Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dingwall AWOL

Looks like the Liberals have their very own "Entitlement Mascot." The one and only former President of the Royal Canadian Mint, former Librano cabinet minister, and former lobbyist extraordinaire has flown the coop. Why? Because he can.
A special summons was issued after Dingwall missed a scheduled appearance yesterday afternoon to testify before the operations committee. But, no one was home to receive the writ. His lawyer feigned ignorance and stated that he had no idea where he was. So the last order of official business for the government that dissolved today has also expired. It has now been relegated to "under the carpet" like many other fraudulent goings on. Will he be charged with contempt? Doubt it. Will he have to face any punishment for the violations to lobbyist guidelines? Doubt it. Will he have to pay back any of the money he received through his expense account. Doubt it.
I wonder where he is? I have no worries that he is lacking for anything.
Onto the Election.............here are a few thoughts..........
  • The key words that will be used during this upcoming Battle of the Titans (note sarcasm) .....corruption, Liberal entitlement, and fraud on one side..............neo-conservatism, untrustworthy, far right rednecks on the other are predictable and already worn out. We heard them 17 months ago during the last election.
  • After a relatively lowkey start so as not to offend anyone during the Christmas season, things will get into high gear and the mudslinging will ensue. Heckling, name calling, threats, accusations, fear mongering..............it'll all be there. We should all be given shovels and ear muffs for Christmas in order to prepare ourselves for the onslaught. Boxing Day may just live up to it's name.
  • The only Leader who will remain unscathed at the end of this election will be Gilles Duceppe. The other three will be licking their wounds.
  • Canadians will be so sick of political news that when the next chapter of Gomery is released, there will be a collective hohum sigh and that'll be the end of that.

The level of apathy in this country right now is appalling.

Thought du jour

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Vision and Hope

"Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence.
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision;
But To-day well lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!"


Monday, November 28, 2005

On Happiness

"To acquire happiness you don't have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don't you experience it? Because you've got to drop something. You've got to drop illusions. You don't have to add anything in order to be happy; you've got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It's only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings."

Anthony de Mello

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Feeling Good..............

Happiness is a by-product of what makes us fulfilled. It comes about by doing what brings you meaning and contentment. Today was a happy, joyfulfilling day after an exhausting couple of months of planning, creating, giving, interacting, fretting, envisioning, and orchestrating an event. There is a sense of inner harmony that accompanies the knowledge that one has made a difference by offering up your best.

Today, we celebrated the beginning of the Christmas season with the annual Bazaar at the local school. The gym and classrooms were transformed into a congregational place of smiles, laughter, adult conversations, and kids taking part in a variety of "reindeer games." It is an event that has become the heart of the "lore" surrounding this school; a time when new families mingle with the alumni from years past; a time when families and staff drop their other lives and roles for a short while, and focus on fun.

And, in the middle of this whirlwind of activity, I received a token. I learned that honesty, forgiveness and goodness does exist. Second chances are provided.

Previously, I had written about a woman who was trying to get her life back in order after dealing with the consequences of stealing money. She was searching for forgiveness. Throughout these past couple of months, she has worked hard to find employment. In every interview she had, she projected herself enthusiastically and honestly, determined to find the right employer that would not only know her story, but would look beyond it and give her a chance. And throughout her pursuits, she had kept in touch with me. I was her touchstone. Yesterday, Sarah arrived to volunteer at the event with news. She starts her new job on Monday. Her employer is fully aware of her past, but is open to hiring Sarah based on her merits.

Believing and doing..................the ingredients that lead to contented happiness.

To affect the quality of the day, that is the art of life. Henry David Thoreau.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Realizing Dreams.................

Are there people in your life who make things happen? You know, the ones who have an idea and follow through to fruition - the people who have the capacity to alter a way others may see or think about something? They come in all shapes and colours. Poets, Builders, Architects, Photographers, Philosophers, Artists, Mothers, Fathers, Musicians, Leaders, Inventors............the people in your community......possibly even your local Walmart greeter......the individuals in your family............the Dreamers.

Sometimes, we consider their ideas and quests a bit eccentric. Initially, we might even see them as strange because their views seem distorted from our own and too "out there." Why is that?

Most people fear the unknown that accompanies change. Status quo....stay the course....Why rock the boat? These cliches resonate with non-risk takers. They are secure in their knowledge of how things are in their world. While remaining cocooned in a safe place that lacks fluidity normally generated by new ideas and visions, they remain stifled and unmoved. Opportunity knocks, but the door to awareness and learning does not open. It's just too scary.

All achievements, great or small begin as a single thought; an idea that is nurtured and expanded upon through the confidence of believing in the vision. If the feat falls outside of the realm of the ordinary, one tends to face many more obstacles. Many more people will balk at their vision. And yet, there will be others who are open to the freshness of new ideas and they will support and even sustain the individual as they work towards their goal. Often it is this type of supportive nourishment from others that will allow the individual to push through the difficult times in their lives in order to continue to pursue their dream. Ultimately however, it is up to the Visionary to persist against the odds to reach the peak of attainment. The strength has to come from within.

What would this world be like without these dreamers? What would life be like if we didn't at least attempt to follow through on a dream.......a vision? The world is made more beautiful by solitary dreamers. The world is more alive when you strive to attain the ideals that you envision.

Cherish you creative visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs your heart, the visions that form in your mind. Embrace the lofty ideals that shape your thoughts and they will feed your desires and aspirations to reach out for them. Take a risk and become a dream chaser.

"If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself."
Rollo May

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Political Hypnotic Tactics

The use of hypnosis, despite it's checkered history, is back in the news these days. Recent neurological studies of people who are susceptible to suggestion under hypnosis have shown that profound changes occur in how they process information. Scientists are now proving that "suggestions" literally alter what people hear, see, feel and believe to be true.

First used in the 18th century by a physician named Dr. Franz Mesmer (hence mesmerized), it wasn't accepted as a real thing until the mid 19th century when an English opthamalogist began using it in his practise, and coined the term, hypnosis after the Greek work for sleep. Since then, it has been used by spiritualists and magicians on stage as a performance technique to make people do goofy things in front of an audience. It was even used before ether was developed in amputation operations.

