CALL TO THE WILD

“Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time.”
Jack London, The Call of theWild

During this pandemic my family has retreated for wellness in the comfort of our home.  Some call it sheltering, quarantine, or isolation, I would rather call it a retreat.  I have two sons between the ages of 18 and 20 and my husband and I are enjoying the time as a family.  We do more together than we normally do as life is no longer calling us in the usual way.  The pressures and pulls to go in many different directions simply disappeared overnight.

My husband and I are blessed to be able to continue work and we are now working from home.    I looked online for some advice for retreating and found many blogs and articles from people in Europe who had already, and still are, living through this unique situation.  Routine was what I read over and over again.  I have a tendency to hang out in my pj’s until noon when I’m off work.  The first thing I did was get dressed every day.  I also dress in nice clothes – not the rags I wear to do my housework.  It’s ironic how these subtle routines can make you feel alive and part of humanity.

Our house has become our command centre and I have arranged it to meet everyone’s needs.  I am a Master Reiki practitioner, so I already have a room that is dedicated to Reiki sessions for clients.  It was easy enough for me to create an office for my work as an office manager.  Our kitchen and family room was split into two work spaces to create the space for my husband and son.    My husband works with Autistic students and my son’s trade school is now on-line.  It’s easy for work time to merge into home time so I make sure that all work related or school materials are put away and neatly stacked so that visually our minds take us away from work and into the evening or the weekend.

We’ve always been fans of watching movies from home and I’m enjoying watching movies as a family.  Last night we watched “Call of the Wild” for the first time.  I have read the reviews on the movie and there was a lot of criticism about how unnatural Buck and the animals look.  It is true that you could certainly see the digital images and the  influence of that technology throughout the movie, but what movie in this day and age doesn’t use technology as a background to the film.   Personally, I loved the movie, and I loved the message.  Jack London’s message was fairly simple when he wrote “Call of the Wild”  in 1903.  It called for respect and love to our environment and to treat animals with love, compassion and dignity.  In doing so our environment will flourish and in treating animals with respect and love they grow in strength, confidence and resilience.

In this new world of living under the pandemic, I couldn’t help but see the parallel lines between the movie and the chaos the world is living under right now.   Buck was thrown into utter chaos overnight and it was within this chaos that evil surfaced.  Buck had been living a great life with an upper class family enjoying the fruits of that life and his behaviour was defiant, stubborn, unruly, immature and uncontrollable.  He simply could not help himself.   He found himself scared and alone with no idea what his future held as the cargo ship, his dognappers forced him on, sailed to the Great Canadian North.   In a way all of us have been unruly and we’ve taken for granted the comforts which we live.   There are so many who are poor and marginalized and we choose to ignore this fact or satisfy ourselves with the attitude that someone else is taking care of the situation; not my problem.  This pandemic has reared the ugly head of the difference between the rich, the elitist, the poor and marginalized and in this spotlight we have a clear view of the difference between the haves and the have-nots.

I was disappointed to read a comment on facebook by a teacher who was complaining about the whole situation of having to work from home and how she was mad to be questioned about full pay.  Many citizens don’t have jobs and at the beginning of this crisis there was confusion about whether educational structures were offering full online classes or not.  Also, some districts were quicker about getting their online platform out to their community than others.   The question about teachers getting full salary is a fair question because of the amount of confusion circulating around the online platform a the time. Unfortunately, this teacher made a comment on facebook that, and I quote “all people without degrees are essentially useless.”  An elitist attitude coming from a spoiled, unruly person with no discipline and it was clear to me that she lacked any empathy or compassion for anyone else but herself.  She later retracted when confronted and said that she was mad and frustrated, which I understand, however, her elitist comment is what surfaced and I sincerely believe that she holds on to that belief as I see so much of that elitist attitude of the “we against them” mindset.

This pandemic clearly shows we simply can’t live this way anymore.  There must be equality and  fairness for all.  Not all have the same opportunity to pursue a university degree and many who have racked up student loans to do so are frustrated by both their debt level and not finding a job within their fields.  All of this could be debated back and forth and I simply do not have the answer.  I do know this, we must show respect toward all people.  As a society we also must care about everyone’s well-being.  For one to stand on their high towers and look down at someone who doesn’t have what they have simply does nothing to engage the world or it’s people into a healthy community.  If  you are someone responsible to educate our young, then I hope that you see fairness and equality for all as the road to higher education.   We need people to perform all jobs in this society and to not respect and value all human beings is costing this planet it’s dignity and throwing us into the throes of chaos and in the midst of this chaos evil prevails.  Resentment, anger, lack of confidence and and lack of value replaces, love, compassion, worthiness and pride in our communities.

We are being called to the wild and right now this pandemic is moving us forward to great changes.  Some call it a reset and I agree the world is resetting itself.  Like Buck in the movie, he was consistently pulled back to his master John, who led him with a kind hand, and his new beginnings with his new love and pack.  As we move forward to a world post pandemic, we too will be pulled back and forth between our old life and the new beginnings.  However, once Buck was able to fully immerse himself into his new life and live as he was meant to without prejudice, judgment, neglect and abuse, he was able to stand tall and move forward in confidence, love and respect and he went on to create a new community that stood for strength, dignity and respect for all.   I pray we are able to do what Buck did in the movie and move forward in a new world, a world where we stand as one.   I urge all to look for their “Call to the Wild” as  now I am actively looking for my  call to the wild.   I want to move forward with love, and feel genuine passionate love for the world and all it’s people and let this  be mine for the first time.

Johanne Fraser

 

EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa

As we pulled into the driveway, Janet looked at me and said “are we going to get shot?”  We were delivering Christmas hampers to families in our community who needed assistance at Christmas.  This was the first time Janet had delivered Christmas Hampers and she didn’t know what to expect.  I had been delivering hampers for a few years and I had experienced some tough situations.   In each of those situations you have to smile brightly, give them a hug and keep your eyes on the bigger picture, and that is the children.  In the midst of this chaos, there are children who are living in some tough emotional and financial conditions with absolute no control over their immediate future and those children need to feel unconditional love from the greater community as a whole.   In my experience, hamper recipients are usually families who are struggling to get by and Christmas puts too much extra pressure on them.  Christmas hampers relieves the extra burden from families and hopefully they can relax and enjoy the generosity and love of the Christmas season.  Jesus’ words were “Love one another as I have loved you” and as we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, we must branch out into our community and share his love with all.

Our society is riddled with images of success and in those images money, cars, beautifully decorated houses, consumer goods, clothes and electronics are images of success.   Those images actually have nothing to do with success and more to do with a lack of fulfillment in one’s daily life.  Success to me is not about money, or consumer goods but a life with love, faith, purpose, harmony, balance, happiness and hope.  I’ve come to realize that reaching out to others is not to extend your hand in pity, judgment or charity, rather it is a hand extended in compassion, empathy, hope and love.  When I go into someone’s house with gifts, I give those gifts out of pure joy and it is my hope as I extend my hand and hug people that they can feel the love and joy to the core of their being; their soul.

