An Emotional Journey – The Road of Recovering

I recently went to my first therapy appointment for my leg.   I had a tumour removed in April, 2012 but because I didn’t have a job or benefits at the time, I wasn’t able to go for the needed therapy to help with the mobility and swelling.   I bought my own benefits plan when I could afford it so that I could get the much needed treatment for my leg.   It was a great first session and I could already feel a difference in my leg after the first hour.

While I had been eagerly anticipating the therapy for quite some time, I was very surprised by my emotional response during the session.  It was something that I hadn’t expected.   I cried uncontrollably  for at least half the session.   I was shocked and embarrassed by my reaction.   After all, why was I crying?  I have been wanting this therapy for a long time, was excited to finally be going, and yet here I was, extremely emotional and openly unable to stop sobbing.

I tried, at first to hide my tears.   I felt embarrassed and didn’t want the therapist to see my steady flow.   But finally, no longer able to hide the emotional outpouring, I asked my therapist, Lisa, if others cried during their appointment.

“Yes”, she replied without hesitation or thought.   According to Lisa, most people, on their first visit would show anger at first, and then eventually, tears.

“It’s a very emotional process that most people don’t understand”, Lisa informed me.    Suddenly, with the force of a volcanic eruption,  I  blurted out: “I want my leg back!”    The outburst both shocked and liberated me all at once.   I never realized just how much of a toll the entire pre operation, operation and post operation journey had taken on me until this moment.

When Lisa asked what I missed not doing, the answer was easy:  bike riding with my son.   We used to bike ride every day before my surgery but haven’t been able to go for the past two summers.   That’s been very difficult for me.  Walking with ease, bending down, crouching.  I missed  just being able to  go out and do something physical without limits or thought.  Even something like stair climbing was challenging.  I missed the freedom of having 2 healthy legs that we often take far too for granted.

I have to say, I’ve never, at any time, felt anger during this journey.  Even when they first found the tumour and believed it was cancer, anger was just not an emotion that I had.   “It is what it is” I would say.    I actually felt like one of the lucky ones.   I knew right from the beginning that the tumour was not terminal and that my life was never in danger.

Once the tumour was removed and they were able to clearly determine that it was benign, I felt grateful.   It should have been, for all intents and purposes, malignantly.   The fact the it wasn’t has been a medical miracle.

But the recovery has been longer and more difficult than I could have ever expected.   I thought, because the surgery went so unexpectedly well, that I would be back to my normal self within a couple of months.   That hasn’t been the case.  The healing has taken a long time and my mobility and usage of my leg has been very limited.   I am no longer able to move the way I used to or for as long as I used to.   My leg fatigues and gets sore very easy and while I push myself, that too, can have significant consequences.   I never realized just how much this would affect me emotionally until recently.  But here I was, a year and a half later, crying uncontrollable over the loss of use in my leg as a result of the removal of the tumour.   I have learned first hand, just how traumatizing certain events in our lives can really be.

Since that first visit, I have felt so much better, not just physically, but emotionally as well.   It felt wonderful letting these emotions out.   As I anticipate the upcoming appointments and treatments, I know that there will be more moments where my emotions overcome me.   But I’m looking forward to releasing them.   This therapy is not only allowing me to heal physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.   And both, are long overdue!

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!! Giving Thanks From My House To Yours!

Happy Thanksgiving Eh

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada.  People throughout the country have been getting together with friends and family to celebrate their blessings and give thanks.

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays because I have a lot to be thankful for.   I have many wonderful friends and family in my life who I cherish.  Every opportunity I get to spend with these amazing people is a celebration.

Along with wonderful friends and family, I have many other blessings that I am thankful for.

Firstly, my son.  He is the most important person in the world and I cherish him.   He is simply amazing.  I enjoy watching him grow and develop into a wonderful, thoughtful and mature young man with his own personality, interests and dreams.

I have been very blessed with the gift of motherhood.  That is a gift that I am thankful for every single day.  Motherhood has made me a better person and has fulfilled me in ways that no other life event ever could.

