Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sometimes Hope is Not Giving Up

Life these days seem too big, too complex, too much. Somedays I go into work and I think, "The system is broken and yet I keep working for it.” I keep plodding along a cog in a machine that is not pretty to look at and even harder to keep running. I'm a nurse in the NHS.

When I first started nursing in 1988 in the states (yes the system is broken there as well) my managers would say, "Let the system fail. Then we can fix it.” In other words stop patching the holes or it will stay broken. The problem with that approach is the one who suffers is the patient and that price is too high.

I was thinking today how to face the bigger picture. How do I do more than just go on being part of the brokenness and patching holes? The only answer I can think of is to take it in bite size amounts, in little steps and one day at a time. Not new concepts and definitely cliché. I have to say that approach leaves me frustrated. The bigger picture overshadows what I do. I feel insignificant.

Hiring freezes are put in place and then there are too few trained staff to provide care. Beds are closed and they sit unused while patients wait 8 hours for treatment. I realize there is too much bureaucracy, too little thought for the patient, and people in suits who have not worked the wards for too long. It makes me angry because I can change jobs but patients can't stop being ill and they are ultimately the ones who suffer. And these people in suits who are trying so hard to look at the bigger picture can't seem to sort it out. It is even bigger than them.

The one hope is that we don't stop. The nurses like me keep plodding along in the broken system trying to make it easier on those who are ill here and now. The bureaucrats keep trying (and I don't doubt their motives) to repair it. Despite our lack of progress, no one gives up. It isn't an option.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What the Amish Teach Me

After the tragedy faced by the Amish this past month what resonates is their response. I am sure (being human) that they feel anger , fear and the wish for revenge and justice. But they made the choice to respond not with fear and vegeance but with an attempt to forgive. I am awed by them.

I believe many choices are driven by fear and vegeance. To forgive is not something I need to feel--it is a choice I need to make and it is the only way to peace.

I look back to 9/11. What a sad day when a group of extremists shattered thousands of lives and misrepresented Islam.

I look back on the Iraq war and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost. What a sad response made in fear by mainly Christian countries who could not forgive.

It is the Muslim neighbours on my street and the Muslims I work with that remind me we are more alike than different. It is the Amish who remind me we all have the capacity to forgive.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My Mom and Dad in 1942.

My Mom and Dad 2005

Many times over the last few years my mom would say she felt like she was still 18 just trapped inside an 80 year old body.

My mom passed away a few weeks ago and she is on my mind throughout each day. I find I want to tell people what a truly great person she was, but her life is more than what my words can portray. So what drives me to write about her? I just want to catch a glimpse of my mom. I miss her.

My mom lived fully. She made choices and lived with the consequences without regret. She once told me her priorities. First was God, next was my Dad, and third came her children. As a kid this came as a great shock. Somehow not being first seemed an insult. But in my own life I have grown to understand her wisdom. My mom and Dad were married 64 years.

Part of her greatness was the way she lived what she believed. As a Catholic she used the only natural method of birth control available at the time, resulting in nine children, spaced two to four years apart. Mom never said it was easy, but she never complained it was hard. She would say she followed her conscience. When I had a dilemma she didn't give me her answers but would tell me "Listen to your conscience".

I often want to please everyone and be well liked and well thought of. I think of mom and the thought occurs to me that she never seemed to really think about what others thought. She lived trying to please God. I am sure there were many days she didn't want to go to work at 7am and cook dinner at 5pm, but she did it, steadfastly. She taught me to do the right thing even on days I didn't "feel" like it.

And if we are judged by the fruits of our labour, than the hundreds of people who came to my moms wake and funeral and the tears and stories they told shows she bore much fruit. From her co-workers from 25 years ago to the waitresses where she had breakfast last week, they all came with stories of how her life touched theirs. Despite not being wrapped up in what people thought, she was thought of very well.

My mom's passing has left a void in my life. But I am realizing that amazingly she has helped fill it. The love she and my Dad showed each of my sisters and I, we now share with each other.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nursing and Wimbledon

It was an unusual day today at work. I rushed onto the ward running late,a result of childrens' lost shoes, lost travel cards and traffic. It was the 4th of July and I should have been drinking ice tea by a pool and preparing to watch fireworks but I live and work in London and its predicted to be the hottest day of the year. Lucky for me that nursing doesn't leave time for too much self pity.

