Category Archives: Brain Droppings

My spot for useless ramblings and stuff like that. Just stuff that I can go on and on about without any filters.

Miles to Go… Promises to Keep

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

— James 5:12 NASB

It’s been a while since I have written anything down, whether it is in this blog, or song lyrics, or even a nice long email for that matter. Truth be told, this is the hardest thing in my life. The pain of losing Joelle is nothing short of waking up almost every morning to one more day of feeling my heart being torn to pieces as soon as I walk down the stairs not only to see that she is no longer here, but realizing that she will never be around physically, won’t be calling me, or won’t be leaving me any emails, or post-it notes on the door. This isn’t even the hard part. This has only been the first four months. In fact, these first six months may be easier to get through, than the next six months, when all of the birthdays, anniversaries, and even remembering all of the summers we would be spending together photographing countless weddings and spreading our own brand of craziness, happiness and love to the countless wedding couples we had the opportunity to meet.

So, in short, I have been battling not only emptiness and heartache, but also depression for the past while, and to be honest, the hardest battle with depression was not knowing that I was depressed until I sat down and read all of the symptoms and discovering that I had all but one – physical issues. The only reason I didn’t suffer any of the physical ailments was more due to one of the many promises that Joelle had me make to her before she died. Joelle knew that this was going to be the hardest thing for me and she wanted to make sure everything was going to be okay after she was gone. She also knew that I was always trying to be a person of integrity. As to how I am doing is up to God to judge. But one thing that she was certain was if I said that was going to do something, or not do it, then I work my hardest to keep my word, regardless of whether it was an vow, oath, promise, or a simple “yes” or “no”. Therefore, she knew that would I not only take my promises very seriously because if I broke them, anything else that comes out of my mouth would be worthless, but I would not want to ever break the heart of my best friend. Ever! And in her fragile state as she was, I would make them to give her the peace of knowing that every word I gave her, I would keep after she was gone. As well, I know that the weight of the promises that my kids made to Joelle are often more than they can handle. Therefore, as a dad and someone who has always been seen by others as leading by example (I am not making this up), I have to show them that I am keeping my promises, no matter how difficult it is. If anything, through the depression, and everything else, it has been these promises that were made that push me through. They’re more or less like my survival goals that I keep my eyes on to help me get through every day.

One of the promises that Joelle had to hear from me was that I would not turn to alcohol or drugs to solve my problems. I’ve sure that many of you are thinking, “he’s not an alcoholic” or the like. Truth is, and if you have read my testimony, I was a teenage alcoholic. I had used alcohol and drugs to try tro kill the pain of growing up with dealing with the death of my father and my mother re-marrying to a man that had absolutely no desire to be a dad to someone like me. It was hell. There was no pleasure in it. Just an escape from a painful reality. Joelle knew what I went through and she stuck with me, never giving up on me, and I haven’t abused alcohol or drugs since turning 20. Joelle knew just how hard it was at times for me to be strong when she was suffering with cancer as I would wind up breaking down right in front of her, having to apologize for the fact that I was often not as strong as we both hoped I would be. The good thing is that we would both pray together and she would pray for God to give me the strength I needed. So, I don’t blame her one bit for wanting the reassurance that the road we traveled together for 36 years would not see me winding up back in a bottle. Trust me, the temptation is great sometimes, but God has been greater.

Speaking about God, Joelle wanted to make sure that I would not turn away from God’s Word and made me promise that I would finish the Bible Study class that we started together. This one is harder than the alcohol promise because I will admit that I am very angry at God at the moment. Joelle and I had always looked forward to growing old together and doing many things. That’s one of the driving reasons to have our kids when we were very young. People thought we were crazy, but we knew what we wanted and we knew what we were doing. Okay, perhaps the latter statement is more like, we were crazy enough to follow through on what we wanted. We talked about seeing the world together after our kids grew up. We were even starting to prepare for such adventures, honing our photogrphy skills that we built up from doing 13 years of wedding shoots and her countless baby shoots. Joelle was an amazing photographer and artist in her own right and she had hundreds of thounsands of pictures behind her to prove it. It was an extremely sad day witnessing her life coming to sudden stop. All the plans we made are nothing more than a fading ember now. So, naturally, I feel cheated and robbed. I am angry at the loss of my best friend and I feel lonely and empty inside, hoping for God to fill it. Yet, with what little faith and hope that I have left, I am keeping my promise to Joelle and continuing with the Bible Study class.

