What the LEAN is going on ?

It’s an Election!  I like a good debate, but I am not a fan of a negative campaign. Not long out of the election gate, “Lean” was on the chopping block for one political party, and perhaps to be scaled down some by the ruling party.

Though never a “Lean Leader” I have seen enough to have an educated opinion of the Lean journey. Our Health Region was first out of the block to explore this way of looking at systems, processes and change and some very good changes have come out of that system. After a few years of this region doing some Lean initiatives, the Saskatchewan government rolled it out big time, with timelines set ( ? realistic ?)  and other Health Regions began their own programs.  There are some parts of it that are great, some good and there could be some that don’t “add value” to our health care system.

In my career, health care has gone from Quality Assurance  (essentially tracking safety performance but never really thinking out of the box) to Quality Improvement ( random ideas on how to improve but often without staff input and accountability) to the latest adoption of Lean Methodology and Kaizen Promotion Teams. To me this is the most effective of all the programs I have participated in. There is always something to improve in a system that is so diverse and full of potential risk.

So what is all the criticism and is it true ? Were the staff paid  to speak Japanese and fly airplanes ? Did millions of dollars go down the drain without any effect on quality ?

TRUE:  All staff were obligated to attend a ½ day session to learn the jargon that goes with Lean and to understand some of the processes and innovations that were to come.  In most workshops one attends there is usually some kind of a game to illustrate the learning, and the paper airplanes did help us to see how teamwork and buy in could make a difference.  Did all buy in ? Of course not, but it was a good way for us to understand some of the basics of the program.

TRUE: Fancy Japanese names and processes? Let me explain simply …

3S – This is basically “everything in its place and a place for everything”.  Nurses love to hoard. We hide linen away and supplies away “just in case”.  It is like we all grew up in the Great Depression. Hence, cupboards get full, people decide on a new place to house important equipment – and the chase goes on. “Where are we keeping the dressing supplies now?” or “where did the lift slings go to?” are common time wasters in a health care staff’s day. Everyone has a better idea on storage, and if they find spare time, get to sorting and cleaning and moving thing around. Imagine if equipment and supplies  had a home, and it was clear where they  went and everyone agreed that it was a good place. What if we checked periodically that something didn’t go rogue?  A good thing and it seems like common sense but in all the places I have worked as a nurse in 45 yrs standard storing of supplies has been a concern. Oh how many steps I have travelled to find an item gone rogue.

Kanban: This is simply described as a push system instead of a pull.  Staff in health care spend several hours every week ( and sometimes more often ) to count inventory and send a requisition to “Stores”to refill their supplies. Imagine ( and actually see !! ) a system where instead of ordering and counting, there is a line in the sand where the supplies are too low, and the supply department fills it from just looking at what is at the low. ( Of course buildings not within the hospital still have to order, but the line is clear where new supply is needed)  Our new hospital has an amazing storage system where supplies are kept in the room and accessible from both sides. Filled from the outside, used from both sides.  That was created through Lean processes.

3P – The process where people ( executive leaders, doctors, nurses, housekeeping staff, dietary staff and even patient representatives get together and look at potential flow, potential room size, and generally every area of the hospital. For example,  the pediatric ward, a mother of a child who had been in hospital was on the team.  Was the process perfect ? no far from it . But with this process, people began to compromise, brainstorm and work together to solve problems that exist and might exist. As with every project, this can have some fails. Ours was the 2nd 3P project in the province ( the other one being the Children’s Hospital ) so we are in a brave new world.

Several Lean processes are put into place to evaluate a “Kaizen Event” ( or improvement process )  Lean looks at a process from beginning to end and all the tasks and people involved in it.   Work is measured. If one knows the average time it takes to do a task, we can figure out what things prevent that timing from happening, and we can standardize the work.  ( something like the timing estimates on your favourite recipes.)  Then we can “load level” to patient demand – meaning if I am overly busy, there will be a system to flag that I need help. Think of a line up at grocery store.. when it gets to 5-6 at a till, someone calls for a till to be opened, and things move quicker). Health care can do the same kind of things and will continue to improve processes until they feel they are doing just that.

