Archive for the ‘from the heart’ Category

friendships between women

One of my peers posted this article on Facebook a few weeks back: “True friendship between women is real, it is love”. It is a story about one woman’s realization of the power and significance of her relationships with her female friends. In her travels from Geneva to Santa Fe, the author discovers and reflects on the ways that women support one another through the trials and tribulations of life. Here are a few of my favourite exerpts:

“Here’s the truth: friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, “bonus” relationships to the truly important ones. Women’s friendships outlast jobs, parents, husbands, boyfriends, lovers and sometimes children.

This was a snapshot of what my own deep friendships could lead to: transformation. I saw, on that afternoon, that it’s possible to transcend the limits of your skin in a friendship. That a friend can take you out of the boxes you’ve made for yourself and burn them up. This kind of friendship is not a frivolous connection, a supplementary relationship to the ones we’re taught and told are primary — spouses, children, parents. It is love.

Support, salvation, transformation, life: this is what women give to one another when they are true friends, soul friends, what the Irish call anam cara. It’s what the Wrinklies did for one another, what the French resistance fighters in Auschwitz did for one another, what women do for one another in real relationships with real consequences in real time, every day, what my friends do for me.”

We help one another other live and sometimes, we watch — and help — one another die. It happens in movies, sure, but it also happens every day, in real life — now, tomorrow, yesterday. It is transformative and transcendent. It is real. It is love.

And I agree entirely with what Emily Rapp has written, for I too have found that it is in my friendships with women that I have found lifelong friends, support persons, listening ears and crying shoulders asking nothing in return, and love. Especially being out on this remote island, I have noticed the importance of my friends back home, as well as forming new friendships with women out here. The women in my life back home remind me of who I am, where I come from, and they provide me with a strength to continue doing my work, fighting the good fight, reaching my potential and living my dreams. The women I’ve met here in my new surroundings inspire me to push further, to go that extra mile, that it is okay to step outside of my boundaries and safety zone, and they provide me with amazing support and compassion. What is all this if not love?

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As Carly Weeks of the Globe and Mail stated: “Jack Layton didn’t lose a fight: He died of cancer”. It was us, Canadian citizens, who lost. We lost a great leader, a man of values and dreams, a dedicated and beloved politician, an iconic moustache.

After hearing the news that Jack Layton had died this morning, I felt a great sadness, which actually then led to feeling kind of angry. I felt angry with Canadians for not catching ‘orange-fever’ earlier, giving Jack a better chance at leading the NDP party into power. I felt angry that so many people continue to die from cancer, from other diseases, from poverty, from abuse. I was tempted to blog in this fashion, letting my outrage pour onto the screen.

But later in the evening, a vlog post by a good friend of mine put this situation into a bit of perspective for me.  Though the context was slightly different, the message was clear: while I could write something angry, I should focus instead on the courage, love, and inspiration Jack brought out in all of us. Love and hope, not hate or distress. Thanks Tom!

It was truly beautiful and bittersweet to see the response of Canadians to the loss of Jack Layton:

The letter Jack Layton wrote to Canadians was direct, optimistic, moving, and ridiculously beautiful. Read it if you haven’t done so already. In particular, the section dedicated to young Canadians was incredible, and really spoke to me:

“To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.”

Mr Layton, you were an inspiring leader for my generation, and you will be missed. Thank you for reminding us that change is possible.

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I recently watched the documentary How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter Richardson.

I don’t think that I have ever cried so much watching a film as I did in this one.

“In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. As a result, any individual whom two physicians diagnose as having less than six months to live can lawfully request a fatal dose of barbiturate to end his or her life. Since 1994, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In How to Die in Oregon, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether – and when – to end their lives by lethal overdose. Richardson examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. What emerges is a life-affirming, staggeringly powerful portrait of what it means to die with dignity.”

It is very emotional and really pulls at your heartstrings. I mean, the main character in this film, Cody, is a 53-year-old-woman, who says goodbye to her family, and it is ALL caught on film. Right down to the very end. The very end. It is actually quite beautiful (and obviously ridiculously sad). The scene is a good 5 minutes or so, filmed outside the house, angled at Cody’s bedroom window with the curtains drawn. It is evening, and the light emanating from her window is very soft and inviting. We hear very faintly what is being said inside the bedroom: the goodbyes, the love, the last few breathes. I had goosebumps watching it.

I couldn’t help but wonder if my grandfather would have wanted to access his right to physician-assisted suicide, if it had been legal in Canada.

Assisted suicide is illegal in Canada, though I feel that within the next decade, it will likely be challenged so many times that eventually this will change. In 1992, Sue Rodriguez challenged the Supreme Court on this law, as she suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and wanted to end her life with dignity. She stated to the Court: “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” And its true, is it not? Why do we need permission from the State to take our own life?