Along with my spritial well-being, she made me promise that I would take care of my physicall well-being. Aside from the no alcohol and drug abuse, she made me promise that I woudl continue to take care of my health in the manner which I had started after I was forced to stop training in Karate due to a knee injury, which was miraculously healed 10 years later by God and a wonderful surgeon after having to have emergency surgery to reattach my quadricep muscle. During that time of not training, my weight shot up 30 pounds and I became a type-two diabetic risk. In fact, my doctor was about to declare me a diabetic. I was determined not to go down that road and took matters into my own hands and worked hard to turn my body back from that path. In keeping with this promise, I have not only managed to drop my weight back to my martial arts days, but I also working on building muscle. This has been one of the primary promises that have helped me steer through my depression. Not to mention that I feel so much better physically in my fifties than I did in my forties. So, hopefully, that will be a prime motivator to keep this promise.

Another important promise was music. She always knew just how much music was esssential to my life as oxygen. She made me promise that I would focus on music during this time of grief. I lost a lot of the motivation to not only work on music while she was sick, but to even pick up a guitar. Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love to play guitar. So, something was wrong if I didn’t even want to pick one up. Now, however, I am no longer Joelle’s caregiver and my time is about as empty as my life. Joelle wanted to make sure that I would get back to doing the things I loved doing. To be honest, it’s hard. Sometimes I feel like I have to force myself into the studio, regaining the will, desire and appreciation for music like I had before. I knew how much Joelle loved to sing and she would sing even when it was physically imprssible for her to do so. I would hear her singing of her love for God, even in the face of death. So, if she had a reason to sing, there shouldn’t be any reason for me not to put the love that God has given me for music back into music. It has gotten easier, and I have starting working on some songs that I started before she was ill, with one to be posted online soon.

And on the subject of music, she made me promise that if I go out there and happen to see a guitar that I really like, I wouldn’t fight with mself about the price. She kept telling me how life was way too short and I shouldn’t waste it worrying about petty things such as the price of a guitar. She honestly didn’t have to tell me just how short life was, especially one as beautiful as hers. She just wanted me to find some happiness for the rest of mine. It sometimes hasn’t been easy as I am not one for spending money recklessly. I found myself walking away from instruments that felt so right in my hands and fighting with myself about it, only to come back two days later to buy it, remembering the promise I made. Joelle’s brother, Max, has often told me that we don’t choose the guitar, but the guitar chooses us. He right. Even Joelle knew that I never just buy a guitar for the sake of buying a guitar. Throughout our lives, she knew that when i found a guitar that just felt so right in hands and I would ask (almost beg at times) to get it, she never said no to me and would often encourage me to get it because she would see me struggle over the price and wonder if I was doing the right thing. She saw more than the guitar. She saw my love for music through it and perhaps my love for music now may help in stopping from my heart from dying.

There’s another promise that I have yet to keep: Joelle made me promise that when I find that special guitar, I would get her picture put on it so that when I am holding the guitar, I am holding her close to me as well. One of the guys at work showed me a better idea which was to laser etch her image onto the wood of the guitar, after the guitar I had found has a natural wood finish, as opposed to a lacquer finish. After working so hard at keeping my other promises, I do not plan to break this one. All it takes is for me to break one promise for anything I say after that to be worthless. I will find a way to keep it and find a place that does this.

After all, this was my best friend we are talking about.

The Greatest Gift You Can Give

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:35‭-‬40 NASB

For the longest time, I had always wondered that if Christmas is such a joyous holiday, why are there so many people suffering from depression during this time? Unfortunately, I got the answer this year in a way I had never in my life hoped to receive. I found out in the worst way possible. I can go as far as to say that I have been put in those shoes and am living it, and I certainly didn’t believe that life would be like this two years ago. If you’re like me two years ago, just try to imagine the future holiday celebrations without the person or people that you hold extremely close to your heart. In no way am I trying to scare you. I’m just telling you just how uncertain life really is and tomorrow is not guaranteed for everyone. I am obviously not the first person to get the answer the hard way and I unfortunately won’t be the last.

