Desperately Seeking…W.I.S.E. Project 2017/Tenacious Tuesday

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I heard an interesting phrase this weekend, “What you are seeking is seeking you!”

It is interesting on so many levels. Saturday night I was seeking low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt mixed with strawberries and shredded coconut and a couple of blocks away at Marble Slab Creamery there was a tall, disinterested teenage boy waiting to scoop and mix  yogurt and “fixins” in his sluggish and non-hurried manner. In a way, what I was seeking in that moment was also lazily seeking me.

A better example might be the night that I had just finished Deepak Chopra’s Quantum Healing on Audible and came across an advertisement on Facebook for an Evening with Deepak close by. He was the speaking guest for Edmonton’s Autism Services this year and they were seeking to fill all the seats to raise money for their charity and clearly, I was seeking wisdom and enlightenment. What I was seeking was also seeking me.

Moments like this happen all the time, sometimes they speak very loudly in the form of a 35% off coupon for your favorite online shop while you are late night internet surfing, but often they are subtle and you need to follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

Sometimes we are heartbroken about community or Global issues and struggles and seeking answers to make sense in times of despair and uncertainty. Those same issues are seeking someone like us to be a part of the conversation, to advocate for a group or cause or to play a role in positive change.

We talk a lot about change and how badly it is needed but we fail to see that we are being sought daily. Collectively we can speak up, support, educate, make a lot of noise and help break the unrelenting cycles such as abuse, violence and sexual assault that can lead to the endless pain and stigma surrounding mental health and trauma.

When author and activist Glennon Melton Doyle started the Compassion Collective in response the Syrian Refugee crisis she wrote a simple but touching narrative that merely stated, “There is no such thing as other people’s children. The idea that we can see people in pain, and just look away and not be affected by it, to keep telling ourselves that our silence will not hurt us; is easily one of the biggest lies we will ever tell ourselves.

Friday night I was dropping my daughter off to be with her friends and there were several cop cars and media parked at the Good Shepherd Church next door in our Edmonton community. Forensics was on sight and I knew immediately that something incredibly horrible had happened. I slowed my truck to a crawl and I saw a man carrying a white sheet. I pulled into a parking lot up the road and dug out my cell phone and learned that it was the body of a toddler and that the police were investigating a suspicious death. I was shaken.

Police did not know who the child was and reached out to the public to assist in identifying the child through his clothing. At that point details were very sketchy but this child automatically became the child of the community. There were no such thing as other people’s children, this baby, belonged to all of us as the hours ticked away.

As I lay awake in the still of the night refreshing my internet browser and trying to make sense of a poorly detailed story, my heart ached for the unnamed baby.

An excerpt from my Facebook post on the weekend summed up my feelings well.

“Even in those quiet moments in the middle of the night when the neighborhood is still I couldn’t shake off the extreme heaviness that had fallen across me and wrapped around me like a blanket. I do not know the beautiful soul that met such a terrible fate, I do not know his family or their circumstances, but somehow, he is not just a child of the world, he is every child. He is my child!”

That heaviness continued throughout the weekend as arrests were made in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Rain; and accounts of his horrific last days and the abuse he suffered that ultimately led to his death were revealed. The Edmonton Police said the young boy lived a terrible life of violence. His father and his father’s girlfriend have been charged with second degree murder, failing to provide the necessities of life, criminal negligence causing death and the father has also been charged with assault causing bodily harm. Social media played a large role in the arrest of the accused but whether Anthony will get justice remains to be seen.

On Saturday morning, I had felt unusually connected to this case, I felt like there was a reason that I was there at the exact moment that the lifeless body of young Anthony was being removed. At that point, he remained unnamed and I felt that I was needed in some way. A lot of community members felt that same need, that something drew them to the church yard to be there for the nameless child they felt an un-explainable obligation to. This baby that laid in the cold since early Tuesday, before being discovered by a passerby on Friday. He was strangely unaccounted for and not reported missing during that time.

Sadness, disbelief and heartbreak will surround this case for a while and then sadly as new events emerge that require our attention the memory of little Anthony will begin to fade from our incessant thought.

Unfortunately, there will be other tragedies, other lives lost, other grieving families struggling to find answers while members of the community mourn the losses of people they never met. The perpetual wheel of misfortune will continue to spin.

The last couple of days when I was glued to the computer seeking answers to the myriad of questions that arose surrounding the tragic death of little Anthony Rain, I thought what if this is one of those times that what I am seeking is also seeking me?

I visited his memorial at the church twice, left flowers, placed a teddy bear, said prayers, shared social media posts, but what if I was called upon to do something more? Certainly little Anthony deserves more than a snowy memorial of toys and flowers and Facebook condolences. His life mattered, yet somehow he was failed. What would it take to write myself into this story, and to help affect change so that another young mother doesn’t receive that dreaded knock on her door in the dark of night?

