My passion filled life
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life.
My passion filled life
Last week I made a return trip to Manitoba for ‘I love to read Month’. It wasn’t a particularly long planned for trip. I’d been intent on staying out of the cold Manitoba winter weather. That was, after all, a great part of the reason we chose to move to the West Coast two years ago! But I’d been enticed by a friend, who’d written to remind me that as it was ‘I love to Read Month’ and as I was an author, I should be there. After being steadfast on my decision not to go back in February, I went back to Manitoba in February. ‘I Love to read’ felt too important to miss.
I decided that this time I would focus on my “Shane’s Big Adventure” Books, because I had done ‘Tyson’s Orange Shirt’ last September and have hopes of doing it again this fall if the Universe permits. I know that Shane’s story has become old to some, and others may feel I should let it go and move on, but that’s not what my heart says. My heart says that I learned way too many important things during that journey through this world with that young man not to share it. As the anniversary of the 9th year since his passing approaches, I feel just as committed to sharing those lessons now as I did when he was with me. If one child who experiences life similarly is seen in a new light, or if one child who sees a child with a similar life path becomes a bit more compassionate towards that child, or a parent with a special needs child feels a little more empowered, then it is all worth it.
Over the course of the week that I was back in Manitoba, I read to 8 different schools. I can’t estimate how many children, because some schools had me read to each class separately, while others congregated the kids together. Each session started with sharing a little bit about Cerebral Palsy, and bit about Shane’s life, the reading of his first adventure, then his second, followed up with my singing his “When you Look at Me” song. There was always lots of time left for questions. The age groups ranged from kindergarten through to Grade 8. The questions varied just as much, with many veering off in unexpected directions discussing and sharing grief and loss. And that was okay, because I believe that conversations unfolded as they needed to for the children that were there with me in the room at that moment.
I know Cecil and I will question ourselves about the cost of some of my choices to return for things like ‘I love to Read’, presenting ‘Just my Friend’ or talking to kids about Orange Shirt Day. It is certainly making good use of our kid’s potential inheritance! But beyond that, doing these things always feeds my soul in totally unexpected ways, and I know in my heart of hearts that I’m doing the right thing.
One of the most cherished comments I received was that ‘Your Mom and Dad would be so proud of the work you continue to do.’ I walked away believing that they would be, were they still here. On that weekend, we had to go out to our house at the farm to do some work on our old home, now being used as a rental property until we make final decisions over the directions our lives are taking. We’d cleaned everything out of the house when we moved two years ago, but on a shelf in the very back of the basement I found a card that had been left behind. It was from Mom and Dad for a birthday sometime in the past. Now I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to cards and keepsakes, and I know I have no shortage of cards tucked away, but I don’t often pull them out. As well, they were on the far side of the country, but here was this single card, addressed to me and the verse inside was all I needed to be reminded my angels are always with me:
You’re a thoughtful daughter, who’s busy every day,
With people who depend on you and many roles to play,
But even so you find the time for friends and family
Giving them the best you can with warmth and honesty.
That’s why it brings more loving pride, than these few words can tell
To see you do so much in life, and do it all so well.
Lots of Love, Dad and Mom
It was a reminder that all is well. For whatever I give to keep living the roles I have, there is always more received in return. So here were a few of my biggest takeaways:
At the end I was full and depleted at the same time. Exhausted and exhilarated simultaneously. So glad I’d made the decision to go and do this, for whatever reasons I give myself to justify my choices.
And when one person commented that they were so happy that I continued to talk and share about that journey, I heard my self say…”It’s part of my life’s mission.” And it is. I wasn’t gifted with all this learning and wisdom not to pass it on in ways that work. I’m grateful I was encouraged to do so. I’m grateful I am physically and financially able to. I’m grateful to all that allowed me to share over those days. When it comes down to it, I’m just grateful.
Life is a beautiful circle of having the heartbreak turn into such incredible blessings. To live through the dark and to be able to see the brilliance of the light that is today.
Until next time,
A couple of years ago, while I still lived in Manitoba and was still the Senior Coordinator for Innovative Life Options (LIFE Inc), I was involved in what we lovingly called the ‘Kitchen Table
Talks’. The project was created to bring families who had a child living with a disability and who were not yet being provided services in the adult world together for open, engaging conversation. Our hope was that we could garner some wisdom from these families as to how things were working, what they were most proud of, what would be most helpful and what ideas they had for their son or daughter’s future.