It was also unusual that the ward was particularly quiet. So quiet that nursing my patients meant there was time for talking and listening. One patient has been restricted to his bed for 10 days in an intense environment where he is woken hourly with one procedure or another. It is no wonder he is becoming a bit confused and anxious to leave his bed. As I encouraged him to stay in bed once again I asked him where he wanted to go. "I want to watch Wimbledon." he replied. We talked awhile about Wimbledon and tennis. I have an idea I told him and I went to get a spare rental TV left by another patient. I set it up and by noon he was watching Wimbledon courtesy of the TV rental man who delayed payment. As people passed they would stop and chat to him about the tennis and players. He watched and stayed in bed. Nursing today mean't more than taking blood pressures and passing pills. Nursing meant listening and sharing Wimbledon.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Something I Want to Remember

Quoted from the BBC Thought for the Day (6/04/06) as said by a Spanish priest returning to Rwanda following the genocide 12 years ago. "And in an extreme situation like this, forgiveness is not an act of the intellect, or even of the heart; it is an act of will. You have to choose it if you want to move on."

It occurs to me these words are true not only of forgiveness. Many important decisions I make require an act of my will especially the things I do not "feel" like doing. Often my intellect can find me ways around those things inconvenient to me. I call it making excuses. Often my anger, frustration, melancholy and pride motivate my actions or inaction. But to do what I know to be right takes my will.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

With age comes wisdom so now I'm 40 I have had two revelations with the help of this weeks Guardian (one of London's newspapers). An editorial by Anne Krapf titled "There is no such thing as Mary Poppins" and Nigel Marsh' "Fat, 40 and fired" rested side by side in this past Saturdays Family Section and put in print two life truths.

1. There is no such thing as a perfect life.

Just the opposite--life needs to be that tumultuous ride. Being tumultuous doesn't mean something is wrong in my life. It usually means I am alive and not stagnating. I can not create that perfect Christmas or summer holiday because they are not real. When the kids come home with problems I can't find the answers in a parenting magazine. The magazines make me feel anxious and inadequate and my kids are unique as are the solutions to the problems they face. I no longer pray for God to take away the chaos of my house. Instead I invite Him to be part of the turmoil. That I can do.

2.You can't have it all (work and family) .

The mornings I go to work I am usually neglecting the dog , yelling at the kids or complaining about the school notice just handed to me as we walk out the door . I feel guilty arriving late at school dismissal time when I am held up at work and when calling in to be home with my sick child (if I go in I feel like an awful mother). The days I work the dishes stay in the sink and the vacuum isn't touched for 2 weeks. What I can't do is do it all. Realizing it is liberating because it frees me from blaming myself. I don't have to say "What am I doing wrong? " but appreciate the times when juggling that it all stays in the air and laugh (sometimes cry) when it doesn't. It also frees me to make the decisions I need to make like cutting back my hours to put family first sometimes or teaching the kids about helping others when I pick up an extra shift to fill in for a colleague. Work and family do not balance --whenever I choose one the other feels it so I try to choose carefully.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


When I was 8 my parents took a trip to Italy and came home with images of things that seemed bigger than my life. I thought, "One day I will go to stand in the colosseum, see the mosaics and the statues of saints that peer down from St Peter's and are as big as me". Last Monday, on my 40th birthday I stood in Rome with Eamonn and did what I had hoped ever since I was 8 years old. It is an adventure I continue to savour.

The best part about adventures are the surprises and that is true of Rome. The things I want to blog about are the unexpected, the details and mishaps I don't want to forget.


Eamonn and I arrived in Rome on Friday evening at about 8pm. On the plane I realized I didn't fit in--pale skin, freckles and English speaking--a tourist. I decided I wasn't going to blend into the crowd and no matter how many Italian tapes I had listened to I wasn't going to sound Italian either. When someone speaks to me in another language I intially panic and in my anxious reply to our taxi driver I mixed my poor French with my even poorer Italian. The poor guy was confused by this couple with American accents saying they came from London but speaking a mix of French and ill pronounced Italian. His broken English bridged the gulf as he drove us to our hotel.

