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Reaping life’s rewards

This week’s prompt at The Seeker’s Dungeon is:   Gratitude  (running from February 27 – March 5)

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

This week’s Prompt is hosted by Karuna Poole:  “I was present once when Jean Wiger, a psychotherapist from the Midwest, was asked what she considered to be the best predictor of success in therapy.  Her response was, “The client’s capacity to experience gratitude.”  Later, I was taught depression and gratitude cannot co-exist.  That isn’t to say that we should feel grateful for the many ways human beings abuse each other, but rather once we have had a chance to work through our anger, sadness and fear, we can choose to put our focus on the skills and positive qualities we’ve developed as a result of having survived whatever trauma we’ve experienced.”

wpid-20130102_175917.jpgThat really struck me when I read  if depression is still present, it cannot co-exist with feelings of gratitude. I often wondered about that.  I can see how it would cloud my view on the world if I am stuck with past fears, anger and sadness.  But what about melancholy…moments my muse seems to appear as well?  I tend to dip into bouts of melancholy from time to time and I embrace them more lately so I can do some introspection and write, my new-found love, my muse. 

I have stopped trying to figure out the why or what over the years when moods dip into darker states.  Chronic pain?  hormones?  Fatigue?  Life?  Family?  Work?  {I have certainly been in and out of therapy as well in the past to help me through these journeys.}

And, if anything, my work is my salvation. I love what I do no matter how painful it is to hear some stories at times,  from my callers…I feel grateful and privileged to be in a position to sometimes, make a small difference even if it is for just a moment.

As for other reasons to feel down…well, take your pick…life situations or just plain getting the blues for a while.  Sometimes it is a blessing and the universe`s way to say, “Slow down!”   I do believe that I may have suffered for years with SAD and that half of the province where I live…with our long winters probably do to some degree. 

And when life throws a curved ball now and then, I am learning to embrace it, hold on for dear life at times; surprisingly, I am thankful for this as well. The enlightenment that follows any amount of suffering is priceless.

I often tell myself, “Thank goodness I work!”  It forces me to get out of the house in the dead of winter.  Perhaps it is also the feeling of having a purpose. We all want to feel this. Look at those who are not quite ready for their retirement.  It is a huge and sometimes painful life transition if not carefully planned. I am not talking about financially…emotionally prepared.

In the early 80`s my step-father died and it crushed my spirit. He had been given 3 months to live after his diagnosis and he actually died 3 months later. Having a second baby made my visits only twice weekly , less frequently than I had wished;  I felt I missed connecting with him; there was so much I wish I had said to him or heard from him.  

A few years later,  I began a certificate in Gerontology offered to volunteers. Most of the students were over 65 years old. Lovely women learning how to help elderly persons more and most of them sharing, “My husband just retired and I have to get out of the house…he has taken over my kitchen” or “He`s driving me bonkers!” 

At that time I had also started doing friendship visits to isolated, lonely older persons and by the end of my certificate I was hired as a personal support worker in home care. I remember visiting this man who was in his 60’s, dying of cancer.  I loved sitting with him, hearing his stories.  He was an advocate for our small English community and taught me to be a bit of a shit disturber if I wanted to make some changes. He counselled me in my role on school and parent committees. I followed his advice and started a school daycare learning the school board policies and educational laws providing this right for hard-working parents seeking a good place to have their children go after school. This man just warmed my heart and filled me with so many ideas.  He had fought to get English Catholic services available in our town twice weekly including Sunday school for the children.  He was a devout Irish Catholic and I grew so fond of this man.  I was able to listen to him when he wanted to talk about dying since he didn`t want to worry or hurt his loved ones. I was blessed having this privilege to be by his side during these times I had missed with my step-father. 

The universe provides so many opportunities to fulfill our needs!

One day I was at Sunday mass and had not been for weeks and weeks; the priest was at the door welcoming parishioners and made a sarcastic remark, “Well, it is nice to see you pay us a visit today.”  I knew this priest had been summoned for almost a year by the man I had visited. This man waited and waited, needing to share his thoughts, pray with him and lighten his soul. But never did that priest go…in fact a priest from another French parish made visits to sooth this dying man. I was privy to all of this. I have been blessed with this man`s trust as he shared his fears, prayed as I listened and held his hand many times.

