Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

Lessons from grandpa

January 5, 2015

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My grandpa was my hero and I his little  angel.
12 years have passed since I lost one of the most influential people in my life. My grandpa would be celebrating his 100 th birthday this month, one special occasion we shared. 

The man should have never made it to where he did (being highly premature in 1915 was not what it is today, fighting the front lines of the entire second world war was almost unheard of) but in doing so he brought so much to so many. My Grandpa taught me many many lessons.  Most of which can be transferred to all parts of life.

1. Humour : laugh. ALOT. At funny things but also yourself.  Laughing at yourself, your mistakes, your comical errors will lessen the load.  Life can be funny,make it so.

2.  Tell your story: The only thing my grandpa didn’t speak of often was his war years.  Otherwise the man told stories and shared memories, always! Those stories and memories gave me a huge appreciation for years passed, what hard times really mean, and that everyone has a story to share, everyone has been through tragedies, and we are not here to lessen them, judge or criticize.
We all have a voice, use it and use it wisely.

3.   Friendliness/kindness :One of my fondest memories is morning coffee at the local coffee shop every morning to enjoy a hot chocolate with the farmers and the wives, and the trips tucked in the back seat to the nearest city for Sunday trips during my visits.  Both entailed meeting friends and strangers alike. And strangers become friends. Smile at people, start a conversation, it may just be the best thing you’ve done in a while. I never heard the man dismiss someone or be rude.  He taught me to be kind, to everyone until proven otherwise, then still be kind.

4. Commitment.  This is from both grandpa and grandma.  Don’t just walk away from a marriage, home, friendship because this moment is tough.  When you make a commitment, follow through. My grandpa returned from war, married grandma and brought baggage like most of us would turn away from.  She stood by him, loved him and truly was his better half.  He was the oldest home dialysis patient in Canada.  Three times a day those two would sit down for the treatment, grandma administrating, grandpa talking.  They taught me perseverance and strength, that even during the bad there can be wonderful.  All because of a commitment they took seriously.

5. Hard work: the man worked hard. I often sat in his workshop while he tinkered.  The smell of sawdust still tears me up.  Sure by this time he was retired, but his hands were never idle.  He taught me to take pride in my work and in myself.  He taught me I was good enough, smart enough and determined enough to do whatever I wanted to do. The quiet moments we shared puttering were some of the best and carried the biggest lessons of all.  He believed in me, trusted me and showed me that giving up was never an option.

6. Take time for yourself : grandpa loved his naps, his cartoons and his wood shop.  I believe that those moments were his and his alone.  Time to think, ponder, reflect. He genuinely liked his own company. I watched and learned that no matter what is going on, it is perfectly acceptable to take that myself moment.  To say no, to rest when you need and to enjoy your own company, so you can be the best you. Heck if you don’t like yourself it’s kind of hard for others to!

7. Be you : my grandpa taught me that being me was enough.  Even if it took me a while to get it.  He always always accepted not only me for me, but others as well just the way we were.  He didn’t care what colour you were, what size you wore, how many degrees you held, or how much money you had.  He only cared if you were decent and kind. And when you messed that up, he still liked ya! He loved me enough to prove to me that I was loved, unconditionally, for always.

Yes lessons learned from grandpa are some of life’s best lessons.

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Kindness for Christmas

December 20, 2014

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The most wonderful time of year is upon us. Well for me anyway.
I love Christmas and all it means, no not the money and the stress, because there’s lots of both. But I make a conscious effort to limit both. Because for me it’s about family, traditions and kindness.

I speak a lot about acceptance and kindness year round, yesterday dude was shown just those things, and at the most perfect time.

Dude had a crash last week, which led us to extending his Christmas holidays. We hit the point of “remove all outside triggers and stress until he sees the doctor”  mode.  No we aren’t putting him in a bubble, but when things aren’t balanced we must do whatever we can to prevent the crash from becoming worse. School is a trigger on a good day and the festive season is often another with all of the excitement and schedule changes, so after discussing with teachers and his psychologist we decided to prevent a complete breakdown he would stay in his comfort zone.

Upon his early leave from school with our permission and more importantly his, his grade and the grade above (he’s in a small school)  were given a brief description and discussion on not only bipolar disorder, but mental illness. The response of the students was incredible in itself, but the true meaning of the story brings us to yesterday.

It was the last day before break and a few of the students asked for his email address, and emailed him Christmas and get well wishes. Just as they would a classmate in the hospital or away from school for a length of time with a physical illness.
I was left speechless.  Not often does that happen!
To top it off two of his friends handpicked a Christmas gift and sent it home with his sister.  I can’t begin to describe the look on his face as he unwrapped it.  I can’t imagine how the emailed words made him feel.
The support and compassion and acceptance that surrounds my son continues to amaze me.
Even before the discussion of mental illness, he was accepted. But now with the knowledge that he has an illness, one he can’t control I think his peers can make sense of it all, having a name makes it easier to understand sometimes.
The compassion, patience, empathy and understanding of his peers and the staff makes my heart full.
I believe no matter what is under the tree this year, his best present will be knowing he is supported, cared about and valued.