As Janet and I drove into the driveway, you could feel the tense and negative energy into the fibre of your being.  The house looked to be in very bad condition, but that wasn’t the source of the dark energy emitted from the house.  It was the darkness that surrounded the house and when we got out of the car, I realized right away the source of the darkness.    There was a group of men all standing off to a corner and when we got out of the car, they were not friendly or joyful,  they were scary.  In the years that I’ve delivered hampers, I’ve never encountered this.  I hate to use the word criminal element because that sounds very judgmental and I really don’t know if that was the case,  but that’s what it felt like.  When Janet looked at me and said very seriously; “are we going to get shot?” I understood why she felt that way.

As I opened my door, I noticed Janet wasn’t opening hers, she did not want to get out of the car.  I happened to look up into the house and through the front window I saw two boys between the ages of 5 and 8 jumping up and down and pointing to our car.  It was obvious they were excited to see us and I turned to Janet and I said “you need to keep your eyes on those two, that’s why were here”.  We unloaded all of the hamper bags and boxes and carried them to the house.  In every other situation where I’ve delivered hampers, the recipients always came out and gave me a hand in carrying the items.  Not these men, they just continued to stare us down as we walked to the front door.  I just ignored them but I could tell Janet was very uncomfortable.

We rang the doorbell and a slight, petite woman answered the door.  She wore her hair in a simple ponytail and she wore no makeup.  She had beautiful skin and very pretty eyes.  Her dress was casual; a sweater and a pair of tights, she looked like me if you came to my house on a Saturday morning as I love to lounge around in very comfortable clothes.  This resonated with me as we walked over her threshold and I gave her a hug and delivered the hampers.  Janet’s eyes lit up as the boys came running down the stairs jumping up and down as it was obvious they were happy to see us.  The boys’ spirits removed any of the darkness that we felt a few minutes earlier.  Children do that, they have a light that adults don’t have and it is my belief that we all have to go back to that light in order to fulfill our destiny as children are the true beacons of this world.

When we left the house, Janet mentioned to me that the woman was in a very bad situation and she had to leave that situation for the sake of her children.  I said to Janet “we don’t know her life and we can’t judge, but for all you know, the generosity and kindness of the hampers could be  the first step to give her strength to make a change, you don’t know, everything and anything is possible.”   Janet and I had several more hampers to deliver and I realized as we were unpacking the next recipient’s hamper that we missed several bags from the previous recipient.

Janet and I drove back to the house that emitted such darkness and this time Janet said to me, I’ve got this and she jumped out of the car, grabbed the bags and went to the front door.  She rang the bell and a few minutes later the boys’ mom answered the door and I could see that Janet was explaining why we were back.  Janet handed the mom the bags and she immediately placed the bags on the ground and leaned into Janet and gave her a huge hug and then the two of them were holding each other and there was an exchange of words going on between them.  I could tell they were both crying.  As Janet walked back to the car, she was wiping away the tears from her eyes and the woman at the front door gave me a wave as she closed the door.

Janet got into the car and wept.  When she calmed a bit I asked her what happened.  Janet said that the woman had gone through the hamper items and she was overwhelmed with the generosity of the community.  She said the hamper was so full that she had every thing she needed in food and gifts to give her children a Christmas she had never been able to give before.  She also told Janet from the bottom of her heart she was so thankful and wanted us to know just how thankful she was.

As we drove to the next recipient, Janet looked at me and said “you were right, we don’t know and we can’t judge and maybe,  just maybe the generosity and love from our community was the step she needed to gain strength to start a journey that will lead her away from the darkness, everything and anything is possible.”

*names changed to protect identity.

THE END OF THE CAMELOT ERA…

MOMWHEARINGLOSS

I remember my mother telling me that she could remember exactly what she was doing and the clothes she was wearing the day President Kennedy was assassinated.   I was a teenager when she told me and she mentioned that the world just stopped.   She said it was the end of the Camelot era and the end of innocence.  I was born one year after President Kennedy was assassinated, so I never really understood what she meant.

Unfortunately, I came to understand it September 11, 2001.  I was seven months pregnant with my second child and I remember the day beginning like any other day.  Waking up, taking a shower, making breakfast for my two year old son and getting dressed for work.  I didn’t have time to listen to the  tv or the radio during my morning routine.    In the car on the way to work I…

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My Mother’s Keeper

“It is not length of life, but depth of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I hung up the phone, my thought was, “I will never see her alive again.”  It wasn’t a revengeful or hateful thought, it was reality.    The purpose of my phone call was to restore balance in the hopes that we might salvage dignity between the two of us.  Unfortunately, her answer and reaction to my phone call was less than affectionate and I  sensed her disapproval by her tone, words and dismissive attitude as she hung up the phone before I had a chance to finish what I was saying.

Unfortunately, she was family and most closest to my mother, her sister.  Years before this I can remember my mother quoting her sister’s words that she uttered to my mother during a difficult time, “just because you’re my sister doesn’t mean I have to love you or like you.”  I don’t remember why those words were spoken, but I remember my mother feeling exasperated.  I was a young girl and I remember my mother feeling somewhat beaten emotionally by my aunt as my mother felt that she couldn’t make her feelings known and it was best to just avoid the conflict and  go along with whatever her sister said or wanted.   Unfortunately, this was the sentiment of everyone around my aunt, no one dared to say anything or go against her way, because if you did, the cross you had to bear was great.

The sad thing was that my aunt had a side to her that could be angelic.  In her stoic and stubborn way she could come into your life and give you everything she had.  This confused me as a young girl because my emotions would be chaotic around her as I never knew when the other side was going to show, so I had a hard time being myself as I never trusted my aunt’s intentions.  This confusion didn’t help the situation as I came across indifferent and aloof.

As life moved forward, I frequently witnessed this struggle between my aunt and my mother.   My mother would often talk to me about some of the struggles and my answer was always the same.  I told my mother to express her feelings to her sister.  My mother’s answer consistently was,  “you don’t understand, it’s not worth it.”  Many times I wanted to pick up the phone in my mother’s defense, but I knew this would be against my mother’s wishes, so I resisted the urge to do so.

There came a time when something happened that was so shattering to my mother,  I conscientiously had no choice but to phone my aunt to discuss the situation.  As I stated my concerns and asked her to clarify the accusations she made about another family member, I immediately understood why very few in our family had tread those waters before.  The venom unleashed was like a snake bite;  quick and paralytic, so much so it stopped my breath.   I did not retreat, I continued to take my stand and my aunt ended the conversation abruptly and slammed the phone down.