So, now that I managed to hit you with a little bit of holiday pain, with sincere gratitude that you let me, what can you give anyone who is suffering in what is supposed to be a joyous holiday? Not just me. There are plenty others around you if you are willing to look around not with the eyes in your head, but with the eyes of your heart. You might be thinking, “Oh, I’ll just buy them something special.” Well, I hate to tell you this, but that won’t make anyone feel better. You see, that is the way the world wants you to think. “Buy someone a gift and everything will be alright” is one of the biggest lies that Satan could ever unleash upon this world, and yet the world laps it up like a thirsty dog at a water bowl. Commercials everywhere telling people they deserve something for Christmas, whether they buy it for themselves or get it from someone else. And if that doesn’t make you happy, then you need something else because that is guaranteed happiness. Guess what… it isn’t. In fact, stuff doesn’t fill you with happiness. It just makes you more empty, because the more you have, the more you want. Honestly, there is nothing you can get me that I could not get for myself and I wouldn’t be happier if you got it for me than if I bought it.

So where am I going with this? It’s simple, really. There’s only one gift that you can give a suffering person that lets them know you really care: spending time with them. It’s the one thing we treasured most with the person who meant so much to us. We’d give up almost everything for just one more day with them. In a way, I was grateful to receive this gift of knowledge in the last few months with Joelle, knowing that no amount of money or anything else I could offer for that matter would bring her back so it was spend every day I could with Joelle before it was one day too late. And even after she was gone, all of the people who would come and just sit with us while we were in mourning was one of the greatest gifts they could ever give to us. Some of them would try to find the right words only to discover that there are none, and yet we didn’t care because all that mattered was that they were with us. Others would ask if there’s anything they could get you, when all that really mattered was just them sitting with us. Some people made the journey from Waterloo to Toronto just to be with us. Many of them would just sit and listen to us talk. They would listen to me tell story after story about Joelle. That to me was worth more than anything else they had in their hands when they walked in the door. Even at this time, if you came over and you just watched a movie with us, and said nothing during the entire visit, it would mean more than anything else because you were there. Recall that I said in my previous blog post that true love is giving everything you have without any expectations of receiving anything in return. Spending time with someone is telling them that you truly love them because you are giving them everything at that moment knowing that you will never be get that time back.

So, if you are looking to give a suffering person something special for Christmas or Chanukah or whatever you are celebrating, then it is time to get off the social media and get more social. Trade Facebook for face time. More greets than tweets. Stepping out of MySpace and visiting someone else’s space. I’m sure you get the picture by now. Go visit someone and give them the gift of your time. People are suffering this time of year not because they don’t have something. We’re suffering because we don’t have someone. It’s usually that someone who could make our day brighter than the most sunniest of days. They made the celebration that much more joyous. Yes they are deeply and sadly missed, making it real hard to even want to celebrate. However, your time is what helps us through these once joyous, but now difficult to celebrate holidays. It just might help us rediscover the joy of celebrating once more, and give us the strength to face a new season just as those we deeply miss would want us to. It gives hope to those who have lost their hope. And don’t think that you have to do something or say something to make things better. Just being there takes care of all that. And even if you have a hard time seeing their appreciation, believe me, they are very appreciative even if it doesn’t show. 

You might not think that you are giving much, but to those who are suffering you are giving a lot. 

What do I ask for?

… You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

–James 4:2‭-‬3 NASB

I will be the first to admit that this passage in Scripture troubles me. There are verses in Scripture tthat tell us to ask and if we don’t, we don’t get. Even here, it says that if we didn’t get, it is because we didn’t ask. But, it is also wrong to ask with selfish motives. This is what troubles me? What do I ask for?