We learned, more deeply, what we already knew. Families are amazing! They are strong, resilient, innovative and are hungry for information that will make their child’s life as full, inclusive and meaningful as each of our own lives strive to be. By keeping our conversations on the 'Appreciative Inquiry' stream, whereby we focused on what had gone well that we could build upon, rather than things that were not, we were able to garner a glimpse of the amazing things that families have done to provide the best they can for the children they so dearly love, whether their child is a youth, or an adult.
We realized much of what the families most wanted to know more about were things that could best be answered by other families who had walked this path. To build upon the wonderful initiative started, it was decided the next step would be to gather some of those answers, and I had the great privilege of being chosen to move the project forward.
It was decided that the best way to do that would be to compile a book through interviewing families using the questions that had arisen in the Talks. I sent out a call to the families I knew that were involved with ‘In the Company of Friends’, Manitoba’s self-directed, independent living model for adults with developmental disabilities. Ten families came forward to share their stories, and ‘Family Matters’ was born.
It was wonderful to spend the time in deep, connected conversation with the amazing people that participated. Many of them had been as much a support to me when I was raising Shane as I ever was to them in my working role. They shared, inspired, laughed and often cried, as they recounted the joys and the challenges of the lives we come to know on the unexpected roads of the world of disabilities. It was humbling to be given that intimate glimpse into each of their lives, and to be given their trust and faith that their story would be shared with dignity and respect, so that those who might benefit from their wisdom would.
So now the project is completed. ‘Family Matters’ has been published and shares these stories through the voices of the families that have lived the experience. These stories talk about inclusion, support networks, relationship development, the education system and of the many incredible steps that each family took to make sure that what their child needed to be a part of their community was put in place.
The book, ‘Family Matters’ is now available on Amazon, in both hard copy and on Kindle. At only 140 pages, it’s an easy, informative read where it can be picked up and explored one chapter/one unique story at a time.
It was the hope of every parent that participated and myself that in sharing our journeys, another parent raising a child with different, special needs, might feel a little less alone as they journey through life. Our hope was that something that we learned, some pearl of insight or achieved wisdom might take some of the bumps out of the road for another.
Parents are truly the greatest experts when it comes to what is needed and what is possible for their child. Parents also have to appreciate and then build upon the efforts and the work of the ones that came before, so that we can keep moving our world forward into one that is more inclusive, accepting and accessible for all persons, with and without disabilities. Family matters provides some of the history and structure that was laid as foundation of the work for the building that needs to continue. Maybe that work can be achieved a little more quickly and a little more easily, by sharing our lessons and learning, so that previously invented wheels might not have to be recreated.
Thanks to all that contributed. Thanks also for taking the time to read this. Please share this information as far and wide as you can, so that all parents who might benefit from the opportunity to access and read these stories, will know that they are there waiting for them!
5 out of 5 stars: A MUST READ!!!!
ByAmazon Customer on August 20, 2017
This book is a very touching book with many stories. Everybody should read it! Teachers and families that have a challenged child in their family should definitely read it! Helps to give you support you need!
4 out of 5 stars: Great work!
ByAmazon Customer on August 3, 2017
ICOF is a new concept for me, but I'm already a huge fan. Great work!
5.0 out of 5 stars Overcoming obstacles and ignorance to lead normal fulfilling lives is at the heart of this amazing read. Lynda is extraordinary writer who tells her ...
Bydixietomchukon September 11, 2017
An interesting and honest review of the lives of families living with a child with special needs. Overcoming obstacles and ignorance to lead normal fulfilling lives is at the heart of this amazing read . Lynda is extraordinary writer who tells her story and that of others in an open and honest way . There is help and resources available which is pointed out throughout the book. I love how the stories are told by answering 18 thought provoking questions.
Started the day with a morning tour of the Florence Museum. I am so glad that we did! There we had the chance to see some of the most amazing work of Michelangelo. His David was there, as well as a collection known as 'the prisoners', which were a series of sculptures he was working on that had been commissioned by the Pope of the time. When the commission was cancelled, Michelangelo stopped his work on them and never picked it up again, so the series was never completed, but was truly remarkable! To be able to see the rough, unfinished markings on the stone from which the art was being extracted was amazing.
