turning outcome over to the Divine and trusting that outcome would be the best  for all concerned.

Her dad, her husband, my husband and myself gathered in Lorie’s room at 7:00 a.m. the following morning to meet with her doctors and to be there for her before she went into surgery.  A few hours later we heard the blessed news that surgery had gone well with no complications.

Hallelujah, she had chosen LIFE.

Although there are a lot of questions still unanswered and a lot of healing ahead of her, Lorie will be returning home this week and once again I have been reassured of the amazing power of faith, prayer, love and gratitude.   Probably life’s biggest challenge is surrendering our will and accepting that outcome is never ours to determine.  We are so very grateful that this time outcome did coincide with our will.

 

 

 

This entry was posted on March 31, 2014. 8 Comments

Savoring the Moments

Trying to write without addressing ‘winter’ seems impossible these days.  Most of us are so tired of experiencing it, wishing it would go away, and talking about it that it’s the last topic I wanted to address.  But really, unless your on an exotic vacation, what else is there?

As we enter a week with again the possibility of at least three more days of blowing snow and closed roads, it’s too easy to curl up in a ball by the fire and just close the blinds.  (especially when your husband is in Floriday!)  Since it was my choice to stay home I can’t even address that subject but it is rather selfishly comforting to know that it’s cold down there too and northern Florida has SNOW!

As I turned the car around in another whiteout on our street this morning and decided to forgo the gym yet one more time, I convinced myself that 5 minutes of shovelling the walkway was exercise anyway and returned to another day of resisting cabin fever.  There is so much to be done rather than playing computer games and working on another puzzle I tell myself while I sit down to just indulge in a few minutes of Candy Crush.

It was at that moment  I decided to turn this day around.  I lit a candle, made a coffee and decided to (after a few months) write my blog and if it’s about the weather, so be it.  As my thinking changed, I realized that these are precious days, a gift in the form of a reprieve from the usual busyness of life and an opportunity to relax, be in the moment and feed my spirit rather than my ever frustrated ego.  I have no committments and am always resolving to meditate more, read and journal more and get back to some projects that I have long neglected. So what’s the problem?

Rather than focus on being alone, shut in with ever increasing snowbanks and feeling bored, I changed my thoughts to all the possibilities available to me every moment.  I begin with gratitude and being present in this moment.  I am a Happiness Coach I remind myself.  I know better than to delay my happiness until winter is over, the sun comes out and melts the snow or whatever I imagine will make my life ‘better.’  Outside stuff doesn’t create happiness, it comes from within so why not accept what is now and let the future go?  If I’m not happy now, a change of season won’t make me happier.  It will feel better for sure but is never the source.  There will always be something to be upset about then too.

It’s perfectly okay to get fed up with this never ending winter; to vent, shake your fist at the heavens or scream at the elements.  Releasing feels good and is a great tool to help us  get on with the day.  We are all ready for a break but when you can’t control what is happening, why let it shape your thoughts and actions?  So, I’ve started taking control of what I can control by writing my rambling thoughts in this blog and then I’ll move on to something else that I have been avoiding.  There are so many things I constantly bemoan that I don’t have time to do while I have wasted an entire week doing nothing.  When I think about that logically it is kinda a definition of insanity :)   And when I feel like doing nothing, I’ll do that too without judgment or self criticism.

Blue skies and spring-like weather, you are most welcome, but in the meantime I choose to make use of this gift of time and enjoy the peace and quiet.  After all, I have power, tv, heat, and wonderful neighbors who keep my driveway open.  I am safe and comfortable and grateful for these blessings.

Winter is known as the season for hibernation, renewal and dormancy.  The animals hibernate and nature slumbers while all the while preparing to emerge fresh and productive in spring.  So why do we resist what nature teaches us?  We may not have the luxury of sleeping the winter away, but I do take cues from my dog and cat who spend their time leisurely spread out before the fireplace without a concern about snow or cold.

I think I’ll  join them now while I plan my next move and maybe work in a quick game of Candy Crush.  Stay warm and safe everyone.  This too shall pass.