It fell out of favour except for stage demos, but has now recently been resurrected by the Liberals of this fine country as a tactic to be used in the next election. Instead of the gold watch dangling back and forth, back and forth in front of the individual's face, the Liberals have simplified it. They are just using a chunk of glimmering gold held out in the palm of their hands.

Billions and billions and bullions, and bullions and billions of dollars worth of golden nuggets.

The question is? Are Canadians being hypnotized by the onslaught of nuggets and Martin's mantra of..........prosperity, prosperity, prosperity for all Canadians?

$10,000,000,000.00...............that's 10 BILLION dollars has already been promised and pledged this week and the gravy train keeps rollin' rollin' rollin'........................
  • 1.3 billion (and more promised) announced by the Princess of Auto-Parts for labour market training in Ontario.
  • $400 million to address gun violence in a corner of Toronto
  • $50 million for a new soccer stadium in Toronto
  • $110 million for better security on our transit systems.........a large nugget of this of course going to Toronto
  • $342 million set aside for Arts Centre............hmmmm how much of this for Ontario? Where is this election going to be won or lost????
  • $750 million emergency funding for farmers
  • $260 million set aside for Goose Bay
  • $2 billion for Aboriginal victims of residential school abuse
  • $1.5 billion for the lumber industry
  • And a whole lot of money is being rushed forward to build a bunch of helicopters that should've been built 15 years ago.................
Researchers studying hypnosis are shedding the light on how it affects the processing of sensory data in our brains. Information from the eyes, ears and body is carried to primary sensory regions in the brain. From there, it is carried to so-called higher regions where interpretation occurs. They have some high-falootin' terminology that they use to explain this process more fully which I don't need to add.

What it comes down to is this: Because hypnosis alters the processing of information in the brain, the mesmerized person learns how to interpret data and information in a illusive manner. To summarize, what you see is not always what you get. What you hear is ALSO not always what you get.

And guess what? Only 1 in five are flat out resistant to hypnosis.

The Liberals are counting on these new findings..........will it work? Will Canadians fall asleep, mesmerized by the hypnotic state of promised bullion?

Stay in tune...............................don't succumb..........................it's only fool's gold

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bowling for Books and Other Tales of Raising Funds.

'Tis the season for many splendiferous events, including ones tied into fundraising. Yes, mailboxes overflow, telemarketers up the ante, evening door knocking intrusions increase........all for the sake of raising a buck for a cause. Everywhere you go in your own neck of the woods, you're bound to see tables of baked goods, 50-50 draws, raffles, concerts, dances, magazine drives, bottle drives, hot dog days, bingo nights, all advertising a "need" for money.

Schools are no exception. In fact, they seem to lead the way when it comes to local fundraising drives. And, it's getting out of hand. The expectations placed on families and their communities to raise cash every year has also raised questions and concerns about what the money is being used for, and whether the demographics in one area tips the balance in favour of or against providing equal services, supplies and opportunities for our children. There is also a sense that some of the money goes directly to paying for the basics around the schools that should most definately be covered under the School district budgets instead of for the "extras."

Last month, for example a small school in my vicinity announced a "Bowlerama for Books." Say what??? For books? YES! The families connected to this school had to take it upon themselves to raise money to buy books for their children's classrooms. The story, which was given positive air time on the local radio stations to promote it, described the nattered old books that were being used to teach the kids, and how there wasn't money in the district budget to replace them. Are books not a teaching staple? Why didn't the radio journalist ask some questions about this? That should not have been a feel good story..........it should've been a "What's up with having to do that story".....a "Where's the government money to cover the basics in our school" story.

The is a gulf of disparity from one school to another when it comes to extra money flowing into through the doors, and it all stems from the demographic make-up of the area. Though there is a $$$$'s per kid quota which on the surface make the system seem balanced and equal, it truly isn't. And the huge problem with this is that the districts count on these funds as part of their budget. The Home and School Committees across the land have done such a fine job pulling money in that they have unknowingly paid the bills on items that used to be paid for by the government. The items have slid off the budget on the Principal's desk and onto the laps of mom and pop.

Books.....Teacher supplies.......bus fares for curriculum related trips.... musical instruments ....basic gym equipment......safety issued pea gravel for the playgrounds.......on and on and on.

The school that I happened to be attached to is able to raise money coming out of the rafters every year, mostly because of the many families who have more disposable income than most and are able to support all fund raising causes. In the past 5 years alone, over $125,000.00 has been raised, and only one quarter of that was corporate donations. That's a lot of steamed tube steaks, I must say! It has been an unusual set of circumstances, because 2/3 of it was for much needed improvements to the playground (I still have to ask........why has that fallen on the laps of the parents?). But every year, the school pulls out all stops to run an annual Christmas Bonanza event that raises more than 10 grand, the majority of which covers the costs of items that should not be the families' responsibilities.

I fear it's too late to turn things around. Budgets have been cut to the bone. Gone are PhysEd teachers, counsellors, full-time Music teachers, most of the Admin staff. and a lot of support staff. Gone are the days when there was a supply room filled with supplies. Heck, the district even closed shop on the Media lending library, packed all the stuff in boxes and placed it in the basement of the local high school. The teachers try to manage with what they are provided and sometimes with what they have purchased out of their own pocket. It's surprising how much the average teacher spends on supplies doled out to their students...........

In the meantime, I find myself up to my eyeballs in organizing the next fundraising event. But this year, I'm voicing my opinion on how the money will be spent. It's time to draw the line!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thought du jour

Just received this little tidbit of information and wanted to share..................

It is interesting that the Federal government provides a single refugee with a monthly allowance of $1,890.00 and each can also get an additional $580.00 in social assistance for a total of $2,470.00.

This compares very well to a single pensioner who after contributing to the growth and development of Canada for 40 to 50 years can only receive a monthly maximum of $1,012.00 in old age pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Maybe our pensioners should apply as refugees!
That would throw a wrench onto Joe Volpe's immigration plans now wouldn't it?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Recognizing Grace

Lately, I’ve been reintroducing myself to my faith. For many years, I had been like the owner of a locked up store with a “gone fishing” sign on the door. I had situated myself by the shoreline, away from any paths to formal religion. I knew it was a temporary departure and that I would return to re-open for business. Well, that day arrived when all of a sudden the strong tug and pull of curiosity on the end of my fishing line forced me out of my reverie. I started asking questions again. And the more I asked, the stronger my desire to become aware of what I believe in grew.

