Leave a comment

Monuments and Memories


Today is a bit of a monumental day – for me at least. It is a day that many people regard with dread and while I have too in the past, it seems that this year, my birthday isn’t causing me strife. In fact, isn’t the alternative rather bleak? It’s monumental in that it’s a milestone birthday. I’ll let you speculate as to which one, just in the spirit of fun. Yet, as content as I am with my age, I can’t help but to be sad today as well. It’s my first birthday without one of mom’s tasty, home-made cakes, her meticulously wrapped packages and the trill of her singing the age-old birthday song. In fact, I was very blue this morning when I got up.

As the morning progressed and I tried to work with absolutely, zero success.  I decided, instead, that I would find a bead for my charm bracelet that would represent my mom. I’ve wanted to since I was gifted it. This wasn’t easy, after all, there were several parameters that this charm would need to fill. After 9 stores, silently asking mom for help and finally returning to the very first one that fit the bill, the perfect bead was found. I can’t even take credit for finding it! So why was it so hard to find? Firstly, it’s purple. Purple was mom’s favorite colour. She loved it in all it’s variations. It is also the colour that represents women’s cancers, a cause I am taking up to raise more awareness. Secondly, it contains flowers. Mom was an avid gardener. When she was well, she could boast some of the most beautiful gardens in the neighborhood. The flowers are delicate, but the bead is substantial and “strong” looking, something that is true of her character. It suited her.

So on this day that’s supposed to be monumental in my life, I spent my time remembering the things she loved most in the efforts to find a way to carry her memory with me. A birthday gift to myself and maybe from mom too.


Leave a comment

Don’t look, can’t tell….


Health (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

In all cases of cancer detection, the odds of successful treatment increase with early detection. In the case of women’s cancers this includes, in Ontario, yearly physical exams and testing, or at least it did. In November 2012, a 11.1 billion dollar deal with Ontario’s doctor’s to “modernize” physical exams, it was deemed that a full annual physical isn’t necessary in “healthy” adults. Well, you’re only healthy until you’re not, right? Apparently, tests and the frequency of these tests will now be based on your individual needs. This would be great if everyone was as proactive as they need to be when it comes to their own health care. I fear that it will now increase the incidence of advanced cancers perhaps undetectable to the patient themselves. Women’s issues have been so taboo for so many years, I worry women will put off mentioning them until their next scheduled full physical exam, which, remember, will only include the tests deemed necessary. What if it’s an issue that you mistake for something else? Which is something that I saw in my mom’s case. I think this new “modernized” approach to our health care leaves far too many things to chance. I think it leaves too many women vulnerable to unnecessary risk.

What do we do about it then? Well, now more than ever it’s important to talk about women’s cancers. Information is key. Women need to know the symptoms and feel empowered so that they are able to push forward in the best interests of their own health care. Talk to your parents, your kids, your siblings, your friends. Learn your family history and discover your risk factors. It’s not a time to rest on your laurels thinking that the doctor knows you best. They only know what you tell them, and now, are no longer required to do the tests that may discover the issues you may be having.

I should state that not all doctors think this is a good idea. An article on CBC news with Dr. Stephen Cudmore expresses his concern over the new guidelines. In it he comments that he’s found underlying health problems in otherwise healthy adults. I can only hope that more doctors feel this way.

So start talking and learning. Don’t let knowledge of women’s cancers remain left unsaid, and undetected.

Leave a comment

A Gift Redirected


A&P, COFFEE, SANTA CLAUS (Photo credit: George Eastman House)

In the last several years, I found Christmas to feel so rushed. Regardless of how prepared, it arrives suddenly, seemingly unannounced, passes and leaves me saying, “where did it go?” This year was a little different. Of course, the obvious is true…mom isn’t here and she was so sadly missed. Last night was the hardest. I found myself moved to tears several times as I struggled with the reality that she’s not going to be here. Maybe the other part of it was that through losing her, I’m just so much more grateful for those that ARE here and those that choose to be in my life. This year, it seemed as if time slowed down, just a little bit. Every day leading to Christmas was still filled to the brim with things to do, but I savoured them and it seemed to make the season feel longer. Yet there was still something missing, there always will be.

Today, I thought it would be a good homage to my mom, in her absence, to donate what I would spent on a gift for her, to the Canadian Cancer Society. Merry Christmas mom.

Leave a comment

The Shirt Off My Back


Clothing (Photo credit: Nikita Kashner)

After sorting through my clothing (honestly, how many black t-shirts does one really need) I bagged up the seemingly monstrous pile on the floor. I do this fairly regularly, at least yearly. My husband has a rule, “one in, one out.” Unless it’s MY clothing and it’s “one in, TWO out!” Don’t worry, I don’t listen. It’s all in good fun and as styles change and my clothing requirements for work shift, it’s liberating to get rid of some of the stuff I don’t really wear. It also makes room for more! I inherited quite a few things of my mom’s after she passed away this summer. Some of it, I just couldn’t part with at the time. It was too soon, so I hung on to it. Some of it was indeed a part of my wardrobe maybe a year or two ago. It was just time to let it go.