Kaizan projects look at problems and work to find solutions. Solutions come from staff that have never worked your department in consultation with staff that do. These take up a lot of time, so choosing a project is vital to having a successful Kaizan project.   It isn’t a manager telling staff  a process has to change, it is staff brainstorming with the leaders and coming up with the best way – which then becomes standard work. The other blessing is sometimes we wait till the perfect time to change something – and that never comes. With these projects the question is “how can we make that happen today?” And the change begins.

Procedures become Standard Work – more than just a name change. Everyone knowing what has to be done, in what order and no “individualizing of procedures”. Nursing in the past has often been a “but I do it this way” kind of system.  Not with lean.

Mistake proofing looks at high risk procedures and making sure mistakes don’t happen.

So if  done right Lean makes sense, and saves waste ( of time, materials and workload). But sometimes, when we think of different ways to do things, the solution isn’t right.. and  that is where the team goes back to the “table” and looks at other solutions. Sometimes no improvement is seen. And sometimes the changes are not an improvement.. but overall the process works.

Consultation with Lean consultants has made the Lean process in our region a well oiled machine. What are the results?   Shortened surgical  wait times, better pre op assessment,  increased services in mental health, shortened wait for assessment for long term care and home care, better scheduling, processes to ensure the right patient gets the right procedure, foolproof  identification  of patients ( are you tired of giving out your birthdate yet ?) are just a few.  And if you look beyond the hype and criticism you will see that we now have a hospital to be very proud of.

Shortened wait times you say ? What about our Emergency department – well sitting in a crowded waiting room or a room in the emergency for 4-6 hours is certainly distressful, and I have been there – but both times we had to go to Emergency  since the new hospital opened,   we got immediate and competent attention.

Long wait times are a problem all across the country. One of my most difficult decisions is deciding when Emergency is the right place to go to. I agonized over this as I am sure many reading this do as well.

Emergency departments are often used because of poor access to walk in clinics and for those who work and can’t take time off during the day to look into minor health concerns. Many times the waiting room becomes a social time for family and friends to visit while waiting, in areas not designed for this.  In a perfect world, waits would not happen, people would have better access to non urgent care and time off work to access it and everyone visiting the Emergency department would be seen in ½ an hour. In Canada, Saskatchewan,  and in Moose Jaw  we just are not there yet.

My experiences in hospitals both working, being a patient, and being a family member have not always been positive, and I believe  that using  Lean we are  looking at solutions for concerns. Recently when I expressed a concern, I saw those Lean processes go into play and a willingness on the part of the manager to try a different way of doing business.

Our health system is far from perfect but staff and management are working together to solve the problems. I think to throw out Lean is to throw out the baby with the bath water.

I believe  that the 3P process gave us a wonderful building we can be all proud of, and I believe that when staff and managers get more used to their totally new environment and processes, there will be great things to come.  When a concern is taken to the Quality Care Coordinator, people  are ready and willing  to find a solution. I know.. I have been on both sides of having a problem taken to them.

Have I made this more clear ?  I hope so !

 

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Posted in lean health care, Lean Methodology, musing, registered nurse retired | Leave a comment

Because I knew you – I’ve been changed for good

caractyreA Calgary golf course social room, a beautiful view of the foothills, a sea of Tommy Bahama shirts and sundresses,  laughs and tears and memories.  Sounds like a description of a party, and it was a party that  Cliff would have approved of – right down to the smoked salmon sandwiches. This was not a party that any of us wished to be privileged to attend – this was a Celebration of Life of my brother in law who died of Colon cancer just after his 66th birthday.  This sad event was so well orchestrated by my sister, and her children, who knew that a way to honour this “larger than life” man would be to do it well, using the best,  and asking people to do  “All Things Cliff.”

My sister and brother in law were married 45 years, having met as teenagers at their summer jobs at Colombia Ice Fields (waitress and bombardier driver) – he from Halifax and she from Calgary (Moose Jaw originally). My dad loved him immediately and spent many hours talking investments and businesses with him.  Through life’s challenges, I always admired Lorna and Cliff  for living life with gusto, gathering and keeping  thousands of friends from every place they worked, lived or holidayed.