I have seen Joelle suffer with cancer for well over a year. I also see that her battle with cancer looks like a losing battle. At least, it does to my eyes, as I hear almost every month that the disease has invaded new areas of her body, causing excruciating pain, and it is ever so difficult and emotionally painful to see someone as beautiful as Joelle having to go through all of this suffering. And when I say beautiful, I am talking about her inner beauty which far outshines her out beauty, and she is beautiful on the outside. During her suffering, I have not only seen her witness the saving grace of Jesus, but I have seen her, in all her pain, lead people to Jesus to be saved. Talk about an amazing person that Joelle is. I have so much trouble doing stuff like that in a somewhat healthy state, but it almost looks effortless to my eyes that Joelle can do this, despite all of the pain and suffering that she is going through. 

It totally makes me wonder what is wrong with me? With everything in my life that has led to my encounter with Christ, including all of the signposts and my Road to Damascus encounter up to today’s witnessing of God’s grace through Joelle’s pain and suffering, have I not yet gotten the message? Am I begging for Jesus to rescue me, when even throughout Joelle’s suffering, He has rescued her? Am I not believing that I am also being rescued? Or have I somehow locked Jesus out of my heart because of everything that I have done leading up to this, and I am desperately trying to pull Jesus into my heart through the keyhole of a locked door? I could ask if I let my heart become stone towards God over this, but if that were the case, would I be trying so desperately to seek Jesus? So, it can’t be that. There’s no doubt in my mind that I want Jesus in my life. And, only a fool in his heart believes that there is no God. I am not that fool. With everything that I have seen in all of my living years, there is absolutely no doubt that God exists. 

So once again, that leads me to the question of what do I ask God for? It’s hard to know what to ask for because I don’t know if what I am asking for is for my own selfish gain or is glorifying God. I know very well that God is not some spiritually cosmic vending machine. There is no name it and claim it gospel. Just asking God to heal Joelle from cancer is a loaded request in itself. Am I asking this for the glory of God? Or, am I asking because I hate seeing her suffer, which I really do? While the latter reason sounds somewhat noble, it is also selfish. Yes, I hurt watching her go through all of this. It feels like my heart is torn into pieces. Honestly, I could not recall a time when I have been so upset. But, could it be possible that I am asking God to end my suffering instead of Joelle’s. Am I thinking of her or am I just thinking about myself? Like I said, Joelle has doing God’s wonderful work out of her suffering and what have I ever done? I’m starting to think that everything that I ever did up until now has been for myself. How much of God’s work has come from my own torment? So, am I asking God for His own sake, Joelle’s, or my own? I really have to search my heart on this one to know what I am asking for. 

It pretty much leaves me wondering what to ask for. I have hope as described in Romans 5:3-5 and Romans 8:28, but sometimes knowing what I should be hoping for is elusive. I have faith in God and I know in my heart that Jesus does love me. I also believe that God does work miracles, but as I said before, God is not a vending machine. His miracles are for His glory and not for our satisfaction. Perhaps some wisdom, encouragement, along with some strength could be a start. 

Nobody’s Fault

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
— John 9:1-3 ESV

It has been a while since writing something. Admittedly, things have been hard, mainly because I have been looking for answers as why Joelle is suffering so much with her cancer ordeal. Not that I felt like I deserved any answers, but any sign would be greatly appreciated just so that I could not only have some assurance that there really is a reason for Joelle and that it works out for God’s purpose and that it is good for all of us who do believe in God’s salvation through Jesus. After all, the past months have been nothing more than staring down the eye of the hurricane in depression. If anything, it started to make me wonder if I had any type of relationship with God. It made me wonder because I felt like He wasn’t answering any of my prayers. I started wondering even more about this as I was going through a bible study as it talked quite a bit about our relationship with God. It seemed each chapter felt more and more painful as I went on. One part of the study talked about the Holy Spirit speaking to us through prayer, the church, circumstances and scripture. If anything, it really felt like nothing was happening through the first three and I started to think that nothing was happening through the fourth, until recently.

