Saturday, December 16, 2017

Finding Balance

As an occupational therapist, I talk with my clients regularly about finding balance. Yet, why is this so hard for me?

I find myself exhausted so often because I don't want to miss out. Because I want to show that I am not "less than" others - that I can keep up despite having physical limitations. Because I want to be good at what I do. Because ... because ...

I also don't want to believe that my body is getting older. That it's failing me. That I can't do what I once used to be able to do.

And that is sad for me. Hard for me.

And when I read this paragraph, I realize this is all about me. And, in many ways, is actually detrimental. Pushing myself beyond what is healthy ... and for what? It doesn't even fit with my values and what I say is important. I value my faith. I value my marriage. I value relationships. I value family. I value building into others' lives. I value some down time - to read, to pray, to journal, to create, to enjoy nature and take pictures. I value education. I value integrity and doing the best I can. I value my health. I value independence in an interdependent way - no person is an island and we need to live in communion with others (on a side note, sometimes this is a hard balance for me to find as independence has been a strong factor in my life).

But I've been setting up a comparison - trying to prove myself. To show the world that people with disabilities can do as much as someone without. Trying to show that I can 'be someone'. Trying to do more than I am able to. Trying to gain expertise and gain respect. But that's not what life is about. It doesn't fit with my beliefs. I'm not putting God first - and listening to the prompts about what I should be doing. And not listening to my body and setting boundaries. I'm not asking myself - does this activity / this thought pattern / this way that I'm spending my energy - fit with my values?

Yet, how do I continue to reach towards my goals and, alternatively, know which goals I need to let go of. Which goals do I need to focus on because they are shared between my husband and me? How do I find my balance now? And then when we adopt, how do I build on that balance and incorporate what I've learned to maintain good life balance that fits with my values? My hope is that some things will just jump out as obvious and that some things that I have time for now that I won't have time for then with be easy to let go of.  If it's not obvious, how will I know what to let go of and what to put my energy into? How do I make sure my body is operating at its optimum for where it can operate? Part of me fears that I will fail. That I won't have the energy to be the mom I want to be. What if I can't keep the house clean? Or get moving quick enough in the morning to make sure everyone gets to where they need to? What if I end up focusing too much on the tasks, and then not put the energy into my relationships - my marriage, and when we adopt - the relationship with our child. Thankfully, I am part of a pair - my husband and I are in this together. And we will get things done and we will stand by each other.

Things that exhaust me include: going, going, going for days in a row. Long drives - as in full long days that come after a week or more of really busy life. Long work days. Working every day outside the home. Having too much clutter around me (which is nearly impossible to shift because I need to be able to reach things and we have very few low storage options in our home and getting new ones that work in our space costs hundreds of dollars). I get exhausted when I am around others and I don't fit in - trying to figure out how to fit in. I get exhausted when I try to problem solve things that are difficult in life and the answers don't seem to be realistic. I worry when finances are tight. I worry about my family 2 provinces away. In these situations, I worry too much which consumes energy. When this happens, I need to relax a little more and know that we can operate on the plan we have come up with and that things have worked out in the past. And I need to rest in God as there are some things that I can't change.

I am energized when I teach. But then am exhausted after, particularly after a few days in a row of intense, large group teaching. Yet I still love it. I am energized when I see the impact of my work on clients. My role, however, requires long hours at times. In the moments, though, I love it! And the flexibility and autonomy is worth SO much! So, how do I find balance within my work?

I need to find ways to take better care of my body. Continuing to get good sleep. Gentle exercise. Sacrificing money to get massages. Eating well.

I need to also continue to make sure I put energy into keeping our marriage good. That takes effort, as it does for everyone.

One thing I've learned in life, though, is that change is constant. And life balance will fluctuate. I need to be my own OT and figure out what I can do to maintain wellness so I don't overdo things - and to make sure I am doing things that are meaningful. And make sure we, as a family, are doing meaningful things together. And have the courage to set limits and say 'no' when I need to. That I do things that fit with my values.

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down" ~ Lily Tomlin

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Some days

Some days ...

I just want to be living in Winnipeg again. Not that I'm unhappy. I have a great job. It's beautiful out here. We are close to the mountains. We have "our places" we like to go and would definitely miss those. The weather beats out Winnipeg weather most days, and the air has been good for my husband's health. We have a comfortable home to live in. There are people who care about us here. And probably if we were living elsewhere, we'd long to be here.