It’s amazing what happens when you put the open for business sign up again. Fresh ideas breeze in. Individuals arrive that offer new conversations and perspectives, which allow for new thinking. A shift happens. Possibilities are considered. That’s what is happening. All of a sudden, I have found myself listening to the lyrics of music differently, and reading a whole new set of books and articles that I once would never have considered looking at before. My writing has also begun to flow again. And, as I recognize the shift, I step into a new realm of understanding where I want to be spiritually. I want to be on the path of discovery, taking control of the pace and choosing the volume, taking one small step at a time, delving into the concepts, exploring the stories, and most importantly asking the questions.

One of the questions that kept popping up is: What is grace? I had heard the word used in clichés and figures of speech, but I had never questioned it before. What does it really mean when someone says: “The grace of God?” What is God’s Grace? For some reason, I had allowed the word to quietly slip by me unnoticed and had never considered it’s powerful meaning and relationship to God. What does grace look like? How do you know when you feel it? I have started reading and talking to others, soaking all of what I am learning, trying to connect it to tangible examples in my life where I may have felt it and not labeled it that. And through my reflecting, I believe I have a better grasp on what grace means, which I feel would best be illustrated through describing an event that I experienced over 20 years ago. I have chosen this story because it honestly was the first thought I had when I realized what Grace meant.

It was nearing the end of my tenure as an undergrad student, and I found myself in a mass of transitional confusion. Everything seemed like it was imploding all at once. I was dog-tired from studying and yet it was time to find the energy to make the transition to the world of work. I was also facing the first summer in the city, away from the children’s camp where I had spent the previous glorious twelve. While making the last ditch attempt to study for finals, my longtime relationship ended in tatters. Right when I was feeling at my lowest ebb, I received a phone call from a close friend who had taken a year off and moved to Victoria, British Columbia. She was homesick and yet she wanted to remain there. Would I consider spending the summer with her?

Serendipity was calling, and I leapt towards it.

Within a week of burning my binders, I was on a plane heading west hoping that the impulsive turn of events would regenerate my hope and belief in myself. There was no doubt that my confidence was bruised. I had never felt so sad, exhausted and worn out. I firmly believed in fate at the time and felt a strong conviction in my decision. But, I never felt alone in my decision. I had familial support, and a sense that someone or something was guiding me. I also knew that I had a dear friend waiting on the tarmac with a picnic basket full of nourishment and open arms to welcome me. It was to be a summer wrestling with transitions, and understanding where I could fit in the world.

I embarked on my job search right away, focused and determined to find something that would allow me to use my skills working with and counseling children. For two weeks, I was a daily visitor to the Student Employment Centre, checking the job boards when one day I spotted an opportunity to work at an extended care facility for children and youth. Armed with years of experience running camp programs and some knowledge of working with children with disabilities, I felt it was a perfect fit for me.

Turns out, I was hired immediately to start a new day camp program for the young residents of Queen Alexandra Hospital. It had never been tried before. The whole field of “Child Life” programs was brand new and experimental with the goal of providing sensory stimulation through various means of intervention. Along with 2 others, we created a day camp on the grounds of the hospital, which integrated children with multiple disabilities and the neighbourhood able-bodied kids.

What a wonderful challenge it was. Each week, we had a new group of residents to attend to. There were a lot of firsts for these campers. Shockingly, some of them had never left the grounds of the hospital before, so a trip to the park to experience movement, people activities, colour, sounds, smells was monumental. Swimming, campfires, Bar BQ’s, crafts, wheelchair relay races, lying on a beach blanket by the shore, listening to music were all new activities. It was our role to introduce and bring the world to them, and we did with energy, enthusiasm and a feeling of personal fulfillment as well. It was a learning experience for all involved.

The highlight of each week was definitely the Thursday night sleep out, on the beautiful grounds of the hospital, in big army tents that the Armed Forces had donated to us. It was a lot of work, especially arranging the necessary “MASH” unit needed in order to make it happen. One Thursday night early in the summer, a magical grace moment occurred. It had been a very long day already, both physically and emotionally. I had spent the entire day arranging the sleep quarters, carrying and moving kids, in and out of their wheelchairs from one activity to another, changing them into their bathing suits, holding them in the water to help them float, helping them in a craft program. I had fed some who weren’t able to feed themselves, cooked dinner for the ones who could. Like most days at Queen Alexandra, it had been a fulfilling and remarkable one, but it wasn’t over yet and I was running out of steam. By the time bedtime rolled around, I had been working 12 straight hours without a break. My enthusiasm was waning and I was beginning to wonder if I had any stamina left for the night ahead of me.

As I continued to carry on with my job, I had an 11 year little boy named Matthew tagging along. Ambulatory, though he had a mild case of cerebral palsy on his left side, Matthew’s needs were not physical. His needs were all involved in connecting with him. He was a good looking kid, with pencil straight sandy brown hair, a face full of freckles and far away eyes. He was born with a severe form of autism and cognitive delay.

Matthew was completely non-verbal. No attempts at connecting with him had been effective. It was like he was linked to another galaxy, or that an invisible bubble encased him with no ability to interact. If you were involved in relay races, you would have to hold his hand and go through the motions. If you wanted him to take part in a doing a craft, you had to sit behind him and literally manipulate his hands to complete the task. Everyday, we involved Matthew in all activities while talking, singing and encouraging him. Yet, there had never been a moment of connection or recognition. He seemed to be a physical shell, void of emotion.

As I helped the other campers get settled into their makeshift beds, Matthew was with me. There was lots of excitement, giggling and talking while everyone enjoyed the new experience. I was at a point, however, where I wasn’t taking in their enthusiasm. I was exhausted, and had become fixated on the next morning when I would be able to hop in my car and head home to my comfy bed to catch up on my sleep. Going through the motions, I helped Matthew put on his pyjamas, brush his teeth, clean him up and walk him over to his tent and bed. By the glow of the flashlight, I tucked him in as I continued to make small talk, though not expecting a response.