This was my first view of Rome. It was all alight and I restrained myself from pointing and out all the sites to Eamonn and recounting facts about each from the guide book. I guess I was still hoping to blend in if I just didn't speak. We arrived at our hotel and happily opened our rooms windows. It was a balmy night. No screens, no bugs and lovely wooden slotted shutters. They let in a cool breeze. We braved a restaraunt down the street. Restaraunts don't start serving dinner in Rome util 7:00 at the earliest so at 10:30pm the Antico Arco was still serving. The waiters spoke English when they heard our accents or lack of and served us our first and best Italian meal. We only had two courses that evening(antipasta or appetisers and a first course) but vowed to return sometime during our stay to have a proper 6 couse Italian meal. I learned two things that evening. Our Italian wasn't good enough but their broken English would be and Italian wine has a lovely aroma that even an untrained nose can enjoy when drinking from a wine glass that has a narrow opening.

Through the night I realized one other thing. Rome is a busy city. The traffic never stopped all night long from trucks to cars to hundreds of scooters(which fill the streets and seem a great way to zip around Rome). They all ran under our open window whether it was 2pm or 2am. Sometime in the night I closed the shutters and the window to shut out the noise.


A breakfast buffet was included with our hotel room each morning. Pastries,quiches,meats(salami,proscuito,cheeses) and rolls filled us up for a good part of the day each morning. We headed off for St Peter's Basilica with our map and guide book and back packs. Our hotel was situated on Garibaldi Hill so when we had walked 5 minutes up the road we were met with a panoramic view of the city. You know how a master of ceremonies will say formally "I give you(drumroll)..or Presenting..." That is what it felt like to stand there with the city presented in front of us.

We climbed down through the narrow streets off our hill and wondered about how we would climb back up eventually already fantasizing about getting a cab back up it at the end of the day. Walking in Rome is not easy. Sidewalks when present are made of 4 inch square black granite stones that are hard on the feet and uneven. The real problem is sidewalks have a tendency to disappear suddenly. There are pedestrian crosswalks in Rome but I don't think pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street. Crossing a street is an act of will and you must be brave and determined in the presence of ever approaching vehicles. We followed the locals.

Our first destination was St Peters Basilica. My first impression of St Peters was how small it made feel. My second impression was amazement over the vast number of people anxious to see it. The church seems alive at least at the piazza in front of St Peters. We stood in a long line in an attempt to get into the church only to find the line was a dead end (the church closed for a Swiss guard ceremony). We shuffled back down away from the church in shoulder to shoulder crowds desparate for our own space. We headed for the Vatican Museum and we hoped away from the crowds as we thought everyone must be at St Peters and perhaps we could slip into the museum. The line for the museum wrapped two street lengths away from the entrance. We waited until realizing we would only have an hour in the museum once we got in as it was closing early. We abandoned Christian Rome for Ancient Rome.

Map in hand we began our cross city hike. The last weather forcast had anticipated rain in Rome on Saturday but the initial clouds had cleared and I started wondering if I should have packed the sun screen instead of rain coats. It was a summer day in the upper 70's and Eamonn and I had our first gelato(ice cream) down by the Tiber River listening to a flute player whose music resonated under one of the arches of the bridge as we viewed St Peters Dome in the distance. The ice ceam in Italy looks like pans full of icing and is served with spatulas they use to smear it into your cone. I highly recommend the chocolate(Bacio). It was cool by the river so we planned our route along it and walked down river. Where ever we went in Rome we saw ruins. An old piece of a column here and a piece of ancient wall made into a seat there. We would see a piece of carved stone under a bush and arches carved into the hill as we turned a corner.

As impressed as we were with the bits and pieces of Rome scattered around the city our jaws dropped as we turned a corner and entered the Roman Forum. The mother load of ancint Roman ruins. To me this is and was Rome. The fact that the new is built in and amoung the ancient is what defines Rome. The new is literally built upon the foundations of the very old.