But, in Winnipeg, we both have a support network. There are others that I know would hit it off well with my husband. And here, it often feels like there is nobody that we can truly go to when things are tough. I mean, there are people we talk to and see regularly. But somehow, it's hard to interrupt others' lives with our 'stuff' ... or maybe we just don't feel comfortable doing that. If feels like we are not close enough with people that they would come to us as one of the first people if they were struggling ... and likewise, very few whom we truly feel like we can talk on the spur of the moment when times are tough. It feels like, for those whom I talk to, that I'm saying the same thing over and over. I don't want to come across like someone who is negative. I worry that others will think I am. I've been known to be the person who sees a silver lining in everything. I'm not sure I do anymore ... and that bothers me. I want to be the one encouraging others. But right now, I'm the one needing encouragement.

In Winnipeg (area), my family is going through tough times. It's hard to be here when they are there, going through what they're going through. Cancer is a bitch ... but at least my mom seems to be doing well with radiation. Depression is also probably as equal a bitch. And that seems to be affecting several people in my family as well. Thing is, I'm not sure that I'd be of any more help there than here.

Money is tight, but who knows if that would be any better elsewhere. My husband still hasn't gotten a job here ... the economic situation is pretty rough. It's not for lack of effort, though... which is super discouraging. We made the best decision we could, given the circumstances, to live here. But I often wonder what things would have been like had I been the one who moved. We've made it, though, every month. Some months are tighter than others. It looks like it will be starting to turn around in the next little while. Except if the landlord raises rent. That might be the turning point in us moving (if we choose to move). We're already overpaying by a large amount. More would not be ethical. Or a wise decision for us.

But, here, I have opportunities... to teach, to work full-time, to be a faculty member in the department of occupational therapy. And sometimes I feel selfish ... because I am the one with the opportunities... and I so badly want there to be just as good opportunities for my husband.

Some days ...

It seems that there are more opportunities elsewhere. School opportunities for both of us - but mostly my husband and one day for me. Opportunities to build our social support network, or rather, deep friendships, as we do have a social support network. Maybe even possibilities for work that we haven't considered or learned about.

Some days ...

It's just hard to stay put when it seems like nothing is moving forward.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Update - December 2016

I've not kept up this blog regularly, so this post will be yet another 'update'. Updates are good too, if people are reading the blog.

Kevin and I got back from Manitoba last night. We were there longer than I've ever stayed since moving to Calgary. I will say that I had a really long sleep in my familiar and much-loved bed (although I didn't mind the bed at my parents') last night. There were a few big things going on this time around that required a longer stay.

To start, we hit the road running in order to get prepared for my parents' 50th Anniversary celebration! 50 years of marriage is definitely worth celebrating!!! The celebration was the day after the day we arrived in Manitoba. It went really well! I was so busy that I hardly took any pictures and the ones I took did not turn out well! The preparations on the celebration day included helping Kevin get the sound set up, setting the tables, helping with food prep (I was in charge of the punch - yeah, I now, not a huge task but still it took time), and getting the reception program ready. I was one of the MC's, so I had to connect with all the people on the list for singing / speaking. I also had to plan with my niece who co-MC'd with me. We did not get a chance to do any planning before the big day. There was lots of organizing and running around to do. I also helped getting a photo video together (mostly done by my husband!). It all went off, though, without any big problems besides some technical glitches. Even the piano duet my sister and I played with my niece singing along went well. We literally picked our song the night before, practiced it a couple times, then ran with it the next day. We called it improv piano playing which I think frustrated my niece who was trying to sing along. She did well, by the way! On a side note, I liked my descriptions of how we would do the various verses - "tinkly", "marching with authority", "slow and building". It made sense to us, anyway, despite my sister calling me "weird" (which is usual and not taken as an insult). Oh, the food was amazing too - pulled pork, beans, and coleslaw from Danny's Whole Hog! The cakes were very well done too!