My Christmas wish is this for any child or adult struggling with illness. For each and every one of you to know you are loved, you are cared about, you are valuable. My other wish is that those who don’t suffer to extend kindness  patience  understanding and compassion to those who do.

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Use your voice.

November 16, 2014

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It’s our job as society, as family and friends and loved ones to speak of mental illness, to use our voices to raise awareness, to break the stigmas and show support.
Why? Because more often than not those living with depression, bipolar, anxiety and so on are to busy just trying to survive to talk about it.  Add the HUGE stereotypes, stigmas and judgements that come along with speaking about ones own battle, and well that’s just not an added battle those fighting already should have to fight.
We should fight it for them.  Like we fight for clean water, safe communities, like we fight against sexism and racism and war and the six million other unjust things society deems necessary to fight against.
I am not for the life of me saying these fights are not worth it.  Not at all.  But we seem to be of a mindset that we fight for those without voices, the environment , third world countries, and animals. 
We seem to assume that because these illnesses affect humans they have a voice against it, they can control it.  Folks I’m sorry but it’s time to pull the heads out of the sand and realize that is NOT the case.
So often one assumes that a person who is suffering greatly will speak up, get help by themselves, and overcome it with a smile.
Again this is Not the case.

They are lost, suffering in pain often silently for a number of reasons.
They need OUR voices to be the change. They need OUR strength to carry that load. They simply need US to support and care enough to try and break down the walls.

I started writing hoping to change just one mindset, but my purpose soon changed into hoping to HELP one person.
To show one person they have an allie in a dark place.  To show one person they are worth the fight.  They are worth my words.
To show those who are in the darkness they are worth it, they are valued, they are so much more than a diagnosis.

These are people. Not trees, not water but humans.  With not nearly enough people standing for them. I’d hazard a guess that an organization raising money for clean water is receiving substantially higher donations than your local, or national mental health association donations.

I guarantee that your twitter and Facebook feed are full of animal abuse pictures and mocking jokes of “physco crazy” people.  If you think this is not a big deal, simply put, you should maybe just leave your head in the sand, because this is actually a big deal. 

Lives are lost everyday. Lives that matter. Lives that are worth our voices.
Their stories are important, their value is important, their lives are worth so much more than a joke or a ten year old post about a lost dog.

They are worth each and every one of us stopping for a moment and thinking before we post or say something that could potentially make them feel more isolated, alone and misunderstood.

We are all here for a reason, we are all trying to figure that out, we are all trying to find our voice, our place and our strength. We are all human trying to survive, some of us just need a voice.
I’m willing to be that for the silent.

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Be kind. It’s not a competition.

October 4, 2014

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Be kind. It really is that simple.
We all have moments where we’re not, no one can be perfect.
But we sure can be mostly kind.

The area I live in has seen horrific loss recently, and others struggling with scary realities and futures.  It has brought kindness to the forefront for me.
You see one illness or one loss  does not trump another.
Pain is not a competition.
Pain and grief are individual and personal, and we need to support those people through the rough journey, but be gracious in knowing others to are suffering and struggling with their own battles.

Emotions run high,  hearts break and I can’t help but wonder how I can make it less.
I can’t.
But I can be kind.
I can listen.
I can support.
I can encourage.

I have chosen to be kind.  You see I live in fear and pain everyday with my child. But that doesn’t make theirs any less. And theirs doesn’t make my fears and pain less.

I have had two lovely ladies who know my child and the bipolar, anxiety struggles we face,  Grace me with kind words this week.  And those kind words mean more than anyone can imagine. And I can only hope my words and acts of kindness can be that to others.

Often with pain, loss and grief, kindness comes out of the woodwork, in many different forms.
But then it passes. And we March on with our lives.
What if we shared that same kindness always?
What if we gave all the time?
Being a mother of a child with chronic mental illness, I see kindness in abundance in times of crisis. And yes those are the times I need it most,  and am so grateful for it. It has given me a completely different perspective than before.
Kindness no matter the size is just that,  kind.
A smile, a door held open  a pass of the Kleenex. A ride,  a shoulder, an ear. A gift, a poem , a coffee. 
It’s really that simple.

Because like pain, illness and loss doesn’t trump another. One act of kindness doesn’t trump another act of kindness.
Kindness is not a competition either.
And I firmly believe no act is to small, at any time.

Be kind people. Even when it’s hard, even when you’re hurting, give someone a smile or a hug.

Be kind. It’s that simple.