But, there was a response. Wide-eyed and full of facial expression for the first time that I had seen, Matthew was looking around at his new environment, soaking it all in. He connected. I stopped in my tracks, fully transported back to the present moment, cognizant of the enormity of what was happening. As I watched him, Matthew turned his head, looked me straight in the eyes and grinned from ear to ear. It was a moment of grace and it resonated through me like a magical shooting star. The intensity of the feelings it generated remain to this day.

I love the cyclical connectivity of learning. Here I am, twenty plus years later revisiting an extraordinary moment when a gift was handed to me from a little boy lost to the cosmos. It is only now that I grasp the full understanding of what happened. I saw and felt grace through Matthew. In fact, the whole summer at Queen Alexandra Hospital was filled with compassionate moments that touched my soul.

Now I know. Grace is the emotional power of goodwill, love and generosity. It is how we live our lives and how we are touched by the love of God. In hindsight, it is the feeling that continues to guide and motivate me in my career as a counselor because every now and then, grace walks through my door and gently lands on my desk. It is often shown through the gifts of compassion and honesty from a client or a colleague. I feel it most intensely when I am able to fully connect with another individual and feel a strong sense of kinship. And it is in those times when you are given the opportunity to experience a glimmer of transcendence; a sense that you have a guide in this world that will always be just a moment away.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goodale's Proposed Tax Cuts a Sham? Oh, what an Expected Surprise!

From the Globe and Mail website:
With its recent tax-cut proposals, the Martin government tried hard to convince Canadians it's offering immediate relief to lower- and middle-income earners. But read the fine print: The actual proposals don't quite measure up to the advertised message.
Take, for instance, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's promise to hasten a tax cut announced in February's budget, by raising the "basic personal exemption" immediately by $500. He also promised to reduce the lowest tax rate from 16 per cent to 15 per cent, effective for this tax year. This all sounds better than it really is.
First, the government has no power to effect an immediate change in the tax law and likely faces insurmountable barriers to passing these amendments through Parliament any time soon.
Leaving that problem aside, however, the change to the 2005 basic personal credit actually delivers a very modest amount of tax relief. In fact, it would slightly scale back the value of an existing tax credit.
Oh! Big surprise there.............Smoke and mirrors.............

This is what it really amounts to:
The $500 amount that looked so impressive in the news will not be deducted from anyone's tax bill. It is true that taxpayers would be able to earn an additional $500 before income tax kicks in. But currently the tax owing on that $500 is only $80 ($500 x 16 per cent). So, it would be more straightforward to explain to voters that this measure represents an $80 tax cut, or $6.66 per month.
According to the author of the article...........It is easy to mislead the public about the impact of proposed tax reforms on different groups and individuals. These things are complicated and normal people have better things to do than spend time decoding the minutiae of tax law. Yet this puts citizens at a serious disadvantage in judging the merits of what is, ultimately, a fundamental aspect of our social contract.
There's no deal here.........all the other promises and proposals that the Liberals are threatening we'll lose if this country goes to an election.........are they a sham too? I think so. Bring on an election and get rid of the bums.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Loud Lecturing Gets You No Where

The lecture tactics being used in the school system today have got to stop! I'm not referring to the teaching methods in the classroom. That's a whole other avenue set aside for another day. I'm talking about the constant finger wagging lessons emanating from newsletters, political announcements, and voice mails that are pointed at parents. Preachy judgemental diatribe. Those tactics have never worked on me and I'm sure I'm not alone.

It started out as a trickle of helpful suggestions on how to increase your child's literacy skills......simple things like "label everything in your fridge." or..."If your kid asks for a snack, make him spell out his request first." The trickle then turned into a babbling brook when they upped the ante on the literacy activities for home and then added physical fitness recommendations. All of a sudden, we were expected to start running laps, shooting extra hoops, doing warm up exercises and cooling down exercises in between literacy discussions on the merits of haiku. The babbling brook broke opened into a rushing river when all of a sudden, another lecture arrived, equipped with new policies and guidelines from the province, on what to feed your kid.

The monthly newsletter arrived this week. Called the Connection but now should be entitled "The Manifesto," it used to be filled with information on upcoming Home and School meetings, track and field meets, art shows, and concerts.....the fun stuff. On the last page, there was always some helpful tidbit on one of the above mentioned topics, along with a much needed calendar of events. It was not offensive at all. But, the latest edition to arrive home in a backpack was unbelievably condescending. There was a whole page on proper nutritional guidelines, with the policy written out for all to see, and a chart of how many nitrates and yucky stuff are in hot dogs, pepperoni and other lovely luncheon meats. It was accompanied by an alternative recipe for growing children..........a tuna melt topped with cooked broccoli.

Hello??? First of all, how does one pack a tuna melt in a lunch box? Secondly..........if I was ever to get a tuna melt down my child's throat it would have to be done with brute force. Wouldn't that constitute abuse??

Other information included? How to teach your child to be responsible.........new literacy activities to be added to the river of rules..........a bolded lecture on getting your kid to school on time.....an update on the dress code policy (this came into effect two years ago and it included the stipulation that a 5 year old little girl is not allowed to wear a sleeveless sundress or a little 6 year old boy isn't allowed to show his shoulders on a hot summer day and wear a tank top.............'cause, why? They're a turn on for some sick wacko that happens to work in a school setting????? Who the heck knows. When I furiously fought that one, I was told that it was simply inappropriate for a child to be showing off their shoulders. I just rolled my eyes and looked around to see if Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley was standing around somewhere.)

A line is being drawn in the sand and it's about to pit parents against teachers. Parents are pissed, because the underlying message is obvious. Parents, according to the educators of this fine province, are getting a failing grade on their "parenting skills." They have gone too far clumping all parents in the same boat. The rules and anal retentiveness of it all has affected the kids in a negative way. Just the other day, I caught myself answering questions on calories and fat content with my 8 year old. He doesn't need to be that cognizant of his food intake! Last June, I practically had to wrestle him to the ground one hot summer day because I wanted him to wear a light shirt so he would be cool. He was afraid of the ramifications from his teacher when he arrived in his Grade 2 class because the sleeves weren't long enough.

This craziness and the tactics being used make me want to go out an buy the biggest bag of chips, a case of pop and four litre tubs of every ice cream flavour I can get my hands on and crash lunch hour! Wouldn't that be a hit with the young set?

I understand the need to address these areas with some families. In most instances, it needs to be addressed in a more tactful manner, directly with the family that needs the guidance. Don't preach to me.