The next thing I knew she was ringing our doorbell.    As she walked through our doorway, she was very, very angry.  It didn’t end well as she verbally attacked my mother and I demanded that she leave our home.  To my disappointment,  my mother was upset with me.   My mother was furious and even though she agreed with what I said, she felt that the storm on the horizon was not worth the victory of the battle.

The reaction was swift, my mother was cut from my aunt’s life.  I felt fine about that fact,  as I thought we needed the break.   However, my mother was not happy and was very traumatized by the whole event.  The silence from my aunt went on for an eternity and eventually my mother had to grovel back into my aunt’s life.  I decided that no matter what happened, I would remain on the sideline as clearly this was my mother’s wishes.    Several years after this incident, unknown to me, I would become my mother’s keeper as our family was thrown into the deep and nasty claws of Alzheimer’s.

Slowly and surely Alzheimer’s ate at my mother until it became apparent my mother was a shadow of the woman she had once been.  The brain stealing disease was robbing my mother of her life and it became clear that I had to move her from her apartment.  In the years leading up to this moment, I hadn’t really seen my aunt all that much. During the time that I  dealt with my mother and the Alzheimer’s was extremely difficult and stressful.  When I look back,  I’ve come to understand that I went into survival mode to get through one of the most difficult periods of my life.   I had two young children and my husband and I both worked full time.

During the early stages of my mother’s Alzheimer’s I knew something was wrong and I would spend a lot of time driving back and forth between my mother’s apartment and my home.  As the symptoms worsened, I had a hard time getting doctors to diagnose my mother properly.  Like many Alzheimer’s patients the more symptoms she showed the more stubborn she became.  She refused to leave her apartment to come live with me and she refused any other suggestion of moving from her apartment.

Eventually, events and circumstances led to her being forced to move, and she chose to  move across the country to live with my brother.   During the relocation and preparing her apartment for the real estate market,  I heard that my aunt had been visiting my mother.  However, she usually visited during the day when I was at work, so I never saw her.

As we moved closer to my mother’s moving date, my mother became very stressed  and agitated. At the height of this stress I received a call from my aunt.   Once again, I found myself forced into defending my mother’s well being.    The conversation lasted all of three minutes, but it is a conversation that I will never forget and it was the start of a journey down a slippery slope to the end of that relationship.

The night my aunt hung up on me, was a phone call that I had hoped would lead to some kind of resolution between the two of us; a negotiation of peace.  John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” resonates in my head as I write this.  Peace or a peace of mind was the goal but the conversation ended far from peacefully.  Given our history, it wasn’t all that surprising.  As I hung up the phone, I knew I would never talk to her again.  At the time I examined my conscience and I don’t think “a clear conscience” is the correct term here, I think I just swept it all under the rug, the dirty grime hidden until I could deal with it another time at some point down the road.  The grime remained hidden under that rug for 11 years.

Several weeks ago, that dirt and grime was removed from under the rug, where it had been hidden conveniently all those years before.  My brother texted to let me know that my aunt had passed away.   Unknown to me, she had been fighting cancer for the last several years and like so many, she lost her battle.  The grime that had been under the rug for so long, came back up so quickly and before long I realized that the act of burying the emotions had been convenient, very convenient for me to not take the time to cleanse myself of the dirt and grime that had built up under the surface.

Unfortunately, her death brought all of those feelings back and plenty of anger as well.  I was asked by everyone if I would attend the funeral.  I wanted to, I wanted to pay my respects but the more I struggled with that thought the more I realized that I couldn’t bring all of that dirt and grime, now released from under the rug, to the funeral.

Regret is ironic,  I once read that a successful life means no regrets.  I’m not so sure that is correct.  I think mistakes and regrets are a part of life and how we deal with those mistakes and regrets can only make us stronger.  I do regret and my regret is that I didn’t listen to my mother.  She was right, I didn’t understand, it just wasn’t worth it.  The emotions between my aunt and I ran deep and even in death, she made it clear to me that those emotions still ran high.

I honestly, don’t think she ever forgave me and my regret is not so much that I acted out or stood up to her, my regret is that by saying it out loud, I brought it right to the surface and my aunt was no longer able to hide behind her armour and like any good warrior, she came out fighting. My mother knew that and she knew she didn’t have the strength to fight.

To pull the rug from under one is bound to bring to the surface the dirt and grime that has been hiding for so long.  Leave them with dignity is what my mother would have said, and this is something my mother always did.  She always took the high road, even when she knew that she was right.  The greater good and the best outcome was more important to my mother and all these years later, I think she was right.

Our lives can’t be defined by regret as a life of regret is equivalent to living in a wasteland with no end in sight.  Our future can be defined by the changes we make because of mistakes and regrets.   In the future I will lay down my sword and resist the temptation of going to war.  My mother would be happy, as she found my way very stressful and often wondered out loud why I made things so difficult for myself.

As I continue to walk the journey we call life, I’ve decided to take the path that has smooth rocks rather than the path with jagged rocks.  As for my Aunt, she was an adversary and she knew how to go to war and wouldn’t stop until she won.  The truth is neither one of us won, there was only loss and it was loss of time.   Surely there will be battles to fight, but the only purpose of those battles for now on will be to prevent the war.

Johanne Fraser

THE BEAST

as the beast moves through the streets,

people stare in astonishment,

the beast moves in and out,

as his energy takes him everywhere,

some stop, some stare, but most move to

the other side,

as fear grips them from their chest to their head,

and their legs quickly move them in another

direction,

the beast keeps his head down,

 scanning with his black eyes from one side

to the other,

not missing a moment nor a movement,

the beast knows and feels their fear,

makes him move with caution,

in a calm and quiet manner,

as he continues down the street,

a little girl sees the beast,

and squeals in joyful delight,

as she opens her arms and

runs to embrace him,

panic erupts as her parents scream and try

to stop her,

but the little girl sees through the beast,

and with quick movement,

she opens her arms,

and gives him a loving hug,

the beast snuggles warmly into her being,

and turns his head to lick her neck,

which sends her into an eruption of

giggles,

bringing tranquility and a sense of

calm to the one they call

the beast.

Johanne Fraser

 

WITHOUT ROOTS WE ARE NOTHING

“A tree with strong roots laughs at storms”  Malay Proverb

A good friend of mine has worked in the hairdressing industry for years.  She worked hard at her craft and became an expert in her area.  She had clients from all over who drove many miles to see her.  I was one of those clients, I met her when I was 18 and as soon as I met her I knew our business relationship would be a long one.  We are close in age and as Melissa grew her clientele and moved to different salons, I followed her on her journey.  It wasn’t just her talent at cutting hair, it was her warmth and down to earth nature that made you feel like she knew you forever and that you mattered.  You just weren’t another person in her chair, you were someone important.