Travel was vital to Cliff’s lifestyle, there were a lot of his favourite places to visit – most hot and near an ocean.  Sometimes Lorna would say ” I just want to stay home for a bit ” but soon they were planning their next place to go – Hawaii, Spain, Rome, England, San Jose del Cabo, Caribbean, Turkey to name only a few. Gord and I were so  lucky to enjoy the fun of Cabo for a week with Cliff and Lorna and I had a couple of weeks at his Phoenix home. Never ate so well ! (should we mention the Margarita’s from Mexico limes as well ?)  He booked a last trip to Phoenix and Hawaii for January, that they, unfortunately, were not able to take.  My daughter and son in law took a small palm tree and some Hawaii treats to him in the hospital, and that just had to do. That was a dream that was hard for him to let go of for he was determined to have these last trips for three years – and he wasn’t ready to stop avoiding the snow.

He was  always ready for a new adventure, a new  investment, new oil seeking and he was constantly learning.  He took on Spanish lessons while in Cabo, and became a great friend of his teacher. Those lessons continued via Skype twice a week for several years and only ended a couple of weeks before his passing. His spanish speaking hospice nurse was quite amazed at the articulate Spanish he spoke.

A story about Cliff would not be complete without some funny stories and his memorial party was full of them.  He loved being a red head, and had a bit of a temper that went with that mop of red. I remember the time he got angry at some driver and ended up with his car up on a median because he cut the turn too fast. That was an expensive rim and tire replacement.  Or colourful language when he tried to fix things around the house – for all his wonderful skills this was not one of them.  My most unforgettable temper story was at a family dinner when I accidentally knocked over one of his  expensive wine glasses and it broke. Although we can laugh about it now, I still choose the shortest wine glass  and always placed it WAY out of reach. At his house there were never “cheap wine glasses” like at my house.. for his shopping trips usually just took him to look for ” the best.”

Cliff was known for his moustache – big bold and red.  He cut his moustache off a couple of years ago, after a new barber trimmed it down to what Lorna describes as a “Hitler moustache” so it had to come off.. and he decided it could stay off. It took a long time to get used to that !! His red hair  never turned grey… just this beautiful shade of blond – but he never stopped reminding us (and our daughter) that red heads were still the best.

Lorna always answered the phone at their homes and to be honest, I am not sure Cliff really knew how to say much more than “Hello Terry- Lorna’s not home” on the phone. Talking in person was far more rewarding, as he always offered conversation  with a twinkle in his eye.. with a trace of Nova Scotia and that characteristic Jeffrey family pause. In early January, I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite a load of narcotics, he could still talk politics, food and finances.

Cliff’s style was distinctive.  He wore whatever he wanted and owned a closet full of bright, flowery Tommy Bahama wear.  He would travel in his Tommy bathing suit even when leaving Calgary at 40 below. There are stories about some of his very colourful shirts, including one ( pink, orange, green in splendid stripes) that gained quite the reputation.

He loved all genres of music, read all varieties of books, and was probably the best cook you could encounter. His secret – a pound of butter and a quart of cream – and maybe a few jalapeño peppers. He researched restaurants as soon as someone said ” lets eat out’ , and knew where to eat on each holiday. He was rarely wrong. When Lorna and I went to Florida together, we decided to just choose restaurants randomly and see if we could find good restaurants without a day of research (boycotting one of the “all things Cliff).  We didn’t dare tell Cliff of this unscientific process – but we found good food!

His collection of cookbooks was impressive, but you knew that even a famous chef’s recipe probably had a “Cliff variation”. He was always ready to teach. He wasn’t afraid to tell me (the time my oven failed and my thanksgiving turkey was sitting raw at 1 pm) , that my turkey would cook – after all “you always cook them too long anyways” and I could always count on advice (yes even on the phone) on any recipe (or actually on any financial matter as well.)

I learned from Cliff to know immediately when the french fries in a restaurant are frozen rather than fresh cut  but I do not necessarily ask the “question” when I order fries . Maybe I will take that lesson from him now from now on. Boycotting frozen french fries is certainly a cause that Cliff would want us to continue.

He was more than just an uncle to my three children, he was special. He  agreed to have two of them live with them when they needed a place to stay and hosted the other even when he even brought a flock of friends with him for a weekend.  He always engaged them in his passions and knew how to draw them out. Politics could get my oldest son and him on a long discussion.