I am also thankful for my mom.   She is my friend, my role model and my hero.   My mom is the strongest woman I have ever known.  She has gone through many challenging situations and has always come through smiling.  She is a warm and caring woman who is always there to support and encourage her children, grandchildren and friends.

I am thankful for my family.  We are a funny, quirky, zany, friendly and, at times, crazy (in the best of ways) bunch who love and support each other no matter what.   When we’re together, we talk, we laugh, we goof around and we just enjoy being together.   I am very blessed to call this wonderful group of people are my family.   They make every event a memorable occasion.

I am thankful for the many friends that I have in my life.   Some I have known for years while others are recent relationships.   They are all wonderful, beautiful people who are always there to support and encourage me.   While life’s busy schedules sometimes make getting together challenging, we always keep in touch and remain strong in each other’s lives.   My friends –  every single one of them –  are extremely important to me.  I could not go through the up’s and down’s of life’s journey without my friends and family.   I am so very thankful everyday for these wonderful, amazing, people who bless my life.

I am thankful for my pets.  My cat is a  beautiful dainty little lady who purrs around my legs every time I’m in the kitchen and meows loudly every night to let me know it’s bed time and she wants to snuggle on my pillow around my head.   She is graceful and dainty; a perfect little lady.

My dog is a crazy, hyper, loveable girl who makes me smile just as much as she drives me crazy.   She’s energetic and playful and loveable.   She was everything I never wanted in a dog, yet she wove her way into my home and my heart.  They are both important members of my family.  My house would not be my home without their meows, barks and happy wagging tails.

I am happy for my health.   Other than needing to lose a few pounds, I am in great health.   This is something I do not take for granted.   Many of my readers will remember from past posts that I had a tumour a few years ago that was believed to be cancerous.   I am extremely fortunate that the tumour was benign and, although the recovery from the surgery has been more difficult and longer than I could have ever expected, my overall health is excellent.   I have no serious diseases, nor am I at risk.   I am grateful every day for good health.   And yes, I am even working on losing the “few extra pounds”. :)

I have 2 jobs outside the house that I enjoy doing.   Not everyone can say that they enjoy going to work, but I can times 2.   It’s still a novelty for me to go to the fantastic work places that I go to everyday.  Before these jobs, I was forced out of a job because of workplace bullying (see one of my first blog articles about my experience with workplace bullying).   It was the worst experience of my life.  But it was because of those horrific conditions that I have an even greater appreciation for the work environments that I have now.   I love my jobs and enjoy spending time with great coworkers.  For this, I am thankful.

I love my house.   It is a small house that I have put a lot of work into.   It is old and still needs work done. But it is mine.   I bought it for my son and I with my own money. I pay the mortgage and do most of the renovations myself.   I have repaired and designed the rooms with my own hands, my own ideas and my own taste.   I have made this small house into a warm and cozy home that my son and I both enjoy living in.    We look forward to coming home from a day at work or school.  Throughout the challenges that I faced in recent years, I never had to worry about losing my home.  It is a safe and loving environment that makes us feel good when we are in it.   It is an inviting and welcoming environment for friends and family.   While my home is not a large custom made, designer home with a perfectly manicured lawn, it is mine and I am thankful to have it.

I am thankful to have the money to pay my bills with a little extra to spare.   It is really difficult for many people to make ends meets today, especially single parents.  Rising costs of living and stagnant salaries create ongoing challenges for far too many people try support themselves and their families.   This is even more difficult for single parents or single income families who are trying to survive in a dual income society on one income.   I know first hand what it’s like to be poor and to not know how you are going to come up with the money to pay the bills or put food on the table. It’s hell.   Having a steady income that enables me to pay the bills and feed my son is something that I am very grateful for.

I am thankful and blessed to live in such a great country.    This is a beautiful, free country with lots of opportunity and privilege.   I am blessed to be born in one of the greatest countries in the world.   I am Canadian!  I say that very proudly.

