My passion filled life
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life.
My passion filled life
Recently I started a new website, My 150 Reconciliation . My goal, over the next months, is to take in 150 stories, one for each of the years that Canada is celebrating in 2017. Well, that some of Canada is celebrating.
I find myself torn by the whole thing. The part of me that is the descendant of the Scottish crofters that were kicked off their ancestral lands 170 years or more ago, recognizes that we do have much to celebrate. The part of me that is the descendant of the Irishmen who managed to escape the death of the potato famine because of the military compensation that allowed for the passage of the family to come to Canada also celebrates what a wonderful place this was to come to, to start over, to allow your children and your children’s children to be and have more. That self too understands what greatness there is to celebrate.
But the part that has invested in learning more about what transpired on this land is struggling with how I came to be where I am and to have all that I have. Though this project of mine I am trying to deepen my understanding, my compassion and my ability to be an ally to the people that were here long before my ancestors arrived or even knew of this great land, our Indigenous people. That is what my website and project is about.
The book that I chose to help me with that this week was recommended by a friend of mine who runs the local library in our old home area in Manitoba. She knows my interests and my passions, and felt that this book would be a good read for me. It was!
Katherena Vermette’s book, “The Break”,was a wonderful, though dark glimpse into the real Winnipeg that is the experience for so many Indigenous and Metis people that live their lives there. We on the outside hear about the gangs, the thefts, the fights and deaths on the news, a safe arm’s length away from it all. We seldom give those news stories a second thought to deepen our understanding of how what happened did happen. We hear about the violence, the racism, the addition issues, but we don’t often hear about the lives. Her book gives us that glimpse into the deeper core of the story.
Because it is based in Winnipeg, there is a familiarity that allowed me to picture where each place was, and a reminder of the warnings we’ve heard through the years to be careful and stay away from ‘those areas’. ‘Those areas’ being home to so many of the characters whose lives we were given a picture of in ‘The Break’.
In reading ‘The Break’ I was granted the opportunity to see more deeply into that world that we often manage to ignore. The gangs that aren’t necessarily an option as we might choose to think. The story behind the stories of the addictions and deaths we often choose not to think about…because it’s over ‘there’ or it’s ‘them’ not us. She gives us a taste of the resilience of the people that live that story, everyday, for the majority of their lives. The love that exists behind the media blurbs, the pain that is a part of each newscast, the fear, mistrust and attitudes that form and feed so much of the heartache.
Through ‘The Break’ I have opened a door that I won’t be able to close behind me. A door to a deeper awareness, a stronger compassion and a greater respect for those that are represented by the characters that were introduced to me through the book.
You know how when you dedicate time and energy to really creating a sound plan for an event, working options around all possibilities that could go wrong and navigating to avoid those things, then having everything that could go wrong go wrong anyhow. Life is funny that way isn’t it?
That was the case for my husband’s recent 60th birthday surprise party. My daughter made the plans around it being early enough to surprise him, and also early enough that the birth of her new baby wouldn’t interfere with the plans and festivities. And with all the good intentions, you’d think that things would have unfolded seamlessly, but that, of course, was not to be.
First thing that happened was that one of our other granddaughters made the provincial volleyball team, and with that was able to participate in the Nationals in Vancouver, which meant her family wanted to come out to the coast and support her, which meant they’d likely carry on to the island to spend time with us, which meant our planned return to the prairies would be delayed for a few days. We could work around that.
Then, baby, who wasn’t scheduled to arrive until August 11th, decided to make an early appearance and arrived on July 20th instead. He also ended up being a c-section. On top of that, he ended up being given my late son’s namesake, when they added Shane to his handle. That meant that I would fly home earlier than planned, to support and meet, and would leave Cecil in the capable hands of the volleyball kids to get him back to our place on the prairies in time for the celebration.
The visit on the island lasted a couple of days later than planned. The drive home included a backtrack loop to explore the ice fields between Jasper and Banff. The night before the party I booked a room at the Days Inn in Portage, only to discover that the air-conditioning wasn’t working and there were no other hotels available in town, so my night’s sleep was crappy. Then the morning of the party, Cecil was making his way home, having left Strathmore the night before.
When he called to in the morning it was to tell me that he’d blown the axle on the trailer that was carrying his quad, and that he hadn’t noticed. Another driver had put him onto the fact he was dragging the trailer behind him, sparks flying down the TransCanada. He pulled into the nearest yard and called.
When he told me what happened, and that he’d have to wait a few hours for Princess Auto to open to see if they had a replacement axle and tires, he said that he’d likely miss our ‘little party’. I, being cranky, tired and hot jumped to the conclusion that our son must have spilled the beans on the surprise, forgetting that I’d told him we wanted him home for a small wiener roast to celebrate our other grandson’s birthday. In saying so much, I gave the surprise away. Darn!
I told him to do what he had to do, and not worry, and let him go. I then remembered that my brother was only a couple of hours behind him, making his own way across the country. When I called him back to tell him that he said, “You are never going to believe what just happened!”
He then told me that the lovely people whose yard he’d stumbled into had not only made all the calls to see about the Princess Auto opening, helped him unload his broken trailer and settle his frazzled nerves, they had then offered him their own trailer to continue his journey and get home in time to make his not so surprise ‘surprise party.’ Who does that for a complete stranger in 2017??
Cecil made it home for the gathering with no time to spare. The party was wonderful, everything that a man turning 60 could wish for. Good friends, good food, cold beer and the reconfirmation that there are wonderful, wonderful people in the world still, and that morning, in pulling into the yard of Scott and Steph, he had met two of them.
They confirmed for us our belief that when you put good out into the world, it comes back to you in the most unexpected ways. Cecil gives much of himself, and he supports me to give much as well, often with no financial return, but because it ‘feels’ right to do the giving. We sometimes ask ourselves if the universe actually notices that we are giving, and trying, and doing. The answer came back to us with a resounding yes. What we put out into the world boomerangs back.
They had no need to offer what they did to get Cecil on his way, so that he could get where he needed to be and address the problem on the way home. They had no reason to trust the shaggy, tattooed Island man with their property, but they chose to, just as we so often choose to give just because. In their generosity, the reminded us of all that is good in the world. Of what a powerful impact a good deed can make to a person’s day and thus, life. Of how we have the opportunity daily to make those choices and decisions that can do that for others.
When faced with a choice, always choose love.
Be an earth angel, and look for love behind the actions of everyone you meet today.
Whenever you look for love, you will always find it.
- Doreen Virtue
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