My son, Josh, who happens to be visiting his grandmother, loves to give me what we call the latest “meme-isms”. In other words, all of the crazy things that his grandmother tells him. Sure enough, he doesn’t disappoint this time around. Aside from the usual ” you’re being brainwashed” shtick (to which I managed to give him a decent comeback for), she dropped a new one. She said that one of Joelle’s friends gave Joelle cancer because her friend was jealous of Joelle. Aside from the fact that this has to be one of the most comical things I had heard; I mean, let’s face it, if people got cancer because someone else is jealous of them, there would be no one on this planet. Everybody always wants something that someone else has. Show me someone who is never jealous or envious, and I will show you their tombstone.

However, I will be the first to admit that I often wondered if I may have been part of the cause of Joelle’s cancer. Let’s face it, I am not the greatest person to be around. I can be very stress inducing. Plus, I have had many times where I fear waking up one day and Joelle would no longer be there. Add that all up and I am sure that there is something that isn’t good for Joelle there.

Funny thing happened though. Out of nowhere, I thought of Jesus and the rabbis discussing whether the blind man or his parents sinned, causing the man’s blindness. This all came to me as I was talking to Josh. At that moment, I had to look up the scripture verses and give them to Josh. I told him to read them to his grandmother. I told him to tell her that Joelle’s cancer is nobody’s fault. Joelle has this to reveal God’s Word glory and to show what works from God will come out of this. Even more than revealing this topic Josh, it was revealed to me as well. Joelle’s suffering is not a punishment for anything I did. It’s not even a punishment for anything she did. In fact, the Bible never says if we will suffer. It says when we suffer. And, it is not a case of whether we deserve it or not. In fact, it states in the Bible that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. And we suffer, so that you the glory of God can be revealed.

I didn’t come up with this on my own. There’s no way I could have in this case. The number of scripture verses is overwhelming. Being able to put this in context can only mean that God really is hearing me and is answering me. He answered me in scripture. I’ve only heard this piece of scripture once or twice in the past 20 years. The fact that it stuck out over everything else I have read and heard over the years feels miraculous enough as it is.

Does this ease the suffering? Heck no! Everything is just as hard as it was before God answered me with this piece of scripture. It doesn’t mean that anything will be easier either. However, the one thing that it does do is give me some hope. The hope that at the end of all of the suffering, God is waiting for us. The hope that Jesus is walking beside us with his arms around us. The hope that God will continue to answer my questions and prayers through scripture. The hope of peace.

2015: Here’s what I really think of you

I won’t sugarcoat any of this: The year 2015 sucked.

I never had a year filled with so much suffering in it than 2015. If anything, it felt like 2015 put a noose around my neck and tied it to the bumper of a pickup truck dragging me 80Km/h over a road of broken glass, only to crash into a lake of iodine. And the worst of it is that I’m still feeling the pain after it all has happened, just waiting for the scars to take over so I can heal from all of this.

If anything, it’s hard to ever remember what happened January and February because it got eclipsed by March by tearing the quadricep completely off of my knee, requiring emergency surgery followed by 10 weeks of not being able to walk. I was imprisoned by a 7” drop floor living room. I had to use my arms as legs at times. I felt useless and a burden. Yeah, I will admit that I am walking better now than I have for the last 10 years, but it wasn’t a picnic getting to this spot. Even to this day, I am practicing my physiotherapy and I have been using my exercise equipment as a healing device. I’m probably one of the only few people that do not use it as a fancy coat hanger. But it’s because of the determination that I am not going to let myself be beaten by this injury. In fact, I would use this injury to make me that much better than I was before. But, getting to this point involved a lot of physical pain. The battle was between my determination and the pain that would attempt to stand in my way.

Not to mention that I was burden to Joelle. She had to wait on me hand and foot and do things for me that I never would have asked. I felt totally useless as I was unable to do things for myself in those 10 weeks. And yet, she was there for me. My injury was just as hard on her as it was on me.

And then when we think we’re just about out of the woods, hoping to carry on with our lives, Joelle is diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer. I felt like I was emotionally knocked down on my ass. It’s was like the nightmare that I was hoping to wake up from, but it seemed every day I woke up into the same nightmare. Watching her suffer with chemotherapy has been nothing short of emotionally draining, especially when I am trying to be strong for her, only to wind up losing it by the end of the day. Emotionally enduring her surgery wasn’t any easier as there were so many rocky roads up to today. I often reached times that I couldn’t contain myself and had to just get into the car to escape. And even watching her endure a few more rounds of chemo is draining. I have too many “why” questions and I have had so much anger and hurt this year over it because the answers feel so elusive to me.