On every street in Rome there seems to be running water much of which travels they say the same aquaduct routes established 2000 years ago. If there is not a fountain in sight there is literally a spout of drinkable flowing water within walking distance. We were not brave enough Saturday to drink from them but by Sunday as we watched the locals drinking the cool water we began filling our bottles as well. It is fresh. It is clean,cold , plentiful and very drinkable especially in 78 degree weather. Along with wine,the spouting water is for me Italy's national drink.

We ended the afternoon at the Colosseum. Standing in line to get tickets at the colosseum was a European experience that made me appreciate the English ability to que patiently and politely. Standing in a que in Rome we had whole families suddenly appear next to us and cut in line and as you approached the ticket counter mad dashes were made to vie for positions at the counter. After purchasing our ticket all lines were abandoned as we joined a literal mass of people moving toward turnstyles for actual entry .

The Colleseum captured my imagination at 8. I had visions of gladiators and cheering crowds. At 40 the reality of exactly what happened in this ancient arena gave it is a grim aura. Architecturally it seemed better laid out than modern stadiums I have been in and you can feel what it must have been like to be part of a crowd attending an event. I try not to imagine what it was like to be a participant in the games.

Lunch that day had been a doughy bread spread with tomato paste and a slice of cheese from a vender -the worst pizza I have ever had but it gave us the energy to get back to our area of town. I realized how difficult it is not to speak the language well. We got to the restaraunt (Da Lucia) we had wanted to try but they were not open for another 30 minutes. We knew how to ask for a table for 2 but didn't have the ability to explain we would like to just sit at a table with a bottle of wine and wait until they officially opened so we shrunk away. We found another restaraunt that was open instead.

We collapsed into bed that night wondering if we would be able to walk in the morning after our 10 mile hike of the day. Eamonn woke sometime in the night to shut out the city noise.


Eamonn and I both were heartened that we didn't have any aches the next day. Fitter than we thought but still sunburned and weary, we spent the day in a local park near the hotel picnicing with olives and beans and nuts and absorbing local Italian life. It was a slice of Italian life and reminded me that I rush around too much and don't spend enough time lying in a park with my kids having a picnic. We were surounded by Italian families doing just that and life was very good.

We returned to the restauant Da Lucia this evening and got a table for two. This restaraunt is in an alley. The paint is peeling off the walls of the apartment buildings surrounding the tables. Scooters are parked a little way from he tables. The wooden tables and chairs rocked slightly as you sat down on the uneven cobblestones. They were so busy they were turning guests away. Da Lucia is family run restaraunt established by the owners grandmother whose picture (taken in the same alley at one of the tables) is on the menu. It still serves her recipes and they were delicious washed down with red wine in snubbed thick glass cups.


Refreshed by the day absorbing local culture we headed out early for St Peter's Basilica on my birthday. Our tour began with the crypts under St Peters where it seems every pope from Saint Peter to John Paul II is buried. Pope John Paul's grave is plain and reverent and humble as he was in life. St Peters tomb lies under the churches main altar and it is very dramatic seeing how you can actually descend into his tomb via stairs leading down under the altar. We were able to attend mass at St Peters at the altar of St Jerome. We left the basilica after seeing the Pieta by Michaelangelo. What amazed me is how young he made Mary appear(he did this on purpose) and it made me think how I do not age inside and feel the same joy and sorrow at 20 as at 40.

We left St Peters to join the long line for the Vatican Museums and Sistene Chapel. Massive crowds--dangerous numbers of people all massing towards one chapel was the result. But the tapestries of the last supper(I still don't know how they weave pictures with such detail) , the small pottery oil lamps, paintings covering every inch of many of the halls ceilings, Michaelangelo's passionate and disturbing depictions of the Bible and Last judgement are what linger in my mind as we left the crowds behind.