A few years ago, Melissa decided to hone her craft and learn the art of being a barber.  Once she learned the basic techniques in barber school, Melissa set out to get to the roots of what it is to be a barber.  She volunteered for an organization called Street Thug Barbers.  A non-profit organization that goes into areas in the city that is considered out-of-bounds to most people from stable areas.   Street Thug Barbers set up barber chairs and offer their services for free for any soul who needs a haircut.    Melissa joined this group and once a week cut hair for people from all walks of life. There were no fancy salons, no fancy chairs, no fancy cut or dyes, just a simple chair out in the open and simple-minded barbers cutting hair for anyone who needed a haircut giving these souls the gift of dignity and making them feel like they were part of humanity.  They may be called Street Thug Barbers but these men and women also offer free hugs.  Something people in these area don’t experience much.   Everyone is treated with love and respect rather than being ignored and treated like they don’t matter.  Melissa learned much from this experience and she told me that most of what she learned was about herself and that the experience of meeting and cutting hair for these souls opened her soul in ways that she could never have imagined.

Unknown to Melissa, she was about to have some serious dips in her life as she found herself unexpectedly unemployed and in litigation with her formal employer for wrongful dismissal.  She eventually settled her situation but it was a good year of frightening change for her and her finances were seriously set back.  She still continued to volunteer for Street Thug Barbers and she found that the work she did with this organization saved her in more ways than one.  Melissa is a very artistic person and she wanted to get to the roots of being a barber and learn her craft.  Through the contacts she made with Street Thug Barbers, she started working in a Chinatown barber shop that has been in existence since 1919.  Melissa felt she would get to the root of the barber industry by working in a place that was clearly all about roots.  She worked most days solo where no one spoke English.  All demanded impeccable work and wanted it done in 12 minutes for $8.00.  In Melissa’s words “until you can do a flawless skin fade in 12 minutes on someone who cannot speak English to tell you what they want, you haven’t stretched yourself.  The knowledge, experience and connection to community I attained while being in the little shop grew me in places I thought I had peaked in my life. ”  Melissa told me that she learned more from an 84-year-old Chinese barber who spoke no English than she had learned from anyone.

Melissa dove into the history and roots of a true original barbershop and let those lessons absorb deep down into her skin, hands, mind and soul and as she branches out on her own, those deep connections with a barbershop, dated back to 1919, root her in ways that she didn’t think was possible.  Melissa’s story is one of truths proving that it doesn’t matter how much money you have, how much education you have or the status in your job.  If you don’t have roots, you will never weather the storm.  Deep roots is not established in our society.  I constantly hear complaints of the young working class coming into the workforce not wanting to work, don’t want to get down to the nitty-gritty, they want everything, title, job and money with no knowledge or work.  They disrespect their elders and don’t have strong work ethics.  Respect and strong work ethic will take you further than qualifications or references.

There are two gifts we can give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.   It is my hope that my boys can look at me when I’m ancient and understand that they are seeing roots, roots so deeply grounded that the trunk and branches born from those roots will be with them forever.

 

THE LIFE I WANT

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.” – Pooh

I recently read a story about a rich business man and a fisherman, the story goes like this:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The irony wasn’t lost on me.  We spend so much time in thought about what we’re doing, where we’re going and chasing a pot of gold to pay for our houses, our cars, our clothes, our children’s education, our children’s activities, the list goes on and on. We rarely spend time in the present and enjoy what is right in front of us.

For the last 3 years I have been focusing on trying to slow things down.  Instead of going shopping I stay home and make tea, I try to read and write more,  I watch the shows I want to see, I spend time with my furbabies amongst the trees, every morning I wake up and step outside barefooted on the grass to ground myself to the earth; yet I still suffer anxieties and worries about the future.   Why, I have everything I need and most important at this moment I have my health, my husband and my boys have their health.  This is a moment for celebration, every day should be a celebration but there are days I wake up with dread and exhaustion before I even start the day.

I’m not the only one, so many people are trying to do too many things, have a too long to do list and feel they have to be successful in jobs or have lots of money to show the world just how important they are.  It’s comical really, the way we live.  We spend more time surfing the net watching how celebrities live rather than watching our own lives.  We put too much focus into how much money one has, what they do for a living or their level of education.  The truth is every day is an education, every day is a chance to learn something you didn’t know the day before.  A formal education may bring you job success and money but there is nothing more important than an education in life and life’s ups and downs is the only school that can give you this education.

Winnie the Pooh has always inspired me to just be.   He does nothing and yet things come to him, friends show up at the right time, he slows down time to enjoy his honey, he makes time for all the important people in his life and he sits when he’s tired.    I’ve come to the realization that it is really just that simple, to have the life you want because that life is sitting right in front of you and it’s up to you to enjoy every single moment of it.  All you have to do is start walking from where you’ve been to get to where you want to be.

 

 

What’s Your Agenda

“He who does not know the art of living cannot know the art of dying.  Mahatma Gandhi

My shift at the hospice started like every other.  I stopped by the volunteer office to check the volunteer log before my shift to look through notes from the previous volunteers to see if I could spot anyone who needed more attention that night.  I noticed there was a new patient; a fairly young man from Jamaica.   The notes were the usual volunteer notes, “chatted for a while, served him tea, he was sleeping, he had visitors.”  One volunteer’s note caught my eye and it said “is having difficulty with the family dance.”  The note was subtle but I understood it immediately.  Reading through the volunteer log, this gentleman had lots of visits from family and he was having a rough time with it.

Every family has their family dance and when someone is coming to the end of their life, the family dance can intensify.  When death hangs in the air, there is no room for fake, manipulative, pretentious behaviour.  You simply can’t get any more real than death and only authentic and honest mannerisms will do.  However, there are some that use death as their playing field leaving families and the person dying in a precarious and vulnerable state. I headed out to the floor, checking on patient after patient, helping them eat, removing their finished plates, fixing sheets and hanging out in their room for chitchats.   I got to the new patient’s room and he was sitting in a wheelchair watching tv.  He had finished eating and I asked him if I could take away his plate and get him more tea, coffee or water.

He nodded and as I picked up his tray and asked him if I could get him something else he said, “yes you can get me $5000.00.”  I laughed and I said  “if I find some cash, I’ll send it your way.”   He looked at me and said “good answer, but of course you’re a volunteer and you people have all the answers.”  His tone of voice was not nice and it stopped me in my tracks.  I was standing beside him with a tray of dishes in my hands, and as I looked down into his eyes, he was very angry.   I said “hey the tone of your voice is not nice, what is up with that comment?”  He seemed surprised by my honesty and he shook his head and said “What’s your agenda?”  Still standing with a tray of dishes in my hand, I was perplexed by the question.  “My agenda, what do you mean what’s my agenda?”  “He raised his voice and said your agenda, you’re not here out of the goodness of your heart, you have an agenda like every other bloody person in this place, everyone here has some kind of political bullshit agenda, what’s yours?”