Our tour guide, Giovanni, continued with us and showed us the Cathedral, the squares, the statues and the political center. We eventually ended up at the square of the church where Michelangelo and Leonardo DiVinci are laid to rest. I believe it was called Basilica of Santa Croce. although I am not 100% certain, and in looking it up, I read DiVinci was laid to rest elsewhere, so I may have misunderstood. Doesn't matter, it was all breath-taking!
After an hour of lunch and shopping, and a lot of rain...but it was time to head to Pisa. The ride was about an hour long, and as we arrived there, the rain started to let up a bit. We were told we'd be taking a train from the bus parking lot to the town center, and when we arrived a little 'MacDonalds' train was waiting for us. It was quite cute, and good for a laugh.
Pisa was remarkable. The tower was what took us there, but the entire center was amazing from the Baptismal, to the Cathedral and finally the tower. It was the first place where we were able to take pictures of the entire inside of the buildings, so it was great to be able to capture some of what we've been able to see and not record before. We had about an hour during which time we found some more wine corks for our collection, met a peddlar from Kenya who gave me a coral turtle for some reason, which is beautiful, but I don't really understand the reason for. Maybe he just recognized me as being from Turtle Island.
We ran into Betty Ann and Mike from Niagara Falls, and had a drink with them. Great people, and a great opportunity to get to know them just a little bit better.
When we returned to the hotel, prior to dinner, we went down for a drink and got the names of all the people that we've been chatting to but haven't met before. Paul, Di, Elly, Debbie, Sara, Kate, Sally, Lee....all from Australia or New Zealand. Very cool! Very friendly, and very welcoming!
Dinner was good again, not as good as the night before I don't think. We started with lasagna, followed by a main course of potato, spinach and I think pork. For dessert we got a bowl of fruit to share amongst our group of six. That was different! We finished our dinner and headed up to our room, both very tired. It can be exhausting living your dream while wide awake! At the end of most days, I can hardly even believe that we are here still, and seeing all that we're seeing!
I have had time to do a lot of thinking and planning here, and focusing on my own passions, developing ideas in my head to keep moving them along...knowing full well that is not up to me, but I can still do all I can do for my part.
With every sweet-spot exercise I have done while working with Mark McGregor , my sweet-spot always comes back to travel and writing...travel-writer. So I have begun to ask myself why I am not doing that right now? I travel, I take the pictures that capture my eye, I see places others too must long to see...so my responsibility is to just do what I dream to do, and the rest will unfold as it should. Thus this blog began, and will continue long after I return home. I have thousands of pictures from trips I have taken, places I've been, that all fall into my passions...now I must take the necessary action.
It's up to each of us to take the steps that our intuition tells us we must take to move closer to our dreams. That is why we have that extra sense tugging at our hearts. Thus, I must follow mine. If I do not, I am a fraud, and should not be doing the work I aspire to do. I must live that, not just recommend it to those I support.
After a quiet afternoon we headed into town for a bottle of wine for our sunset routine, and a tomato to finish of the other food we have here at the apartment before we headed to Brindisi, and on to Rome the next day. We got back in time to head down to the beach with wine and chips...a very healthy appetizer, and watched an uneventful sunset. The sunrises are the eye catcher on this side of the country, but the routine of going to the water to check out the sunset is still a nice way to end the day.
As a Passion Test Facilitator, I have been bugging Cecil for days to start thinking about his own passions, so last night on the beach, I started asking him the "when my life is ideal I am" questions.
It was a slow process, but he eventually came up with 10, then I took him through the system that narrowed it down to 5 and recorded them. It was hard for him to do, as his head kept telling him what he thought he should say, but I kept pushing him to respond to what his heart desired. when it was all said and done, he actually did feel good about the top 5, and saw how the others could be worked in as markers. Whether he gets to the point of doing his markers or not is yet to be seen, we'll push more on that when we have a pen and paper and not just my iphone, but it was a good start. It was good also that his passions ended up being quite in line with my own. A few variations, but for the most part, pretty darn close. Close enough, I know that we can both pursue what we are most passionate about and still live our lives in harmony together.
It's amazing how time gets lost when there are no firm commitments to honor, but we are still bad at just going with the flow. So many years of total structure and ensuring that all the little pieces that had to be in place day in and day out were. Wish I was better at letting that go, as we spent the morning figuring out what to do when. I guess it's the only way that we can ensure that each of our hopes and wishes are being met, one way or another. My working towards learning to be more care-free continues to be a work in progress.
