Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Root Canal

I thought I would copy one of my short stories, just to give you an idea of what I am about and a sense of my writing 'skills' :o)

            I woke up early that fateful morning, not too anxious, not too nervous.  It was on my calendar in bold red letters:  ROOT CANAL DAY.  For some reason, I was actually looking forward to having the procedure done.  I had looked it up on the Internet and it seemed like a fairly simple operation.  Besides, I had spent a few weeks when my dentist was on holidays worrying about whether or not I had to get off my blood thinner medication and worrying which would be worse: getting a root canal done or having a blood clot travel to my brain and rendering my  teeth useless anyway?  To my relief, when my dentist came back she told me I could have my root canal done without having to stop my warfarin.  So I was on cloud 9 and was actually looking forward to the procedure.  Silly person that I am.

I got to the office a few minutes early, a smile on my face.   The dental assistant called my name and I was thankful to finally get the procedure started.  It is strange how sitting waiting for a dental procedure is more nerve-wrecking than the actual procedure.  About 3/4 of the way through my root canal, I suddenly realized I had to pee so bad I thought I was going to explode. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a strong and overwhelming urge to relieve myself. I was very near letting it all go right there in the dentist chair in front of the dentist and her female assistant.

For various reasons I had drank a ton of water this morning before leaving to have the procedure done. I was running late so I did not have a chance to hit a restroom before going in the doctor's office – HUGE mistake.

Anyway, so there I was, laying on the dental chair tilted so far back that I'm close to sliding off the chair head first – if I did have an “accident” all the urine would have traveled from under my pants across my chest all the way up to my neck and down my armpits. Man, wouldn’t that be something to behold?? At the time of crisis I had this mammoth dental contraption in my mouth that spreads the mouth open beyond anything that is naturally possible. There was this large, bright red rubber sheeting in there that was partially hanging out my mouth that is suppose to separate one part of the mouth from the other and helps in keeping the mouth stretched open. I don't know how they were able to stuff all that hardware and plastic into one tight little compartment. Right now I don't know what hurts the most, my gutted, root-canal’d tooth or my mouth being stretched so far open you could have driven an ice rink’s Zomboni through it.

So, at about halfway through all the relentless drilling I begin to feel the pressure build in my bladder -- and it’s growing exponentially by the second. It got so bad I swear the office ceiling had a yellow tint to it. I held off as long as I could, then I started acting like a 3 year-old trying to not think about my need to pee; I was crossing my legs and stiffening my body to hold it all in. I even put my hands under the apron that was on top of me and loosened my belt buckle a few notches to try and relieve some pressure. What didn’t help at all was the fact the apron that was on top of me was the same lead-filled apron they used to take x-rays of the tooth in the beginning. It weighed a ton and was pressing down on my bladder.

Finally, at about breaking point, I raised my hand in the air to get the dentist’s attention (I couldn’t talk with all that stuff in my mouth). First thing she says is, “do you need to go to the restroom?” and I give her a big thumbs up. After moving stuff out of the way, she tells me the only restroom is out in the hallway beyond the waiting room. Without a care, I immediately jump off the dentist chair and fly out of the procedure area and across a very, very large waiting room area that has about 15-20 people in it -- all of them sitting there straining their heads and gawking as I run past them. I run through the hallway and into the restroom and slam the door behind me where it takes me a good 5 minutes to drain my bladder. Relief at last!

While washing my hands I take a peak at myself in the mirror over the sink and was very startled by what I saw. I’ll tell you, I looked like Frankenstein’s mother. My mouth was wide open at an odd angle, there were various pieces of metal and black plastic components protruding out from the orifice and underneath it all there was this blood-red rubber thing, with a hole in it, smashed into my mouth stretching my face into various contorted positions with some of the red rubber stuff hanging down and out and over my mouth and well over my chin – it looked like a clumpy mass of blood just hanging there. I looked absolutely hideous and ghastly! I looked like I was having open heart surgery though my mouth.

