Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog! Of course if we were visiting in person, I'd have the teapot out and we could sit and chat.
I'm honored you stopped by to listen to my thoughts and ponderings - and if you have a minute sometime, let me know you dropped by!

You can also find me on Facebook at Grace Notes, Thoughts and Prayers.

I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

I am Canadian

I am Canadian.

My country is not perfect - like countries around the world.  Although we are very good at comparisons;  you hear about those rankings on the news... where is the best place to live?  Where is the safest? 

Canada ranks pretty high on most counts.

We are young, we are still growing up.  We have yet to learn to live well with our Indigenous neighbours and kin.  We have some healing to do.  We struggle with the refuge crisis. Yet there are so many good people here.  Striving to get along, to be good neighbours, to help the disenfranchised, to create a safe place for us all to live.

Lots of good things are said about us.  That we are polite.  (I'm not so sure, when I read some facebook comments).  That we are welcoming. 

We do like to complain.  About the weather for one, and I'll raise my hand here.  No wonder so many escape to warmer climes in the winter.  Others embrace the cold, and I admire them.

We complain about politics.  And politicians.  And yet we are so blessed.  I am blessed to work in the healthcare system, with all it's bureaucracies.  There are challenges for those who manage it, and those who work within it, and yet I find myself grateful for the healthcare we receive, for access to clean hospitals, for dedicated nurses, support staff and doctors.  There is no end of things to be grateful for.

Oh yes, there things that deeply trouble me about Canada.   I ponder some of the decisions by law-makers and my heart is sad.  I am compelled to pray, to have meaningful discussions, to speak out.  We all have a voice.

We all have a choice to make a difference - to love our neighbour, to help those who need a hand, to take care of the beautiful land entrusted to us.  This weekend we celebrate our country! 

Grateful to be a Canadian - Happy Birthday, Canada!

I usually write on Tuesdays but am taking a two week break.  Happy summer!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

It's Ok to Not be Ok

It was a post on a ministry friend's page that caught my attention:  "It's Ok to Not be Ok!"

I resonated with that, because there are days when things are NOT ok...

My goal has been to create an on-line forum for positivity, encouragement, faith and hope.  And I will continue to do that...

However in order to be authentic, one has to acknowledge suffering, disappointment and pain.  As a hospital chaplain, I work with people who suffer..  I see the tears, resulting from chronic pain, the agony of waiting for a diagnosis, the fear of the unknown.  I see brave and courageous souls live with a cancer diagnosis, and equally brave folks who acknowledge the pain of a mental illness or depression.  This is hard stuff.

Once in a while, I get a reality check of my own, and this has been the case in the last weeks where my body has not been doing well, from vertigo to headaches to a rash.  And yesterday, a diagnosis of shingles.  And yes, it is very painful.

It is ok to not be ok.

I asked my doctor if there was anything I could have done to prevent it and the answer was no.  I'm all about prevention, and like many, practice diligence in self-care.  But life happens.  Viruses can visit anyone of us.  We are not immune. 

This post is not for pity or sympathy, I'm grateful for a diagnosis, and getting medical treatment.  I'm thankful for the kindness and love of friends and family.

Back to the reality check... never easy to be in that waiting room, waiting for the doctor.  Watching a sea of humanity join you as they too wait... elderly folk, young men, injured and hobbling, children clinging to their mamas.  I'm so glad when I can pass along crayons and colouring books and hand-knitted items to these kids.  They need the distraction.  And grateful for those who donate these items!

"It's all about Hurry up and Wait", I often joke with people as they are waiting in the hospital...  now it was my turn, and the wait seemed long... and the diagnosis uncertain.  And I realized again these doctors are human and doing the best they can.  The human body is complex and we all present differently.  I could pray, as I often do with patients, "Thank you God, that YOU know what is wrong with me!"  And praying for wisdom for all those trying to find out!

Recovery takes time.  Recently I visited with an elderly woman who has a life-altering condition, not easy to live with in your eighties.  She was struggling with all of it, and I suspected somewhat depressed.  It goes with the territory.  This was not the time for cheery sentiment... we needed to acknowledge this was hard for her. 

