Denial, Acceptance, Reality

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Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

I have been reading a book written by a doctor who worked with the notorious Dr. Mengele during the Holocaust, in Auschwitz.

Auschwitz – A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Miklos Nyiszle and Richard Seaver

Information about the Holocaust:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-holocaust

In the forward to the book, Bruno Bettelheim presents a suggestion, that the idea of the death camps was so horrendous that no one, either those victims, Jewish, gypsies, physically or mentally handicapped, aged or ill, gays, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or those on the ”outside” – those who lived in close proximity to the crematorium within the country, consciously recognized what would be their fate/the fate of the prisoners confined there.

No one could accept the horrors of the reality.

And since the Holocaust, since World War Two ended, there have been the denialists. They claim that ”six million didn’t die” as though numbers are what matter, when it is the loss of lives and the horrible way they were allowed to die that matters.

There have been claims that it never happened.

When I was eleven, in Alberta, Canada, an old man showed me the tattoo on his arm – and told me that he was in a camp.

That memory stayed with me through the years.

I know that our new way of life – of Covid – 19 – has affected all of us, some more than others.

The denialists frighten me. Despite the most knowledgeable experts in the medical and scientific communities around the world telling us what must be done to curb this disaster and loss of life, there are people who refuse to accept the reality.

Their death wish is strong, and they no longer seek life.

”According to Freud, the death-drive manifests in the psyche as a tendency toward self-destruction, or more precisely the elimination of tension, which can also be turned outwards, whereby it becomes aggression.”

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095704767

And so we have, on social media, in the group protests, and the violence towards store clerks who try to enforce the store policies of mask wearing, self destructive behaviour on the part of those who refuse to accept the reality – the threat to our lives – that Covid 19 represents.

Instead, it is easy to deny the reality.

”Covid is just a flu”

”Nobody has died except for a few old people”

”It’s the government (pick your country). They’re trying to take away our rights and freedoms”

”It’s my right to not wear a mask”

Misplaced anger, aggression and fear.

Let’s face the reality.

A child died just today, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Under the age of ten.

Do we still want to deny that Covid is dangerous?

That we – all of us – are vulnerable?

The Covid denialists remind me of those who have denied the Holocaust all these years.

The same refusal to accept the reality that horrible things can happen. That we can all be vulnerable to sickness and to death.

That’s right. It isn’t just the ”old” that die from Covid. Not to mention that the medical community now has identified a long term and lingering effect on the health of those who do survive. We still don’t know what will happen to those people. What will be their condition in a few months, or years?

Let’s live – not in fear, as some of the anti-masker denialists say – but in hope – let us wear our masks, to protect others – let us wash our hands, because we know basic science – and let us care even more about others, not just about ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, that is something we can all take away from this time.

Let us begin to see ourselves as part of the community, part of our locality, part of our state or province, part of our country! Part of the world.

Maybe this is the one time in history that we can all make a difference and save someone else.

Let’s try.

Give Until You Can’t

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When I was six, my mother and I lived in a lovely little town on the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada. Port Hope is known for having the best preserved main street in the province of Ontario.

https://www.visitporthope.ca/en/index.aspx

We had come from the northern reaches of British Columbia, and it was a change for me – I had spent two years in the wilds, learning about trapping and tracking animals from the man my mother worked for as a housekeeper, and then I was in a town, with streets and traffic and it was a true culture shock.

The school was okay as I loved to learn. The teacher was nice. No matter that I got lost when leaving the school the first day or so to go home, as I was used to marking my way by following the signs in nature, not streets and buildings.

Our first home in Port Hope was above a bakery on Walton Street. The delicious aromas of baked goods floated up to us early in the morning. At Christmas, the town decorated the streets with lights and beautiful holiday themed ornaments.

But…there was music – Christmas music – for hours throughout the days.

It was quite unbearable after a while.

We were poor. My mother was lame – one leg shorter than the other, and I came to her late in life. By then, she could no longer support us by working, and we lived on the small income provided by welfare.

Christmas would have been a very sad time for us except that the local organizations provided food hampers and Christmas gifts for those in need.

Can I tell you how this mattered to a six year old child?