Cliff’s diagnosis of incurable cancer came three years ago and it shocked us all.  How could cancer hit this always healthy, exercise addicted, fit man? This was just  at the beginning  of their retirement years, in the midst of their travelling days, and while they were getting used to being grandparents and enjoying seeing their two children successful and happy.

Cliff accepted  his diagnosis and pushed through fear and lived life to the fullest this last three years. Between biweekly chemo treatments he would travel back and forth to Phoenix, their cabin in Invermere, their son’s Ironman competitions, Cabo and even Hawaii. It was a whirlwind of travel, doctors appointments and treatments and we almost imagined that he could actually beat this disease.  In June, was the big and final blow, when they were told that the chemo was no longer was working. A last ditch experiment was tried, but that too, failed to stop those wicked cells from gathering and multiplying.  His time with oncology was done, palliative care would begin.

So he planned more trips – a family trip to Disneyland, and Halifax and back to Phoenix twice. During this time, he saw his son meet a wonderful girl and choose a small family wedding to ensure his dad could attend. His last trip to Phoenix, he even golfed more holes than most healthy men golf, then was able to fly home to Calgary alone in late November, staying a bit longer than his wife. Days later, by the first week in December though, his health went downhill, with two months of pain, an increasingly weakened body, and finally one week in Palliative Care, and one week in Hospice. Despite that, he was able to manage the wedding day, and enjoy his grandchildren’s antics at Christmas.

His last two weeks were spent with more challenges with pain control but true to his nature, he, with tears, confirmed his love for the people who surrounded him. This man who spent his life as a successful geologist and larger than life personality, ended it with tenderness, and love and a legacy to remember.

There were some very wonderful nature displays on Monday that assure us that Cliff will be “all right” in the life after this. I believe that  right now is in Heaven where there is no pain, no sorrow and where cream and butter doesn’t contain calories. Monday  just as the singer was singing the beautiful Rankin Family song, “Fare Thee Well” a large flock of geese gracefully flew by the huge picture windows – and then circled to come back as the song ended. Later, a sunset the colour of his flaming red hair could be seen in the sky as we ended our family time together.  Great visuals, that I believe were sent by a loving God to reassure mourners that Cliff was at peace.

These are only a few of the thoughts I have of this man, there are so many more, and our photo albums journal each wild moustache, each hair style change, and many wild outfits, but mostly precious times with his wife, son and daughter, grandchildren and with all of us who shared a piece of his life.

I will close with words from Glinda from Wicked.

“It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good.

” For Good” Idina Menzel

 

 

 

 

 

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One of these things is not like the other

“One of these things is not like the other “

Any motheryoga poses from the 1980’s will remember that song that was a daily ditty in our lives. Well that is what came to mind as I settled into my Vinyasa Yoga class this morning.  Half the class was male, and there was not a grey hair in the place ! Average age 30+ and ME… happy retired “pensioner”. Did I pick the wrong class ?

Our mind can go into some pretty self defeating thoughts. Although I have learned through a few years of yoga practice, that we don’t compare ourselves to others and to do what your body can do.. not what everyone else does – my mind did go there. “How am I supposed to do a practice meant for people 30 years younger than me?”

I want to let you know that the class was fine, my mind took a turn elsewhere and although most of those younger people didn’t come home to a couch and a cup of tea, that is okay with me.  I did most of it, adapted what I need to, and feel much better for it.

I love my Yoga practice. It has given me more flexibility, a way to relax my very busy mind, a way to relax my muscles and my body (my friend and massage therapist used to say “the only way to get you to relax is to trick you” !) – and a surprising core strength that helps me with other exercise. When I forget to go, or life’s busyness takes precedence over heading out with my bolster and mat, I know in my stiff hips and restless sleep that I need to continue this.

Just a side thought – as I know I have some Christian followers, as I did our last pose ( Savasana or sometimes known as “corpse pose” for the more macabre)  – I  remembered a conversation with some Christian friends re “emptying the mind” and the concerns about that. My practice is very attuned to my beliefs – and the so called emptying of the mind for me, becomes that prayerful, peaceful space sometimes we reach just before sleep.  And probably nobody notices that I don’t utter Namaste.. but instead pray that the light within me will be that light of Christ. 

