For many years I wore a string of prayer beads on my left wrist, to act as a reminder of the important and powerful practice of gratitude. There were 27 beads and each morning upon awakening, I would touch a bead and be grateful for something -- my kids, my health, the antics of our small zoo of animals. Most mornings the first dozen things would come easily, but often the last ten were more of a stretch -- chocolate, cappuccino, my silk dressing robe. It always, always felt good to start my day reflecting upon abundance.
I don’t have autism, and up until ten years ago, I can honestly say I understood very little about autisms or the lives of families who have children affected by autism. There was a boy in my daughter’s grade three class who was non-verbal, had some severe behaviours and spent very little time in her actual class. I would try to communicate with him in the school yard as he often arrived late for class as did my daughter and me.
I want to be kind, I really do. Kindness matters, I know this, I coach this, I speak about the power of kindness, and yet – yes there is a yet. In my primary relationship with my husband, being kind seems to be in a wrestling match with being right. Being right just feels so good. It is a lustful emotion, an instinctual one, a need that can be an addictive one. It goes a little bit like this. My husband is opening every kitchen drawer in search of the cheese slicer and as he opens the bottom drawer and finds the slicer, he jumps up and bangs his head on the top drawer.
It seems to me that the word "competitive" is getting a bum rap in today's school systems and sports programs.
When I was growing up in primary school, there were awards for top marks and effort -- there was the most improved student, the award for highest achievement, the athlete of the year and sportswoman of the year.
Four years ago, I shared my struggles with anorexia and disordered eating by writing a book, Unsinkable. Journalists in the following weeks expressed disappointment that another athlete had an eating disorder. They had held me up as a strong woman who went after her dreams, and suddenly I was sharing one of my weaknesses.
Our family cat Mischief is aptly named. Ten pounds of tabby trouble, this cat has cost us a small fortune in vet bills in his short life. First there was the tin can he found in the neighbours recycling bin, I am sure it was something yummy but the ten stitches in his mouth couldn’t have been worth it. Multiple times he has disappeared into small crevices in walls. Last month we lost him for a couple days when he wandered into the crawl space and got locked in.
As we race breathlessly through January, energized by our resolutions, we may find ourselves sliding rather rapidly into February. Where did the month go? More importantly where are we in relation to all those resolutions? You know, the fitness programme, the commitment to eat no sugar, the giant wall of sticky notes promising more productivity.
Last night I was putting my stepdaughter to bed, when she ran downstairs and frantically opened every cupboard in the front entrance looking for two flashlights.
Once she found the two flashlights, she moved them to another drawer, aligning them meticulously. When she was satisfied they were aligned perfectly, she closed the drawer and went happily to bed.
I want to be kind, I really do. Kindness matters, I know this, I coach this, I speak about the power of kindness, and yet -- yes, and yet.
In my primary relationship (you know, that relationship with my husband), being kind seems to be in a wrestling match with being right. Being right just feels so good. It is a lustful emotion, an instinctual one, a need that can be sort of addiction.
Here is a thought. Until we can see ourselves in the mentally ill we will not stand up and fight for better care, increased awareness, and greater funding. As long as we stand to one side and not recognize that we are all vulnerable, that mental illness can happen to any one of us, we will not find the will or the resources to help those in our community suffering with mental illness.