If a child is lagging behind in their reading and writing skills, address it with the parents. Pull them in as a partners............find out if maybe they need help with their reading and writing too. Find out if the child's home has reading material and if not, lend them some. Work together! Hey what a crazy concept!

Childhood obesity is an issue and proper eating habits can be taught in the school setting as well as in the home. But, how about increasing the amount of time set aside for Phys ed from an hour a week to 3 or 4 hours, and hire a Phys ed teacher so that the kids learn how to play something other than dodgeball?

As for the other lessons...........well if they keep up the preaching, you will find me with my fingers stuck in my ears whistling dixie, 'cause I ain't listening anymore.

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.
"Chinese proverb"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Deck the Halls with an Election

Posturing, pesturing, pilfering, posing, propagandizing, promising...puuuleeeeze!

The unofficial election has just begun, and I'm already satiated by the flying cow patties zinging across our vast nation by the so-called leaders..........a bunch of little boys who are playing the game of upstagemanship............
No one, I repeat.......no one looks like Prime Minister material to me.

What's a voter to do? What are the options? Let's see.............

You could go deep into the woods away from all things that smell of Ottawa, sit in a cabin beside a warming woodstove and get caught up on your back issues of Rod and Reel.

You could turn into a Christmas shopping fanatic, sail into an unending spree of delight by hitting all shopping malls from here to West Edmonton.

You could buy a plane ticket to destination "outta here" and bail.

You could sign up as a volunteer to help Justin Trudeau save the Nahanni...or is that the Yanomami? I get them mixed up.

You could try out for the next Survivor episode grow hair all over your body and set yourself up as the next Rupert.

You could immerse yourself in a project to help increase the awareness on the plight of the dodo bird.

You could help out all Canadians by inviting Svend to join you on a long safari to Botswana during the election and then intentionally lose him in a marketplace while he's eyeing the jewellry.

Or we could start a revolution. Yes! That's the ticket! Let's start a revolution. Any leaders out there willing to drive this bus? Hmmmmmmmmm the possibilities.

"Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bring 'em on home to me..........

As part of the new immigration gameplan being brought forward by the Liberals, the federal government is about to fight back against countries trying to poach highly skilled expatriate workers from Canada and mount a campaign to persuade Canadians who have left to return home, according to the Globe and Mail. Those moves are among proposals Immigration Minister Joe Volpe will soon take to cabinet to deal with burgeoning labour shortages. It's part of the notion of changing what we do from being a much more passive receiver of applications into more of a recruiting arm for Canada,” said a government source.

Hey Joe.........I'm all for providing opportunities for fellow Canadians to return home. It sounds like a mighty fine idea. There are a few glitches, though. And I am left with a bunch of questions for you honourable minister sir.............

Where are the heck are the jobs? Am I missing something here? How many computer gaming people do we really need?

Have you been actively schmoozing with the private sector to ensure that there are empty offices to fill? Are they on board with this?

You may have a great slogan in mind for your marketing campaign, but do you have any infrastructure in place to deliver this recruitment service? "Come home to mama" ain't gonna cut it! Yellow ribbons around every maple tree in the country is just plain litter. Show me the jobs. Don't manipulate with emotional diatribe.

Have you decided on the rah rah team that will tour the world looking for long lost homesick Canucks hovering in corners to return to a place where the government has lost all credibility to run the country and who are doling out money for every social cause imaginable to set themselves up for a win in the next election?

Can I make some suggestions?
  • That Mr. Efford fella from Nfld. could be a big help since he isn't doing much to earn his keep and he has some time on his hands. Or be bi-partisan and send Svend out on a jaunt far far away..............
  • Why don't you bring back Sheila from Steeltown? You could just give her a big bullhorn and park her on the front lawn of any European capital city and let her rip out heart rendering versions of Running Back to Saskatoon, Gens du Pays, Farewell to Nova Scotia, Sudbury Saturday Night, or how about the Joe Canadian rant............she'd be great at that. And then, her encore could be the Ti-cat cheer of Oskee Wee Wee. I've seen her act that one out in full fur regalia. It was tear producing. Keep in mind, if you sent "Nobody's Baby" on the road to repatriation, you would be killing two birds with one stone. She'd be out of your face and out of the journalist scrum that I hear she has just joined and is enjoying immensely.
  • Why don't you consider gathering all the Gomery goons, escort them onto a bus painted red and white, sail them down the main street of Helsinki and have them throw hockey pucks with "Come home to Canada" painted on them out the window to curious onlookers? You may get lucky and find one or two errant Canucks.
  • Or, you could brew the largest coffee pot of Tim Horton's best, put a fan behind it to waft the aroma down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Those homesick orphans will come running to roll up the rim again.

Just wondering Joe.............
  • What are the key career areas where there is a shortage? Do you even know that? I don't even know that, and I'm working in the field!
  • So, if I have a sister teaching in Asia and she wants to come home, can I get her to call you? Will you line her up with a teaching position here? Is that how it's going to work?
  • What about all the skilled and talented people who are anxiously and frustratingly searching for employment living in Canada already? Why isn't there a gameplan for them? Oh, you didn't know they existed? How could you? They aren't part of the statistical unemployment data that is fudged every month and released as the truth.

Smoke and mirrors.................choke, choke.

These glitches also became abundantly clear when the Lord government made the same pronouncement 2 years ago and then took their team of bureaucrats who work far away from the frontlines (where the work really happens) on the road to various ballrooms from Corner Brook to Sooke and points in between. They schmoozed, served lobster and cold Moosehead, waxed poetically about "home" got everybody revved up, and left. Problem was, they did such a great job, that New Brunswickers living away from home started arranging their vacation time to visit so that they could secure one of the jobs waiting for them at the end of the Saint John River Vally rainbow. When they arrived, though and walked into the "Job Resource Centres" armed with impressive resumes loaded with marketable Master's Degrees, Trade papers, years of experience, the frontline staff had not been informed of the Repatriation plan. They had no jobs to offer except one attached to an earpiece and a 1-800 number located in a rundown abandoned mall.

How does minimum wage work for you? The cost of living is less here, don't you know? Bah!

Hey Joe...................better call the Lord in New Brunswick. He'll give you some pointers before you start accumulating your air miles.