So, as I stand here with just a little over a couple of hours before new year, let me tell you 2015 what I really think of you. 2015, I hope that you rot in hell. I hope that every memory of you burns up like tissue paper in a bonfire, so that nothing is left of you but ashes and a scar. You can’t leave my life quick enough and knowing that you will move further and further away in my rear-view mirror so that nothing will be left but a dot is the only comfort I have in the last couple of hours. As much as Joelle and I would love to celebrate your going away and slam the door on your ass, Joelle is unable to stay up and watch you leave due to the fact that chemo has drained all of the energy from her. That does not give me any cause for celebration. Perhaps, the three most painful words of 2016 will be “Happy New Year” as I watch you take your last steps. However, I was stand guard here making sure that you go and take all of your pain with you. The only gift I hope 2016 brings me is the ability to forget what a bad year 2015 was.

Darkness in the Festival of Lights

Once again it is Chanukah and all around the world, we all celebrate by lighting candles on our Menorahs, eating latkes (very yummy potato pancakes) and give presents. And this time, I really have no desire to celebrate. I originally lost the desire to celebrate Chanukah after my father died when I was a child and spent almost all of my teenage years and my twenties raging out at God over it. Mind you, I went through the motions when my kids were young as my hurt wasn’t fair to them. Mind you, having found Jesus, we mistakenly wound up putting our Jewish celebrations on the shelf, at least until Joelle studied and wrote papers on the Jewish feasts.

Truly, I have to credit Joelle for getting us back on track with all of the Jewish celebrations, including Chanukah. Her renewed enthusiasm gave me a reason to celebrate. Even more so, we were having something to share with our grandchildren. They know more about being Messianic Jews than our kids really did. We would all light the candles and join together with our kids out west using Skype and we would all recite the Chanukah blessings. Between Joelle and them, I really felt like I was starting to have a reason to want to celebrate Chanukah again.

Until recently…

Watching Joelle suffer from cancer and all of the effects of chemotherapy and surgery has finally started to take its toll on me, especially after the last emergency visit to TGH. By Friday, I could barely keep a straight face in the office at the end of the day and people were noticing that I was finally starting to break down. I managed to rush out of the office in time to let it all out in the car on the way home. If anything, all I really wanted to do was sleep and do nothing else. Even after 11 hours of sleep, I felt like I wanted more.

Honestly, I have no real joy, or at least joy that I am experiencing, for this time of year when we are supposed to be feeling joyful. Even with all of the lights in our neighbourhood, everything feels dark. I have no desire to celebrate without my best friend by my side. She helped make the occasion bright. She lit up the room on Chanukah. A thousand candles couldn’t take away the darkness in the festival of lights while she is in the hospital.

The only hope I have right now is the one true light: Jesus. I do pray that he hears my voice and our suffering and shine his light on us this year, especially where we are physically, emotionally and in some cases spritually unable to. I pray that he will take his place upfront and center in my Menorah of Life and will shine his everlasting light on us and drive away the darkness.

Scars

It seems that throughout my life, there is one thing that is rather persistent: scars. My life is loaded with them. The ones that are on my body, I seem to celebrate and admire almost as if they were war wounds. I almost treat them as if I had walked out of a major battle loaded with these scars. Then there are many of the emotional scars that I, for some reason or another, seem to cover up and no talk about them in hopes that they will go away. The worst part of that is I don’t know why I do this.

I learned something about scar tissue that I find interesting. Scar tissue is formed by the body in order to seal, protect and repair a wounded area, and is far stronger than the tissue that it is holding together. If anything, it is quite the repair mechanism. One can say that scars make us stronger. We might walk away wounded from a situation, but we come back to it far stronger because of the scar. It’s almost as if it should be a medal of honour for having endured that battle.