This entry was posted on January 27, 2014. 2 Comments

‘Crossing the Street’

Last Saturday I had the privilege of being invited to participate in a conference at Toronto General Hospital titled ‘Crossing the Street.’ This informative morning was to help educate parents of teenagers presently at Sick Kids Hospital who would be soon making the transition to the adult hospital, Toronto General. It was also designed for the teens as well and it covered all topics of concern in making such an adult shift in their lives.

Doctors, Coordinators, Counselors and experienced parents were available to offer information and assist everyone present with their questions and concerns. It was presented in a relaxed, informal environment to share experiences when navigating the hospital system.

It was a wonderful event and I am so grateful to have been invited to participate on the cardiac panel to offer any helpful information I could. Projects like these are so necessary for all family members to address any fears and queries in a non-threatening environment, meet others who have successfully transitioned to young adulthood and meet caring doctors, therapists and hospital staff. What a change thirty years has made!

Although this transition of crossing the street is huge for all involved at Sick Kids, transitions are a major part of everyone’s life from early childhood to elderly adulthood. No transition is as simple as just crossing the street. This is a great metaphor to remind us that although the distance may or may not be just a few hundred feet, the life changes presented are so much more.

Day care and starting school are the beginning of our transitions. Then we have high school, college or university, where we are no long a familiar face but often feel more of a number. We enter the work force, get married, have children, and ultimately retire. These are just a few of the transitions we encounter in our lives. For the teens at Sick Kids, they have yet another transition to face, and sadly it happens at the same time as other changes are taking place. It is often easier to embrace fear and overlook the reality that they will still be cared for by loving medical professionals.

From my observations of the participation from all, it was a highly successful conference. Teens got to share with each other while meeting other teen transplant recipients and parents got to meet parents who had successfully navigated these changes whether recently, or as in Lorie’s and my case, many years ago.

When sharing information with a staff worker about transitions, we fell into a conversation about the difficulty of transitioning into retirement. It is usually a welcome time where we envision freedom and a new lease on life, but along with that is a feeling of loss, confusion about our identity, and sense of purpose. We discussed how life is all about transition no matter your age and how each turn in the road of life brings us knowledge, wisdom, and strength.

A young transplant recipient, just seventeen, summed it up so wisely and simply when asked how he felt about his impending trip across the street.

‘I don’t have a big problem coming over here, it’s leaving there,’ he replied. My daughter Lorie’s most recent transition from cardiac patient to transplant recipient was less than two years ago and she still hasn’t left there. Her street was merely a different floor in the same hospital and she continues to visit her previous lab techs and cardiac team to offer a quick hello and more often than not a huge hug.  How strong these connections remain.

I loved Kareem’s reply.  He nailed it perfectly, and I believe it can be applied to every area of life. The problem isn’t necessarily where we are going. It’s leaving where we’ve been.

 

 

Yes, It was a Real Parrot!

‘Hang on a minute Lorie,’ I said into the phone.

Then I called to Brian, ‘Come quick, there’s a parrot on our fence‘, all the while realizing the absurdity of what I was saying.  How could there be a parrot sitting calmly on our back fence?  But there he was, a beautiful African grey parrot with brilliant red tail.

That was the beginning of an afternoon of crazy improbable events including Brian sitting in the backyard for two hours (rather than going for a bike ride) trying to keep the bird there until we located the owner.  Between the next door neighbor and I, the local vet’s office was called, the radio station and we both facebooked our discovery in hopes of locating the owner.

The vet’s office had a record of a parrot missing 6 weeks ago but as it turned out this wasn’t our parrot.  Who would have guessed that?  Port Elgin isn’t that big of a town for all of these parrots to go missing!  They did however contact the number they had and later in the afternoon a gentleman called me offering to try and catch the parrot and take it home until his owner could be located.  Such a nice gesture.

In the meantime I contacted a friend who had parrots of her own to see if one was missing.  Turns out it wasn’t but she offered to come over after work and try to catch it for us so we could cage it.  As luck would have it, just moments before the above mentioned gentleman and my friend arrived, Mr. Parrot flew away.  Since Brian was still diligently sitting watching the bird, he saw approximately where he had gone and the trio headed that way cage in tow.