I stood with the tray of dishes in my hand and stared at him for a moment longer, at that point I had never faced this type of bitter and angry attitude at the hospice and his forcefulness threw me somewhat.  I slowly lowered the tray of dishes onto a side table by his bed and pulled up a  chair beside him so I could be at eye level.  I looked him straight in the eyes and  I said “let me tell you a story.”  “Years ago my stepfather had a massive heart attack and ended up brain-dead and laid in the hospital in a coma for months.  My mother and I visited him every day but there was nothing we could do for him.   One evening while visiting my stepfather there was a new patient in the bed beside him.  The man was crying so I walked over to see if I could help, I noticed that his food had been delivered and he was unable to open the packages due to extremely swollen hands from arthritis.  I opened his food and helped him eat.  He simply was hungry and extremely frustrated by his situation.  I chose dinner time hours for my volunteer hours at this hospice because of that man.  So often family members find it hard to get to their love ones in hospices or hospitals at dinner time,  so I felt this time was the time that I could help out the most.   If you call that an agenda, then that’s my agenda.”

He stared at me for a while and I saw it.  It was a subtle change in his eyes, but I watched as his eyes and face softened.  He gave me a bright smile and leaned into me closer and said “are you Irish?”  I said “yes I am of Irish descent, my Grandparents sailed from Ireland to start a life here in Canada, why?”  He said “Because I have only met one other volunteer I like here and she’s Irish too.  You remind me of her and now I have two volunteers I like.”   I laughed and said you know what they say, “Don’t mess with the Irish.”  He laughed and said “Don’t mess with the Jamaicans.”

I spent most of my time talking to him that shift and he told me many things about the family dance, his political views and when I didn’t entirely agree with him we argued.  He loved the debates we got into and he said to me, “I talk to people about this stuff when they come in here and they don’t stay, they just want to talk about the fluffy stuff.”  Some of his views were strong and he would not back off when you told him what you thought.  My older brother has very strong views and if you challenge him, he will go right back at you, so I am use to that kind of exchange and it doesn’t bother me.  However, as I told this patient, “most people want to live on the surface, they don’t want to venture too deep as venturing too deep might open some doors that they don’t want to open, so you have to trail lightly my friend.”  He said, “Johanne, I am living in a hospice, I am not going to trail lightly, if someone can’t handle it, go away.”  “Touchè  I said, you have a point.”

As we continued to talk he said to me, “I was given two weeks to live and it’s been three months  since I was given that news.”  He then showed me a the different alternative medicine products by his bed and he said “I swear to you these medicines are keeping me alive.”   I didn’t dare say it but I know it’s true.  They say to beat cancer it is 10% treatment and 90% attitude.  This man has the attitude, he is feisty, gusty, full of hope and has immense faith in God.   He mentioned that the doctor came by the day before and I am assuming that he told the doctor that he wanted more blood test to see where the cancer was.  Apparently the doctor said to him,  “We don’t do that here, people come here to die.”  His answer, “suit yourself doctor, but I came here to live and I will live fully no matter where I am and I’m sorry if you don’t like that but that is what  I intend to do, I intend to live and God is my saviour not you.”

Before I left that night, I gave him a hug and said “I’ll be back next week” and he said “I will be here.”  As I walked across the parking lot to my truck after my shift that night,  the thought that crossed my mind was “I’m certain he’ll still be here next week.”  I passionately believe that souls cross each other’s path for reasons.  To listen to him was inspiring and exhausting at the same time. He brought to my spirit an awareness, an awareness of how precious time is and how important it is to live life to the fullest and to tell those that you love just how much you love them.  There isn’t a minute to spare, and the dance of living and dying goes on every single day.

 

 

The Journey

“In the end she became the journey, and like all journeys she did not end, she just simply changed directions and kept going.”  r.m. drake

A journey to self health does not only mean eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep.  The journey to self health means you must take the list that you are using toward making your body healthier and stronger and apply that list to dig deep into your soul.  If you have been tolerating toxic habits that are hurting your body, you are most likely accepting and tolerating relationships that are toxic to your soul and hurting your journey.

If I am to be completely honest, my journey started forty five years ago when my father, for reasons of his own, decided he needed to leave his family and start a new life with a new wife and another family.  It was beyond hurt, it felt like someone had taken a knife and sliced me in half down the middle.  To my child self I felt acutely aware that he had made his choice, and his choice meant I was not part of his journey.  The path was not easy as there was much anger, mistrust and complete chaos between my parents.  I’m not sure if my parents thought about how this chaos was affecting their children, in hindsight they must have, but to my child self I felt alone and my parents didn’t realize that with each harsh word and every court date, I was building my wall, my wall of what my existence meant to this world.  I realize now as an adult that the words I was using to myself at that time  were;  I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t a person worthy of love, only negative things happen, there is no such thing as love and every time these words ended up in my head, the wall became thicker and thicker until the words could no longer reach me.

As thick as a wall I built, those words stuck with my being and I questioned everything I did, school was difficult because I never felt completely accepted, I was always someone who was looking from the outside in.  Teachers never understood me, yet they liked me because I was never a problem.  I just sat in the back doing my thing and I made it clear that I wanted to be left alone.   Forming healthy relationships with this foundation was difficult, but I managed to form some great friendships, friendships that have lasted a lifetime.   However, in my life I have accepted and tolerated friendships that I thought were friendships of mutual respect and admiration only to realize the friendships were very one sided.

Going back to the words I used as a child, not worthy of love, I have realized that these words have crept into some of the friendships I have formed, by allowing someone in my life who has not accepted me as my whole self, rather this person sees me as less than, and even though she calls me sister what she really means is elder, she is someone who knows more and is far more distinguished than I could ever be. 

How do I know this, I know this from comments and actions I have fielded for years.  As mad as some of these actions have made me, I have to accept responsibility for allowing and tolerating this attitude.  I realized a long time ago that if I accepted this persons limitations of me, then I am accepting these limitations of myself and it was time for me to change that direction and love my whole self.  I knew it meant that I could no longer be around this person in the same way.  To explain this to someone who clearly is lost in her own limitations and development is difficult, so I chose not to, I just kept working with my being and knew that the journey would go in the direction that it was meant to.

The word tolerance is an interesting word:

tol·er·ance
ˈtäl(ə)rəns/
noun
the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
“the tolerance of corruption”

The definition of tolerance sounds so civilized doesn’t it.  Within this definition alone, I realized that my tolerance level for acceptance of elitist and repressive behaviour in my life goes back to my childhood days when I tolerated the level of chaos within my household simply to survive my childhood.  I’ve had to accept the fact that I tolerated behaviour that was less than kind to my existence simply because I thought I was being a friend.

I have come to the realization that I must befriend myself first or else my journey will never take the twists and turns that makes journeys joyous and harmonious within the realm around us.