We did go for our 6 course Italian meal that evening back at Antico Arco . We had guispachee (cold soup) to start ,a pastry filled with mozzarella as a antipasta, first course cod ravoioli in red meat sauce, second course pasta in a white cheese sauce, lamb medallions (very rare-I admit I ate the cooked bits and hid the rest under some spinach afraid to offend the chef), a cannoli filled with soft cheese and a chocolate souffle with cappuchino mousse as we savoured a last bottle of red wine. We were worried about being able to eat everything and were stuffed by the end but portions were small so we made it!!

What I want to remember about Rome is how the Italians embrace life as they do their history. I had a wonderful 40th birthday .

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Life or Death?

I have been trying to write this blog for months. Euthanasia is one topic that I am passionate about . I find it difficult to listen to debates on the news reports and want to jump in to say what is not being said. So here is my attempt to fill in the gaps.

Euthanasia is generally referred to in three different situations and there are two types called active and passive.

The Terminally Ill
The first situation involves a terminally ill patient who is actively dying. The two types of euthanasia are active and passive.

Active euthanasia is the act of taking someone’s life. Giving a person an overdose of morphine for instance is active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is allowing nature to take its course. In a way, it is the choice not to act. It is passive euthanasia if for instance a terminally ill person chooses not to take antibiotics for a pneumonia developed at this time.

Palliative Care professionals will not provide active euthanasia. They will not kill their patients. It is their role most importantly to keep the patient comfortable. They no longer focus care on prolonging life but they do not focus care on hastening death. They focus all their measures on the patient’s comfort. This does not mean morphine is withheld if the patient is uncomfortable but breathing shallowly. It means all we do is for the patient's comfort and this is the focus of care.

On or Off a Respirator?
The second situation involves those who have often suffered a trauma that has caused irreparable damage affecting their quality of life. In this case it is easy to confuse active euthanasia with passive. Letting nature take its course is passive such as taking a brain dead person off a respirator or when a person refuses a feeding tube. There is a grey area here that is often hotly debated but it is important in debates to distinguish the difference between taking life (active) and allowing someone to die naturally (passive). Have you seen Million Dollar Baby? Just taking her off the respirator would have been passive euthanasia-she could not survive without it. Her body was irrevocably broken. Giving her the adrenalin to stop her heart when taking her off was active euthanasia.

Degenerative Illnesses
The third situation is the heart wrenching debate for active euthanasia when a person is not actively dying (within 6 months). This is the highly dangerous and ethically loaded debate to end ones life in anticipation of ones death. Basically the future looks bleak because of a terrible prognosis. It will be filled with suffering and a lack of control where you will become utterly dependent on those around you. And perhaps the greatest fear of all is that you will become a burden on those around you. To be faced with this future--hence the debate and why people go to Amsterdam and Switzerland.

I have been nursing cancer patients for 18 years and spent a good portion of that time in palliative care. The only thing I am sure about is that people die the way they live. That means simply that there is no right or wrong way to die. We all will face it as we have faced the challenges that come before it in our lives. You will choose how you die. You will choose how to cope with it or how to ignore it. If you face the hard times in life fighting than you will most likely fight death and all that seeks to take a moment of life away. If you face hardship with quiet resolve than often you will let go sooner rather than later. If you endure hardship and would rather not know than you may die denying death is coming.

I have had patients in my care who have committed suicide. That is what active euthanasia is about and I feel you must call it by its real name. As a health care professional I failed them. I could not reassure them enough or make them comfortable enough or confident enough that we would help them die with dignity. Their fears killed them or despair. It is tremendously sad. You see when people talk about the slippery slope this is what they mean. Fear, emotional and physical pain, dependence, and loss of control are all part of life and when we opt out early where does it stop? Should the incurable schizophrenic opt out? Should the grandpa who is paralyzed from a stroke and doesn't want to burden his family decide to commit suicide in a heroic act to spare them? Is that what his family would choose?

Our laws can protect us from making decisions that would disregard life. Our laws can protect vulnerable people. Those facing degenerative illness, the mentally ill, the old and the handicapped are the most vulnerable of all in society. Asking health professionals to take life will send us in a direction that I as a health care professional am not willing to follow. I think you should be very wary of those who will participate as who is to hold them back from the slippery slope. Ever see Last of the Mohegans when the elderly grandmother who can no longer contribute to the tribe goes into the night to freeze to death (it was considered the honourable thing-no one tried to talk her back in to the tepee). Times have changed. Our laws can help ensure we never feel the need to walk out alone into the cold to die. It will also ensure that others know we value their life and call them back in.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

At More Crossroads

I was approached at work to see if I was interested in entering a management post and it started me thinking.