50th Anniversary cakes prepared by Flour Connections

Next up, my mom's surgery for her breast cancer. This diagnosis has certainly re-alerted me of the necessity to make sure I get checked for breast health - which I did in the meantime since finding out about the diagnosis. It runs in my mom's family so I know it's a good idea to be on top of it. The surgery went well, or so the doctor reported, and he is hopeful he got everything. That being said, it's still uncertain and the next while cancer will be at the back of our minds regardless of a clean bill of health. It is likely she will require radiation, either way. I worry about that because we won't be present to help. While staying with my parents, I helped her with cleaning her incisions / tape / bandages and we both (husband and I) helped a lot around the house and with things she needed. Kevin prepared a turkey as well as much of the other food! I helped with the smaller tasks such as measuring, stirring, preparing punch, making whip cream for pies, baking cookies, setting the table, chopping ingredients for the stuffing, etc. I worry about how things will go when we're not around - we stayed at their house and saw where the needs are. Nobody else besides my dad lives there. I do know she will be ok, and that my family back home loves her and will do what they can. Still, her energy is low, but she doesn't ask for help often, then gets so exhausted. Every night since the surgery, she has been wiped out. This will pass, I'm sure. She is still recovering and still has pain.

Kevin and I had the opportunity to connect with a couple friends. This trip, we did not get the chance to see many friends. Weather played a role, but our main focus was on family. It was a blessing to spend time with the two families (couple / families) we were able to see. Both are dear friends where I know we lift each other up in prayer, love, and fun times. Seeing them makes me want to live in Manitoba again.

For some time alone, Kevin and I went to spin Poke stops and sometimes went for a quick bite to eat or went to a store to run some errands. We watched some shows on the laptop. Otherwise, we were pretty much around others 24-7. This is exhausting, but it was still good. We joined my dad a couple times for aquacise. I hope we can get into that back in Calgary. I used to go weekly.

We experienced frustration too. We bought a new vehicle recently before we left, as it was time to replace the old vehicle. However, we have had significant delays in being able to install hand controls. I enjoy driving and Kevin does not as much. However, he had to do all the driving - to and from Manitoba as well as everywhere we needed to go. I am hopeful we will be able to get them installed next week, but it will still be another week until I can drive the new vehicle. That will make it a delay of about 6 weeks, maybe more. It will cost more than we initially planned for, as well. There is a chance some or all of this will be refunded to us. I look forward to the (hopefully) improved hand controls system that should require less force and should result in less neck / back pain on long drives and during stop-and-go traffic.

We are trying to sort out where God is leading. Do we stay here? Do we move to Manitoba? How can we know what to do or where to go? A factor that has us wondering is that Kevin has not gotten a job and has been working so hard at getting a job. However, some things are moving in a positive direction for this. He has gotten some contract work (e.g. painting) and he has an interview on Monday. The programs he is interested in studying seem to be in either Manitoba or in Ontario. I enjoy the work I do and the professional network I've developed here in Calgary. However, I worry more and more about accessibility and with increasing funding cuts, I wonder how that might impact my ability to do my job. I get so tired after sometimes even 3 days of work and certainly after 4. I just moved into full-time work, and due to circumstances, have yet to work a full 5-day work week where I am on-site every day. I worry that my body won't be able to handle it - and then what? I hope that if we would move elsewhere, I would find something meaningful again and that I'd be able to get connected to a good professional network. I know Kevin would find something meaningful elsewhere. Although his volunteer work and other aspects in life are meaningful to him, it would be so good if he could find something else meaningful to do outside of the house that would be a source of income. However, I guess we need to be patient with Calgary's economic situation right now. I am thankful we can make ends meet with my income. At times, we just need to watch our spending more.

In reading what I've written above, I see the word "worry" several times. I don't want to be in a space of worrying. That's never a good place to be. I know that I need to just rest - roll with the punches, rest in God and know that God is God. God's got a plan and has his own timing. He can give me strength. He can help us through our tough times. Things, overall, are quite good but it is important for me to remember to not let the struggles and tough things get too overwhelming. I need to believe whole-heartedly that God is far greater than I could ever imagine and he wants to bless us! God has provided and He will continue to provide!

Monday, March 14, 2016

So much has changed over the past year!

Wow! It's been so long since I last blogged! One year ago to the day, my husband and I 'officially' became a couple. We met the summer before (August 2014) at my cousin's place for a bonfire night and began talking, but not often at that point. Following a trip to Ottawa last February where we spent time together in person (rather than by skype or other electronic format), we began talking about the possibility of an 'us'. He is from Ontario and I'm from Manitoba, but we met in Calgary.

