Category: Kate's Earlier Blogs
Friday is the 9th anniversary of my mother’s death.
My childhood fear was that my mother, a smoker, would contract lung cancer. In 1995, my worst fear came true. After chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer metastasized to her brain, and she repeated a cycle of brain tumour, treatment, improvement, and relapse until she died in 1997. This experience demonstrated for me the painful and frustrating nature of chronic disease. As a result, I first realized the personal relevance of healthy living. Although my mother was strongly committed to the “conventional medicine route”, her illness was the first major influence for me to become a naturopathic doctor. In an audio tape she left me after she died, she told me that her dream was for me to become a professional of some sort. She was thinking lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc, but I think ND also qualifies!
Every year I become more and more like my mother. Or, rather, I realize more and more how similar we really were. As a child I naturally had a stronger bond with my father and we got along (and still do) very easily. My father knows me better than anyone else in this world and has always been my primary source of advice and comfort. My mother and I, on the other hand, found it harder to understand one another. This was partially because we were so similar, but also because we just could not “speak the same language” it seemed. When my mother first got sick, it hit me (at age 15) pretty hard. I felt like I had always known that it would happen, but that it just COULDN’T happen, because how could I go on with my life if one of my parents died? The years of her illness are a blur to me – I think I tried to separate myself from it as much as possible. When she did pass away, it was a relief to me because I felt I could finally start my own life. Which I did – that was a key turning point in becoming who I am today.
Every year I also become more conscious of what I have lost. I don’t think about it every day, but when I do it is with a growing understanding of how MUCH I am missing because my mother is not here. While we struggled to connect when I was young, I now yearn for her perspective as an adult. I truly believe that our relationship was made to be between adults and unfortunately that will never be. Of course, this makes me sad. But, it is also comforting to me to know that that potential was there.
So, I am now moved into the house where I will be living for the next year. Boy, moving is really stressful and always a lot more trouble than I remember it…
My dad drove up last Friday morning and the first thing we did was go to get my new bed. While loading the bed pieces into the van, my dad sliced open the flap of skin between his pinky and ring fingers. While only skin (no muscle, tendons, etc) was damaged, it looked horrible and I was convinced that he needed stitches. Of course, he refused to go to the hospital because “we don’t have time – there’s too much to do”. Whatever! It’s also pretty important not to permanently damage your hand or get a raging infection… We settled on him cleaning it out in the washroom and bandaging it up tight for the rest of the day.
While very beautiful, this bed was SO hard to put together! Way too many screws, plugs, and other fiddly things, plus I had to figure out how to get a slipcover on this thing at the end, when I had long past stopped caring that everything fit together perfectly. At the end of all this, we had one screw (!) and a metal piece (?) left. Where were those supposed to go? Maybe we would have known if the instructions consisted of more than just vague drawings… We decided that there was so much other stuff holding this bed together, it didn’t need the screw and the metal bit… Right?
Then I had to pick up the rest of my furniture from my ex-boyfriend’s house. It was great that he was there to help us get it all loaded faster, but also hard for me to see him. I don’t even know what upset me so much, it was just hard to see him again and I was already super stressed by all the moving stuff.
After dinner (12 hours after the injury occurred), we did end up at the emergency room so my dad could find out if he did indeed need stitches. Now, at least in Canada, we are used to hearing all about long wait times for medical care, especially in the emergency room. This has been discussed at all levels of government in recent elections and everyone seems to have a plan to reduce wait times. But who really expects that politicians can really do anything about that? So, we still expected to wait a LONG time (eg: 3-4 hours) for my dad to be taken care of, since his issue wasn’t really an EMERGENCY, just urgent. However, to our surprise he was seen by a triage nurse only 30 minutes after we arrived and given a tetanus shot, his hand cleaned and taped up, and out of there within an hour. I was truly amazed by this speed and incredibly impressed by how courteous, patient, and efficient the nurses and doctors were.
The next day I moved my stuff out of residence and then we just unpacked and drove around to get groceries before my dad headed home. I’m so glad to be back in a real house, with a kitchen and bathroom that I don’t have to share with 20 other people! Hopefully I won’t have to move again for a long, long time.