I am thankful for the writing opportunities that I have been given recently.  Writing has always been my passion and thanks to the internet, the opportunities to fulfill my dream as a writer have become a reality.   The internet has opened doors that never existed for me before.

On that note, one of those opportunities has been this blog.   I am very thankful to have a blog site that allows me to share my articles on topics that are of great interest to me with others.   I am grateful to everyone who visits my blog and reads my articles.  I am grateful for the comments that readers leave.   I am grateful to the other bloggers on this site who write engaging articles that I enjoy reading.   I am thankful for the world that blogging has created.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!  Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to my world of readers near and far.   Thank you for being part of my life and sharing in my blessings!!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

How To Detox The Body Naturally

detox the body

 

 

Detox, a word once reserved for treating persons with substance addictions, it has now become synonymous with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Detoxing means to remove harmful toxins from the body. With all of the pollutants in the air we breathe and food we eat, many people are looking for ways to try to remove those toxins from their bodies.

detox pathways liver

For many people, wanting to detox their bodies can be confusing. There is so much information to sift through; it can be difficult trying to determine what is real and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t.

Detoxing is a rapidly growing trend in the health and wellness industry. Hundreds of products and therapies are promoted everyday by many medical professionals, alternative therapists, non trained professionals, companies and celebrities who all promise that with their product or regime, your body will be detoxified within a specific time frame. Fasting regimes, supplements, body flushes, colon cleanses, leach therapy, foot soaks, pills, sprays, powdered cocktails, specialized tea mixtures, smoothies and juicing recipes are just a few of the solutions recommended to those looking for ways to cleanse the toxins from their bodies.

But are the regimes and kits necessary? Do they actually help detoxify our bodies? Detoxing is not a weekend fix but rather a lifestyle. We need to develop long term, healthy habits to keep the body clean of pollutants.
Our bodies are designed to naturally remove toxins and waste. Our liver, intestines and kidneys continuously filter through substances to clean out and remove the pollutants. Keeping these organs healthy so that they can function properly, is essential in maintaining a clean detoxified body. There are many steps that we can take to ensure that our bodies are working at their optimal best.

Drinking Water:

water

 

Our bodies are made up primarily of water. In order to function properly, our bodies need to be kept well hydrated. Water is essential for every part of our body from our skin, muscles, tissues, organs, saliva, blood and digestion of food. Adequate water is needed to ensure that the kidneys and intestines are able to filter through and easily remove the toxins and impurities from our bodies. There are many ways to increase our water intake. Aside from drinking water, we can also consume water from foods that we eat including soups, stews, fruits and vegetables.

Eating Fruits and Vegetables:

detox heart

Aside from the above mentioned benefits, fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients that our body needs to be healthy and vital. Fruits and vegetables is the only food group that contains nutrients that are required for every cell and every organ in the human body. Many fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, beets, onions, kale, spinach and pomegranate contain antioxidants which help the body’s immune system fight off diseases. Other fruits and vegetables such as corn, bananas, apples and beans are high in fibre which helps the intestinal tract remove waste from the body. All fruits and vegetables have essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in order to stay healthy.

While an important food group, fruits and vegetables is also the most under consumed. To maintain proper health, a person needs to consume 5 to 10 servings per day. When we do not consume an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables daily, our body does not get the necessary nutrients needed to maintain health. Without these nutrients, the body begins to degenerate, and with degeneration, comes disease. Eating fruits and vegetables everyday is essential for detoxifying and maintaining good health.

Stay Away From Refined Sugars:

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The fact that refined sugar is bad for our health common knowledge. What most people do not realize is the amount of sugar that is consumed every day. On average, a person should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, the average person actually consumes anywhere from 22 to 41 teaspoons per day. This sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies and is a major contributing factor of several life threatening diseases including certain cancers, Type II Diabetes and cardio vascular disease. To detoxify the body, less is more where sugar consumption is concerned.

