Tag Archives: family

Let’s look out for each other.

My faith in humanity was severely shaken on Thursday evening.

You see, my kids were in a bike accident.

But, before you get too worried as you read my words, let me assure you that they are now both completely fine. However, on Thursday night I wasn’t so sure…..

My daughter had a baseball game at a nearby ball diamond, and my husband had another commitment that evening, so the kids and I biked over to enjoy a gorgeous Summer evening outside. After the game, the three of us rode home as a convoy on the sidewalk; me in the front, my five-year-old daughter behind me, and my eight-year-old son bringing up the rear. We were three-quarters of the way home, almost finished our short five-minute ride, when I heard a crash and a scream. I was only a couple of bike lengths ahead, and as I quickly stopped and turned, I saw both kids laying on the ground, bikes twisted, backpacks scattered, both of their mouths open, howling in pain. I ran to them immediately, yanking my folding chair straps off my shoulders, throwing my gear, and scanning the scene as my emotions built and my heart raced.

My daughter was lying at the bottom of the pile, her head turned away from me, crying loudly. As I approached, my son pulled himself off of her and I yanked his bike to the side. His cries, however, were frantic and distraught, and he was writhing and gripping his abdomen. My gut instinct told me that he was more seriously hurt, so I tended to him first. “My ribs, my ribs,” he was screaming, and I knelt on the sidewalk to hold him and try to offer some comfort. I called to my daughter from my crouched position on the ground, and she got up and crawled to me, desperately hanging onto my other shoulder, sobbing.

This entire sequence had taken less than a minute, when a neighbor across the street came to offer his help. “I heard the crash and saw you running,” he said, “is there anything I can do?” By that point, my son was standing, squirming, clutching his stomach, his panicked cries not slowing down. Over the next few seconds, I was able to decipher that the “rib” he was referring to was actually his lower abdomen, and that his bike wheel had turned as he fell, causing him to land belly-first into the blunt end of his handlebar. As my mind raced with right lower quadrant anatomy, the complications of blunt force trauma, and first-aid protocols, I thanked my neighbor, and assured him I could manage. Both kids were still wailing, but we were just around the corner from our house, and my main concern was to get them back home where I could better assess and tend to them.

The neighbor walked away reluctantly, leaving me amidst a 10-metre swath of bikes, lawn chairs, backpacks, and ball gloves. Our things were strewn along the sidewalk and the roadside, and in the middle of it all, I huddled on bare knees, with one kid in each arm, calming them, cuddling them, tears streaming down all of our cheeks.

Two separate cars drove past us, slowly, down our sleepy suburban street, seeing the carnage of the crash. They didn’t stop or offer assistance. Minutes passed and my kids continued to cry. I buried my face in their hair, in their necks, breathing them in, thinking about what should be my next logical step, grateful that the accident hadn’t been worse. When I looked up, two people out for a walk were passing by. They weaved in and out of our mangled bikes, stepped over bags, and continued to walk. They did not look at me. They did not offer to help. They walked right past us.

We got ourselves home, pushing bikes instead of riding them; partly due to pain, partly due to fear, mostly due to bent derailleurs and broken pedals. I phoned my mother-in-law, a retired nurse, to get her opinion as to whether or not a hospital visit was warranted; there was no abdominal rigidity, no vomiting, no blood in his urine, so we decided it wasn’t. I tended to the kids with warm baths and ice packs and tucked them into my bed so that I could keep an eye on them both throughout the night. My husband arrived home later that evening to a shaken wife and an angry rehashing of the accident. My fear and my panic had settled, and had blended together into rage and disbelief about the people that passed us by.

I can only hope that they chose not to stop because they thought I had the situation handled. I can’t let cynicism overtake me, and believe that they chose not to stop simply because they didn’t want to. I believe that people are good, and I believe that bad situations often teach us something. This was no exception. Let’s offer help. Let’s offer kindness. Let’s look out for each other.

Friday morning revealed a scrape on my daughter’s shoulder, an ugly purple circle on my son’s belly, and many recounts about how the accident happened and what we could do differently the next time (i.e. stopping too quickly and following too closely). We talked about the nice man who came from across the street to lend a hand. And we talked about the people who didn’t.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

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Do one thing every day that scares you

You know those things in life that scare you?  Those times when it would be far easier to play it safe and stick with what you know, rather than venturing out into the uncertainty of the unknown?  Well, I’ve got a few of those times going on in my life right now.  I love a challenge, and I’ve thrown myself into some exciting potential career opportunities and I’ve also set my sights on a lofty personal athletic goal.  Both of these things scare me.  To death.  But I’m sure that you know, as well as I, that those are precisely the times when we grow.

Luck is where opportunity meets preparation, right?

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Aug/2002; at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) in Toronto.

One of the scariest things I’ve ever done was to move across the country to get my Chiropractic degree in Toronto.  That was 2002, and my twenty-two year-old self knew exactly no one in Southern Ontario.  But I took the plunge, and that spring-boarded me to meeting my husband, many of my best friends, and a career that I love. It was a defining moment in my life, and one that changed my trajectory completely.

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Nov/2007; signing the lease at my new clinic space.

Another pivotal, yet terrifying decision, was selling my clinic in 2010.  I simply couldn’t be everything to everyone; and although the choice to sell the clinic I’d built from nothing and focus on my young son and my family’s priorities was the right one, it was both intimidating and life-changing.  Ultimately, that’s what brought me here, to Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic, where I’ve found the perfect fit.

So, what’s ambition?

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What’s courage?

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May you have both.  Do one thing every day that scares you, they say?  I say you should also do one thing every so often that terrifies you.

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Circle the Wagons.

Circle the wagons. ed5cfee01d5f386bb343d5fb66908373.510x510x1

It’s a North American phrase that means to “unite in defense of a common interest.”  My husband and I say this to each other often when solving problems around our house.

  • “I feel overwhelmed lately”…… circle the wagons.
  • “I feel like we haven’t seen each other in days”…… circle the wagons.
  • “______ had a problem at school today”….. circle the wagons.

You get the idea.

Our solution to most things is to hunker down and bring the four of us closer together.  We shut out distractions, we close off the outside world, and we rally inward towards strength and love.  In fact, that’s how we live our day-to-day lives.  We live (and love) a busy life, but we also live (and love) unstructured downtime.  The act of just being together.  Of just being.  We’ve carefully constructed our routines to minimize chaos and the frantic rush from place to place.  And in times when things become out of control, we circle the wagons.

Here’s The Disease of Being Busy, written by Omid Safi, and he describes my thoughts far better than I can:

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I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?

This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

Since the 1950s, we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.

For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Smart phones and laptops mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids are in bed, we are back online.

One of my own daily struggles is the avalanche of email. I often refer to it as my jihad against email. I am constantly buried under hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I have absolutely no idea how to make it stop. I’ve tried different techniques: only responding in the evenings, not responding over weekends, asking people to schedule more face-to-face time. They keep on coming, in volumes that are unfathomable: personal emails, business emails, hybrid emails. And people expect a response — right now. I, too, it turns out… am so busy.

The reality looks very different for others. For many, working two jobs in low-paying sectors is the only way to keep the family afloat. Twenty percent of our children are living in poverty, and too many of our parents are working minimum wage jobs just to put a roof over their head and something resembling food on the table. We are so busy.

The old models, including that of a nuclear family with one parent working outside the home (if it ever existed), have passed away for most of us. We now have a majority of families being single families, or where both parents are working outside the home. It is not working.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and face-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.

I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

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