Sunday, May 30, 2010

Birthday Kindness

I love birthdays. I'm not very good at remembering them, but I like to celebrate nevertheless. Thankfully my friends and family are much better at remembering birthdays than I am because my recent birthday was feted in the kindest of ways.

My dear friend Carolin made the trip from Toronto. She has to take a bus, a streetcar, the subway and finally the GO train to get here. She arrived carrying this:

(The cute white dog was not in the carrying case - he is mine)

Then in one day she did this:

She conscripted the entire family. It was the best gift ever. A transformation. All I had to do was watch. (Now, however, I do a lot of watering - which I carry out with great pride every morning and evening.)

Birthdays are wonderful because people who care about us make a conscious effort to be kind. They go out of their way, they plan, they work hard, they work together, to make us feel special and appreciated. The front yard wasn't the only transformation that day. I was expanded.

It's somebody's birthday today. Right now. It might be the person standing behind you in line at Tim Hortons - buy them a coffee. It might be the person running to catch the elevator - hold the door. You don't have to dig up a yard and build a garden, you just have to be consciously kind. It's transformative.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dakbands in Community

Every so often I receive a note or email that reminds me how important the Dakbands really are to community. When an individual, or in this case a group of individuals manifest the true intention of the bands with their understanding of the power of kindness to change the way we live in the world, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that we can elevate our collective consciousness and encourage choices that enrich the communities within which we live and work. A few weeks ago a friend forwarded me such an email. I attempted to write the story myself, then realized that it would have more impact if Meghan told it herself:

My name is Meg McEwen and I’d like to share my story. I didn’t realize that day I received my first DAK band the impact it would have on my life. Its such a simple concept with a huge message…be aware, be deliberate and act kindly. As Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote in his book, The Power of Intention, “ Research has shown that a simple act of kindness directed toward another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness. Even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness have similar beneficial results. Imagine this! Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved!”
I work at an Agency in Niagara that supports individuals living and affected by acquired brain injuries. Working in the field for almost ten years I know how disconnected most people can feel from one another and themselves. Since I have brought the Dakbands into our residence of six men, things have changed. These men are working as a team but most of all empowering themselves and one another. They not only can’t wait to receive a band, but they are excited to give them away! Right now the bands are being used as a tool within our home but we look forward to spreading them throughout the community this summer! At Brain Injury Community Re- entry, we as rehabilitation counselors provide support and leadership. The Dakbands are now allowing the participants to practice this for themselves and each other. It’s my belief that these bands are contributing to the development and advancements in their rehabilitation. Thank-you for making this possible!

Thank you so much from BICR,

Meghan McEwen

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ordinary Kindness

A friend sent me a belated Mother's Day gift yesterday. It was a link to Katrina Kenison reading a excerpt from her book, "The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir". I immediately forwarded it to all my friends who are mothers, so it became a deliberate act of kindness, making each of us richer as we passed it along.

I've been ruminating about ordinariness since my first surgery, although, I wouldn't have defined it as such. Katrina's insights reminded me of what I was feeling, but unable to translate. How do we go back to ordinary once the fundamentals of our lives have changed inescapably. Today the answer took shape in my consciousness, and was strangely shaped liked a dakband.....My four year old, my mother and I invaded our local high price coffee chain, searching for a moment to fuel up and sit down at the same time. All the seating areas were occupied. However, a kindly soul, sitting alone in an area with four seats invited us to join him. I looked at the books he'd been studying, 8 Minute Meditations and The Secret, looked at my four year old and asked him if was sure. He smiled, and we sat down. He didn't stay long, but when he got up to leave I offered him two dakbands. His reaction affirmed what I suspected yet was having trouble articulating. When we become unfamiliar or uncertain in our lives, it is the simple kindnesses we choose to do that restores us, and those around us, to ordinary.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I'm not really certain where I stand when it comes to contrived 'special days' we are forced to celebrate. At the same time I do recognize the value in acknowledging and celebrating, as community, a common theme. And mothering is a great theme, without a doubt.

My family gave me a wonderful day that included a long afternoon nap. Our four year old presented me with a "noisy card" (one of those cards that plays music when you open it). A special 'noisy card'. It had a recording of his voice, "Happy Mother's Day Mom. I love you. This is Garrett." He spent the afternoon opening and closing the card, amazed that somehow it had captured his voice, until I eventually wrestled it from his hands and found myself cursing Hallmark. Our oldest son recorded me a CD of his favourite music, and a DVD of the first three episodes of the Modern Family (VERY FUNNY). Our daughter made a scrumptious dinner and surprised me with a gift certificate for a manicure and a pedicure. I feel blessed, and spoiled.

Then I think of my Mom, who has been staying with us from Monday to Friday, since she arrived home from Arizona at the beginning of April. She has been watching over me, making certain I follow doctor's instructions, and generally reassuring me that eventually life will get back to normal. All this, while making dinners, doing the laundry, tidying up and sleeping on a futon!! I don't think there is a card that could express how much love her ( and it would be just plain cruel to give her a "noisy card" from Garrett :)

I have so many inspiring mothers in my life that I am especially grateful for this year because they have done for me what mothers do best: nurture, listen, support, cook, clean, sister, my friends, nurses who cared for me in the hospital. Yet, I can't help but think of the women for whom this day brought sadness, or emptiness, even pain. I can't help but think of the young woman I met in the hospital, how did this Mother's Day treat her? Does she have a mother, a sister, friends, women who will take care of her, support her and care for her while she is turning into a mother?

There is so much kindness for us to share, as women. We need more than one day a year to celebrate each other. We need to dak each other daily.

If you have special Mother's day story, please consider sharing it with us, so that we all can be encouraged!