Avoid Processed Foods:

food aisle

Processed foods are loaded with chemicals and poisons that harm the body. Every time people ingest processed foods, they are ingesting chemicals, toxins, hormones, steroids, drugs, trans fats, saturated fats, high quantities of sodium and refined sugar but very little nutrition. Processed foods do not supply our bodies with any of the nutrients needed to maintain optimal health. While it may be difficult to completely eliminate processed foods from our daily diets, the less consumed, the better.

Eat Organic Foods:

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Organic foods are grown in chemical free soil and are therefore, a much healthier choice. While the cost, season and location can make this rather challenging for some, as much as possible, people should choose organic foods.

Regular Exercise:

exercising hearts

Exercise aids in detoxifying the body in many ways and should be part of a regular daily routine. Exercise is essential for increasing oxygen into our body, improving circulation of the blood and lymphatic fluids, digesting food and removing wastes. Exercise is also essential in hormonal balance and stress management. Exercise helps detoxify the body in several ways. Increased blood flow increases the oxygen intake while removing more carbon dioxide. Increased oxygen intake improves cellular activity, organs become stronger and function more efficiently. Hormone excretion is more balanced and lymphatic fluid is circulated more quickly and evenly throughout the body. The muscles and tissues are stronger and more agile. Through aerobic exercise, harmful toxins are also expelled through sweat. By exercising daily, our bodies are better able to naturally remove the toxins.

Detoxing our bodies does not have to involve spending lots of money, eating strange concoctions, fasting for several days, soaking our feet in an unknown solution or allowing leaches to crawl over us. It is also not a short term therapy or a weekend fast. Detoxing our bodies involves creating long term, healthy habits that become part of our daily activities. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, our bodies can naturally remove the impurities.

Remembering The Soldiers 100 Years Later

WWI soldiers in trenchI love highway driving. It’s a complete escape and freedom from everyday life. I can cruise down the road,  allowing my thoughts to flow freely without the interruption from other traffic. I am mentioning this because it was during my drive today, during the free flowing moments of my thoughts, that I began to think about World War One and the true magnitude of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women during that period of history.

Now, I know that my above statement has probably raised a few eyebrows and I have to say that war is generally not something I think about often. But it did come to my mind today, which was not actually a great surprise. It’s been 100 years since WWI began and there have been many articles this past weekend in several venues from Twitter to online news forums to actual home delivered newspapers about the war. Families are understandably eager to share their relatives’ stories of valour and heroism.

And we need these stories to be told. As the years, decades and generations pass, the full magnitude of just what these men and women actually did, has been sadly lost in the shuffle.

Imagine a world without technology: no TV’s, internet, Ipods, cell phones laptops, Ipads. No high tech weaponry, immediate communication devices, satellite and infrared destructive forces. By todays standards, the machinery and vehicles used during WWI were extremely primitive and completely incapable of the mass movement and impact that is now part of today’s norm.

Imagine a world where all you really knew was that someone from another country was threatening your country, your freedom. Imagine, without any actual real knowledge of what tomorrow would bring, you, without hesitation, answered the call of your country. Leaving your loved ones – not knowing if you would ever even see them again – to go fight a war because you wanted to ensure that your family and the future family members would be free.

Earlier today, I saw a picture in our local newspaper of WWI soldiers standing in a trench. It was nothing but long dugout muddy trench. And the soldiers, dirty, tired, probably hungry, cold, damp and yearning for their loved ones, stood in the muddy trench with their guns ready for battle.  No homes, no tents, no showers, no cooked meals, no bathrooms. No high tech gizmos to email or Skype home with, nothing. Just mud, an endless trench of mud.

They were there for us, fighting selflessly for us. Those unknown soldiers fought strangers for strangers. They didn’t fight for their future, they fought for our future. They gave so that we could get.

We, who live in many ways, a very privileged life, owe our free life to those men and women who sacrificed their time and their lives so that an unknown future could be a free future. We owe these men and women, not just our gratitude or our thanks, we owe them our lives. We owe it to them to remember, to respect, to appreciate, and, most importantly, to never forget.