I'm beginning to feel like this going to be one rant filled week.....................yeah............I've got another one formulating already!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Wink From the Cosmos

The other day, I was searching the internet for some information on a counselling workshop that I am presenting in a couple of weeks and came across a poem that struck a familiar chord, though I couldn't recall where or when I had seen it. It didn't seem applicable to the workshop at the time. So I read it, enjoyed it, and moved onto another site without "bookmarking" it or consciously remembering the title of it. However, the visuals from the words had stuck with me. The message, about the desire to delve past the superficiality of "small talk" with someone in order to reach a depth of understanding and trust, was exactly what I was looking for. What had I been thinking not to copy the poem down?

As I continued on with other activities, I tried to conjure up the title-- something that would lead me back to the errant website. And it was during one of those activities that I received a wink from the cosmos. In the background on the radio, the host was introducing a guest who had written a poem that had resonated with many people through books and on the Net. All of a sudden, my home was filled with the words I had been wanting to find again.

How does one explain those moments? You're thinking about something, and then wham an outside event ties right in with your thoughts............ They happen all the time don't they?
Do they happen to you?

  • You're out cutting the lawn thinking about someone whom you havent heard from in a while. A little while later when you're inside, the phone rings. When you pick up the receiver you hear the voice of the person you were wondering about.
  • All morning as you are getting dressed for work, a song is stuck in your head. You rush around frantically getting organized, jump in the car, turn on the ignition only to find the song playing on the radio.
  • You have a vivid premonition of a future event. A week later, it occurs just like you had envisioned it.
  • A loved one has just passed away. In your grieving, you quietly ask for a sign to know that there is some kind of an ethereal connection. You look out the window and spot your loved one's favourite bird perching on the tree quietly........

Synchronicity.....................a wink from the cosmos..............a bit of guidance from the Big Kahuna perhaps?

Carl Jung, who coined the termed synchronicity, described three variations on the "alignment of universal forces."
  1. Coinciding thought or feeling with an outside event.
  2. A dream, vision or premonition of something that happens in the future.
  3. A dream, or vision that coincides with an event that is occuring at a distance.
Synchronistic moments happen to me often, though sometimes I am more aware of them occuring. In fact, if I am open to the idea that "things happen" without my control and for a reason that is beyond explanation, they happen more often. This week has been like that. One after another............all eye popping..........smile producing.............hair on the back of the neck raising.
The whole process of counselling, engaging with another individual at a deeper level, allows for more opportunities to experience these moments, if one is open to it. There have been countless encounters that have made me stop and acknowledge that there was a bigger more personal reason why I was meeting with a client than the problem being dealt with at hand. Often, I had been ruminating about a topic or an issue. The next client whom I happen to meet is either working on the same issue, or has the answer to the question I had been pondering.

James Redfield, the author of The Celestine Prophesy wrote a list of "insights" to explain the process of mysterious energy that lead us to answers that we may be pondering. One the insights he entitled: Engaging the flow -- We have a question, then dreams, then daydreams and intuitions lead us toward the answers which are usually synchronistically provided by the wisdom of another being.

Are the appearance of synchronicities in your life signs of guidance? Do they seem to happen more often when you're intensely caught up in something emotionally or intuitively? Yes.

Can they be explained scientifically? Statistically? No.

Synchronicities help us become more aware of our universal connectedness. We are not alone. We don't need to have all the answers to life's questions. If we are patient and open to the possibility that the answers will come in time, confident in our perceptual intuitions, a wink or a nod will often be provided.

Probably my most profound synchronistic moment struck me when I had just started my journey backpacking through Europe. I had been levelled with a feeling of homesickness that I had never experienced before. It was so intense that I didn't know if I could carry out my dream. One evening, my best friend and I chose to eat at a restaurant in Barcelona that had been recommended in a travel guide. Despite the fact that it was "off-season" the place was packed with fellow travellers, who obviously had the same guide! Within minutes of sitting down and placing our order, I overheard a voice and a laugh that was familiar. I knew right away it was a person whom I had worked with at a summer camp and who had also been my Camp Counsellor when I was young. I perked up and started looking around, thinking that I was crazy to believe that I would know someone in this restaurant. About 15 minutes after I heard the voice, however, I looked over and saw the person slip out of the restaurant. I leapt out of my chair and ran out into the street after her, calling her name. She turned with a look of surprise on her face, shouted my name with glee and gave me a warm much needed hug. It had been 8 years since we had worked together and yet here we were reuniting on the streets of Barcelona on a cold January night. I knew right away that I was going to find my "sea legs." It was a sign. I was going to be alright.

Two months later, full of confidence in myself and joy in living out my dream, I walked into a pensione in Rome. Sitting alone in the front foyer was a young fellow Canadian traveller looking lost and sad. Without hesitation, I went over to him and sat down to find out if he was alright. He admitted to feeling overwhelmed with homesickness. Knowing personally the importance of connecting with home somehow, I started by asking where he was from. Turned out, he was from my hometown. Turned out, he and I had gone to the same highschool. Turned out, he knew my younger sister. The more we talked, the more he smiled, and the more I realized that I was involved in a synchronisitic moment. I was his sign. More importantly, he knew that I was his sign that his journey too would continue with confidence. The next day when I saw him at breakfast, I left him with my story and encouraged him to pass his newly acquired confidence along.

Some believe that the winks point the way to an unfolding of our personal destinies. Some say that a synchronicity happens when God wishes to remain anonymous. I will receive those inexplainable winks from the cosmos, recognize them as an opportunity to know that I am a part of a universal sense of connnectiveness. I will recognize the nod as a means to help me find inner harmony--to continue to understand my destiny. It sure is good to know that the Big Kahuna's out there watching over us. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink..........say no more.

"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why." Albert Einstein

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembering and Striving for Peace.

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step i take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

Right after 9/11, I found myself driving home from a meeting in Saint John. The radio programs continued to blare threatening messages of impending conflict in Afghanistan. War was looming in retaliation of the carnage left from the terrorist attacks in the United States. The outcome seemed inevitable. That thought left me with a saturated sense of dread by the unending onslaught of stories I had read, seen and heard. I felt powerless. Destiny was not in my personal control. And, as I drove along the border of Base Gagetown, where plans and preparations were undoubtedly happening at a hectic pace, I turned off the radio.