Size DOESN’T matter

June 30, 2014

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I don’t care if you’re big, small or in-between.  I hate the image the media has created for girls and woman to look up to.
I am in No way a fan of the super skinny image portrayed everywhere we turn. I want to raise my daughter to love herself for her. More importantly raise my children to see past the physical that we so often focus on.
Our size does not make us who we are.
There are those who struggle to loose weight, gain weight or simply be healthy.
But I would love for somebody to be able to tell me why social media, media in general finds it necessary to promote pitting women against women, simply based on our body type?
I am on the smaller size.  Though I don’t typically speak about myself, I am.
I wear a size four or small.
And that’s OK!
My daughter is built like me, but the men (and many women ) I love in my life are bigger than I.
And that’s OK!
I have seen so many “jokes” posted attacking skinny people lately though that my head is spinning.
I am no less a woman because I am skinny, as you are not less because you’re larger, and she’s not less because she’s all muscle!
Just because I am skinny doesn’t mean these “jokes ” don’t cut like they would on the flip side.
We as women ALL have our insecurities, heck I’m covered in scars and you’ll never see me in shorter shorts or swimsuits! we are ALL sensitive to weight comments.
Here’s a little thing many don’t know.
When I was younger, I struggled with anorexia.  My 5’6 self weighed in at a whopping 75-80 pounds.
Not only did I look like a bobble head, I was not healthy!
I look back on why I turned down that path, and I pin point it to comments from other’s. 
I remember my parents giving me anything I wanted to eat. I am pretty sure I lived off frosted flakes and hutterite cream (cream thick like butter! ), and chocolate ensure!
It was not fun.
I have not stepped on a scale in probably 15 years, aside from pregnancy and surgery.
I eat what I want,  I will not try this diet or that. Because I know enough of myself that it could turn out very badly!
So yes the comments hurt us “skinny chicks ” the same as they hurt the rest of women.
I can only imagine the self acceptance that would happen if we as women just simply stopped.  Took the body image game back into our hands instead of allowing media dictate to us.
What if we Stopped sharing ANY and ALL body image posts that pick apart any particular body type.
We need time lead by example for our daughter’s.

That it’s not your size that matters.
That there is so so much more to a person than the size of your clothes, or a number on a scale.
That you are No less a woman because of your shape or size.
That you are beautiful!
That you are good enough!
That you are smart!
That you are strong!
That you are loved!

I know I for one am tired of it all.

Popularity ladder

March 16, 2014

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Friends. I’m lucky. Not everyone is as lucky.
I was pretty popular, and as a kid/teen you really think that’s the big picture. You think your popularity makes you a better person. It doesn’t.  It really doesn’t in the real world matter that you were invited to all the birthdays and parties.  It doesn’t make you a good or bad person. It doesn’t make you the you that is unique.
Though I was always surrounded by friends, some of them weren’t true. I was used.I was beaten by their words. And though I was a giver, I did do some pretty awful things. Some deserved, others not. I could be mean. I would throw the first punch if you hurt someone close to me. I would stand up for the little guy without question. But I would also at times taunt and outcast, because that was the cool thing to do, and got me more friends. But really at what expense?
I shudder at the thought of a couple years, and how mean I could be. All to climb up that popularity ladder. Breaking a few people down along the way, not thinking for 2 seconds of the pain I was causing that would follow them. At my core I have always been kind. At my core I stand up. At my core I knew that breaking people was not who I was or wanted to be. It earned me respect, but not in a way I would want. It earned me a reputation that if you ask old friends I still carry. Don’t piss her off. And though I still roar when needed,I’ve grown to love my true friends,and realized just how far I’ve come as a person, becoming the person I want and need to be. Throwing the dreaded popularity ladder out the window.
Becoming a mother changes us. We want good,we want happy and we want kindness.
We look at our children as they sleep and hope to God they don’t have to go  through the popularity contests,climb those ladders. We hope that they feel good enough just as they are. We hope that we have taught them kindness, and humility. We hope that as they climb the ladder if friends and status amongst their peers, that they include those further down the ladder, or at very least they show them compassion, and don’t push them further down. And abuse them to get higher themselves.
We hope we’ve taught them that they are good enough, strong enough.
This at least is what I hope I’ve taught mine.
As I watch my children grow, I see a shining star of a daughter who is who she is, and kind to everyone. But who is strong and confident enough to stand up for herself without pushing others down. She will climb with fair ease.
I see a young man who has struggled to fit. Though he has always had his true friends, and is just as happy to be alone.  I  see the remaining, left over hurt and fear that others left him with while they pushed and shoved their way up the ladder.
There’s always going to be the ladder, people at the top, in the middle and the bottom.  My hope is that those at the top don’t get their by constantly pushing others further down, to the point they don’t even want to start the climb again.