At 10ish we headed down to the beach. I worked away at reading the rest of my book, Cec went for a long swim. I should have joined him, but the lack of hot water in our apartment was a hindrance. Salt in my hair meant a cold shower....when the breeze is cool, it dissuades you from wanting to endure that. After a couple of hours, we made our way back down the beach to the little stand that we ate at two days ago, but much to Cecil's disappointment, they were out of salmon, and instead he ended up with a panini that was filled with a version of pastrami.
That afternoon I actually finished my book and realized it is likely the first book that I have read that is just pure pleasure and fiction in years. I am always busying my time with books on wellness, spirituality, self-help, coaching, leadership.... all of which I enjoy immensely, but none that are purely just for the quiet enjoyment that I got from this one. I loved the opportunity to give myself the gift of getting lost in a good read, realizing it's been way too long. Then I have to ask myself why?
We headed over to Alimini 1 at 2pm, hoping to catch the shop that is supposed to be there before the siesta break...again, no luck. I am not really sure the shop ever really opens. It is so bizarre to us as Canadians, to imagine that as we enjoy day after day of +26 weather, they have all but closed down around here because the season is over! There were only a handful of us at the huge resort. The pool was warm and beautiful, and we'd seen it being cleaned, but it was closed to us as well. Still, I kept telling myself, "I am here, it's southern Italy, and how lucky I am." With an open mind and heart, all is well.
After two weeks in Europe, I had to admit that I was missing home just a little. The family, my king size bed, my familiarity. Although I didn't feel I was in a rush to get home, I didn't feel bad about my vacation coming to an end either. I think that makes me one of the very lucky ones.
As the sun peaked in through the slats of the doorway, it was pretty clear we'd missed sunrise. The alarm was set, but the volume on my cell was turned all the way off so we missed hearing it, which was really disappointing as we really wanted to go catch it. Tomorrow.
After coffee and figuring out the hot water (everything is different it seems), we headed over to the beach for the morning. The first hour or so was very relaxing. The wind was brisk, but the weather was +25, so it still felt warm. I stayed on a chair and enjoyed my book while Cecil went out and wrestled with the waves for the early part of the day.
It wasn't long before the privacy and enjoyment of the surf was interrupted by the men who paced the beach selling their wares. I got bamboozled into buying 5 bracelets and a ring before the morning was up, and although I made the final decision to purchase, I'm a little miffed at the constant intrusion of privacy that led up to that. Tomorrow I will be tougher. We stayed on the beach until noon, then headed back to our apartment to dress for lunch, thinking we'd go to Alimini 1, where they have a restaurant. When we found that it was closed, we decided to carry on to the Universal restaurant down the road instead.
At first we could find no one there that spoke any English, so we wrestled with our translation book until we could figure out what to eat. I must have done something right, as I had the best meal I've had since arriving!
After lunch, we continued our search for a mini mart to buy a few groceries. Otranto was completely shut down as was Maglie, so we finally ended up finding a mall in Lecce that was open. Not only did we find beer, wine and groceries, I also found a camera connector for the ipad, which left me very excited to look at some of the pics I'd taken!
We left the mall thinking it would be a fairly easy drive home, but somehow we were confused about where exactly we'd ended up, and when we finally arrived back at home it was almost 7pm, actually coming back into Otranto from the south of all things! Even with the GPS we were confused! As we finally arrived in Otranto it was obvious there was something exciting happening in town but we were too tired to explore it.
We made our way home for a dinner of dried bread and cheese, took a couple of shots of the sunset, and settled into the apartment with our wine and beer to relax for the evening and get over the busy traveling day.
Upon reaching Maratea, we grabbed the chance to go back to Rossofermo Wine Bar, the little side street wine cafe, for another taste of last night's Chardonnay as well as the gourmet beer that Cecil enjoyed so much with Keith. We decided to have our supper there, a selection of chewy salamis (which was really various dried meats, bacon and veal) with cheese, and a Capri salad. The meal wasn't our the best, but the location, ambiance and company was unsurpassed.