I often look at the scar on my knee, thinking how I endured a 10-week long healing process beginning March 4th, 2015. It wasn’t easy, since a good part of the healing meant that I had spent almost all of that time with my leg in a splint, and not able to walk on it. The other part was regaining my range of motion through various floor exercises. It was a signal of a lifestyle change. Almost six months later, I have used that experience to rebuild my strength in my legs and take the rest of my body along for the ride. I walk better than I have in the past 10 years and I’m conquering other areas such as my physical fitness issues. That scar serves as a reminder of not only where I was, but where I am now and what I had to go through to get here.

If their function is such a grand function in the scheme of things, why do we go through huge efforts to cover them up, or remove them, and pretend like it never happened? It is almost as if marketing has been brainwashing us into seeing scars as nothing but ugly marks on our person. We then managed to take it even further with phrases such as “scarred for life”, or “emotionally scarred”. They use it in the sense as if someone has been permanently damaged. Yes, I get that there are many events in our lives that can leave us emotionally damaged. I have had my share, starting with seeing my father dying at the age of seven. It still gets me emotional. Am I emotionally scarred? Yes, in some parts. However, to me, these scars mean that some of the damage has healed and I can look at those emotional scars knowing that I have gone through a healing process. I can look at those emotional scars knowing that I have lived through various ordeals, and in many cases, loved. A lot of the emotional scars that I bear have taught me not only am I capable of love, but also tell me that I know what love is. The scars I bear from love in many ways have made love grow stronger.

Will I have more scars? I’m sure I will. They won’t be pleasant, and some will be from downright painful moments in my life. But, at least I will be able to look at the scars as healing. I will be able to look at them and remind myself of where I am now because of them. I will be stronger, in some way, because of those scars.

Keeping your kids safe for Halloween

These days, it feels like trick or treating is becoming more and more hazardous. Yes, there are many great neighbors out there who love to see kids come up to their door, and I admit to being one of them. Heck, I had a ton of fun last year going trick or treat with my grandchildren in Alberta last year. However, it only takes one rotten apple to kill Halloween. Some of them will even try to literally kill it. Many of them have done things like stick pins and razor blades in apples, poisoning candy, and handing out drugs disguised as candy. It is up to us as parents and grandparents to protect our kids from these types of people.

One idea that I had to hopefully keep kids safe this year involves some work on the parents’ or guardians’ part, but could hopefully keep the bad apples out of spoiling the kids Halloween fun. I call it the two bag system.

Parents should get a box of Ziploc bags, Avery labels and a Sharpie to take with them as they take their kids trick or treating. Along with this, they should use a two-bag system. One bag is for the kids to go to the doors with and the other bag is for the the parents to hold onto. As the kids come back from each door, the parents take the candy from that one house and place it in a Ziploc bag. They then label it with the house address using the label and Sharpie and there put the Ziploc bag into your bag. The kids’ bags should always be empty when going up to someone’s house. When you get home, inspect each Ziploc bag. This way, if something suspicious is in that Ziploc, you have a good idea where it came from. And, should a number of parents and teenagers do the same thing and find the same thing, it could make it a little easier for the police to get involved and investigate.

Is it more work? Yes. Are our kids’ lives worth this effort? YES! I wouldn’t be surprised if people reading this dismiss the idea as paranoid and distrustful. The only thing I will say to this is that you are living in a bubble if you believe that this will never happen to you and your kids. Just remember that people put on some great disguises on Halloween. Sometimes, a psycho’s greatest disguise is to look like any other good neighbor.

Seasons of Life

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace.

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When I look back on everything that has happened in 2015 so far, I will be one of the first to admit that I can’t wait to put this entire year behind me in hopes that 2016 will be better. However, in my quest for some wisdom into everything that has happened and is currently happening this year, it dawned on me that these things in life are nothing more than seasons. By themselves, they seem rather finite and perhaps even gloomy at times. However, in life, seasons are rather linear and connected. If you look at how they flow together to make a complete year, you can see how winter flows into spring, spring flows into summer, summer flows into autumn, and autumn flows into winter. It is rather seamless. Life mimics the seasons as everything flows into each other.

As it seems, I have been focusing on a the old seasons in my life, and only seem to be looking at their ending. What I seem to be missing is how they are flowing into the beginning of new seasons almost seamlessly. And honestly, these transitions don’t really stick out that I could notice at a glance. Some of them seem to require some insight on my part.