The point of my story is not really about a missing parrot, but about following my instincts.  I am learning to recognize that little voice within that tells me what I need to do, but too often I still ignore it.  And once more I ignored it.  During the afternoon I had watched a man walking up and down the street back and forth and it kind of creeped me out.  He was just walking and looking in towards each house.  Once we discovered the parrot, my thoughts went to him, but since he had no vehicle and appeared to be just wandering, I assumed he wasn’t looking for a pet.  And so, I ignored the fleeting impulse to call to him to see if he had lost a parrot.  Again, ego or the fear of looking foolish won out over the voice that said, ‘Just ask him.’  And, yes, he did turn out to be the parrot’s owner and it also turned out that ours was the only house he didn’t check with.  All the time he was frantically searching, his bird was perched on our fence just six houses away from home.

We then discovered that another neighbor had talked with this gentleman and knew his mission.  He put a note on a door where he thought the man lived telling him where he was and yup, you guessed it, wrong house.  So all these well intentioned people just added more mayhem to the situation, including me.

Around 6 p.m., four hours after Mr. Parrot had been at our home, I pulled out of my driveway and saw a woman and a little boy looking at the tree next door.  Again my ego almost allowed me to drive away when reason interfered.  Sure enough they were looking for their parrot and at the same time the gentleman I had seen earlier met up with them.  After explaining this convoluted story to them and telling them approximately where the parrot was last seen, they did in fact find him and all ended well.  In fact Winston flew out of the bushes and onto his ‘dad’s’ shoulder happy to be found.

This was a huge lesson to me about making looking foolish secondary and just listening to the voice of reason.  We almost always know the right choice or decision to make, but too often ignore it as it seems too unlikely or we’re just afraid.  I’m so glad that Winston got home safe and sound just before nighttime, but had our neighbor tried just one more door or I would have called to him and asked a simple question, the entire drama would have been avoided.

Winston and his family I’m sure will enjoy a grateful Thanksgiving and my thanks go to all who went out of their way to help guarantee his safety.  I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving weekend!  Enjoy the food, the brilliant colors of nature, and the joy of being together with loved ones.  We have so much to be grateful for and in our rush through life too often we forget to  make every day a day of Thanksgiving.

The Art of Aging

Today is Louise Hay’s 87th birthday.  For those who may not know of Louise, she is the most dynamic, energetic woman I have ever met.  Louise is my mentor as she is to thousands of others.  Blessings and best wishes to you today Louise.

Louise didn’t hit her stride until her 40′s.  It was a diagnosis of life threatening cancer that led her to the knowledge and awareness of her body’s natural ability to heal itself.  Through her support system of doctors and natural healers, Louise did heal her cancer, then chose to share her experience by authoring her now famous book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’.  Up until that time, her life had not been easy.  Louise is a survivor of childhood abuse, rape, divorce, and then cancer but this experience would change her and her future.

Today Louise is founder and chairman of Hayhouse Publishing, the largest spiritual, health and motivational publishing company world wide.  Her company hosts seminars worldwide, launches new authors and speakers, while offering workshops and information concerning health, well being and spiritual. Louise could easily sit back and just ‘enjoy’ her success but instead she chooses to remain an integral part of her corporation.

In her 50′s Louise began writing. In her 60′s she launched Hayhouse Publishing in order to get her books published. She readily admits she had no idea what she was doing nor did she have any money.  But unwavering faith in herself and her work brought whoever she needed when she needed them into her life.

In her 70′s she took some children’s art classes and became a successful artist and to this day she continues attending classes.  Now at 87, she is still writing books, taking courses, learning new challenges, sharing her humor and zest for life, and is more fluent in modern technology and social media than many much younger.

