As I sit down to write, I think about many of the life lessons I have learned at 38.
I also think about a chat with an Indigenous friend, who explained to me that the Medicine Wheel also represents the life cycle. The idea is to progress through each phase of the life cycle while gleaning learning and wisdom; thereby allowing you to move to the next phase.
Through trauma and unresolved issues we can become stuck in a particular phase of our life cycle. For me (after much therapy, reading, education and work experience) I have come to understand that when we are stuck in anger or hurt we are stunted in a way that is often harmful to ourselves and to others. (Erik Erikson’s Stages of Development would also apply here nicely).
Working through my own trauma has allowed me to appreciate and understand the life lessons that they have become and I continue to work at not saying “stuck”.
I would like to share a few of the life lessons that I have learned at 38 in hopes of inspiring another and/or helping another to get unstuck. (The thing is, there are many that have walked similar paths before you…it helps to listen). Here we go:
Your intuition is a real thing. Pay attention.
Our minds and our hearts are often in disagreement. Whenever possible, follow the thing that beats in your chest.
You will be scared shitless. Taking incremental, baby steps helps.
Have faith that you are deserving of greatness. Because you are.
Don’t be discouraged if you fall backwards, it happens.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel you are healing “fast enough”.
Today is my last day of in-class work. The final in-class assignment has been submitted and I am eternally grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to learn and live out my passion of Social Work with like-minded souls.
This ending is bittersweet for me, as many endings usually are. I am going to miss our ritual in-class meetings on Zoom;
Learning, exploring, creating and sharing ideas about program development, research, policy and micro-practice.
The art of helping others, truly is an art and I am grateful to share my art with others who have the same passion.
The professors that have inspired me, I thank you.
And the friendships that I have made, I thank you.
To new beginnings and changing the world…here I come.
I have been in a reflective state since I have had the opportunity to go back to school after 10 years to pursue my Masters degree in Social Work. Being back in school has deepened my understanding and love for the profession as well as expanded my consciousness for the importance of cultivating healthy communities; and not just the communities I live in but on a global scale.
The feeling I have is one of deep gratitude for being able to be immersed in something that is way, way bigger than me.
The last few years working for a child welfare agency were starting to wear on me as the nature of this work can often do. I am grateful for my time (even amidst the pandemic) to re-charge, re-align and re-focus my energies on what the future has in store.
Being an agent of change is inspiring, deep within me. I know that once work resumes for me, the chances of falling into the trap of cynicism and burnout are likely but this break has allowed me to recognize that the need for the helping profession is vast…much, much bigger than I could ever imagine.
The possibilities are endless. I need to remember this.
As I connect and align with my purpose, I know that the universe will take care of this mama and take me wherever I am needed.
“What is lovely never dies, but passes into other loveliness”
I sit sometimes and think about my first memory. It always comes to me. I am around 2. We were outside on a summer day. Side door to the garage. Old lawn chair with an Orange Crush underneath it. I remember the black dog too. Chopper. Then I don’t remember anything. I still have a few faint scars under my right eye as proof. I think Chopper was gone after that.
I remember having a knit sweaters and getting to pick out the colours and pattern. You would let us do that for almost every grade.
Fruit Loops in the mornings, bread, salami and gouda for lunch or we could choose mouse turds if you had them. Margarine. I think it was called Blue Bonnet.
We always got cookies. That was a given.
New school picture? Had to run it over to grandma’s house.
Running away? It was to grandma’s house.
Wanted a cookie? Guess where I was going?
I remember trying to beat Nintendo, in Uncle Mike’s room. We ate all of his snacks, and then some. Pretty sure we left peanut shells all over his bed.
Later I remember WWF stickers on Uncle Mike’s furniture. Then his bedroom was in the basement.
Speaking of the basement, there was always lots of cool stuff down there. Ponies, He-man. I am pretty sure we wrecked the pool table.
WWF must have been entertaining. Because I remember watching it there a lot.
Pigeons were always in the silos unless someone paid to come shoot them for meat. No one ever told me we were eating a pigeon. *If this has changed, I don’t want to know.
Peacocks were running all over the place. That was cool.
I remember going over there once, no one was home. I wrote a letter with markers. “Grandma, I was here. If you get this, call me right away”. I took a few cookies too.
I remember going to the place where we made rosaries with our cousins and other older women. And we got holy water. I wish I could remember where this was.
And of course I remember the Pow Wows at Kettle and Stoney Point, followed by the Grand Bend flea market which seemed way cooler back then.
And I remember being so tired at Gerry and Irene’s. You played cards and spoke in Dutch while we fell asleep on the couches.
As you got older, I remember helping you with painting and wallpaper. You said to me that you weren’t young anymore and couldn’t go up and down the ladder like you used too. I didn’t mind. I liked helping you.
After, I moved to London I didn’t see you as much as I should have. After your stroke, I came over to play cards with you and you wanted to show me your pictures as a little girl in Holland.
In 2005 when you got sicker I went away on a vacation down south. I wish I hadn’t. Even though I got to see you before you died. I still wish I had spent more time with you. Perhaps this is always the way.