I have a motto, it is “You can’t do everything, but you can do something.”. I try hard to live my life by this motto, and I try hard to teach my kids to live their lives by it too.
But, I must say that twice this week I’ve been pretty upset by how I saw different people either talking about, or actually talking to homeless people. Both felt like the person should simply get a job and stop begging. One said so quite meanly directly to the person, the other said so out of hearing but to those around them. I will confess I didn’t say anything to the lady who tore a strip off of the young man today. However, I did stop and put my hand on his shoulder and tell him not to listen to her and I said a few kind and encouraging words. And no I didn’t give him money.
In theory, perhaps it is true that people should get a job and work for their own money. But in my opinion, it is a highly simplified response to a bigger issue. Is there mental illness involved, what are the surrounding circumstances, drug or alcohol or gambling addictions, etc. Not everyone is employable. And, honestly for a homeless person to find employment is even harder. They are often dirty and smelly and just don’t present themselves well. They need a shower and razor and good night’s sleep. Just to name a few. But even that is oversimplified. Yes, there are places out there where they can get these things, but that doesn’t mean that they feel like they can go there. Even more issues like pride and self esteem and so many more are involved.
My beef is with the attitude some people have towards those less fortunate than themselves. I don’t believe in enabling people, but rather giving them a hand up. Many times I’ve given groceries out of my shopping cart or snacks out of my car to those who are hungry. I’ve bought meals for homeless and my daughter and son have both bought coffees on numerous occasions for the homeless. I donate monthly to a local shelter that feeds and clothes and sleeps and educates and houses the homeless and helps them to find long term employment and housing and helps with addictions and mental health.
But I also believe that regardless of how a person got to the street or to the need they are experiencing, they are a person. They are a human being. They are a child of God. They are a son or daughter and sister or brother, a mother or father. There are people who love them. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They deserve to be looked in the eye and spoken to. They deserve to be touched, no matter how filthy or stinky they are. They deserve a hand on the shoulder. Human touch is so important to each of us. But imagine if because of your looks and smell no one looked at you or touched you, you became invisible – because invisible is easier to deal with than the dirty needy person in front of you…who must not want to work and would rather beg to get enough money to eat today.
So, I’m not saying that you need to give money to every or any homeless or needy person. I am saying you need to treat them as you want to be treated. Look them in the eyes and say a kind word. It will likely have them walking away a little bit taller. Dignity, respect, compassion. We all want it, so why don’t we start by giving these things away…I bet they will be returned to you multiplied many times over!
Ok, my second beef….
Where is general compassion these days? It seems like often instead of simply helping a person in need, we judge them. We decide that they can’t manage their money or they have an addiction or their need is all their own fault. This may all be true. But it doesn’t negate the immediate need. Yes, we have to be careful not to enable or encourage existing problems. But, sometimes or often, I think we use that excuse as a way to get out of helping at all.
And sometimes, the worst offenders are the ones who have received the most help. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut feeling sorry for ourselves. We think and want to believe that we are the worst person off. We convince ourselves that noone is helping us, so we certainly aren’t going to help anyone else. The reality is that by simply showing compassionate kindness to someone else we are helping ourselves. We are widening our world view. And we are removing ourselves from the center of our own universe. By showing compassionate kindness we are allowing ourselves to experience the gift of helping others. Our actions actually make us happier. They make us feel better. They also help us to see that there are others out there who are worse off than us. And they help us to start to open ourselves up so we can actually honestly see the blessings we DO have.
Life isn’t easy. We all have rough times and difficult things we face. But if we can manage to keep our humanity through it all, manage to see the little blessings in the often big mess…we will find we are happier and healthier.
It is a total myth that money brings happiness. Happiness comes to those who live their lives fully, despite their circumstances. It comes to those who treat others with compassion and respect and kindness. And it comes to those who look at their lives and are able to see the blessings, no matter how small.
So, are you living your life fully, showing compassion and respect and kindness to everyone around you, and counting your blessings no matter how small?
A few weeks ago one of Keilan’s science lessons was on the sewing machine. So, following his lesson I promised to teach him how to sew his own pillowcase.
The thing is…my sewing machine is a pain in my behind. I have to wiggle this and that and breathe a certain way and hope it will stitch properly for an entire seam. More often than not it doesn’t and it takes me messing with the bobbin assembly numerous times and taking the entire assembly apart to hope it will work again for a brief time.