Yes, my mind plays tricks on me – makes me feel self conscious when I go left instead of right in the Wednesday morning dance class, or a flow yoga, makes me wonder if I can take the stress of life some days, makes me feel just a little less than that lady with the lovely figure  seated next to me.   But as my yoga instructors say ” reign that mind back”. For me in my day to day life, some of it stressful, I do reign my mind back, and suddenly I am not a 65 year old woman trying to do a thirty something’s yoga practice, but I am me, pushing my body to an eventual ” fitness” that is just right for me.

For those of you who know me well – this is a path many times I have avoided !! In fact I gleefully posted that if you see me running you better run too, as something must be chasing me.. but that part is  still true.

My mind has taken a lot of reigning in lately.

 

Posted in Skin Care, healthy living | 13 Comments

Changes – takes a bit of getting used to

And one dayHow is Retirement?  Almost daily that is the question to me.. and to be honest I have to answer “just beginning”.

I retired on October 31st from a 45 yr career in nursing. My fears at first when deciding was “am I still a nurse without the job ” but fortunately or unfortunately I have been using my nursing knowledge in a couple of different directions lately.

I am fortunate in that when I take in some information re treatments, diagnoses and practical approaches ( I am a confessed addict of Dr Radio on Sirius XM radio and of Natural health websites and Facebook posts), I can keep that information in this brain. I fear the day that I won’t know what to say when someone calls with a “medical question” but that has not been true so far. So I will put that fear aside.

November and December flew by without any start to what are my retirement goals:

  1. Continue my Yoga practices so that 3-4 times a week is my norm
  2. Yoga more during the day rather than when it delays supper – or is this goal to plan suppers ??
  3.  Some sort of aerobic exercise to keep me fit, my bones healthy and perhaps socialization too ( walking track at the Yara Centre is part of that plan )
  4. Reconnect with people that sometimes I just didn’t have energy  to do when working full time and doing life.
  5. Stay  in touch with some of the people from my work life
  6. Eat healthy, learn about supplements, essential oils and all those healthy things
  7. Keep my house clean and tidy so I don’t have to have a fear of people dropping in – being a clutter bug doesn’t help this one !
  8. Write – I have some secret plans for that
  9. Scrapbook – my basement is ready with the foose ball table finding a new home
  10. Learn photography
  11. Continue my entrepreneur activities
  12. Some days just do whatever I please ( which this week is Season 5 of Homeland ( my other addiction ) which I discovered is on a feature on my TV subscription that I cancelled at the end of my billing period so that is a ” Netflix like binge”

Wow.. a daunting list !!

To add some humour into this post is  to imagine me – a hopeless klutz with a left right dyslexia problem deciding that a dance fit class would be one of the things I try. So with water bottle in tow, and a friend who promised not to laugh beside me – I risked today.  I forgot the towel for the “Dokken Sweats” that have plagued me long before “the change”. (my dad used to wring out a handkerchief after dancing.. he had very good rhythm but the similar ability to pour water our of his head.)  Lessons learned – it is useless to shower prior to dance fit class and one needs to find someone to copy ( the lady in the pink shirt was chosen as she has got it down pat- I hope she is there next week! )  But I enjoyed myself and hope that the “oh no I have gone right instead of left” or ” you want me to actually do a two step?”  wasn’t caught on a blackmail  tape because I am going back !!

Rhythm was never my thing. I think it hampered those piano lessons from Sister Reginalda at the Convent who never really figured out that Terry has to HEAR the music to play it due to no inborn rhythm.  One of my most humiliating life experiences was being held back in gym dancing classes for “mocking the class”. Behind the stage, the gym instructor made me try the dance over and over until she gave up and said ” I guess you were for real.” Then to explain to the next teacher that I had detention in gym. You have to know that then I was the shy kid with absolutely no rebellion in me.. that came later. My hubby, a born dancer with rhythm soon learned to ask other ladies to dance the all those fancy dances that require left/right awareness, while I just enjoyed watching.

Now you know why DanceFit was a risk ??

But perhaps retirement needs some risk.. I am not up to wearing purple yet .. but risk – it can be fun.

How is retirement ? just beginning.

 

 

Posted in healthy living, Living life, registered nurse retired, retirement | 3 Comments

The Neglectful Gardener 

DSC_0111

For more years than I  can count, my garden seems to have a big problem – neglect and weeds.  It seems I just get a handle on them, then life, weather, other priorities and yes, laziness lets the weeds take over again.