Finding My Zen: Getting Back To Life After A Long Work Stretch

jugglingpriorities1I work, if you can believe, 5 jobs outside the home. Yes, 5 jobs. Three are during the day and the other 2 are part time/casual/contracted positions. My job within the school is comprised of 2 separate positions plus I work in the lunch program. The lunch program is a perfect part time job as it’s only 1 hour a day during my workday. It does not interfere with my home life what so ever.

My instructor jobs are contracted positions that I work on weekends and holidays. As many jobs as I have outside the home, I am lucky because the hours are catered around my home life. As a parent, it’s extremely important to me that I be there for my son. AS a single parent, I don’t have a spouse that I can team up with to find balance. Everything falls on my shoulders. I have worked diligently to ensure that my work life and home life balance.

My son has not had to go to daycare for most of his childhood, which has not only saved me a lot of money, but has given me the extra time with him. My weekday work hours are the same as his school day hours and my weekend/holiday work hours are during his visitation times with his dad. Life is very busy with little opportunity to have any “me” time. I work almost everyday with only 1 day off a week if I’m lucky.

That’s not including the work I do at home. I have a home to run, pets and a child to take care of, errands, appointments, meetings. I’ve always got something to do. Life is so busy, that when I do have a moment to sit down, I feel lost. I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s strange, almost unnatural.

During the last 2 months of this past school year, May and June, I probably had a total of 5 days off from work in the 2 months. I ended the year working a 19 day stretch. I was exhausted to say the least!

The end of the year couldn’t come soon enough. It’s difficult to think clearly or logically when you reach that level of fatigue. Your brain and body become completely numb. I desperately needed time off. I desperately needed a little “me” time.

As the year was finally coming to a close and the long stretch of work nearing an end, I knew I needed to rest, relax and find my zen. To do that, I planned a road trip with my son and mom. I wanted to get away from everything and focus on complete R & R. What better way to do that than to leave your home and go somewhere completely new for a few days? No housework, no chores, no pets, no yard work. I didn’t have to think about the bills or the groceries or any other errand. For those few days, I was completely separated from the normal, everyday life. I could sleep in, relax, shop, see the sites. I could have others wait on me, cook for me and clean up after me. I left the work, responsibilities, concerns and stresses at home, far away.

My technology was turned off so there were no emails, social media, phone calls or texts that could bring home into my sanctuary. I was completely free from my daily life for a few days. It was heaven!

We had a fantastic road trip. We shopped, toured, swam, relaxed, laughed and enjoyed the moment. I found an energy and revitalization that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I returned home feeling carefree, stress free. I was beginning to find my Zen. I could look ahead to the upcoming months clearly and with great anticipation.

As exhausted as I was by the end of the school year, getting away was the best way to rejuvenate after a long work stretch. It gave me the freedom and distance from daily life that I needed to focus solely on my son, myself, my family.

Trips, no matter how short or inexpensive, are a wonderful way to get back to life after a long, difficult, tiring stretch. Whether they are one day or several, the next town or next country, road trips or flights, trips are a great way to completely step away from everyday life. Trips are a wonderful way to break away from the ruts and add zest to your life. I love travelling, and all the benefits that come with it.

From The Shadows of Frustration, Came The True Meaning of Sportsmanship – An Example We Can All Learn From

dragon boat racing

 

Walking around the water park off Murdoch Road for the dragon boat races, I kept thinking how much we could all learn from the athletes who were there to participate in the weekend festival. There were no fights, no scowls, no yelling or threats. Instead, there were smiles, laughter and cheers. Everyone was there to support a great cause, honour those who have, are and will battle cancer, participate in a sport that they enjoy and represent their company or team.

There is no question that this weekend would have turned out much differently for my team had it not been for the true sportsmanship of other paddlers who, without hesitation, were quick to help another team in need.

A couple of months ago, a friend and former coworker, Dru, posted a message on Facebook asking for more people to join her dragon boat team. Without hesitation, I jumped at the chance.

I had been on a team a few years ago and fell in love with the sport. It is exhilarating to be in a dragon boat with other people, paddling in unison from Point A to Point B. The dragon boat festivals hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society are extremely fun and it’s an opportunity to spend a day outside in the much welcome sunshine while raising money for a great cause.