I went to show kieran how to sew and I couldn’t even get a full short seam in. It was incredibly frustrating.
Finally after discussing it with Jason I decides I was going to replace my sewing machine. So I started looking on kijiji and checking out online reviews of the machines I found for sale.
The machine I ended up buying off off kijiji was a little more expensive than I’d planned to spend, but it was also WAY nicer and had way more features. It had great reviews, so we decided to buy it.
So, I made 4 throw blankets last night; 2 for the couches and 2 for the chairs. Then I cut the fabric for Keilan’s pillowcase.
Today Keilan and I sewed the pillowcase. We even did a decorative stitch along the edge. When I say “we” all I actually did was stand beside him and make sure he stitched straight.
Bedtime has always been a struggle for our youngest son. He hates it. He’s a natural night owl and can easily sleep until 11 am.
He needs his sleep. And definitely is better behaved with it.
The past couple of months we haven’t really been at all consistent with his bedtime or bedtime routine. With me out of commission and Jason doing everything and Keilan having no reason to be up in the morning anyways…well we just got out of routine completely.
Since I’ve started to regain my freedom and use of my right foot…I’ve determined to get this bedtime back on track.
So, I’ve started a new routine. It includes classical music and essential oils diffusing.
Bedtime is still a struggle, but it’s starting to get better….tonight for the first time in like ever, he didn’t say he was hungry when I said “bedtime”.
However, he did remind me turn on his music. And when his sister came to tell me he was playing with a flashlight in bed…well, first he said he was reading and that was school work so I had to let him do it. When I told him school was done for he day and he could do it in the morning…he said he needed his tablet to do french. When I repeated what I had just said…he told me that he was reading and it was the bible and that was something I wouldn’t ever tell him not to do so he was going to do it. Well, he is right. So I pretended to not hear him and walked away.
Frankly what do you say to that? He’s laying down listening to classical music. He’s not kicking his wall or banging it or telling us he’s not tired…his little stubborn disobedience might just do him some good…
Who am I kidding…this sucks! Being laid up for at least 8 weeks, well it sucks!
I, being the one who never let’s anything stop me…am stopped. I thought I had it all planned out. After all, I had 6 hours to sort out a plan.
What’s no weight bearing going to do to me! It won’t stop me. I won’t let it! That’s what I thought. And that’s what I planned. A couple days in bed and by the weekend I’d be up and about more or less like before.
Yep, my plan.
Totally not reality!
Reality was – I went to ER for the second time on Tuesday at 6:30. I was in surgery Wednesday at 7am and I was home Thursday at 1pm.
I was puking until Sunday afternoon and could barely hop with the walker to the bathroom, a few steps away from my bed. Monday I went out to an appointment and it took every bit of energy out of me. I’ve mostly laid in bed and watched tv or homeschooled Keilan. I’ve had several great friends come by to visit too. I went upstairs for the first time on Thursday last week. And the second time today.
Everything I do exhausts me. I’m totally not used to it and I absolutely hate being stuck in bed.
Today I put on my peg leg and went upstairs and tackled the kitchen and cleaned the bathroom and swept the floor. Seriously by the time I was done you’d have thought I’d just done a hour full on workout! Sweat pouring off of me! Ridiculous!
I’ve cleaned my bathroom and swept the basement and done some laundry. And now I’m totally regretting it! Of course my foot has swelled up a bit again, but that’ll come down after its been raised for awhile.
Today I’m sitting here in bed, once again…and I’m super grateful for all the friends who’ve brought us meals and come to visit and cleaned my house! I’m super grateful that I have a bathroom in my bedroom. And I’m grateful for the Red Cross and their lending program…I have a walker and toilet seat and shower stool and crutches for free from them. And I’m thankful for the iwalk 2000…my peg leg which gives me incredible freedom and maneuverability that the crutches and walker don’t do. I can’t do laundry or cleaning the bathroom with them. And I’m grateful for the knee scooter we found online and Jason drove across town to get for me so hopefully I can get keilan outside soon!
I’m super super grateful for my husband who has literally done everything. He has to do ALL the driving of all 5 kids. And he has to figure out the meals and try to keep the house presentable and fill in everywhere in all that I used to do and can’t right now. Jason’s been pretty amazing.