In my 20's I would have beamed and accepted.

The army slogan "Be all that you can be ", the Star Wars "It is your destiny" and my professors' urges to "Reach your full potential " were still ringing in my ears. I did reach my full potential but in a different field. I had 5 children before I was 30. I kept dabbling in my career between pregnancies . I have no regrets. It was one of the happiest periods in my life.

Again in my 30's I would have felt a thrill to take on a management position and jumpstart my professional career.

I felt confident that I could take the lead. Instead my husband and I chose another adventure. We moved to London with our 5 children and started over in new workplaces and in a different cultural environment. Again a amazing time in our lives.

Now I am almost 40 faced with a chance to move "up" into management. I am hesitating.

I am not confident-perhaps because I am wiser. There is so much I learn, relearn and have to unlearn each day in my workplace. Technology changes, I forget procedures that I do not perform often, and I am used to doing things differently having been trained in a different culture and time.
Management issues are as complicated as trying to help 30 employees recognize and appreciate each others' differences. Bureacracy is insurmountable unless you are insanely patient. Management and their big picture mentality no longer appeal to me. I don't feel the urge to Change the World as I once did. Am I complacent? I can't change the NHS but I can improve the life of my patients for the 8 hours they are in my care. The little picture is where I find my job satisfaction.
I am 39 and would dread entering a management position . Do I have a responsibility to try and improve the bigger picture or is it enough to make my corner of the world a little better?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Big Questions

Last night my teenage son Liam asked me if scientists can believe in God. Little did he know that the question has been mused upon for years and has been rekindled as the proponants of Evolution face off against Intelligent Design.

BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day today made sense to me when thinking about the debate between being both a scientist and having religous beliefs. The commentators premise seemed to be that Sciance asks "how "and religion asks "why". Two totally different questions that need not be asked in relation to one another.

I hold both a Bachelor of Science degree . There are many things we still do not understand but that doesn't mean that our lack of knowledge means there is an intelligent designer. It means our curiousity should drive us to further our knowledge.

I am also a Christian. There are also many things I do not understand about God and I search too for deeper understanding but here my questions are different. I do not wish to understand how God is but why God is and how does this effect living life. Faith seeking knowledge as St Benedictine would say. Do not be afraid to question and search.

So what happens when science and faith meet as in the discussion of miracles. Could it be that miracles in scientific terms is a name for something we can not yet explain? And in religous terms my faith is not challenged by the presence of miracles or lack of them as faith built on the need for proof is not faith. Asking how a miracle happens--leave that to science. It would be incredible to understand. Asking why miracles happen-- launches me further on in my search for their significance.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

To Print or Not...

We had a heated debate in the house last evening over the satirical cartoons portraying Mohammed that originated in a Denmark paper. I find these debates, which border on arguments, usually end up clarifying my thoughts and teaching me about myself and the world.

My basic premise was that we shouldn't be disrespectful another's culture and faith. I hope I can teach my children to respect the beliefs and rights and others. I also proposed that it's wrong to republish the cartoons, re-igniting the radical Islamic fringe.

As the debate commenced, the following points impressed me:

  1. Political cartoons have never been respectful of any person or group. That is the point of satire. It is in the nature of journalism to be the public watchdog -- not a popular role as their targets are not always considered the bad guys . Their targets are indiscriminate -- from Tony Blair and George Bush to Christian bishops, Jewish settlers and, yes, to Muslims.

  2. Repeated printing of the cartoons were a sign of solidarity with the papers in Denmark and express a defiant attitude to support freedom of speech. As to solidarity, I think Denmark would rather have this over quickly and reprints seem to inflame the situation, prolonging it. As to a freedom of speech issue, I think the media has shown that the vast majority of Muslims, despite taking offense, value the importance of freedom of speech. In response they speak publicly, demonstrate peacefully and avoid the papers, just as we would if the Pope was portrayed blowing up abortion clinics.