Boy, why is it that I always start out writing one blog, but end up switching to another? Yesterday I tried to write this blog, a quick update on what I’ve been up to while I’ve been so remiss in blogging. However, I also spent a lot of time yesterday reading about feng shui and working on my own project. And so, yesterday’s blog just poured out of me and now this little update got relegated to today. I’m pretty sure this one is not as interesting as yesterday’s, but an update is still probably worth it for those of you who, like me, take a slightly excessive interest in the lives of people you don’t know…
This past weekend was a long weekend due to Canada’s celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday (or of beer – there is a reason it’s called “May 2-4 weekend”). Hence the title of this blog.
It’s been a busy last couple of weeks! My birthday was last weekend and I had a great dinner with friends. This weekend I visited my Dad and got to have a few more great dinners and celebrate my birthday a second time with him!
I’ve also been working at my NEW JOB, which is already so fun and informative! I am working in a health food store that truly excels at customer service. The owner seems to know every customer by name and it is unbelievable how many people come in just for his compassion and expertise. Of course I am learning so much about nutrition and supplements, which will be invaluable to me when I am a doctor (many years and dollars from today).
I continue to meet wonderful people at school and at my job and therefore continue to be amazed at how fun and stimulating my life is because of these people! This also has me already excited about IfHI 2007, where I will surely meet so many more exceptional people from this community. Check out more information here
For the past few weeks I have been working on a feng shui project with the generous help of a friend from the forums. She was nice enough to offer to share her extensive knowledge of feng shui with me and I am excited to tap into her expertise to work on my new room and house this summer! Already I am learning so much from her feedback and from my own reading in books and on the internet. Check out the feng shui discussion in the forum.
Sante_j recently wrote a blog on feng shui. While I admire her vigor in expressing her view, I just don’t see things in such a strict way. Why assume that the great thinkers and artists she mentions chose imbalance and were therefore great? While I believe that NOTHING is ever in balance, isn’t it the SEEKING of balance (or “harmony” or “right” or “better”) that produces greatness? No one who is a “master” in some field begins as one. True masters learn the guidelines and techniques of their art and use these tools for their own extraordinary self-expression. The paintbrush does not create a masterpiece, it is simply a conduit for the painter.
So, I think rather than being restrictive, feng shui is a tool that encourages creativity and individual expression. Feng shui provides guidelines and a structure for creating a harmonious home just like the BTD does for creating a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Many people see the BTD (or any other popular diet or lifestyle strategy) as being too restrictive, but my experience has been that learning about this lifestyle, and natural medicine in general, has challenged me to go beyond what was easy or convenient and instead step up and learn what is RIGHT for me. It provided a structure to learn the best foods, exercise, and lifestyle for me as an individual and the reward is a healthy, happy outlook that I might not have achieved otherwise. Just like I have tools to help me achieve my goals for health, feng shui is a tool to help me achieve my goal of a harmonious and personalized environment. Feng shui is a set of guidelines, not hard and fast rules. It is up to the user to go beyond “following the rules” to become an artist and to apply this information to their unique situation.
Today I was working on possible floor plans for my room and thinking about what colours and decorations I want to use. If I was not considering feng shui principles, my room would look nice enough, but I definitely wouldn’t have put as much time and effort into it. Learning about feng shui is so interesting that I am now challenging myself to be more thoughtful and creative. Because of this effort, I have come up with new ideas on furniture arrangement and how to use pieces I already own (and love) creatively to make this space truly mine. The result is going to be far more harmonious and personalized specifically BECAUSE I have feng shui guidelines at my disposal.
The use of any tool depends on the user – guidelines may exist, but the use of them by a unique individual is what makes the product art.
The definition of compassion is: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Compassion is a wonderful thing and I have benefited from an abundance of it this past week.
The latest in the long list of changes in my life this year is that my relationship with someone for whom I cared deeply ended. The fact that this relationship ended is not a surprise in itself, but the timing was not expected. And while I am sad that it had to end, I think that I am likely more upset about the potential that this relationship had, but was not realized.
Whenever something hurtful happens to me, there is always at least a small part of me that feels like the world should stop, because somehow my problems are larger and more important than anything else, which is of course not true. However, when people show me as much compassion and support as they have lately, it really helps me to gain perspective and remember that the world is a wonderful place. Knowing that people care about you and that you are valued is the best feeling in the world. I am so grateful for all the kind words and favours that so many people have shown me this week. This experience has made me realize how important compassion is and that my lesson from this is that I can and should show more compassion towards others. I can pick myself up and lend my strength to people who need it.