I thought I had this. I was totally wrong. But luckily for me…I have people around me who have really helped out!
And I can’t wait to get my energy back and this cast off and my freedom to drive and get bak to work!
Once again December 1 is sneaking up on us!
With my surgery last week it seems like I’ve literally lost a week!
As I lay in my bed, deciding what new revised birthday plans would be for my daughter’s 15th birthday tomorrow…I realized that I had not even started my kids’ advent calendars.
Every year, for I don’t even know how many, I write 25 notes to each of my children. I put one in each of the calendar boxes on their advent trucks. So, every day when the kids get a chocolate they also get a short personal note from me or Jason about what we see in them or what makes us proud of them or why we love them.
However, I have 5 kids. And this means I have 125 things to think of to say to my children. Honestly, it takes awhile to think of all of them.
And here I am now days away from December 1 and I haven’t even begun.
So, I did the only thing I could…I just started. Luckily I DO have a few days to finish up.
These 25 notes, I know, mean a lot to my kids. I find them in corners and piles and secret hiding places or treasure boxes. We don’t talk about the notes, but I know that they are important.
So, I best finish up this annual tradition of speaking truth and love to my kids.
Well, I started writing this blog several days ago. And as I sit here finishing this blog post I am happy to say that I just finished the 125 notes. It isn’t an easy task to write that many notes. But it is a worthwhile investment of my time into my incredibly amazing children’s lives!
So, once again in this advent season…the season of expectant waiting for the birth of Jesus…my children can feel loved and known and cherished and real as we await the celebration of the birth of the one who makes everything matter and puts everything into perspective.
Today marks my husband’s birthday. and today is the opportunity to celebrate the amazing man that he is!
I am blessed to call Jason husband and friend. my kids really blessed to call him Papa. He is an amazing man who does his best to put his family first and provide well for us.
He makes sacrifices for us every day. He drives Karyssa and Katarina to band early in the mornings. He drives Kieran to soccer at the oddest times. He picks Kieran up from work late at night. He helps the kids with their school projects. He gives generously of himself to all of us.
He takes the kids to their early morning dentist and orthodontist appointments.
Thank you for all you do Jason! Everyday you show us what love is through your actions! We love you very much and we all hope that this year will be your best year yet!
No doubt it will be full of more changes and beginnings and endings. in a few short months our oldest baby will graduate from high school! I can’t even believe it myself! Where has the time gone! Our children are growing up quickly before our eyes and I am so blessed to have spent the last 21 birthdays with you at my side and I am eagerly anticipating the next half a dozen decades with you!
We are he lucky ones…we fell in love young and are growing in love as we grow old! My love for you only grows every day!
Have the best birthday ever my love!
As a parent we are making hundreds of decisions for our children every single day. Decisions that we hope will help our children to become the adults we dream them to be.
As parents we try our best to model what we want our children to become. We try to instil values and morals in our children that we hope will become a deep part of our children and will be adopted by them as things they deeply value as adults.
As parents we are stuck in the little picture, even while trying our best to parent in the big picture. We are bombarded with little picture failure on a daily basis. And very rarely we see the big picture successes. In fact some of the little picture big failures are actually signs of big picture big successes. I see this frequently with our youngest son. And I find myself realizing that some of his failures today are really successes. His immense independence and amazing and creative problem solving that get him into trouble today… Are actually the exact values and traits I want him to have fully developed in the future. Perspective.
This year our oldest daughter moved to high school. She chose to attend a school downtown. So every single day she takes public transit through downtown.
Recently I became aware of something she has done and does do that gave me such pride in her. It came up in conversation that some mornings she sees a cold homeless person and offers to buy them coffee. She has do e this several times. Sometimes the person won’t even come inside the McDonald’s with her but wits outside. Sometimes they do come in. But she does this completely on her own. She doesn’t get an allowance or any money from us. It’s her babysitting money. It was a moment that I realized that despite all the parenting fails clearly here is a success. Perspective.
Last year I found out that our oldest son would sometimes purchase gift cards and give them to the homeless when he saw them. Something he did privately and also completely out of his own money he had worked for. Another parenting success.
So for all the parenting failures, keep perspective. It’s getting into their brains and is forming their character. And sometimes the little picture failures are really a part of the big successes you are striving so hard for.