It made our Christmas shine and the memories I have, of the knock on the door and those volunteers bringing in a box of food and some colourful wrapped presents is something that I still treasure, sixty years later.

So – my thoughts are these. If you can, give. It doesn’t have to be a lot and it doesn’t necessarily have to be dollars. You can give of your time and your good thoughts.

Because, I can tell you, that as a child on welfare, I sensed even then, the stigma of my not being ”deserving” or ”good enough” of being ”a freeloader” of being ”lazy”.

Not true. Children do not choose to be poor. Mothers do not choose to live in poverty, afraid that an abusive partner will somehow find them. They do not choose to be physically unfit to work.

Give then, of your means or of your understanding, for the next poor or homeless person you see. Please know that these situations are not by choice.

As we enter this Christmas season may you and yours have enough – enough food, enough warmth and shelter, enough love and caring – to get you through this time, when things are so uncertain.

We need each other.

That is what makes us human. What makes us able to carry on, no matter what.

And – thank you to that fraternal organization in Port Hope, in 1959, that gave my mother and me a wonderful Christmas and a special memory.

I wanted to find illustrations for this post, but I couldn’t. I searched for ”poverty” and ”childhood” and so on, but nothing seemed right. I guess there isn’t a ”just right” graphic that I can share to show the life I knew.

Success, Failure, and Aging

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I learned something new a while back.

It is entirely possible to take on a task that is too difficult and when doing so, it is important to recognize that the outcome may not be ideal.


Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

In fact, sometimes it is wise to give up!

Quitters…

How often have we heard, ”No one likes a quitter!” or “Keep trying! You can do it!”

You know what? It is not always true.

In my latest experience, I decided to move some very heavy furniture. Not a good plan. Turned out to be far more challenging than I expected. I did get it done – but the toll it took on me wasn’t pleasant.

I suffered with neck pain for several days. Over the counter pain relievers helped a bit, but I regretted my actions.

It is time to accept that aging can mean some things that I could do once are no longer wise.

In the case of a marriage gone bad, years ago, I stubbornly tried to stay in the relationship, but it was at the expense of my mental well being.

I had to quit.

I was a smoker. In that instance, it was a good thing to be a Quitter. I did succeed.

Rewarded for Existence?

When I hear that all the participants in some competition are handed a trophy, ”because they took part, even though they didn’t win” – well, that just seems wrong.

The idea that children, or anyone, for that matter, should be rewarded for just ”existing” – how did that become a thing?

I think that learning to cope with failure, with not being ”first”, with not be ”equal” to everyone else in a peer group is a fundamental part of becoming and of being a person.

Limitations – We All Have Them

As I age, I am learning to cope with the changes that come.

When parents tell their offspring that ”you can be anything you want to be in life!” – is that not a lie and a great disservice to a child?

To be realistic, no child is going to be smart enough, or tall enough, or strong enough, or talented enough, to become ”anything” that child might want to become.

Let’s applaud those who know when to quit, when to give up and when to change direction, if it needs to be done.

There is no shame in being honest, with others or with yourself.

Further reading –

How To Accept, Process, And Learn From Failure
by Chris Meyers Former Forbes Contributor

Featured photograph at top of page is by Leora Dowling on Unsplash

New Beginnings

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Photo by Dennis Buchner on Unsplash

 

When I was a teen, I got spring fever every year. As the snow melted, and the sun warmed, I had an urge to just run – somewhere, anywhere that was new, that was not ”here”.

I think that traditionally, we tend to think of newness, the fresh growing green grass, the flowers bursting through the soil, as a beginning.

But, really, any season can mean a new start. Not even a season, but the dawning of a new day.

In fall, as the leaves change color, the sun rises later and sets earlier, as the temperatures cool,  we may look towards the long and cold winter ahead – depending on where you live of course!

But that time can be a fresh start too. While there isn’t any new growth in nature, there is change. Changes to all of our surroundings.

And change should be what moves us forward, into the future, the next day, the next month, the next season.

Squirrels gather acorns for winter, and we can too!

Save up your happiest memories of spring and suummer, and make more good memories today and everyday!

Every season, like every person, has something to offer.

Be open to what can be.

Photo by Prahalad Sanjeev Varma on Unsplash

Is that what Good Friends do

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I have seen many memes posted on Facebook the last while, that reinforce the idea that ”I am busy and so are you, so if you don’t hear from me for while, it isn’t important. We are still close friends.”