Quiet solitude............silencing the fears.................thinking of past times..........reminiscing....finding moments tied to a sense of security and belonging...........calming down.................................

It seemed like the song came out of nowhere, sliding in from the music memory bank. I hadn't thought about it in years. But as I wondered how I was going to have more self-control over my fears of war and terrorist threats, the words flickered back to me, and I began to sing it again, while remembering the Sunday chapels I led at a summer camp faraway. It had always been one of my favourite songs.

Quickly, the message in the words, and the melody somehow brought back some inner harmony. And as I continued to sing the song, I felt some strength and conviction that I did play a role in my destiny. Peace would begin with me.

This morning, the song returns to my thinking as I recognize the importance of Rememberance Day in Canada. Let it be a reflective day for all. Let us all embrace brotherhood, openness to understanding our differences and similarities. Let us all strive for peace.

"Peace starts with a smile"
Mother Teresa

A Brave Voice Hidden in the Attic

"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. "

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be."

Anne Frank
June 1929-March 1945

It was Anne Frank who introduced me to the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II. I first picked up her diary and read it at the same age that she had written it. Her gift of providing awareness encouraged me, as well as millions of others, to learn more about the stories and the sacrifices of life that form the foundation of our freedom. Her thoughts, desires and observations personalized a catastrophic event that seemed unreal and far away from my backyard. Anne's powerful words that express her hopeful idealism will continue to touch and teach. Her life was a gift to us.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Finding Flow

Do you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter and you lose track of time? When was the last time this happened?

According to Psychologist, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (say that name three times fast!) these exceptional moments are called "flow" experiences. He writes:
The metaphor of flow is one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives. Athletes refer to it as "being in the zone," religious mystics as being in "ecstasy," artists and musicians as "aesthetic rapture."

Flow tends to occur when a person faces a clear set of goals that require appropriate responses. It is easy to enter flow in games such as chess, tennis, or poker, because they have goals and rules that make it possible for the player to act without questioning what should be done, and how. For the duration of the game the player lives in a self-contained universe where everything is black and white. The same clarity of goals is present if you perform a religious ritual, play a musical piece, weave a rug, write a computer program, climb a mountain, or perform surgery. In contrast to normal life, these "flow activities" allow a person to focus on goals that are clear and compatible, and provide immediate feedback.

Flow also happens when a person's skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges. If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.

So when does this occur for you? In your garden? When your are immersed in your work? When you go for your daily walk? Driving along the Saint John River Valley in the summer with the windows down and the breezes blowing in? When you have an idea and you decide to write about it? Attending a meaningful church service? When you are in the middle of planning an event? Listening to your favourite piece of music? Painting? Cooking? Working out? Paddling a canoe? Walking along a beach? Playing with your kids? Walking your dog?............. When you are with a friend and the discussion.......... well..........just flows and all of a sudden two hours has gone by............poof!

Flow is generally felt when a person is involved in one of their favourite past times. Lucky individuals in challenging jobs suited for them enjoy it in their workplace as well as during their leisure time. When this occurs, the work task at hand is challenging, which in turn is motivating. When one is in "flow" or " in the zone," there is a high level of concentration, and creativity. Most of the time, it is only after the project or work is done that one takes the time to enjoy a tremendous sense of satisfaction.

Often one finds it a struggle to get going. It takes energy and focus to get started. The best "Flow" experiences go hand in hand with the goal of completing a task. That takes energy and drive. The activity may be as banal as washing dishes...........and you find yourself with your hands immersed in the hot soapy water, your favourite music is on and time just ticks on by. It's often these type of activities that allow us to explore new ideas, resolve issues in our heads, plan personal goals. It is the thinking time that enhances the mundane. Projects are like that. At first, they seem overwhelming. Where to start? Why start? Is there enough time to complete it? Procrastinate, procrastinate. Finally, goals set, materials purchased, and a gameplan laid out...........you get started and you lose yourself in the experience.

The most predominant "flow" activities for me revolve around anything creative, be it in my garden, in my kitchen cooking and planning a party, or at my dining room table making a wreath for Christmas. This year, I have rediscovered my deep satisfaction in writing again. I had forgotten how uplifting it is to get lost in the words, the ideas and the self-learning connected to the solitary activity. When the words started pouring out of me last summer, I wasn't cognizant of where it was coming from or why all of a sudden I had this insatiable desire to put pen to paper. But, once the tap was turned on, I surrendered to the "flow"...........the flow of ideas, the flow of the words, the flow of the immersed feeling.

And yet, I have been anxious to continue to allow the words to tumble out, for fear that the creative window may shut. What I have learned though is that there are going to be days or even weeks when the writing will be a struggle. I know now that if I make the extra effort to push through those moments, that the end result will be another period of self-satisfaction and creative learning. My goal is clear, attainable and yet still challenging; key to at "finding flow." I want to write everyday..........even if it's a short piece. What I write about, I have left up to the ideas that strike me that moment; whether it is formed from reading new material, or from a conversation I had, or from a new thought. What continues to motivate me are the times when the stars align, the universe unfolds, I'm focused and the words channel through me, and out of my fingertips. It doesn't happen all the time. But, when it does it feels so good.

Find your own opportunities to experience "the flow" if you havent in a while. I guarantee you'll feel rejuvenated again.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The River of Dreams

Spent the day driving around my part of the world, visiting clients in their homes, meeting their families, trying to help them out. As always, a day on the road rejuvenates me..........it also allows me to ponder, wonder and pause. My trip took me along three majestic rivers today. All were glistening in the sun, though the river currents seemed strong and the water looked cold, deep and mysterious. As much as I wanted to stop the car and head down to the shore, I knew that it was best to enjoy them from afar.....to take in the wonder of them. Along the way, I found myself singing this Billy Joel song and contemplating my faith:

The River of Dreams
In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To a river so deep
I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it's too hard to cross

And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I've been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep
And I've been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

I don't know why I go walking at night
But now I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn't take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I've been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To a river so deep
I know I'm searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind
In the middle of the night

I'm not sure about a life after this
God knows I've never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land
In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We're all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night

It was a day of learning, and hearing the stories from some of the people who live under the streetlights of our community. What could be more fulfilling?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Snapshot of a Dilaudid Addict, Part 3

I first met Kelli 14 years ago when she was a young single mother of a preschooler attending my Human Services Counsellor course at the local Community College. From the first day that are paths crossed, we connected. What I saw in her was a vibrant curious young woman full of potential. What she saw in me was a big sister mentor. There was a comfort level between us that rarely occurs in a teacher-student or counsellor-client relationship, even after a long time building rapport. With Kelli and I, it seemed instantaneous.
The youngest and clearly the most intelligent in the class but not aware of that fact at all, Kelli was sailing through the class without much effort. She wasn`t a responsible person, and had obviously made some poor life changing choices along the way. Her child was basically being nurtured by her parents, who in turn always seemed to get Kelli out of whatever bind she had found herself in. Why bother being a responsible adult......