Check out the trailer for How to Die in Oregon.

This interview with the director is also really interesting.

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Saturday January 29th 2011 was the Manulife Walk for Memories in Toronto. This walk is held annually to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. The Alzeimer Society seeks to alleviate the personal and social consequences of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and to promote research in the field. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dimentia that is incurable, degenerative, and ultimately terminal. Therefore, research is of the utmost importance.

The Walk for Memories drew in about 1200 walkers: families, friends, volunteers, and even a few politicians, like Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford, as well as liberals Donna Cansfield and Michael Ignatieff. In total, the 2011 Walk raised an incredible $592,000! My family fundraised $2165 of that total, which I am so very proud of!

The event was well organized, created a lot of energy in the crowd, and was very touching and sentimental as well. The Wall of Memories allowed walkers to post pictures of, comments to, and stories about loved ones who had passed away from Alzheimers disease. It was a lovely way to honour and remember those who we have lost.



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Love always, Jim

It is a long-standing tradition for my Mum, Grandma, and Aunt, to write one another poems for their wedding anniversaries. Without a doubt, they have touched on every topic you could imagine, from being the ultimate animal-lover, to aging and deafness, to the sillyness and joy in raising children and of course the always popular and fun toilet or dirty humour.

They’ve written some truly great poems over the years, but this one is particularly touching. My Mum just wrote this one for my grandparents would-be 55th wedding anniversary, and I asked her if I could share it here on my blog. Here it is:

Dear Betty,

Pity we fell short of 55 years,
Sorry my death brought forth your tears.
Remember the good times and the bad,
It gives balance to the years we had.

Look out for the kids like we always did,
No matter how old; to us they’re still kids.
Watch the grandkids mature and find their way,
You’ve lots of love and wisdom to send and say.

I’ve always loved you; I know you knew,
Even when disease kept me from telling you.
One day, God willing, we’ll be together, a pair.
Til then, my love, keep strong, live well and don’t despair.

Love always,

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A great man lost

Dear Grampy,

You left us yesterday. Rather, your body finally gave way to the ailments you had been struggling with for some time now. Because the Grampy I knew and loved had actually been missing for some time. The problem with Alzheimer’s is that I can’t pin-point the moment that you had forgotten me, the moment that you no longer understood you were a beloved grandfather. I’ve gotta say that Alzheimer’s disease is a real motherfucker. Although it left your body with us, your mind and spirit were gone.

But we are left with memories of you and your life. Both good and bad ones. But mostly good ones. Reminicing last night and today with mum&dad and Grammy, I learned a few stories I hadn’t heard before. Like how it is that your two daughters are so easily able to get in touch with their foul-mouthed-selves. In your younger days, you were a pro at firing off curse words to your fellow drivers. So pro in fact, that your little girl Nancy, exclaimed quite proudly during one of many car trips: “Jesus Christ Dad, 3 buses!” I heard about your adventures in plumbing, where every other word was ‘fuck’ or ‘goddamn’. Oh, and the time that you caught the biggest fish ever, and after having Nancy snap several picture of you with your glorious catch, discovered a few days later there was in fact no film in the camera. Oh the times you had!

And what about my memories? I will always remember you as a giant. I looked up to you both physically, and as a role model. You embodied so many admirable qualities: you worked hard to support and care for your family, you cherished the times spent with family and friends, you never took life too seriously, and you made your voice and opinions heard. You always told me to pursue my dreams, it was important not to lose sight of what you wanted to get out of life. You taught me to drive. Your booming laugh was always so contagious. And we could always, always count on our favourite lines at family gatherings: you calling Grammy, “little girl”; always asking “Is it free?” when invited for dinner or offered desserts; and asking me if I was being good and staying out of trouble. Let’s not forget about those phonecalls that would start with “Hi Rach, it’s your stupid grandfather calling for more computer help”. All these memories and words I will hold with me.

This week was difficult. It was emotionally draining and physically exhausting. I had tried to get myself to start my yoga this week, but every morning I woke up I could not for the life of me motivate myself to go. Until this morning, after you were gone. Truthfully, I think I was scared to leave the house and miss the call. And so when I finally made it to hot yoga, it was a cathartic experience for sure. I found myself crying a little during a couple postures and knew my body was releasing the grief and the tension I had been holding in all week. Grief and tension that me and my family had all been feeling.

You are gone now, and it’s still hard to grasp. I feel as though I am still waiting to see you walk through the front door with your bright red coat, and your big grin. Family get-togethers will not be the same without you. But rest assured, your memory will live on when we talk about you, and use your classic one-liners.

Love you Gramps,


Jim Driscoll, May 30 1931 - January 6 2011

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