Not! Since when did our personal lives and busyness take over from nurturing close relationships?

Never!

In what universe do you live, that you believe that you can just remove yourself from an acquantantices life, and then pop back in whenever it is convenient for you and expect that you will be welcomed with joy and acceptantance?

Do you believe that a relationship deserves that kind of ignoring?

Does a husband and wife, or wife and wife or husband and husband accept that sort of ignoring?

Of course not!

And what makes anyone think that a friendship is any different?

Because – it isn’t.

If you aren’t prepared to spend time and energy on working on a relationship – whether it be a couple situation, a relative situation or a friendship, how can you be so self absorbed as to expect that person will be there for you, will be willing to wait for you, until you are ready to get around to contacting them?

No. Any relationship requires commitment, empathy, and involvement.

If you can’t offer that to another, in a relationship of any kind, then you are too selfish to deserve the caring and loyalty and friendship of another human being.

I was in a very bad place in late 1971, and this song was so very appropriate. And still is today.

Isn’t this what you really feel, isn’t this the real feelings that you have? It’s time to stop hiding our feelings and be honest.

Serenity

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

As I grow older – do we ever say, ”I am old” or is that a place we are always moving toward?

My sister, at age 86, took exception when I described her as ”elderly”!

There is a poem that I like, https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/song-246

Song

by Florence Smith

HOW PLEASANT it is that always
There’s somebody older than you—
Someone to pet and caress you,
Someone to scold you, too!

Someone to call you a baby,
To laugh at you when you’re wise;
Someone to care when you’re sorry,
To kiss the tears from your eyes;

When life has begun to be weary,
And youth to melt like the dew,
To know, like the little children
Somebody’s older than you.

The path cannot be so lonely,
For someone has trod it before;
The golden gates are the nearer,
That someone stands at the door.

I can think of nothing sadder
Than to feel, when days are few,
There’s nobody left to lean on,
Nobody older than you!

The younger ones may be tender
To the feeble steps and slow;
But they can’t talk the old times over—
Alas, how should they know!

‘Tis a romance to them—a wonder
You were ever a child at play;
But the dear ones waiting in heaven
Know it is all as you say.

I know that the great All-Father
Loves us, and the little ones too;
Keep only childlike-hearted—
Heaven is older than you!

Confused as to where this post is heading? Ha ha. So am I!

I suppose what I really want to say is that as we grow older, I think that most of us tend to become a little more accepting of others – of our differences and the things that we used to vehemently disagree about don’t matter so much.

I like to believe that as we move towards aging and the loss of our faculties -because for many of us it does happen, and stop trying to pretend it isn’t so – we also become less likely to judge others and to find fault.

I chose the photos of lily pads for a reason. As a child, of four or five, I lived in a beautiful and remote part of northern British Columbia, Canada. The farm where I lived had a pond complete with lily pads and frogs.

In those days, I had no idea that people could be cruel, uncaring, or prejudiced. I spend hours at that pond, catching tiny toads, and listening to the frogs and the birds.

The few kids and adults who came and saw that pond liked it. There was never a hint that I might learn about loneliness or hate then.

Perhaps we all have a special place, or at least a special memory of a time, or a person or a place, that made us happy.

As I grow older, I think of that place, and today, all this time past, it makes me happy.

If you feel depressed, or alone, misunderstood, try to think of that place – yes, to risk being trite – of your ”happy place” because so many of us do have them.

If you lack such a special place, take my memories of that beautiful, quiet secluded pond, and make it your own.

Listen to the sounds of the birds chirping in the trees. Hear the croaks of the frogs as they hop from one lily pad to another. Hear the gentle lapping of the nearly still water. Smell the water. There is no algae here, just the soft scent of water and the forest.

There is a fate that awaits us all, hopefully not too soon for most.

But we need our memories and our happy times to get through the years.

Serenity….the hidden pond in an otherwise hectic and often sad world.

Image by Corinna Schenk from Pixabay

Humanity Forgiveness and Peace

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I confess to having taken a break from the daily news the last while. I am tired of the coronavirus talk. No, I do not think the virus is a hoax, and yes, I believe it is a threat to us all.