I don’t have any answers; but every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story of Anthony’s life ended in unimaginable tragedy but maybe the story of how his young life impacted others and influenced change is just at the beginning and maybe my community that adopted him as their own, can help tell it.

I wrote a letter to Mayor Don Iveson this morning and I am hoping that the anger and sadness that we are all feeling can in some way be redirected to help create change in our communities.

Are you actively passionate about a cause at the moment?

Do you feel drawn towards a global or community issues that break your heart?

How do you write yourself into the stories that are close to your heart and help affect positive change?

 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. SeussThe Lorax

 

Where do I belong? W.I.S.E. Project 2016- Journal Notes

“Love the one you’re with”

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Photo Credit to: canadaclass10.wordpress.com

In 2008 we headed West, packing our lives into a U-haul, our hearts overflowing with memories, leaving behind the only home and lives our kids had ever known. After spending our growing up years and the early years of our marriage on the East Coast surrounded by family and friends I am surprised at how deeply and quickly our roots sunk in here. My husband and I credit our jobs and a few close friends for firmly rooting us in this Western life but for our children it is their home, their friends that have become family, their sense of community and the opportunities they have been afforded to do the things they are passionate about.

 

It was the summer of 2008 when we arrived at our new home in Alberta and because we had a good reason for being here it began to feel like home remarkably quickly. As a family we had been apart for eight months while my husband worked in the Alberta Oil Sands so geography seemed like a reasonable thing to try to overcome to be able to be together as a family as much as possible. But even so, the sense of belonging to a place, the feeling that where we are is where we were meant to be, still depends just as much — if not more — on our attitude about the place as it does on the place itself.

Edmonton is not my home in the sense of heart and family. I am proud to have been born and raised in the fair province of Nova Scotia. I love the ocean and will always be captivated by salty air and crashing waves. Lakes, long coastlines, beaches and sand between my toes. I love my family and nothing can replace seeing them as I often as I would like but the thing about being from a family as close as mine is the security in knowing that you are only a thought away. I credit being close to my family as the reason I was able to move across Canada and create a life. When everyone else was full of warnings about everything I would hate in Alberta it was my family that said to me that they knew that I was strong enough to assemble a life anywhere.  They would miss us at the family gatherings along the shore, for every imagined reason we could think of to get together and eat good food and tell tales but I would be in their hearts, on their minds and definitely on the tips of their tongues because with family, no matter where you go you never get left behind. There is an inclusion that happens within a family like mine that cannot be touched by time or distance. Instead of making it harder to leave, this made it easier really, knowing that they wished us well and had nothing but good thoughts and high hopes for our journey ahead. The vastness of the land between us would never sever our bonds.

That all being said eight years have come and gone since we landed in Alberta. I remember like it was yesterday how my husband whisked us off to Jasper immediately because he knew I would be enamored with the mountains and it would alleviate the heaviness in my heart. I was awestruck by the majestic Rocky Mountains, standing proud and tall and on guard, touching the sky with their monumental peaks and reminding me just how small we are in this great big, phenomenal world. Lakes of Caribbean blue that mirrored the lofty, snow capped summits made my heart ache for my ocean playground a little less. Like a John Green novel, slowly at first and then quickly all at once I fell in love.

There was a moment last summer that my husband and I decided it was time to move home to Nova Scotia. We want to be close to family and lead a simple life, watch our grandkids grow up. We were very excited and started planning a timeline and telling family, trying to convince the girls.

As it often does, life happened and almost another year has passed since making that decision. The bottom fell out of the Oil Sands and financially took a lot of our immediate choices away. The timing wasn’t right when things were good and it is even worse now when things are bad. Funny the wrenches that get thrown into your life, but I am a firm believer that there is a reason for everything that will reveal itself in time.

Looking back to last summer after we made the decision to move home we had taken a trip to our favorite spot in the East Kootenay’s along the shores of the Upper Arrow Lakes. It is our spot for calm and clarity, to unplug and unwind and remember the things that are really important. When I step onto the little ferry that takes us to Burton, British Columbia it strangely feels like coming home. I remember staring up at a starry sky over the lake and being overcome with emotion wondering how I could walk away and never see that place again. My husband took my hand and said “I get it”, knowingly; because his heart was ravaged as well.

 

Like a time aged tale of being torn between two lovers my heart is divided and may always be, no matter where our story leads us.

 

Unfortunately living your life and making a living sometimes pulls you in entirely different directions.

 

It reminds me of a saying,

“Wherever you go, there you’ll be”

 

Indeed here I am, and what am I to do but make the best of the story that I am in the middle of?

 

Another fitting quote if you will allow me,

“Wherever you are be the soul of that place”

 

I will be. I am committed to it.This place has been good to me and my family. The people have been warm and kind. The community has embraced us. We have had good times and great experiences. I know that it is not my forever but it is my right now. Like a line from the 1970 hit by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, “Love the one you’re with” 

Attitude is everything!

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