  3. The radical fringe of Muslims are using the cartoons as a justification for violence. They are not representative of the true Islamic community. They're more like the angry, violent drunk you sometimes meet on the street outside a pub. Do you taunt him or would you walk away?
I think the newspapers need to be asking themselves a similar question: Should they continue to run this political cartoon taunting a violent fringe and, if so, to what purpose?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Feat Equal to the Slaying of any Orc

On the BBC "Thought for the Day" the speaker left me with a inspiring message.
Evil gets passed around so easily.
One insult leads to another in retort and it spreads.
To stop evil --'turn the other cheek' and it is trapped.
It dies with you.
And you are the victor.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Way Life is Supposed to Be

I used to watch a 1970s ahow called Leave It to Beaver when I was 8 years old. If you have seen the movie Pleasantville you will have experienced the same idea. Both showed how family life is supposed to be. Now I am almost 40 and I am glad that I watch Malcom in the Middle.

Between 8 and 40 I tried to understand why I couldn't read all those child rearing magazines without feeling a failure. Have you ever picked up a parenting magazine ? It told me what I was not so I stopped reading them. I became a mom by getting to know my kids.

I have 5 children (not 2.5 ) and they are in 2 bedrooms. I do like that all my children find their personal space without being reclusive. I do mind having only 1 bathroom.

The first time I walked into a friends home and found it messy and dusty it gave me a huge amount of comfort. We have stayed the best of friends (one I don't have to clean for).

Sometimes dinner is made by Pedro at the pizza delivery place and sometimes the dishes wait on the counter until morning to be washed. This means I get to chill out with my kids.

Often Dad tucks the girls into bed because mom gets grumpy when she is tired (anytime after 8pm). They get time with Dad and I get time on the couch.

As my sister Anne says "Life is life".

Life isn't supposed to be any certain way and that is a huge relief. I am free to make it more.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mental Note

I was not looking forward to this mornings walk with the dog.

I prepared. My body was somewhere under 2 fleeces and a coat. I wore gloves and a hat but my cheeks froze and toes ached the minute we entered fresh air. Dude did seem to notice the hard frost as he pulled his paws a bit higher and more often than usual. We walked.

I began to notice that the mud was frozen. It was much easier to walk on frozen ground than when mud-planing. A bright light began to appear in the sky. It seemed inconsequential at first. Then I started to feel it contained that warmth --a spring sun. The ground glistened,the birds sang, Dude behaved and I soaked in the rays.

Mental note to use on the kids in one of those teachable moments:

Life is like walking the dog. You may anticipate the worst and sometimes have to endure it. But you never know when it will surprise you. Don't forget the surprises in life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Moment

Okay I am finally getting over my Christmas holiday hangover and stumbling back online. I don't make New Years Resolutions (my self discipline is lacking) but if I did I know what it would be for 2006.

My holidays this year were lovely . But as always they were a wild mix of no schedule, decorating, cooking, wrapping and checking the giving list twice. Preparation and more preparation, followed by cleaning and more cooking mixed with some lazy days of reading in front of the fire in between odd shifts working at the hospital.

This year as I have come out of the holidays into some forced anual leave time. You see if I don't take my anual leave/vacation time before April I will lose it. So I am on vacation but still I feel my days are filled to the brim with cleaning ,cooking , Dude walking, kids birthday party planning, self improvement opportunities...a endless to do list of unending activity. I don't mind doing each of the things on my list individually but as it is now I finish one to rush to the next. It's misery.

But back to the new years resolution I never make. If I was to make one this year I would say I am going to enjoy each moment in time. Because it isn't the moments that get me down --its the day. I love the chance to sit in front of the fire as I eat breakfast. I love the moments spent stoking the fire. I don't mind listening to music while I clean the kitchen. I find vacuuming satisfying when I use a Dyson and you can see all that dust and stuff accumulating in the clear chamber. When I breath in the momments deeply and take time I find "life is good". I think 2006 is going to be a very good year.