But I was also able to give her an example of someone who had the same condition and overcome many challenges... and was now doing well.  "Am I going to be ok?" she asked me... and I said to her, "All will be well".  And when I say that, it is not that everything will be rosy or easy... but she could choose to keep living even with new challenges, and find a way.  Even when life is not easy, when we mourn the way it was, and long for a healthy body.  She has a huge learning curve ahead of her as she adjusts to her new reality.

"All will be Well", is an ancient saying coined by Julia of Norwich, and is comforting indeed.  For no matter what we are facing, no matter our challenge, when we rest in the love of the One who made us, "All will be well". 

So on days, when things are not ok, it is ok to acknowledge that.  We all need safe places to share our pain, to tell our stories, even to vent at times.  This is part of being human.  And then to give the beautiful gift of hope and love to one another, this is the best medicine.

Yesterday as I approached some of my friends down the hall at the hospital where I work, I felt surrounded by these sweet nurses who cared and were quite willing to offer much needed advice.  I felt loved and cared for, even in my weakness. 

It's Ok to not be Ok.  There is always hope.  All will be well.

*I'm not sure who coined the phrase "Its ok to not be ok".  It is on the suicide prevention network, but could have another source.  http://youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ok-not-ok/

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Taking time to Create

Hi there, it's Tuesday, time to tap my computer keys and create a blog.

I've been thankful for this weekly rhythm, and often reflect that this journalling and writing on-line is good discipline for me.  And if it touches someone's heart, or makes someone think or offers some encouragement, all the better!  Thank you for your comments and feedback whenever you are able - it is so very helpful!

Today's blog is about creativity and intentionality. 

I never considered myself much of an artist, but I knew I loved to create.  There were periods in my life where life was so full and intense that writing or creating was a pure luxury.

But those times also felt barren; it wasn't until I found myself in a creative space that some inner need was met.  There are a lot of ways to create!  I do love a blank sheet of paper and some wonderful pens;  wondering what will emerge.

I felt that way when I dabbled with pottery, there was something powerful about a lump of clay being shaped and formed into something beautiful, and often into something useful as well.  I thought about that last night as I served crackers on the leaf-shaped pottery dish I had made some years ago; what fun I had making plates imprinted with leaves!

It is worth saying again, if we are made in the image of God, the Creator, we all have the tools to create!  Some do it with incredible gardening, or creating beauty in their homes, or even in the food they prepare.  Everything around us has been formed and created, I look around and see my wonderful collection of books, containers for holding things, pictures that adorn my walls, greeting cards that sit on my shelf... hey, even someone created the desk I'm sitting at, and the very comfy chair and the stylish lamp that lights this space. 

Sometimes creativity is less tangible, like creating space with a smile, or helping someone to feel comfortable in their surroundings. Parents of little ones... grandparents too, can be very creative as they offer a safe and often fun environment for the children we love.  How I've enjoyed just colouring with our grandchildren, or exploring our world and observing Creation from their perspective.

Even for the very elderly or infirm, I've watched art, or simple colouring transform a person's world as they enter into a world of creativity.  Picasso said it so well: "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life".  He also said: "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."   
Perhaps that is where the intentionality comes in!  For me, part of self-care is taking time to write, to create, to enjoy our beautiful world and be inspired by it.  

Here's to a creative week - however that looks for you!

<3 Grace


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seize the Day... and the Strawberries!

I had some time last Thursday and did one of my favourite things - visit our local Farmer's Market!

Strawberries were everywhere - tis the season!  When I was a girl, this was a big deal, strawberries were not available year round as they are now.  We live in plenty, and when we go to the grocery store, we have become accustomed to having most things accessible - most of the time.

But there is nothing like a strawberry picked fresh, in season; the taste is incredible.  I have a few plants in my garden, just enough for a taste.  It is delightful!

I picked this little handful last week, along with fresh lavender close by.