The opposite of the word tolerance:
  • patience
  • resilience
  • strength
  • toughness
  • endurance
  • guts
  • hardiness
  • opposition
  • stamina
  • steadfastness
  • steadiness
  • vigor
  • staying power

The opposite words of tolerance are worlds apart and doesn’t necessarily seem as civilized as toleration, however the soul does not need tolerance, the soul needs truth and the only way to truth is to be the opposite of tolerance and acceptance of anything other than truth is to accept an abrupt end to your journey, leaving you in a place of contempt for your being and your existence. 

Where my journey lands, I don’t know, all I know is that I have to apply the same trick that I learned a long time ago when I took up running and I was trying to increase my endurance to become a better runner.  I simply stopped looking at the long road ahead of me and concentrated on taking one step at a time.

Johanne Fraser

EVERY END HAS A BEGINNING…

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you.  The secret of life is to die before you die and find that there is no death”  Eckhart Tolle

As I begin to write this I am sitting on my front deck with my two beautiful companions, Lumi and Kaos, watching the neighbour hook up his trailer to leave for their annual camping trip.  As I sit here sipping my coffee, his two boys, most likely ages 8 and 10, are running and jumping around the front of their property so excited for this epic camping trip.  The cars and other trailers have arrived one by one as family and friends pull up to the house, obviously joining my neighbour for the trip.  As each car and trailer arrives, the boys do a little dance which sets my Belgian Shepherd off and I have to stop him from running toward the reunion barking like a fool.  As exciting as this little party is, it just pisses off Kaos as he doesn’t know who all these people are and in his mind I need protection from this frenzy of excitement.   I pray he is just as brave during a real threat!

As the convoy of cars and trailers leave, my world goes quiet again and I return to my computer to muse over my writing.  My intention was to write about death and suddenly my thoughts and words take on a different form.   As I watched my neighbour’s family dance and felt the excitement in the air, I ventured back to the boys when they were that young and our annual camping trips.  Life seemed to be so full back then, our lives intertwined with the boys lives as my husband and I wanted to share all of our knowledge and give them as much life as we could, because we both knew that time was short and if we didn’t give them our all, the time would be gone in an instant.  Never before have I realized the depth of this as I sipped my coffee watching the scene across the street unfold before me.  I realized without an ending there is no beginning and without death there is no life.

My mind wanders to my shift last night at the local hospice.  I am part of an army of volunteers whose job is to help transition those facing their last breath over to the other side.  Just looking at the previous sentence, it sounds and looks like a monstrous and depressing job, but it is not.   Being at the hospice is like breathing in the air that we breath and it is as peaceful there as it is here, sitting on my deck sipping my coffee with the sun shining on my face and watching the leaves on my maple tree move from the odd breeze that sweeps through during this season’s hot spell.   When I first inquired about volunteering at the local hospice,  I admit I had an agenda.  I had just become a Reiki practitioner and I wanted to use the knowledge and skill to help others.  Using Reiki on the dying sounds like two opposites as Reiki uses the life force around each and everyone one of us to help those with varying ailments or in different stages of life.  Many hospices have Reiki practitioners on hand to not only help the dying, but to help the grieving family members as well.   To this date I have never used Reiki with any of the patients at the hospice.  I have been asked to use my Reiki skills at different hospice events but I have not used Reiki on the hospice floor.  However, my Reiki skills has given me an advantage when working with the dying.  A Reiki practitioner is merely a tool to pass on the life force energy, just as a hospice volunteer is merely a tool to be an assuring presence to the dying.  All volunteers are expected to take a 33 hour intense training program and essentially the program is meant to weed out people as not everyone is meant to do this job.  The training is meant to help the volunteer with what to expect but until you start working at the hospice, you really have no idea how you will react or how you feel while visiting the dying.

Last night as I arrived at the hospice, I stood at the front lounge and took note of the two names on the stand by the nurses station, in behind the name tags were two butterflies lit up by a tiny bulb.  The names represent the patients who have recently died.  As I said a little prayer, I marveled over one name as I worked with this man the previous week,  The date on the tag was the day before and, working with him the previous week, I didn’t think he would last that long.  However, I noticed as I glanced over the volunteer log notes that he had a lot of family in visiting, every day he had visitors and I realized he lasted that long simply for love because his body was ready to give up the week before.    I work at the hospice once a week and my shift is in the evening from 5:00 – 8:00 pm.  I head to the hospice after a full day at work.  I like the evening shift as so often family members of patients can’t get to the hospice in time for dinner.  It is during dinner I find I am the most busy as some people need help  to eat, others need to have their food cut up and some just want someone to listen to their complaints about the horrible state of the food.  It is in this motion, life itself, that I hear and sense the most amazing stories that lie behind each and every patient.  I find it ironic as I leave behind work and at work it seems that everyone is full of self importance in their position or their seniority or who they are.  They worry if someone has a better parking spot or if someone gets something more than the other.   At the hospice no one cares, everyone is the same and they are all facing the thing that we most fear;  DEATH.

My conversations with the dying are more normal than my conversations with the living.  I’ve come to realize the reason why is essentially the same as the approach my husband and I took with our boys when they were young – time is short and we wanted to give them all our knowledge and love because the moment would be lost in an instant.  The dying face the same dilemma and what I have found is that most don’t want to hide from that fact with useless conversation filled with things that don’t matter.   It’s interesting to me that I have dealt with all walks of life in the process of dying – doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, housewives, police officers and people without homes. The only reason that I have that knowledge is because of the volunteer logs and the volunteers usually find this out from family members.    No one talks about what they did for a living when they’re dying and no one cares because what you did for a living has absolute no bearing on how or when you will die. What does matter is how you lived and how you loved.   Dying essentially comes down to this;  love and dignity and this is  the reason why I volunteer for the Hospice Society.  The Society recognizes dying as important as life itself and every person no matter of their origin or their beliefs are given what they need most – dignity and love.

Last night I was on the floor for about 30 minutes and I realized there was a new patient in the room where another patient died the day before.  The nurses were trying to help him transition to his new surroundings and he was scared and agitated.  There was no family member with him and he was too weak to be walking anywhere.  He did not want to lie down for fear of dying and he kept trying to get up to go where I don’t know but he had two nurses working with him trying to calm him down.  I asked if there was anything I could do and one of the nurses asked if I would sit with him.  I did, I sat with him for most of my shift.  He didn’t talk much, he just wanted the reassurance of someone there. I sat beside him at the edge of the bed the whole time and I kept suggesting that he would be more comfortable lying down and he refused to do so.  Finally after sitting for quite some time, I noticed that his eyes were getting very heavy, I again offered to help him lie down, this time he accepted my offer.  After I adjusted his pillows, his bed and bed rails, I sat beside him and he put his hand out to mine and he asked me to hold his hand as he fell asleep.  As I held his hand I massaged his hand very gently hoping to give him a sense of peace.