So is it much wonder that Louise is my chosen mentor?  What a better example of the real meaning of life and the truth that as long as you keep learning, serving, and growing, the years don’t matter.  I last saw Louise in May of this year when I attended the Happiness Coaching Course hosted by Robert Holden in San Diego where she spent most of her day with us.  What a treat to be able to absorb her wisdom and learn firsthand from this very funny and amazing lady.  Her worldwide seminars are aptly named I Can Do It and she proves every day that we certainly can.

I find it easier over the last few years to allow myself to get uninspired.  A great idea is often followed by the thought, ‘it’s too late or your too old for that.’  I’m sure I’m not alone and others can relate.  Some days it’s just too much effort to be bothered learning a new technique or an entirely new venture or even going to the gym.  The ego or tricky mind is determined to convince me that the productive part of life is over and maybe I should just take it easy and lie low.

After a rather trying past few months for both my husband and I, it became easier and easier to give in to the old belief that it was simply foolish thinking on my part that I would ever write a book or become a Life Coach or whatever the dream of the day was.  Too many of us, including myself, allow ourselves to adopt the old thinking that our body wears out or all pains or disease are attributed to old age.  As if old age was a disease!

Wayne Dyer, author and speaker, who is now 73, has always had the mantra, Don’t let an old person in your body.’  He is not aluding to the fact that we won’t age, but that it is all in our attitude.  I will take it one step further and add, Don’t let an old person in your mind.’  Of course 50 isn’t 20 nor 70 isn’t 40 because our body does change over time, but that is a reality not an excuse.  Some of the happiest and most active seniors that I’ve known have suffered or are suffering from poor health or negative life situations, Wayne and Louise being among them.  We have all known despair, heartbreak and loss during our lifetimes.  That is part of what makes us who we are.  But again, it is reality not an excuse.

Very often when I allow myself to wallow in the fear of ‘old age’, I will open my e-mail and there will be the most inspiring newsletter from Louise and Hayhouse.  Reading the words of someone over 15 years my senior who is travelling worldwide, and running a successful corporation reminds me of the truth that life is to be lived as a participant, not as a bystander and whether I write my book or start a new career doesn’t really matter as long as I stay in the game.

What’s Age all About Anyway?

I often get reponses from people I meet about my age.  “Wow, I can’t believe your 70, or similar comments when for whatever reason, the question of age comes up.  Of course this is very flattering and no matter how much my ego loves it, my mind is confused.  When ego is allowed to step aside and reason steps in, the persistent questions surface again.

Why is a certain look associated with a certain number?  Why is 40 or 60 or 80 expected to adhere to some preconceived style or appearance?  What is 70 supposed to look like?

From the time I was young I have loved makeup, clothes and looking reasonably fashionable.  I still do.  I have never desired to let my hair go grey or conform to any particular idea of how I should look at any particular age.  I’ve never even given my choices much thought, it’s just what works for me. For others this may become burdensome and they will choose whatever feels good for them.  There is no right or wrong here; we are all individuals.  None of this identifies in any way who I am or how I perceive life, it is just my personal preferance just as anyone elses choices do not define them.  The point is, why should we change who we have always been because we hit a certain number.

Health and aging well have always been important to me and accordingly I exercise regularly, attempt to eat healthy as much as possible, drink lots of water and enjoy all the other things that allow me to have energy and enthusiasm for life.  That is just how I live.  I also treat my mind and spirit with lots of reading, continuing to educate myself, meditation, EFT tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique), journaling and writing.  And most importantly, have a belly laugh at least once a day – humor trumps everything else.  That is what works for me but we can all find our own balance in life.

I know a lot of women and men my age and much older who continue to be amazing in every way.  Many women choose to stay active and involved whether with work, running corporations, volunteering, or retiring to travel and explore our amazing planet.  If you are blessed with great health it becomes much easier for sure, but many people have faced all forms of adversity and still embrace life with love and enthusiasm.  It’s all about living with grace.

Two great old adages will always be true;  if you don’t use it you lose it and attitude is everything.  It has now been scientifically proven that those who exercise at all ages have stronger bodies, less disease, sharper minds and less anxiety.  I love going to the gym regularly, not necessarily because I love working out, but because the majority of attendees I see at the time I go, are between 50 and 80 years old;  maybe some even beyond.  It is gratifying to know that a lot of us are taking control of our health as best we can and making regular exercise a priority in our lives.