Choosing what organization would find these formerly styling threads a new home is always easy. There are many organizations that will gladly take your old duds off your hands. Today, I donated mine to the Canadian Diabetes Association. I have family and friends that are diabetic making the decision easy.

Now, where did I see that 60% off all sweaters sale again?

Leave a comment

Art for Healing

One hopes that they will never need to spend time in the hospital, but inevitably, that time does come. I’ve been there, after a car accident 8 years ago I spent 4 days under the care of the doctors and nurses at the local hospital. I was released on Christmas Eve. I was bound and bent on going home that day, even if it meant that I had to crawl home on my hands and knees! Since then there’s been a massive fundraising campaign to build a new, state of the art facility which opened just last year. The fundraising continues.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time in hospitals throughout my life. In high school, being active in a LOT of sports found me as a regular at the emergency department. More recently, I spent a lot of time in hospitals with my mom as she underwent her cancer treatment and in her final days. I’ve learned the importance of funding for our health care centres. Imagine the consequences without them!

Today I delivered some of my art work to support an art sale at the local hospital. A portion of the sales will be donated to the hospital foundation. As an artist, it’s a great feeling to be able to use something you love to do as a means to raise funds for a good cause. Here’s hoping my work will draw some sales!

Acrylic © 2012

Acrylic © 2012


Leave a comment

Click for a Cause!


Donations (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)

Can you say CRABBY? That was me today. Between a splitting headache and an egregiously delayed printing shipment for work, I was impatient to say the least. Time for a break. I headed out to the local Tim Horton’s to get myself a tea. It seemed a good time to apply the principle that altruistic behaviour improves mood. Something had to help. My intent was to pay for the order of the person behind me, however, no person drove in behind me! Drat. Foiled! So I drove through town with my tea wondering what I could do. It’s a small town, it didn’t take me long to drive through and head home. So instead, I worked on a painting that’s been on the board for a couple of weeks. That’s when inspiration hit.

I’d heard of sites that donate to charity based on clicks received on their websites. I decided to check it out. I found this site called Freenuts that listed 10 good sites to do this very thing.

First I tried Free Rice. This site allows you to learn something all while doing something to help end hunger. For each correct answer, you donate 10 grains of rice to needy people. (Who counts them anyway?) This was addictive. I quickly got caught up in the vocabulary challenge. I love words and it was a lot of fun to test my knowledge, all without even creating an account! Which you can do if you’d like to keep track of your donations.

Next I travelled to Care2. After creating an account I could get started generating donations to rain forests, baby seals, animal rescue, oceans, wolves (notice a theme?). Considering my penchant for wildlife and nature I was instantly drawn to that and began happily clicking away to save our natural world. I learned that my clicks helped feed a rescued primate, protected 11,000 sq. ft. of big cat habitat, saved 7.4 sq. ft. of rainforest today and more.

Then I went to Games that Give where you can choose games that sponsors donate money to charity as you play the games listed on the site. Oh my….dangerously addictive. It’s a great way to spend some time and you don’t have to feel guilty, you’re doing it for a good cause!!

The age of the internet has opened up doors to increase awareness and now increase sponsorship to help very worthy causes. I encourage you to give these acts of kindness a try. They’re free and can be done in the comfort of your own home. For a day when you’re feeling crabby like I was, it’s a good way to spend a little time.

Leave a comment

The Colour of Kindness

Kindness Blooms

Considering, I’ve spent quite a little time gathering ideas from various web sites and gathering inspiration from others who’ve done similar acts of kindness, surprisingly, I didn’t plan my first day. As strange as it may sound, I just couldn’t decide what to do. For my family, today is a significant day. It would have been mom’s 63rd birthday. Traditionally, I’d buy her a poinsettia, or some other “Christmassy” plant and help her put up the tree today. It wasn’t until I was on my way to town to run some errands that I decided on what I’d do.

I was nervous. What if I get caught or someone recognizes me? But really, WHY would that worry me? Is it so unusual to do nice things for strangers? Apparently.

I stopped at the local market and picked up some small plants – hardy ones that could weather a little chill. At the dollar store I picked up little cards and wrote the following note….”ACTS OF HOLIDAY KINDNESS. You’ve been ELFED! Merry Christmas!” and placed the little card inside the plant. I waited in the parking lot and watched for my targets, waiting to find someone who seemed just a little down or grumpy or generally preoccupied and gently placed the plant on their front window after they made their way to into the store. I had people watch me curiously as I went about my mission. Some smiling and even one person looking at me as if I had three heads.

The nervousness faded and was replaced with warmth as I travelled home. I already wanted to do something else!

While I was at the market I also purchased a violet in mom’s favourite colour which I’ll keep with me. Happy Birthday mom.