I can only assume that holding his hand gave him the peace he needed as he became less agitated, his body then started to relax and he fell into a peaceful sleep.  I sat with him for a little while longer to be sure he was asleep and then I tucked him in and went about the business of fussing with blankets and removing items from his bed and turning out lights.  As I was fussing about, I thought somewhere this gentleman began his life with his mother holding him and assuring him that everything was ok and that he was protected.  As he reaches the end of his life, he wants the same, he wants someone to sit with him and assure everything will be ok and that he is protected.  It’s what we all want and as I drove home last night I thought about this and I realized every end has a beginning.

Johanne Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Healthy Egoism

“As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health; food, people, things, situations and everything that drew me down and away from myself.  At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism, today I know it is love of oneself.”  Charlie Chaplin

With the popularity of minimalism today many people are finding themselves on a path to simplicity, simplifying areas of their over complicated lives.  At the age of 53 I found myself on the same path.  It started with looking around my home and realizing that our family had collected too many “things” for various reasons and the accumulation of these “things” were interfering with my life on every level.  As I started clearing  “things” that were in my way, it became obvious that not all in the family felt the same way.  I tried to force my opinions on my boys and my husband only to be called a declutter bully and I quickly realized I was on my own.  I decided to focus on decluttering my “things” with the hope that my family would follow my lead.

As I started down my path, I initially thought it would be very easy.  I mean how hard is it to throw “things” in a box or a bag and drive those “things” to the nearest thrift store.  I found out that it is not as easy as I thought.  The first  few loads were fairly simple, surface things that had no ties or emotional memories and getting rid of the surface “things” was fast and furious.  As I continued to declutter and with each new load taken out, I soon realized I was getting to the Holy Grail of clutter.  The clutter with the emotional attachments, the clutter that had meaning, the clutter that I had absolute no use for but for some reason as I held each item in my hand, I would find myself putting the item back on the shelf.  To be honest, this shocked me as I moved a lot as a child and I never put a lot of stock into houses or things.  I often said houses are just four walls and I could live within any four walls as long as there was a roof to cover me.  So why at 53 did I find myself with emotional attachments to things that had absolutely no obvious physical meaning?

After much thinking, meditation and decluttering, I realized that not being able to let go has as much to do with our own mortality as it does with the physicality and meaning of each “thing”.   Our lives fly by in a blink of an eye and suddenly these “things” remind of us of those times we can no longer get back, or people who are no longer here and it becomes increasingly difficult to let those things go.  It feels like you are letting yourself go piece by piece.  So I started on the difficult task of letting those precious items go and every time I had a hard time letting go, I would sit with the piece for a while and meditate as to why I was having problems letting it go.  As you can imagine all of this took way longer than my original plan of piling everything in the truck and heading to the local thrift store.  It’s taken weeks, months and I’m still on the journey of letting piece by piece go.

I’ve discovered that by letting go of those beloved treasures that represent the past, I’ve also embarked on a much-needed emotional cleansing as every part of this declutter process has become a journey of cleansing my soul of past negative experiences and mourning the loss of happy experiences and the people associated to those experiences who are no longer in my life.  When I started this cleansing journey, I never realized that I would be releasing myself from the cocoon of the past and by removing the layers of this structural shelter that I built for myself, I would release myself, not only from my own behaviours that were weighing me down, but I would soon release myself from the grasp of others whose behaviours and patterns I once accepted and tolerated in my life,  behaviours that no longer served me and kept me wrapped in layers behind the outer walls of the cocoon.

The difficulty of this process deeply disturbed me because even though I knew that releasing negative behaviours and people tied to these behaviours was necessary,  change is difficult and it is easier to find comfort in the known rather than move into the unknown.  You can’t just walk up to someone and say “that’s it, I don’t accept or tolerate this anymore, especially since I tolerated and accepted the behaviours for so long.   I am very much the guilty culprit and I hold myself responsible for this acceptance and tolerance.

However, I am also responsible for my destiny and as I continue the declutter journey of my soul, I have promised my soul that I will only accept and tolerate behaviours and attitudes that support the emotional growth and transformation of my soul which will ultimately release me from the structural cocoon that only serves to suffocate rather than protect.  I no longer accept or tolerate being treated less than, I no longer accept or tolerate being classed into distinctive groups that are used for division and discrimination,  I no longer accept or tolerate behaviours that only concentrate and focus on what one has rather than who one is and I no longer accept or tolerate negative behaviours from myself or others who are currently in my life or come into my life.   My soul wants more;  my soul wants complete forgiveness for past transgressions, my soul craves no restrictions as I travel through the unknown and my soul wants to be free and clear like the larvae that is released  from the cocoon to begin its transformation.  My soul wants  complete love of oneself.

The Cry of the Wolves

I dreamt last night of a pack of wolves attacking their young.  I was standing on a hillside looking down a gully at this horrific scene of wolves ripping their young from limb to limb.  I seemed to be paralyzed, I couldn’t move as I stared down the gully at the gruesome sight that was unfolding before me, as if I was watching a show on tv.  I kept thinking, wolves don’t devour their babies, has the world gone mad?  On the other side of the gully, some people arrived with their domesticated dogs and were throwing these completely defenseless animals down the gully to be devoured by the wolves.  At this point I came out of my trance and started running down the hillside toward the gully where this barbaric scene laid before me.  I never made it to the bottom because next I knew I was sitting straight up in bed with sweat running down my back as if I had just completed a marathon.

The dream was very real, so real I could smell the earth below my feet and the putrid smell of fear as the babies were being devoured by the beasts.  Dreams talk to me and as I sat up in bed trying to figure out what this dream meant, I couldn’t shake the dreadful feeling of the state the world is in right now and how the world just seems to be accepting horrific images as if we are watching the scene on tv.  The image of people throwing their beloved pets down the gully to be devoured by the beasts was the event that moved me to run down the gully and essentially sacrifice myself to the chaotic and violent script before me.  I never made it to the outcome, but the outcome found me as I continued to slip into the negativity of the meaning.

Living in a positive light is important to me and I’ve always tried to be positive with my boys, teach them to be genuine and to always look on the bright side.  However, I can’t deny the effects negativity has had on me and how the sinister, cynical energy can force itself into my world like a stalker who creeps through the night looking for an easy intrusion, inflicting fear and anguish to all those encountered.    I choose to live in a genuine, conclusive world convincing myself that by my actions alone I can create a world where I can leave negativity on the shores as I sail to a distant destination, a destination where I can be free of the threat and harm that comes my way.  However, can we?  As the world around us unfolds to reveal the reality of the gloom others must live with, can we continue to leave their shores and sail to a distant destination, to a paradise that is only for a select few.