I sometimes hear the comment from women approaching 60 that I am a grandma now, so I guess I better start looking like a grandmother. What exactly does that mean? If we look older and more helpless that our grandkids are going to respect us more?  I believe we are just living out old stereotypes rather than creating new ones.  Somewhere along the line we’ve learned that we have to look and act a certain way when we assume a particular role. I much prefer to show my grandkids that aging is simply a process and although our bodies and stamina may diminish, getting older is where life takes us and is nothing to fear or dread.  In short, Grandmas and Grandpas rock!

So even though there are the odd days when my body and my mind (and my husband) attempt to convince me of my ‘real age’ I know that with a little R and R, my energy and enthusiam will overcome. And while I ponder the correlation between my actual age and my appearance, my ego often wins out.  I have to admit that I happily welcome all compliments even as I question them.

My daughter, however, who often is the recipient of, “Is she your mother, I thought you were sisters,” probably sees things quite differently.  Too bad Lorie, this time it’s all about me.  :)

 

 

This entry was posted on September 13, 2013. 6 Comments

Celebrating Milestones

Wow:  My baby girl turned 50 yesterday.  And what a wonderful celebration it turned out to be.  What made it extra special is the group that gathered together for dinner to celebrate with her.  It was a group that had dined without Lorie so many times in Toronto and for us to all be together in Owen Sound and Port Elgin was quite phenomenal.  Except for the absence of my son Shane and my daughter-in-law Paula, we were the team that spent the evening with her awaiting her transport to surgery and the next few days at her bedside, then coming together at various Toronto restaurants to support one another at dinnertime.

It wasn’t particularly planned this way but I realized part way through dinner what a truly exceptional event was occuring.  The biggest bonus was the addition of Lorie’s transplant buddy Demetrios, his beautiful wife Maria and their almost one year old Georgie.  Demetrios was with Lorie during our vigil in TGH but like her, he was confined to the CCU unit just hours post transplant. After a series of surgeries and setbacks during the past year, it is beyond words to see Demetrios looking so healthy and robust.  It was their first trip anywhere since his recovery and what an incredible time to choose, totally unrelated to Lorie’s birthday when it was planned.   And what a charming and beautiful son they have – another surrogate grandchild for me.

I truly believe there are no coincidences in our world and lives and the fact that we were together to celebrate such a milestone in Lorie’s life was a gift.  Her dad and her stepmom had made the five hour drive to surprise her and our dear, special beyond words friend Antje, along with her husband and daughter rounded out our group.

I’ve heard that life begins at 50 or maybe I made it up, not sure which, but for Lorie it truly is.  She is thriving, energetic, and full of passion for her family and the incredible work she is doing.  I am in awe of her accomplishments and she hasn’t even begun.  Lorie and Demetrios are shining examples of never giving up no matter how tough things get.  They have shown the world what is possible and are now plunging head first into their new lives and commitments to use their experiences in service to others.

This was definately not just any ordinary celebration and I am willing to guess that the other guests will realize in hindsight as I did just what an incredible event it was.  I mentioned to Antje part way through dinner as I scanned the table that the fact that this group was together in Owen Sound was kind of mind boggling – Toronto, yes, but not here!

Moments and events like this are truly humbling.  They make you realize what life is all about.  We all shared many belly laughs (the very best kind) and of course too much food and cake.  And what about those 50 candles that Riley lit so efficiently and Lorie blew out in one try.  It brought back memories of her in her bed breathing into a tube, trying to increase her oxygen levels and how difficult it was to get that ball inside to rise.  Now 50 candles is a breeze!

We kind of take a lot of this for granted already so I find it necesary at times like this to look at what has transpired in a year and a half and to be truly grateful.  My thanks to all who made the effort to join Lorie, Mike and kids last evening.  Have a wonderful year Lorie and I wish you at least 50 more.

This entry was posted on August 13, 2013. 4 Comments