Thursday, September 28, 2006

You've read it a 1000 times...

Once more for all of you with heavy hearts and heavy burdens today -- this poem has always made me feel peaceful.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love - for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Such A Little Mother Hen

Paige has become quite the little mother hen of her Living and Learning class. Her EA reports that she 'tends' to the other children in her classroom all day long. If she finds a random lunchbox, she must deliver it to its owner; if they are having snack everyone must have something in front of them before they are allowed to eat.

When Brooke has a seizure, Paige insists on being the one that sits beside her, rubbing her back and cooing at her until its over. she may have overstepped her boundaries, lol.

When Damien was put in time out for some not so nice behaviour, Paige kept going over to get him, and pulling him away from his spot, proclaiming "All done"

After a few attempts at pulling Paige away, she finally relented only if she could stand beside him and hug him during his time of need, lol.

What a kid...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

There's Nothing Worse Than A Warm Pickle

It was 1975 - my sister had just gotten married, and we were making our first trip to Prince Edward Island, to stay at our summer cottage that my parents had just purchased. I was 11 years old.

About halfway there, our car broke down. It needed a transmission or something else very expensive. We were stuck in a small town while waiting for a mechanic to go and pick up the parts we needed to keep going.

We had missed our ferry to the Island; the only way to get there. We were going to have to stay in a Hotel for the night, and obviously, my parents had to incur an expense they didn't expect. It was a time when few had credit cards, and some 500 miles away from home, they probably just wrote a check for the damages.

As we were waiting, we were eating dinner at McDonald's - again something that wasn't very common in my life in 1976. My dad had a cheeseburger or something like that, and he took a bite of it, and pulls a pickle out of his mouth. He was like, "YUCK!!! There's nothing worse than a warm pickle."

Right at that moment, he and I, sharing the same slightly sarcastic and ironic personality, burst into laughter. What a silly statement--a bazillion things going wrong -- of course, something has to be worse than a warm pickle!

So, that became a funny phrase between the two of us when things went wrong over the years. And the strange thing was, the worse things were, the funnier the line got to us. Many times in my life when I've felt badly or saddened by something, I've heard my father's voice reminding me that, at least, it wasn't a warm pickle.

I've had lots of warm pickle moments this week. I was deeply moved by the memorials of 9-11 -- a time when I realize that I am not living in my own country and feeling all of those feelings of senselessness all over again.

And on Wednesday, with the shootings in Montreal at Dawson College, I was again reminded of how we just never know in this world...

A post from another blogger this week who is facing a very challenging time with her own daughter has touched me deeply. I feel her words, and wish that I could pack up a hug and send it along to her. I feel the heaviness in her post, as she struggles with the reality that she has no choice but to pick herself up by her bootstraps and plod through the mud.

I've felt very protective of my children this week--more so than usual. I admit that my greatest weakness as a mother is over protectiveness. I fuss over them and fret for them, and want to jump in at every chance to take care of them. I was, and still am one of "those moms" - conscious of what they eat, what they wear, of their friends, etc.

My worry is deeper for Dakotah than it is for Paige. That has not always been the case. Of course when Paige was young and often very ill, she was the one I fretted over. But always there has been that nag that I'm going to let my guard down with Dakotah and get blind-sided by something I cannot control--an illness, an accident, etc.

I can still protect Paige better, watch over her. Dakotah is at the point in her life where I must begin to give her freedom, and let her learn the lessons of life.

Its hard to let her "hang out" with friends at the park, just two blocks from here, when I still breathe a sigh of relief every single day when she gets off the school bus.

Its hard to let her spend hours chatting with school friends on the internet, although I've put all the protections in place...she knows if she erases histories, that she has lost her privileges until her 16th birthday. I don't even read them, but she needs to understand that they must remain. Her usage is monitored, she has been lectured over and over again about the dangers of the internet.

Yet, every time I watch an episode of Dateline with the internet predators, I feel my heart race -- for every creep they catch, there are probably hundreds who are successful in their quest for young teens on the net.

She tells me every detail of her day, and for that, I should be grateful. But I over-analyze it, and want to fix whatever I feel needs fixing, even when she is fine.