There are many who think we can and as my horrific dream called out to me last night, I stood immobilized by the horrific scene and I was unable to move until I saw my people throwing their beloved pets to calm the beast.  It was only then that I felt my feet moving toward the chaos, away from the light, down to the deep hell that was below me.  As I tried to go back to sleep, I kept thinking, “when our own small world is threatened and we are moved to rescue our families from devastation, will it be too late?”

Johanne Fraser

 

 

 

 

A Dangerous Mind

“Narcissist Personality Disorder:  One of the few conditions where the patient is left alone and everyone else is treated.”

Warning, if you ever find yourself around one who is narcissistic run, run as far away as you can.  There is no winning with a narcissistic person and if you don’t agree with everything the narcissist does or says, then I guarantee you, it won’t be long before the narcissist has convinced everyone around you that you are the one that should not be trusted.  The narcissist will not win in the end, but the road from the beginning to the end is a long one and the closer that road gets to the end, the narcissist will become desperate and the final stage is the most dangerous.

How do I know, I’ve had the opportunity to work with not one, but two narcissists and I’ve watched the spinning of their web as they entrap everyone in their sticky mess while I was the prey stuck dead in the center of their narcissistic abuse.  The abuse is not something you can report or quite put your finger on and it’s not anything you’ve done to deserve the treatment.   You just know it’s happening, the energy around you changes, people start to treat you with mistrust and then slowly you are indirectly told that you are not good enough, not good at your job, not important, one to be ignored all the while the narcissist is spinning their web and injecting their venom and like a spider’s bite, it can take a long time to discover the full effect of the narcissist’s bite.

There was a time I carried much anger at these individuals, but not any more.  In some ways I owe them gratitude as I’ve learned from within that I am a strong, smart and confident woman.  There isn’t a person on earth who hasn’t gained strength through challenges, and dealing with a narcissist offers you many challenges and hurdles to climb only to gain strength with each new height.

The negative effects of dealing with these people, I’ve left far behind as I have a clear view of who my friends are, the kind of person I want to be and the positive contributions I want to give to my  community, my family and my friends.  I can thank the narcissist for these attributes, because without experiencing the full effects of narcissism, I may not have realized my potential for joy and happiness had they not spun their webs.

Forgiveness is another important factor, because a narcissist always surrounds themselves with enablers, people who are not strong and most likely have low self esteems.  Forgiveness is important because holding a grudge, anger, hate or resentment is poison to the soul.  In both cases I’ve experienced the work of enablers and a lot of my anger was also generated toward them.  However, with much soul-searching, meditation and prayer, I was able to forgive and to forgive is to set your soul free.

The irony of the narcissistic mind, is that the danger that they pose will tear lives and environments apart.  Much like a tropical hurricane or a large-scale earthquake will ravish the land and the people who live there.  However, like any natural disaster,  the strength and resilience of the people will overcome and the same can be said in the destructive path of the narcissist, the people will prevail and in the end, the person who stands to be in the most danger of the narcissist is the narcissist themselves.

Johanne Fraser

 

Remember When….

remember When….
you were strong and brave,
I felt so safe and confident around you,
remember when…
your eyes twinkled as your laughter filled the room,
how you loved to laugh and enjoy life to the fullest,
remember when…
you lifted me up when I felt insecure
and scared for the future,
you assured me with your strength and grace,
since you’ve been gone,
I feel emptiness and sadness,
as time goes from days, to months, to years;
I feel your presence as I remember you,
you taught me so much,
I am forever grateful,
I feel blessed I was able to be strong for you in your
time of pain and suffering,
and help lift you to a world of peace,
returning what you gave to me,
a life of love and commitment,
lessons I won’t soon forget,
but mostly I will remember,
you taught me how to live.

dedicated to Fred and his daughters

Johanne Fraser

PASSING THE TORCH

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”  Denis Waitley

I remember watching him take his first step and cringing as he lost his balance and fell too close to the coffee table.  Thinking he was going to hit his head, I rushed forward to soften his fall.   He giggled and grabbed my hand to steady his stand and then ran from my grasp only to fall again.  Brendan never really walked, he ran and I knew he was running from the protective and suffocating barrier of his parents.

Every step of independence Brendan took, I prayed that he walked in the right path, used the stairway banister to balance his step so he wouldn’t tumble-down the stairs and stepped carefully when playing outside so he didn’t fall on the concrete.  However, the reality was that he didn’t always follow the right path, he rarely used the banister to balance his step consequently, falling down the stairs and he encountered countless scrapes on his knees and elbows because he didn’t care if he was running on the concrete or the grass.  In all those instances, he learned, he learned how to navigate the paths to his liking, he learned how to climb the stairs without falling, and he learned to fall and tumble on the grass rather than the concrete to avoid the cuts and bruises from the hard surface of the concrete.

Watching our babies become toddlers, children, teenagers and grown adults is a daunting process that consistently leaves parents with feelings of self-doubt and asking ourselves “am I doing right by my child.”  As Brendan finishes his last year of high school, I find myself learning to parent all over again.  Every day I ask myself the same question, “when do you know everything there is to know about parenting?”  I’m finding out the answer is that you don’t ever know everything there is to know about parenting.

I’ve always been a believer of free will and I wholeheartedly believe that people should have the freedom to make their own choices without judgment from their teachers, peers, family or parents.  When it comes to raising children, teenagers and young adults, this theory is put to the test and at times I feel like I am with that little curly-haired boy, with eyes as wide as saucers, who ran from my grasp giggling as he fell to the ground.  It is my job to stand back and let him fall and struggle to get back on his feet again, knowing full well that he will continue to run from my grasp.

I struggle not to question him as though I am interrogating him.  At the same time, it’s hard to spend time with him as there are many aspects to his life; his girlfriend, his friends, school, sports, his exercise routine and work.  Brendan is right where he should be as a young man and he seems to be in good space enjoying his time.  As a parent, I am thrilled for him and finding myself realizing that my parenting days are numbered as I have given him every advice and guidance I can give him and it’s time to let him be who he wants to be, love who he wants to love, and choose the living he wants to choose.  The day has come for me to pass the torch.  The symbolic image of the Olympic Torch comes to mind as  I am passing the fire of life to my son giving him the freedom to carry that fire to the next generation.

As I watch Brendan carve out his own path carrying his fire, I think of that little curly-haired boy running from my grasp.  I remember thinking back in those earlier days, that by the time this little boy is a young man, I would feel like a super parent; surely by that time I would have all the answers.  As I sit here writing this, I feel more baffled today than I did with that little curly-haired boy.  I am not as assured or as confident as I thought I would be and at times I wonder what my next step will be.  It’s not that I don’t feel needed or loved, it is the feeling of vulnerability in the action of  letting go of that little curly hair boy’s hands and turning my back to start my own path, a path to finding that torch again and letting the fire ignite my passions and desires as I continue to walk in this circle of life.