Well commUnity

Day 22

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 11: Well commUnity


If I were to highlight what I loved most about going to church and being a part of any one faith, hands down it’s the food.

No seriously, what I appreciated most through my own experiences, was the sense of community and belonging that, inspired by young, admiring love, most drew me in while exploring Catholicism in my early 30’s.

Although that eighth month long journey found me faithless and sitting in tiny pews in a freakishly small church on the side of the highway, it reminded me of that sense of association I felt when I played hockey as a child. That family. Mostly, it made me see that religion, quite literally in this case, comes in all shapes and sizes.

It was another year before the thought of faith entered my life again, once again taking us back to that summer with the Natives in the valley. Although I hadn’t yet been versed in their belief system through that experience, I did learn a great deal about their traditions, their spirit, their strength and desire to protect Mother Earth. From Sacred Fires to an illuminating sweat lodge ceremony in the midst of a quiet urban forest,  that growingly addictive sense of community was once again present in my life.

People were living in trees, tending to the fire 24/7 to ensure the flame did not burn out, and others were organizing efforts to bring food and water to all those sacrificing time and spirit to save this paradise from destruction. For the first time ever, I was witness to the story not well told in a time when Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. These were the moments that made me realize the importance of learning about all sides of any situation.

That battle may have been lost in some regards, but things were changed and important lessons were learned.

It was around this time that I truly found writing again – a passion that I had let digress since those young, inspired middle school years. Writing led to being published. Led to meeting so many people volunteering their time to better their communities. Led to starting my own advocacy. Led to fighting for my children. Led to being an elected official. Led to this very story about the very thing I want to bring to our little city, to make it a better place by filling a void left by decisions I respectfully disagree with.

I clean alley’s. I run an event for kids each year. I pick up garbage while walking the dog at night.  I’m a politician. I am also a baseball coach. All of this inspired forward by people in my past and present whether strangers in the park or through the stories of giving back to his community brought out in my grandfather.

Community also comes in various shapes and sizes. From our sports leagues, our own streets, our broader towns and most importantly, our family networks. Knowing the importance of community and having the skill set to work together through good times and challenges, is key.

Being an active part of my community has strengthened everything else in my life from passion, acceptance, belonging, worth, communication, patience, humbleness, and kindness. I love the person I am more and more as I connect deeper with my community.

My work is better. My family is better. I am better.

I involve my girls as often as I can in the work I do in my community from cleaning parks, to arguing on the doorstep of strangers I hope will vote for me about who will knock on doors. I want them to know the value and importance of being involved, not to mention the peace I might find if they would only stop teasing the crud out of one another for 5 minutes. Long enough to go to the loo would be nice.

As with everything else, there is a balance between work, play, community and family so that is important to remember, but what engagement beyond our own lives naturally gives back to our spirits is invaluable and the key to a stronger, more harmonious and respecting society.

We must understand and value all roles played by all individuals across all aspects of our city networks to truly understand our own value and worth in and amongst the greater picture.

Once again, it’s okay to want something in return for engaging in your community. Like promoting your business or looking to network to find employment. I will guarantee however that if you go in expecting nothing, you will come out richer in ways you couldn’t have imagined. You’ll have people shopping at your business. You’ll find employment. You’ll also come out with something far greater than pulling thorns out of your tailpipe cleaning up overrun alleys or collecting business card bits out of the lint catcher thingy that were left in the back of your jeans. You’ll find connection. Pure, real, connection if you are sincere and real in your intentions.

Religious or not, you will find faith in something. Belonging. Appreciation. Understanding. Love. Acceptance.

Familie

Day 11

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 9: Familie

Seeing as though my grandfather was a big influence in my life and he was born in Denmark, I thought I would add a little Danish to the mix. Dane on my mum’s side, Scottish on my dad’s, and England-born grandmother’s all around.  The Scottish roots go back a few generations however from when they immigrated to Canada.

Not only am I lucky, as lucky as divorced and broke and 2 jobs each between my partner and I go, I am extremely rich when it comes to family and friends.

Most of all, there are my two girls. Then, there is my partner who is my cheerleader, and her daughter who sits smack dab in the middle of our 3 girls birth years.  Then add an 80lb dog, a Garfield-esk cat, and two of her fluffy- sleep during the day’ kittens and one Gecko. There you have our immediate home. We even have to feed the crickets and worms and the outside cats even come to our kitchen window for a pet and a snack, so all I really seem to do except work and sleep is clean poop and feed things. Lucky they are all cute or fascinating like worms are.

My parents have toughed out many struggles and are 45 years into their marriage. They are certainly an inspiration and my biggest role models. Both my grandparents lived death-do-us part romances, except my mum’s mum died when I was just a baby. All I have of us is a photo of her holding me and a toy airplane. She and planes had a ‘never go on one’ relationship. My grandfather did remarry but at 99 a few years back, he left my step-grandmother twice the widower.

My grandfather and his second wife both lost the loves of their lives far too young. They also were on two different sides of the war. One fought it in while his darling and child stayed back home, and his second love lived surrounded by bombs going off in the second world war while her husband was in battle. Both her men would survive that war.

I have one sister who is one of my best friends. Both my dad,  mom and both my grandfather’s were of big families of 5’s and 7’s so I have lots of cousins who I have mostly been very close with.

As for friends, I have so many buds I have known since birth or early grade school. We may not see each other all that often even though some live close by, but I know they are always there and I hope they know I am always here. I wish for these friendships to continue because through breakups and other important life moments, it’s comforting knowing I have them. It’s always nice of course but life goes by in a rush.

My family is very sociable, kind, giving, lovers of children and animals, reunions, drinks and a game of cards here and there. We are passionate about our local team, big local supporters of small business, and together a very passionate, talented, and creative lot.

None of us have really left this place. It’s common for locals and if you stick around for awhile, you see what a hidden gem our hometown is. Some have ventured off for a short while or came back and moved not too far away. Otherwise, at any given moment we could probably scare up 50 family members including new relatives that pop up from time to time as pasts reveal the very human nature of all of our families.  We are far from perfect but perfect in every way that matters.

Our family flaws are never far from front and centre but our true nature and strength always shines through during good times like weddings and other family gatherings, and tough times such as repair needs or deaths. There is always an opportunity to celebrate and never a second thought to a hug, a kiss, or a strong man shake.

Family is so important and for those that aren’t so blessed, it’s our opportunity to share the strength that our loved ones give us each and every day. I think we do this very well as does the community I live in. I feel that’s because so many families I am surrounded by are of the same cloth. Dealt more shyte than a litter box and maybe a bit broken and guarded, but always giving and quick to love again even though their love is always forever.

I am lucky that my children have known a great grandfather and so happy they have been able to have a close bond with my parents and sister. I know how important all of these relationships have been for me including the bond I had with my aunts and uncles.

My pooch sits up for a little love as a cool summer’s wind rips through our yard, making me think of how I am also lucky to have the forgiving, forever-love of this sweet soul. She and my cuddly cat have been with me through many lonely nights.

There are so many great souls in my life that I feel have all contributed to a powerful passion with so much pent up love and giving to express.

Strengthening that sense of belonging to a family is something I feel is extremely important and a big driver of this project.