When her lack of focus started to show, I pulled her aside one day to express my concern, and more importantly, to point out to her just how bright she was..........that she could ace the course and move onto University if she wanted to. It was the only time that I saw Kelli lose her composure. No one had ever told her before that she was smart. Smart ass, yes. Smart, no. She soared after that. Drove everyone crazy finishing tests in record time and then bouncing around making comments about how easy it was. But, they took it in stride. It was almost impossible to get mad at Kelli.

Part of the program was a practicum. She had been involved in an experimental behaviour management program that had been designed by a University Psychologist whose expertise was in the field, for a severely autistic 10 year old boy. This boy`s behaviour was so uncontrollable that he had spent his entire class year in a small cloakroom, away from the other students. He wasn`t even allowed on the playground during recess with the other kids. The program was designed to work on more acceptable behaviour so that this little guy could be integrated to some extent by the following school year. Kelli was the perfect person to implement it. A classroom was set up in a portable for Kelli and the boy. Every day throughout the summer, they met and went through various exercises and games. If his behaviour became violent or self-inflicting, Kelli would apply the Behaviour Management techniques. Astonishingly, within 3 weeks, this little boy who had never acknowledged his family let alone others in the world, was heeding Kelli. Not only that, he was looking at her, giving her hugs and sitting on the floor with her with his head in her lap. Kelli had major talents................all natural...............all from the child side of her that definately ruled her world.

Graduation came and went. Kelli had big plans. University was going to play a key role. The Psychologist was so impressed with her that he wanted her to work under him.

But, she made other choices. She reconnected with her son`s father, moved to a small community outside of the city, and worked when she could. Her life was not stimulating, and she let herself sink into a level of unawareness. She married, suffered through two difficult pregnancies, succumbed to months of post-natal depression and kept her head down. Her husband could not provide for his family as he had planned. Injured in an accident, he became a seasonal worker. They barely scraped by on his earnings. I didn`t see Kelli during this period of her life. From time to time, I`d bump into someone who knew her. I`d hear snatches of information................I knew that she hadn`t followed down the academic path. I knew that she was lost in the small community away from employment opportunities. I knew that she had shut off her brain in order to survive. No one had to tell me that.

Then, one day about 2 years ago, Kelli was in the office registering for social assistance. It was the first time I had seen her in 12 years, and I was shocked at her appearance. Gone was the bouncy glow, the energy, the vitality. She looked tired, dishevelled and so unhealthy. Her story? She was a Dilaudid addict, 2 years into the Methadone program and trying to rid herself of all drugs.

When she first spotted me, there was a hesitation on her part to approach me, which I absorbed quickly as shame, and that she thought I would be disappointed in her. Always the teacher, always the student. I approached her, made small talk, asked her about her kids, updated her superficially on my life, smile............smile..............smile................and gave her an appointment to see me the following week. Relieved at my reaction and glad that we would meet again just the two of us, she left promising to return. I turned back to my office with a feeling of sadness at seeing a lost soul drifting and aimless...............from one with so much promise.

Kelli arrived the next week, shaky but looking more buoyant. She spilled her story onto my desk, relieved to put words to many of the thoughts she had held in. She had become addicted after the birth of her daughter when she was left with searing back pain. Her doctor, who is known in this rural community as a pill pusher, quickly prescribed the mood and pain altering drug to Kelli. Given her state of mind, depression, anxiety, and a sense of aimlessness, Kelli was an addict waiting to happen. She was hooked within a month. Her life became bearable, or so she thought.

Quickly though, Kelli woke up somewhat and became very frightened. She knew she was in trouble, and sought help outside of the community. She went searching for a way to rid herself of the addiction. In no time, she was accepted into the only Methadone program in the province at that point and travelled 3 hours every day for her medication. She was dedicated and determined. As always, I was impressed with her depth of knowledge on her new "world." She knew all about Dilaudid, Methadone, the difficulty of ridding yourself of all drugs, the seedy underside of the dealers. Kelli even knew the names of many doctors in the Atlantic Region who were notorious generous with their prescriptions. She elaborated on her plan. She was going to be the first one to successfully walk away free of any drug.

For the next two years, Kelli would drop in to my office every 4 or 5 months. It was a touch base encounter.................we would talk, go for a walk.............the mentor and the student......as she stayed focused on her goal.

It hasn't happened the way she had planned. She came close...........so close. Last spring, she was on just a minimal dose of Methadone. She was a month away from walking away free of the shackles of the drugs. But, the withdrawals were unbearable. The day she popped in to see me, she looked worse than she did two years prior. Part of the withdrawal process that wasn't being dealt with was her acknowledgement of her responsibility in making the choices she had made. She had awakened to find the shadows in her life as menacing and too difficult to face. And she started to turn toward drug induced "bliss." She went back into hiding unable to deal with her accumulated failures and her inability to take responsibility for them.

I saw Kelli last in the summer, when she sheepishly showed up. I welcomed her back, using humour while I pulled the story out of her. She admitted to needing more help than she had initially thought. She admitted to needing to find a way to be strong so that she could acknowledge her emotional issues and move on to self-sufficiency and forgiveness. Kelli is now in a Rehab Centre. She's been there most of the fall.

I don't know if the treatment will be successful. I'm not optimistic. It saddens me deeply that this gem of an individual with unique interpersonal talents that would have allowed her to soar above her past, away from dysfunction, may be lost. It is with trepidation that I await her next visit. And when she does show up, I'll put on my best smile, embrace her and try to find hope in her lost sad eyes.