In my journal list I have written:  Pick lavender!  Every day if you can...!  In a few short weeks, this season is done, and it seems this time of year the seasons rush by, and if I don't take the time to savour it, it is gone.

During asparagus season we eat a lot of asparagus... but it takes planning to find local sources, to go to the market, and before you know it the season has passed by.

So last week, at the market, I splurged and bought a flat of strawberries... I knew that time would not allow me to go picking.  I froze a pile, and we have been eating them every day... on porridge, on yogurt, on icecream!  Tonight they might find their way into my salad.  So very yummy.

I have been working on a series "Quotes to live by", and thought about that old Latin saying:  Carpe Diem... Seize the Day!  So today I will pick some lavender (and hang it to dry), eat some strawberries, smell some roses, breathe in deeply some fresh air, and take time to gaze at the beauty around me.

Enjoy this precious day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ticks, Mosquitos and Rattlesnakes

You could say I'm ticked.

Actually, I try to write positive stuff, most of the time, but this topic just keeps surfacing for me, so I'll write about it and call it therapy.

I probably had you at rattlesnakes.  I'll admit right up front, I'm terrified of them, most any creature that slithers.  If a snake appears in a movie, I'll leave the room, and likely my heart will be pounding.  (As if it could pop out of the screen).  And I know I'm not alone.  It doesn't have to be a rattler, although I do find them awfully scary, and to boot, they are poisonous and live in our surroundings.  I don't care to think about this too much.

I realize for some this is not a big deal, but I know I'm not alone.  Years ago, when my kids were little, our cat brought a snake into the house.  It wasn't big, but it was one.  That was enough for me, and in terror, I fled upstairs, calling our very brave neighbour who knew no fear to come and rescue me.

She was such a good friend, and in no time I heard her laughing... the snake was quite dead. (the cat had taken care of that).. and I had nothing to fear.  She removed the creature, and I think she laughed all the way home.  Oh well...

A couple of years ago I was walking in my neighbourhood, going down the long stairs to the street below.  Some joggers bounced up and said... "Watch out for the snake!", and sure enough, just below us a large long snake, with rattler markings was stretched along the stair.  I still shiver to think I could have stepped on it.  But forewarned, we just watched him slither away... and I didn't use those stairs for a long time afterwards.

Recently I noted (Facebook News!) that there have been more rattlesnake sightings in our area, some along the wonderful Okanagan Trail we love to walk.  I wondered if I would be brave enough to keep walking there.  It helped to talk to a rather sensible friend who told me that if the rattlesnakes were stretched out full length, they could do no harm, it was just when they were coiled you had to stay your distance.  And the trail is wide... so beware of your surroundings!

So I'm trying to be brave... and beware.

Of course there are always pests to be aware of.  Lately, I've been aware of an invasive plant that can blind you if you touch it... yikes!... and it seems to be a bad year for mosquitos.  And then there are the ticks, which can carry disease... Ticks could use up another whole blog, but I'm not going to let them.

I had a conversation with some gals at the hospital lately, and said I had a few questions for God.  They were all ears... and had a few suggestions of their own.  Why did God make mosquitoes?  And what are the use of ticks?

And honestly I don't know the answers to these questions, although we did agree that mosquitos were good bat food... and bats are supposed to be good for something... :-)

It seems that our broken down world is affected by chemicals and air quality and pests, which can carry disease... we all need to be aware. Sometimes that is downright depressing.

So what is the point of this tongue in cheek dialogue?  Just had to get it out there I suppose!  Oh yes, I think it was therapy!

I do know a few things...

I do know I don't want fear to dominate my life and keep me from being outside.
I do know the sun comes up every morning, and the beautiful world we live in always surprises me with never-ending colour, variety, new life... it is a gift I delight in!
I do know it helps to laugh at myself...and a sense of humour goes a long way, whatever our fears.

Fear can be crippling.  I admire people who venture forth without a care, this is freedom!  Courage is not the absense of fear, but the acknowledgement of it and choosing to face it.  Nelson Mandala put it this way:  "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."  (I'm thinking this might be good advice for women too!!)

For whatever we face, those are good words!