I am tired of the constant reports, though, and just for a bit, I will think of other things.

I stopped watching about the time Black Lives Matter protests began.

In Canada, we have not only had BLM demonstrations, but here we also have an ongoing problem with the way our indigenous people view the current citizens and the way the indigenous people have been treated over the years, since the first fur traders came, and since the explorers arrived.

In this country, the wrongs and injustices are paid for, by the government, in the form of money distributed to our indigenous people, for things like land claims and the treatment they say they received in the government run residential schools.

I believe – I hope – that our black population has been respected more here, than elsewhere in the world.

I know that there is a lot of animosity towards the immigrants of today, and the refugees arriving in Canada.

I wonder, though, when does the hate and the resentment and the anger at the ”new people” arriving in the country, stop?

So, I have a couple of things I want to say.

First, for the indigenous population, the people who live in Canada today have nothing to do with the explorers, fur traders and settlers that came here and became a part of the country.

So, isn’t it time we, the descendants, can stop having to pay for the ”sins” of our fathers?

Throughout history, the urge to explore has been a fact.

How far back are we supposed to go, before the ”real” people of this country can say that ”they” are the rightful inhabitants?

I think it is very easy to fall into the trap of blaming others for everything that one dislikes about life today.

That doesn’t make it right.

We hear a very one sided story, when it comes to the way Canadians settled in this land.

There were many martyrs, thanks to the indigenous people attacking and torturing the priests who came to spread the message of God’s love.

We don’t ever talk about or hear about that today.

Injustice towards anyone, towards any group of people breaks my heart.

The things that have been reported in the USA about the treatment of black people, is horrendous.

It is wrong. No question.

I think it is time to do this.

Stop expecting money to solve the problems of history.

Stop asking for apologies for things our long dead ancestors did in Canada.

How about this?

Instead of expecting money to solve injustice, we begin a new approach.

Let’s learn to live together. Let’s respect each other.

Let’s – dare I say it – let’s Forgive.

Psychiatrists and psychologists will tell you that an important step in gaining freedom from the past is to accept and to forgive.

It is a concept that seems to have been forgotten today.

We – all of us – need to strive for inner peace. Money and possessions won’t do it.

Let’s all try to stop hating and blaming others.

We need to learn how to live in this world, in harmony with others.

Instead of placing blame, calling names and trying to rewrite the past by destroying history – defacing and tearing down statues – let’s all face the future, together, in a spirit of brotherhood.

Forgiveness does not mean anyone has to stop working for change.

It is a freeing of the spirit, so that great things may be dreamed of and accomplished.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Time Waits for No one

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It was fifty years ago – how can it be that long ago? Sometimes it seems like a lifetime away, and sometimes it seems like only yesterday – I met a boy. I had a crush on Paul McCartney at the time.

But when I saw B-, all thoughts of Paul faded away. B- had grey eyes, a startling color and curly dark hair. He wore grey cord pants. I fell in love, at first sight.

We – my friend and I – were on our way to British Columbia, and our stop in the city of Calgary was accidental.

Meeting him was an accident too. We had taken a wrong turn, and our trip to B.C. was postponed.

We spent the night listening to the radio, and talked and talked. He was funny and happy and I fell in love. Well, as in love as a naive sheltered girl can be.

When my friend and I left the next day, to carry on to B.C., I didn’t want to go!

But fate and necessity carried us on.

I have often wondered what happened to B-.

What was his life like? Did he become an airline pilot, as he dreamed? He was handsome enough to be an actor.

I would not want to see him now, I don’t think. I would not want him to know how my life turned out, shortly after I left. He had spoken of all the wonderful things he imagined for me!

I want to remember him as he was back then. Young and truly beautiful. I know that it is unusual to speak of a man or boy as ”beautiful” but oh my! he was!

I don’t want to think that he is old, like me. I don’t want to believe that he is bald, with a paunch and lost dreams.

I want to remember him – to remember us – as young and idealistic, with our lives before us.

We can’t ever go back, and that is probably for the best.

If you are younger than I am, please take away from this, that I wish you all the dreams and happiness and experiences that your heart can hold.

Treasure each moment, because those moments never come again.