It seemed like once we knew we wanted to be a couple, we had a pretty good idea that things were moving towards marriage. A few more trips between Ontario and Alberta, with a quick trip to Manitoba in between, and we were planning our wedding.

We got married in October and had a lovely fall wedding in a halfway point between Ontario and Alberta. Hopefully I WILL post a few pictures of our wedding, but I can't post a long entry today.

God has truly blessed us and it feels like we are the missing puzzle pieces of the bigger picture God has for us. He fit for me and I fit for him. And looking at us together, you might never know! He is over 6 feet tall and I am about 4'6". All along the journey, we saw God working and He made it clear that we should be together.

I have exciting things on the go as well. The reason I can't post a long entry is that tonight, I had set aside time to prepare for the course I will be teaching in May. It is on community-based occupational therapy in the field of mental health. The course will focus on engaging clients that are at times more challenging to engage. I've taught most of this before, but I still have a lot of prep work to do and need to write out the assignments and marking rubric for the course. Additionally, I will be a panel member in an extended session at the CAOT conference in Banff in April. I have prep work for that too. On top of that, we are moving from a small condo to a 3 bedroom bungalow. This house will allow us to do some of the things we are passionate about. It will also eliminate the need to walk a long flight of stairs each day to get to and from the car. We are moving in about 2 weeks - and haven't started packing yet! That's because it was finalized while we were on holidays - of which we just returned this weekend!

In the meantime, my husband is looking for meaningful occupation(s) here in Calgary, whether that will end up doing more volunteering, getting part-time work or full-time work, or all of the above. We would love to get into fostering or even being supportive roommates for individuals who need extra support in their day to day living - or both, as the new house has a fully legal suite downstairs. This new house has the possibility for us to do just that!

We don't know where God will all lead us. But we know that God is in control and that He WILL provide and guide us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ottawa again ... and yes, it was awesome!

I went to Ottawa again in February. And, yes, it was awesome!

And the only pics I took were of the fantastic Indian food (with exception to this elephant)! I didn't even take pics of the wonderful person I shared the meal with and much of the weekend with! That took restraint! haha. Even when the waiter offered to take our picture, I didn't pass off my camera to get a picture. And maybe that was the best choice. I aim to live in the moment when I can and enjoy each moment, but maybe the camera gets in the way sometimes. I love taking pictures but conversation flowed, we laughed, we tasted, dare I say we indulged. There was no need to take pictures of us enjoying the time together. Although, don't get me wrong ... next time I want a picture together. :D But only if it seems like it's a good thing and not getting in the way of being in the moment. Maybe it can be adding to the moment in some situations.

The food ... the BUTTER CHICKEN!!! Let's face it, the food was all amazing, but this was the star! This is what stands out in my mind! I can picture the caramel-like colour (without looking at the picture). I can taste the buttery goodness. And can feel the texture of the tender chicken in my mouth. Better butter chicken than I've ever had!

Oh, and the garlic naan... mmm ...

The frozen hands and legs were well worth it for this food!

Ottawa was so worth it! It was a time of connecting, having fun, exploring possibilities, learning ...  and I look forward to more times like this!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Trust and Listen

It's a new year, and lots happened in 2014 - some hard, some exciting, some just plain new! I sense an exciting year of wonderful things to come! Last year, the words that were a theme for me were Grace and Acceptance, and while I think those are still things I strive for - in particular, grace and acceptance for myself and for others - I've grown a lot in those areas. This year, I felt God telling me to Listen and to Trust. Maybe these were actions I leaned on a lot at the end of 2014, but in doing so, I was blessed so much! I took risks like transferring to a new job that could only guarantee me 3 days a week when I was working 4 (and now have been on average working 4 - 5 days a week), accepting a nomination to be on a committee that takes me to Ottawa a few times a year, meeting new people, and beginning to connect on a deeper level with some people in my life to name a few. I have seen the power of listening to God's prompting and then trusting that there is a reason and that it may even be a really good thing for me and those I meet in the new situations So, in going forward in 2015, I get the sense God wants me to listen ad trust Him in taking the risks He is calling me to. That these risks - whatever they might be - are part of his bigger plan. Maybe they will be small. And maybe they will seem insignificant to many of those around me. In reality, I think we all take little risks - and when we don't, we become stale. Stuck in a rut. This year, I don't feel like I'm entering the year in a rut and I like that.