Some of the things that kept me from being a faithful gardener I don’t regret. We got much needed rain, renovations done in our lake cabin, visitors ( adult ones but especially little ones ) that I gladly stop and pay attention to. Or there is  conversation with friend or family, or even work !

Tonight, as I tackle the weeds, and make a good effort at cleaning it up, it almost becomes addictive.  Finding the plants thriving despite being surrounded by weeds, thinning the grass from within the delicate carrot tops and rejoicing at new growth and small tomatoes on the vines. I love the harvest so it does make the weeding and upkeep  worth it.

In the quiet, I take time to think. Certainly this years growth ( especially the porchulaca  that I had pretty well eliminated ) is a direct result of last years “ lost summer.” No time to weed or even to harvest much of it when much time was spent at a Regina hospital beside my husband. How hard it was last year to  “put away” my dreams of the garden, give away some of the harvest  and face my limitations – hence the multiplied problem this year.

Weeds are often used as metaphors for life, and today that is what occupies my thoughts. The creeping weed, spreading out from one root and appearing to take over the entire space, but gone with one quick sweep. People can be like that too.. appearing powerful, and all confident, but really only held up by one root that is easily pulled. That single root can be their downfall.  There are also the  large spindly weeds – easily picked because they have thin and weak roots – they appear to be growing well but really have no foundation.  As I pull at  the thistle, stubborn, heavy and prickly, I remember that if I don’t get the whole root, it will grow back strong and thicker.   One doesn’t want to get too close to the thistle, but they are prominent and can be  pretty when flowering. We could be attracted to them until we see that allowing them to thrive can mean that the fruit bearing plants will shrivel.

It is not easy sometimes to find the good fruit amongst all the weeds, but as I pulled, dug and gathered a few bags of weeds I realized that my garden will thrive despite these intruders. Interesting, though, in my garden, intruders tend to be the norm. My garden seems to survive despite them  and often the good plants choke out the weeds.  Maybe this year I needed the weeds to take time to reflect.

I remember my granddaughter helping me weed last year.  She was so excited to  discover dill weed, putting it on every piece of her dinner for the next few meals. I thin out the weeds making sure I save some dill weed for her as she has already asked if there is dill – “like the pickles” – in my garden this year. Dill, though a good weed, tasty and fragrant can also take over a garden if controls not placed on it.

It is hard sometimes even with people, to discern the weeds from the fruit bearing vines. We turn our back and the weeds have taken over.  Is it worth some work to discern the weeds from the vegetables so my garden can thrive.

I want a garden where all is beautiful  and the weeds don’t choke out the plants. I think I want that for life too, but that isn’t real.. sometimes we need the weeds to be able to see the beauty. That takes a lot of digging around. That also  takes intention – if I don’t go up to the garden to weed, I won’t even notice that the weeds have taken over. It is so much easier ” just not to look.”

I am in a spot  right now where I need to be able to discern weeds from fruit bearing vines. Wish it was as easy in life as it is in the garden. I pray to God for that discernment. I can trust that  He will be faithful to answer my prayer.

Posted in Faith, Healthy LIving, Living life, musing | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Mothers, Memories and Me

DSC_0007Nothing like Mother’s Day to bring to mind strong feelings whether you are a mother, too young to be a mother, never wished to be a mother, or were denied the privilege of being a mother.  The Facebook Posts remind us that this day is tomorrow. One such post on Facebook said that it is not about us.. it is about our Mother’s .. and that is true, but Mother’s Day to me, is still a special day for ME –  filled with memories, thankfulness, sadness and regrets, but I think most of all filled with love, pride and happiness.

I have lived much longer now than I have ever had a mother.  So although I am thankful for the fact that I had a loving mother for 16 years of my life, and thank her often for traits I see in myself and my sisters, my life with a mother is a bit of a blur. My memories are faded and influenced by black and white snapshots of our life together. I hope that I am like her in some ways, as there aren’t very many people in this world who knew her who didn’t like her and admire her. Intelligent, humble, kind, a bit feisty, caring, awesome seamstress, caring mother and great friend. Those would be some of the qualities that stand out.