Yesterday

Out of the past to the present

Comes a sad sweet song from afar.

Back from a world of yesterdays,

Down from a blue white star.

It comes across the ages.

Oh! Hark my soul and be still.

Back from the days of long ago,

A voice floating down from the hill.

I Know More Than You

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engineers in flight simulator

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

I hope you have all weathered through the past several months, since the quarantine and the coronavirus issue. I really did mean to post sooner!

I will tell you that I have cleaned, and sorted and got rid of a lot of unnecessary things,  all because I had the time to do it.

If you haven’t done so, don’t feel bad. We all needed to take our own time to get through this change in our lives.

Are you doing okay? I  hope so.

We will get through this. Because, we have no choice, do we?

I hope that you will wear a mask when you are in places that require you to be closer to others than the requisite six feet. Think of our vulnerable – the elderly, the immuno-compromised.

My concern today is not with coronavirus only, but with the very frightening – to me at least – apparent change in society of late.

There appears to be a rise in the idea that ”experts” no matter whether in the health field, science or governing organizations, are held in contempt and not respected. We have lost our respect for all of those, including those first responders, that used to be held in such high regard – and now it is the individual, the self, the personal beliefs and opinions that are apparently the only one that counts.

How did this happen? I wish I knew.

Since when did you, as a citizen, become more knowledgeable about things than those who have dedicated their lives to learning and developing expertise in a given area?

What made this world view change so drastically?

Since when do naturopaths and chiropractors deserve the respect and honour that medical doctors with years of training used to have?

Has anyone ever researched where these so called health professionals have learned their trade?

Since when did ”your gut feelings” mean a darn thing?

Is a gut feeling some sort of magic, that appears out of nowhere, because you are suddenly enlightened?

No.

Belief in magic, in pseudoscience, in some wild conspiracy that is bent on removing our basic freedoms is mentally deranged.

Yes, I said it.

I long for the days when science and reason was paramount. When people respected our police, our emergency workers, our health care personnel and science.

I wish that I had a magic answer for the craziness that has taken over the world of late.

I do not.

I plead for our future, for our children and for our way of life, that you, as an individual will stop putting yourself in such a egotistical frame of mind, that you think you know better than the experts.

So if you must, go ahead and fly and go right ahead and take over the controls of the plane – see the photo at the beginning of this post – but don’t think that I will fly with you.

fire warm radio flame

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Isolation But Not Solitary

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homesteadearly70s

 

kevisvilleoldhome1971

 

All the world is in the throes of coronavirus right now.

We have had to withdraw from the world in many ways – from the workplace, from shopping malls, and from friends and family members.

I know that it is hard for many of you. I understand that.

As an introvert, and a widow, I cannot say that my life has changed all that much – some, but not completely.

I plan to offer some suggestions of things that you can do, to alleviate stress and boredom in the next post.

For now, though, I want to remind you of the blessings of having to be at home.

You don’t have to get dressed in the morning! You don’t need to put on make up and face another day, of presenting a front to others, in order to get through the day.

You may have children at home, and yes, they do require time and lots of energy – but don’t expect that you have to fill every minute of the day with activity. Let them be! Whether they play with toys, watch some TV or use a computer or game machine, let them be kids.

You can take the time to make a dinner. Whether you are an experienced cook, or not, you can find plenty of recipes online and create foods that the family will love. Maybe not everyday – but sometimes.

If you are part of a couple – you have time now, to really get to know each other. Share your hopes and your dreams. Watch a movie together.

And – if you feel hemmed in, claustrophobic, want to just have life again the way it used to be – think of this –

You are helping to save lives. You are helping our health care workers. Do your part.

Finally, it could be WORSE.

The photos at the top of this page are from the area west of Innisfail, Alberta, Canada.

Those buildings are on land where my mother, born in 1914, grew up.

The significance of this is that when she was four years old, there was a pandemic. It became known as the Spanish flu.

”… Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world’s population at the time….The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million… to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history”… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu

Just think of this: when she was four years old, with an older sister and two younger sisters, she and her Finnish mother and Danish father were cut off from everything while living on this farm.

There was no internet. No telephone. No television. Not even a radio. No electricity. No running water.

The nearest neighbour was perhaps a mile away.

They survived.

We will too.