And so my tongue was a bit sharp as I smiled, tilted my head to the side and said, “Ah, yes, I have missed many Sunday obligations, haven`t I now, Father. But you see, I have replaced them with visits of compassion these past few months visiting a parishioner you well know, Mr. ***.” To this response, he blushed, forced a weak smile, and I sauntered to the front near the altar to sit with my two children.  

I am so grateful to have met this lovely man who inspired me just at a time in my life I was searching for my purpose . I am thankful to have met him and that he accepted my presence on his last passage. That was the start of my journey on my path in learning, exploring, discovering and getting my degree eventually to work with people full-time.  I am grateful to have started a second rich and rewarding career, blessed having the opportunity to reap life’s rewards.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/02

Bye Bye 2013!

me sideways

2013 was a busy year for me filled with surprises, many learning experiences and one huge discovery…my love for writing and I am getting better day by day!

I have written about my surprise and gratitude in receiving the Queen`s Diamond Jubilee Medal and to be able to get to Toronto to receive it with my colleagues made it all the more special and meaningful. I can`t find the words to say how grateful I am and to be among many wonderful amazing people who were also honoured that night. One woman whom I admire for her courage and her compassion is Pam.  She has suffered such a tragic loss and yet with her compassion she found the determination and the courage to go to schools to give a powerful message…there is help…suicide is not the answer and Kids Help Phone is one safe place that youths can reach out to.  Bless you, Pam, for doing what you do…you have no idea how much you have touched so many hearts. I feel privileged to have met you in person.

2013 was a difficult year in that more youths reached out with very very serious issues.  I am not sure if that means youths are struggling more OR if it means that they are finally realizing that there is a youth line that may just be able to support them.  If it is the latter, I say, good on you for the courage and trust you put in this help line.  I feel privileged being a part of this support and honoured to listening to  youths who are looking for guidance and a helping ear.

I am grateful for having 2 amazing adult children and a grandson in my life.  I know may sound mushy and a bit old to them when I get all weepy thinking how much I love them, but hey, that`s the way it is when you love your kids, right?

This past year I was fortunate winning 2 tickets to see Oprah on her grand tour with her inspirational message.  WoW!  What an experience.  I  am pleased I was able to share this with my son and that he even accepted to go with me.  I think 98% of the people there were women…so, yeah, he was pretty brave too…hehe.

After 4 years of searching for an organization to volunteer my services, I finally found a great place. Ami-Quebec which has run for 35 years is the ONLY  anglophone agency in Quebec that offers support to families and friends, counselling and peer support with those suffering with mental health conditions.  Over the years it has widened its outreach outside of Montreal by offering webinars and teleconferences so English-speaking people in areas far from Montreal can receive the same educational services.  I feel privileged to be volunteering here and to have received some enriching training as well.

Friends are family to me. Life could not be as fulfilled or enriched without these special friends both  in Quebec and in Ontario. They make me laugh and they hold me when I need to cry.  I am so grateful having them in my life.  Thank you for being in my life, merci d’en faire partie dans ma vie…vous ne pouvez savoir à quel point que votre appui me touche.

Speaking of Ontario…well, my cousin and his wife who is really like my sister and their son who is so precious and amazing and of course their parents…(my ma tante and uncle) my second mom and dad away from home give me so much and more.  Their home is like my resort where I can unwind, get pampered and just “be”…yes, I would say I come back feeling Zen!

I am grateful having the health to be able to continue working fulltime in a career that is so fulfilling and gratifying.

I have to say that the WordPress community has also touched me in so many ways. It is a support, encouraging and enlightening. I have learned and continue to learn about many issues especially mental health with my blog Stigma Hurts Everyone and reading about experiences people are generous enough to share.  Now why would I even think of going on Facebook when WordPress is feeding so many facets of my life? Oh, yeah, I know…to keep in touch with friends and to share my blog posts…yeah, that`s why.

Last but not least, my lovely feline friend who loves me unconditionally and if I don`t give her attention, she definitely lets me know!

I don`t quite believe in making New Year`s resolutions but I will TRY to walk more, would like to start Yoga again and perhaps swimming as well.  Let`s see how well I do there.  I do have a spiritual outlet however, which is writing more poetry and narratives.  Some day I may even compile some to self-publish…or at least to give to my close friends and family.

Happy New Year and wishing everyone peace and health in 2014.  Let`s get a bit more involved in the environment…that would be nice if we all did our part.

Blessings,

Cheryl-Lynn, January 2, 2014