For example, earlier this year, I managed to tear my quadricep muscle clean off of my knee on my left leg, requiring emergency surgery, followed by 10 weeks of physiotherapy, not to mention having to spend that time off of that leg. At the time, it seemed like I was thrown into the eye of a hurricane. What I didn’t see was what was waiting for me on the other side. Before the injury, I was walking with a limp for the past ten years, due to a karate mishap. Getting around was painful. If anything, the injury gave me a chance to start over. I have been relearning how to walk for the past five months along with rebuilding the strength in my leg. I’ve managed to use this transition to take my physical health more seriously. While rebuilding the strength in my legs, I have also been working on my upper body strength and building muscle to combat my body fat. Where I am now compared to five months ago, is a pretty significant difference. I can notice differences in my physical appearance and the best part is that I walk far better than I have done in the past ten years. As my oldest daughter would say, I tore the limp clean off. After all, who ever gets injured and is better off from it? In the entire 10 year span, the line from the first injury to now is hard to perceive if you break it into chunks. As a whole however, it’s a little easier to see the seasons on that particular time-line.

Being able to see this time-line in this light has allowed me to see other events in my life in a much better light. I’m not saying that they felt like the best thing to happen to me, but looking back at them make me feel a little better considering the seasonal transitions to where I am today. Some things have proven to be worth the pain that I endured, while others have made me stronger, either physically, intellectually, or emotionally.

Admittedly, there are many new events springing from Joelle’s cancer. We’ve had to stop doing weddings and right now, it does feel like life is on hold. However, I am starting to find that I am getting a chance to think about the next chapter in our lives. If anything, there are many possibilities out there, and it is going to take time to see what is waiting for us. But all in all, it is another season in life. Many things are ending, and at the same time, they are transitioning into the beginning of other things. What they are remains to be seen. The chunks on the time-line are not big enough at the moment. However, rather than feeling down over things that have passed, perhaps I should be excited in anticipation of the things to come.

And now for this this commercial message – brought to you by my Q10

Yup, time for some more ramblings from my Q10. This time, it really is just that: rambling. To be honest, Joelle wonders how I can type so much on this phone. She can’t believe that I am spinning off blogs from this phone. Perhaps I should tell her how some people are writing books on their BlackBerry. Honestly, I am starting to get it. I’m starting to find that I am more inspired to write, not because I have a Q10, but because I have a device that allows me to just flow with ideas. Everything just flows.

I never was able to be this productive on my Z10. Not that the phone was bad or anything. I just found that I was not able to type properly on an all-touch device. It always felt like I was struggling with the phone, with the phone winning. Aside from feeling slow, I felt like I was typing like a two year old. I was not only making a ton of spelling mistakes, but I was also grabbing the wrong words to flick up to the screen. It sometimes made for the most interesting sentences. If anything, I got to the point where I would only type on it as necessary. I didn’t use it to write songs as much, and I certainly didn’t use it to do blog pages like I am doing here.

Don’t get me wrong. I know where the value of an all-touch device comes in. If I didn’t do as much typing as I do, I can see myself using an all-touch, because they are good for clicking buttons and sliding objects around. However, keyboards on all-touch devices are not keyboards to me. They have no boundaries to indicate where one key ends and another begins. Not to mention that it doesn’t feel like I am hitting a key. Not every phone is for everyone, but I know what is working for me.

I won’t even discuss my Z10’s predecessor at length. I couldn’t get anything done on my old iPhone, and I tried. To me, that thing was counterproductive. Okay enough of that.

I can see why my youngest daughter, Dina, gets so much done with her BlackBerry. To me, she is a real BlackBerry master. I don’t know many people that are able to type with their BlackBerry by their side. I want to be like that. But, for now, I am glad to be able to type with confidence and a lot more speed than I was able to do on any other smartphone. I am grateful for being able to get all of my ideas down. I never imagined that such a handheld device would inspire me to write as much as I have been doing.

There we go. I have gushed long enough about a phone. Time to ramble about other things, such as…