Sitting there, we both felt that we were sitting in a movie production of our life's most amazing moments, perched on the little red pillows, with the shaky wooden tables before us. Spending time talking with Grandpa Banana, who is a musician who has committed himself to returning to Italy twice a year, for the rest of his life and learning all he needs to to be able to do that. He has also played at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, so he was certainly familiar with our corner of the world! He and his wife were from San Fransisco.
Looking up the stairs that led to only imagined possibilities, then down the streets to the colorful rows of Italian dreams, all was perfect.
Before leaving town we found the perfect beach towels that would serve both our hopes for more hours enjoying sand and sun, as well as something that will always take us back to this place....and a couple of lovely, Italian cotton tunics that put my spirit right back in the center of Maratea every time I put them on. Great way to end a very busy and eventful day...that neither of us will ever forget!
The icing on the cake, was the full Italian moon shining down on us as we returned to our lodging. The makings of one perfect memory!
After a good nights sleep, a 9am rise. In our shopping the night before, I thought I had bought vanilla yogurt for breakfast, but turns out to be vanilla pudding. Definitely should have learned more Italian, but a tasty start to the day. As we enjoyed the morning sun with olives, cheese and coffee on the patio,Cec noticed a little collection of lizards of some sort that seem to reside in the plant boxes on the patio. Not exactly sure what they were called, but they sure move in a hurry. If he hadn't noticed them before I did, I sure they'd have given me a heart attack!
Before 10am it was already very, very hot out. I didn't expect such heat...now looking back, I wonder to myself what is was that I did expect!
Our Sunday was a lazy day. We headed down to the travel booth about 11 and found a couple of options of tours to take, as well as possible options for a rental car that would get us to Otranto the following week.
After figuring out a few things, we grabbed a couple of bottles of water, and planned to go to the beach. Beer in the Resort mini-mart is 80cents, suntan lotion is 13.00 euros...so not everything is reasonable!
We took our expensive lotion and our water and headed to the bus stop to wait for the bus that takes you down to the beaches. After sitting on the benches for about 15 minutes, we got thinking that it was time for the drivers' lunch break, so we walked back to our apartment for lunch...and to look at the schedule that informed us that the lunch break doesn't happen until well after 1, so after gobbling down our olives and cheese we headed back to the bus stop.
We caught the 12:30 that took us down the windiest, steepest trail I have ever ridden on. The view was amazing, but the look over the edge of the road a little unnerving! The first stop at the bottom, the man seated across from us got up and off the bus, so I jumped up and followed, Cec jumped up and followed me... unfortunately, we were not at the beach, as we were the only two that jumped off at the little bar/restaurant that the two trails leading up from the beach meet at. So, what else, but to have a beer, and an ice cappuccino and wait for the next bus.
When it came, we hopped on, only to find out it went about 20 feet then turned around and headed back up the hill to the resort, so I guess were were very close to where we needed to be, but just didn't know it. We decided to wait until the next day to venture down again.
After returning, we had a couple of drinks at the bar then we headed up to the room for a siesta, that lasted almost 3 hours. I can't believe how tired we were, in the afternoon heat it seemed like the sensible thing to do. That evening we made our way back down to the main reception area to do a little more research on getting a cab to take us into town to do some exploring. Waiting for the restaurant to open, we had a great, and very interesting conversation with a couple from Sidney Australia. They have travelled to Italy 3 times now, and had lots of good information on Venice for when we hit there. They had a rental and had done more exploring than us, but seemed as nervous of the other drivers as we were after yesterday's experience! However they confirmed for us that it's possible. We'll see.
There was some relief provided in the conversation as they did confirm for us though that we're not the only ones that found having to make our beds a little strange, as well as having to phone the front desk to find out where the cutlery was hidden. No one ever thought that kitchen tools would be stored in the bottom of the fridge I guess!
Throughout dinner we were entertained by a young woman who sang just beautifully. Although it was close to the end of the tourist season there, there were still lots of activities going on for visitors. In the morning there was water aerobics going on in the pool, the afternoon offered dance lessons by the restaurant, and in the evening plays and activities going on down in the amphitheater.
My only wish was that I'd thought a little more about what the weather would be like, so I'd have been better prepared...for some reason I didn't take any of my sundresses, and very few cool clothes...not sure what I thought the weather might be like...but never thought it would be as warm as it was. But it's all good!
Welcome to My Passionate Life!
The Passion Test supports you to live your life more passionately, creating the life you dream of, doing the things you love!