I was blessed with an awesome mother in law with many of the same qualities, who welcomed me to the family with open arms and treated me like a daughter. Unfortunately  I had a step mother who often turned out inadequate in the mother department.  Not her fault, she inherited three teens and had no children of her own.

I buried three of my children, born much too soon, and unable to sustain life.  I don’t let that colour my Mother’s Day as this day  is not about the past to me, but the present.

There is nothing that makes Mother’s Day more special to me than to know that my children are happy, successful and living life the way they want to. Watching my beautiful daughter get married last month was a special time, and reminded me how blessed I am. I was also reminded as I watched all my children interact with those they love and those they just met,  that all my children also have  the qualities that I admired in my own mother – kind, intelligent, caring, purposeful, and make great friendships. Yes, and maybe a bit feisty !!

I am also so proud of the two “in law ” children that I hope will remember me as the kind of mother in law that I remember having.  I am also pleased  that both my married children have in-law families that love them as their own.

And that makes Mother’s Day a special day to me. Not that the phone calls and best wishes  and maybe a special meal made by dear hubby don’t help make the day special, but the greatest wish a mother has is for her children to be happy.

And they are.

My prayers have been answered…. and I am sure  many more to come !

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Who are our heroes ?

This has been a rough two weeks for Canada and its national broadcasting company, but more so for Canadian “niceness”

Canadians tend to be known as polite and generally nice. We are not without our scandals but we usually see this as  “atypical of Canadian behaviour”.

So when allegations against one of our well known and well loved broadcasters came out, I first disbelieved, defended and thought our media was just being mean. I didn’t like what the celebrity said about “normal but kinky sexual behaviour”,  but mostly I didn’t understand it. I believe  when women are not treated in a kind manner in relationships, however consensual, I often wonder if the women know that there are options. Options of respect and loving behaviour and mutual love.  But I defended this man’s right to his preferences in a consensual relationship. – like I defend the dignity of all people – whether they have my beliefs or not.

But soon I felt duped. Duped by the pleasant radio personality who never treated anyone poorly on his radio show. Duped by his Facebook post telling that he was being harassed by his former girlfriend. Duped by the common concept that whatever is done in private by two consenting adults is “just fine”.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit this, but when loaned the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books last summer, I originally scoffed them, but then picked them up – to see why everyone was loving them.  Sixty pages in, I felt that I was reading  a trashy, poorly written story of a young woman being taken advantage of, assaulted and being essentially bullied. I put the books down.

When I told friends  that it doesn’t seem to be  good thing for women to be embracing rough or violent consensual sexual behaviour as normal,  some thought me somewhat naive and prudish. I believe that this is not what God intended for our loving relationships.  To my dismay the series and the copycat ones that followed had huge fan bases.

So for me initially to believe this celebrity, because I liked his show and his voice, is maybe typical of who I am.  I believe first and am sometimes deceived.  I know better. People are often not who they portray themselves to be, whether celebrities or just regular everyday people. And that often disappoints me.

PollyAnna that I am, I am not longer duped about this story. I am angry and grieved that women are hit, hurt and roughed up in the pretence of love. I am angry that many people knew about it and failed to report it.  I am angry that we don’t have a good way for women to report abuse, and that our courts dare ask how that woman was dressed the day she was assaulted. I am also angry that women haven’t been taught to say “NO !!”  To say ” Don’t do that again” or ” I cannot believe you did that”.  It surprises me that the theme of some of  these  stories is that the women ends up crying and never confronting the offender, in a dating relationship.  I would rather hope that more women, after reading these stories, will  assert their rights and their dignity in a relationship.

I would love to believe that this kind of stuff just didn’t happen, and that relationships and dating would honour both women and men.  That women would not have to be afraid. That courts would not degrade the women’s reputation. But that would be naive. Instead, I will encourage young and older women everywhere that in all things, they deserve and can demand respect.

The media frenzy over this story had me caught up in the truth finding.  I read far too much on this subject.  Now I don’t care.  I don’t care that our celebrity is caught, and that the stories seem to be true. But I do care that women were hurt and will continue to be hurt due to the normalization of violence in sex.

I would like to go back to a time in our world where this could not happen, but that would be impossible.  Even in biblical times, women were used and abused.  So perhaps, with each unveiling of a relationship gone wrong, and the strengthening of women in telling their story, we  will learn again to ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you “.

A good way to live life.

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