She does have to grow up in a way that is much different than the way I did. That's not to say that there weren't things in my teen years that my parents weren't way better off not knowing...

But, this week, they had "practice lockdowns" at school...they have been given very real scenarios of what could happen in her high school. Periodically, the drug-dogs are brought in for random locker checks - a procedure that we have to agree to before our children are allowed to enroll at the Catholic High School where she goes.

I have had to have very frank conversations with her, because I know that she is hearing information from other kids at school. Her group of girlfriends are popular and beautiful and oogled at -- a double-edged sword to say the least. I want her to be well-liked -- just not so much so, lol.

In the end, I can only give her tools and roots -- she must put them to use and learn to fly on her own.

And all of my life lessons and examples are basically left to a prayer, a whisper in the night that she will come through it all gloriously and beautifully -- a set of crossed fingers that the worse that will happen to her is that warm pickle in a cheap cheeseburger at McDonalds.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Today, millions of people will look back to September 11, 2001. There will be many moving tributes, and memorials, and for those who lost loved ones that day, I imagine it will be a milestone that they will prefer to have behind them.

Like everyone else, I can recall with exact details what I was doing when I learned the news. Paige had OT that day, and my mother, and then my mother-in-law called as the towers went down. I was scheduled to give a lecture at the University of Ottawa that afternoon to some medical students about Down syndrome.

Our OT and I sat and watched in disbelief as the events unfolded. Like so many families, we quickly learned that the Pentagon had also been hit, and my nephew was nearby, unable to get out on a cell phone, and unable to get home as all public transportation had stopped. It would be hours before we knew that he was safe.

My friend Kate who works in Manhattan was among the thousands of people who walked home, covered in soot and dirt and dust. Ironically, her cellphone did not work in NYC, but she was able to call here, in Canada, and I was able to call her family in the city and let them know she was o.k.

I'm sure everyone is full of many thoughts about the events of that day. It is still with disbelief that I know that the men who chose to drive these planes did so thinking they were heroes, that Allah wanted them to do something so horrific. It is hard not to hate the people who did this, but I believe they had been led to belief they were doing a good thing.

And with crazy propaganda in the Middle East, I'm sure many people there believe that our soliders are doing the same thing now - killing for their God.

Perhaps its just hard to wrap my brain around such abject hatred of someone because of their nationality, their colour, etc. Its hard to understand that anyone could be so brainwashed to not be able to see the forest for the trees - that this was a cowardice, malicious act against innocent people.

Everyone's lives changed that day -- our children will not remember a world prior to 9/11 - as we live in a "before and after" mode of that day. Travel is much more complicated, and I sometimes have a tiny little nag inside when I'm at a concert or a baseball game, or any event with large amounts of people.

In order to still enjoy our freedom, we must live with that nag but still find a way to live. There is a fine line between safety and paranoia sometimes, and if we allow ourselves to fall on the wrong side of it, the terrorists are still winning at their game.

I hope that today doesn't become another political debate day -- where we argue the rights and wrongs of their actions, and ours, where we struggle with war and its affects.

Let today be their day -- those who lost so very much.

Today, I pray for ALL the families who were touched by this tragedy. For those who are still deep in their grief who have had to face personal and financial loss; for those who cannot find an answer to "why"; for those who now must raise a family as a single parent; for those children who lost a mom or a dad, for the moms and dads that lost a son or a daughter.

I honour all of these families, and stand in awe of those who have persevered -- who have been able to heal to the point of realizing that they must continue living, for themselves and for their loved ones. For those hearts that grew much larger with grief and unimaginable pain, who have found a way to begin to fill that gap with joy and happiness again. For those families who have learned to begin to love and trust and laugh again -- for the children who didn't deserve to lose a mom or a dad -- that their families have found a way to bring light back to them.

I truly believe that our life is set out before us in order for us to learn crucial life lessons along the way. I find great personal peace in trying to look deep inside of myself to find those lessons -- both good and bad, as I constantly learn from my life.

But for the heroes of 9/11, the ones who survived, and the ones who didn't, I cannot begin to hold a candle to their strength and courage.