Once everything was organized, we met as a team for our two allotted practises. For a novice team of 18 people, we did not too bad during these practises. Everyone seemed to be looking forward to the upcoming races.

This weekend, we participated in the Dragon Boat Festival. Our first race was early Friday evening. Dru had sent emails to the team informing all of us of our race times and reminding us what time to be at the water park.

As the time for our first race Friday evening quickly approached, it was evident that not everyone on the team was going to show up. Only half the team arrived for the first race.

Lucky for us, another team, the Psycho Paddlers, worked for the same company. They had already completed their race and were more than happy to help us out. We were able to complete our first race of the festival that evening with a minor setback that was easy to resolve.

After the race was over, we confirmed our first race time for Saturday, then discussed the time for everyone to meet and where. Once everyone was informed, we left.

I arrived at the park at noon on Saturday, excited for our day of racing. I quickly found other team members and stood watching the races and chatting while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive.

As our race time quickly approached, it was clear that we were once again short team members. Because we were racing against the Psycho Paddlers, they could not help us out on this race as they had the evening before. As our team was called to the marshalling area (the area where you get your gear and line up in preparation to load into the boat), the concern began to mount as we wondered if we would even be able to race.

While getting our life jackets, someone from another team heard us talking and asked if we needed more paddlers. When we said “yes,” she quickly ran to her team to recruit people to help us out. Another team also heard and quickly pulled in a few people.

Thanks to the members of the Prostate Paddlers and the Robert Allard teams for coming to our aid, we were able to complete our second race. We came in a happy third place. Crossing that finish line was a thousand times more exhilarating because we almost missed it. We couldn’t thank the other paddlers enough for coming to our aid.

Our third and final race was early in the evening. During the time in between, some of us left with the promise of coming back. Other members kept trying to get a hold of those that did not show up while a few stayed to watch the races and keep an eye out for team members. By 4:30, I was back at the park, meeting up with my team. As our time for our final race was drawing near, it was apparent that, with only one third of our team at the park. we were again not going to have enough members to participate. Once again, we had to face to challenge of trying to fill our boat. Frustration was growing as we faced the difficult possibility that we may have to pull out.

But those of us that were there, wanted to race. So, as a group, we went over to the organizers to talk to them about our dilemma. Dave, from the Canadian Cancer Society, was very reassuring, saying that there were many people from other teams who loved to paddle and would be more than happy to help us out.

We went back to our area. While discussing whom we could ask, the announcer called the next race. He mentioned, during his announcement that a team had pulled out of the race. There would only be 3 boats racing instead of 4. We quickly went to speak to him, hoping that the team that pulled out would be interested in joining us.

Instead, the announcer made a plea on our behalf over the intercom seeking paddlers to join our team. When it was time for us to go to the marshalling area, the announcer again stated that we were in need of paddlers and asked anyone wanting to help out to meet our team in the marshalling area.

And help out they did! Immediately, members from the Dirty Oars, Prostate Paddlers, Muddy Waters and Canadian Cancer Society came to our rescue. We quickly donned our gear and, as a smorgasbord group of paddlers, loaded the boat. We learned to work as a team on the fly. Not only were we able to complete our third and final race, but we came in first place!

I will never forget how wonderful it felt to cross that finish line for the third time. Having paddlers from different teams help us not once, but for all three races was an incredible experience that I will not soon forget.

Without the help from the other teams and the organizers, our weekend would have been very different. Without them, we would not have been able to participate in any of our races. A thank you to those other teams doesn’t even begin to express the gratitude I feel for their assistance. They have, in their actions, shown what real sportsmanship is and should be. And, through their actions, made our time at the Dragon Boat Festival, an incredibly wonderful event.

 

Photo Credit:  Canadian Cancer Society Albums – River City Dragon Boat Festival 2013  (http://convio.cancer.ca/site/PhotoAlbumUser?view=UserPhotoDetail&PhotoID=90880&position=3&AlbumID=28027)