It really was a huge deal for me to quit the job that was stable, consistent, paid my bills, and safe - to work in an environment that most people fear and question why I'd want to do that kind of work. Yet it's rewarding. Sometimes it's sad. Sometimes my heart just goes out to my clients and I hurt for them - for the fact they fear re-engaging with society and that they fear getting ill again and doing the same things they did in the past. It's hard to see them back in the hospital again when it happens. And it's a joy to see them take small (and bigger) risks and be successful! I don't think I cared as much when I worked at the hospital. Now, I see these people regularly. I coach them. I teach them. I listen. And they are not just some patient that comes back over and over where all I get to do is assess and make recommendations. I still do some of that, but even those are more involved. I think I knew I needed to move on when I had the opportunities to really connect with patients and see them through thick and thin and when I knew this was a rarity - something that really usually isn't part of working in a hospital.

The other changes in my life - new people, getting back into doing music, new experiences, new professional aquaintances and roles (outside of my job) - it's exciting. I feel excited about my future. It's been a while since I've been excited about my future. I think I allowed myself to get in a rut and I don't want that to happen for a while. Like the quote on my blog main page goes, "Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow to new heights. ~ Pauline R. Kezer

Another quote I came across, although I don't know who said it - "Go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is".  Going out on a limb can be scary. It waves around and is not always stable and most certainly is risky. But the reward comes with being vulnerable and putting yourself out there where you might get hurt or turned on your backside. But if you get the reward ... yummy! Haha. :D

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ottawa 2014 Trip - Traveling with my scooter

I haven`t traveled with my scooter in a while - not since 2008. Before that, the last time was in 2000-2001 when I went to Australia. This was an adventure for me. It worked out so well except for a glitch at the Ottawa airport. Their stairwell to bring things up from the cargo section of the plane to the gate was so narrow they weren`t able to bring my scooter to me at the gate so I had to sit on a wheelchair where I could literally feel the crossbars underneath me! It was uncomfortable but not painful. It was also annoying. But it was so well worth it to have my scooter with me in Ottawa!

I took my first Access Calgary (handi-transit) ride ever and it was to the airport. So much cheaper than paying for a cab ($3 versus $60) plus I was leaving during rush hour time and I knew that most of, if not all, the accessible cabs would be working for Access Calgary at the time. It brought me back to the days in junior high when I had to take the short school bus with a lift to and from school. I still feel uncomfortable sitting on the lift with a slight fear of rolling off the back when it`s up in the air or accidentally pushing the lever to go backwards instead of forwards when going into the bus.

It was easy to get an accessible cab, both in Ottawa and back in Calgary to return home. I have found I prefer the low ramps to the lifts! But whatever I get is what I get and I`m still happy with how smooth it worked!

Butter Chicken Poutine for dinner on my first night
I spent my evenings as well as Saturday afternoon exploring Ottawa on my scooter, camera in hand. I mostly stayed in the downtown-ish area, although I crossed over to Gatineau, QC on Saturday. For those who know me well, they would have accurately guessed I was out and about with my cameras. That was my primary reason for bringing the scooter actually! I had a few moments on Thursday night where I felt a little uncomfortable, not having a clue where I was! My map only had bigger streets on it so I didn`t know which way to go. I found my way, though. I also had a few moments where I thought maybe I should have done some research as to the safety of being out and about by myself in the dark.  But maybe that was part of the adventure!

Ottawa is such a beautiful city! At night, the lights reflect so beautifully on the water and so many buildings look amazing with the way they are lit up.  The architecture of many of the buildings in the areas I explored is also beautiful. The pictures in this entry are a smattering of the pictures I took. The sunset pics were taken on the flight back to Calgary. As a side note, I am frustrated with the layout set up of blogger - I gave up on trying to make the layout nice.

Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau (also called the Interprovincial Bridge)

I like how the flames look like a wolf

Locks for Love

Spider sculture outside the National Art Gallery

National Art Gallery

Alexandra Bridge (Interprovincial Bridge) between Ottawa, ON and Gatineau, QC

View from the Quebec side

Sunset pics over the Great Lakes