Now came the hard part, how do I make it all the way back to the dentist’s chair without a whole bunch of people in the waiting room wondering what was going on that caused me to run out of the dentist’s office so quickly. The door to the hallway is on one side of the waiting room and the door to the procedure area is on the opposite side of the room – I have to cross this large room full of people to get to where I needed to be. After those people had gotten a quick glimpse of what I looked like -- and running like a bloody bat out of Hell to the restroom -- I have no doubt there were many in the waiting area that were now having second thoughts about getting their own dental procedure done today. I didn’t know what to do, so I just decided to suck it up and march back in there as if nothing happened. So I did.

When I opened the door to the waiting room every living person’s head in the room spun around to look at me. All of a sudden the notion that I could just casually walk back through this large waiting room, as if nothing happened, was now just a fantasy pipe dream. Some people just flat-out stared with puzzled expressions; others were wide-eyed with their mouths slightly gaped open, and some of the children in the room looked very startled and concerned and leaned into their parent.  I noticed that one small little girl had even pee-ed on the floor. I felt their eyes burning holes in my back as I passed by them, overhearing a small boy tell his Mom ‘Mommy, please, I promise I will floss from now on, can we please go home now?’

It seemed like it took a million years to cross the room but I did it and got back into the dentist’s chair to let her continue to do her thing.  The procedure was almost done and I was breathing a sigh of relief – I would soon be free of all the gunk in my mouth, that is, until I heard the dentist tell her assistant to get the orthodontist and to make sure HE brought his ‘squirter’ with him.  Well I totally lost it – the gauze and whatever else was in my mouth flew across the room as I burst out laughing, picturing this guy walking in the room with his ‘squirter’ and knew that no matter what, I was not going to wait to find out what it was as I lay there defenseless.  Thankfully the dental assistant also started laughing and I knew I was not the only one with a sick sense of humor.  The dentist somehow managed to keep her composure as she explained what this ‘squirter’ was (a new machine that would squirt water into my mouth to ensure that there were no hidden open areas, and I calmed down and let her finish.  When the orthodontist came in, I smiled brightly at him, thoughts of his squirter not sounding so bad, especially since he was not all that bad looking.  When all was finished, I said nothing about the pee break nor about the ‘squirter’ to the dentist nor did she mention it to me. The only thing she did was suggest I take the door that led to the back parking lot.  And I did exactly that.
To this day, I still wonder how many people in that dental office today will make me a topic of conversation at the office cooler or at the dinner table tonight? Regardless, when I return to get any dental work done, I will be making a pit stop to the washroom before I check in with the receptionist.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Interview with Mark Hederman - what is life all about...

Last night, I watched and lisened to an interview with Mark Hederman.  It brought all kinds of thoughts to me and I thought I would share them with you.  I know some of my thoughts will be controversial and that is OK.  I must warn you that it has to do with religion - just know that whatever your beliefs are, I respect them.  I only ask the same from you.  (The link to the full interview is at the bottom).

Now to get to his interview. I have to admit that at first, I thought 'oh here we go with another old man preaching about the virtues of the Roman Catholic faith'. So I listened - but with skepticism. For there are many beliefs of the Roman Catholic faith that I disagree with. Then I heard him say something to the effect that when he was in the boarding school, it felt more like a kidnapping as well as where they recruited most priests. And my attention got caught and the more I listened to this man, the more I liked him.
I absolutely love the fact that he does not believe that the Catholic Church is the 'only' church. That God communicates with us whereever we are (and I took that to mean whatever fath we belong to) - as long as there is Love, there is everything (I don't know if he said those exact words, but that is something I took away from what he said).

Do I believe that going to a certain church is important or not. I personally believe 'not'. I think I have always believed that, altho going to mass with all its symbolism, has always felt right to me. But I never put a priest on a pedestal - nor will I ever do so - they are just there as a celebrant - what they say is what the whole congregation should be saying. The prayers they say are the prayers we should all be saying. I believe that Jesus is truly present in the eucharist, yet at the same time, I think each one of us is also present - it is where we join ourselves with Him. Where we become one - where we are truly Church. You become what you eat. So when I receive the eucharist, I am humbled because I am receiving Jesus within me, and at the same time - mysteriously, I am also receiving a part of myself and a part of all those around me. Does that make sense? I am a eucharistic minister and when I look people in the eye and say 'Body of Christ' I feel such overwhelming humbleness. For I am saying (at the same time) - here, take this, it is Jesus body, here, take this, it is your body). Some people think it would be terrible if someone who was not 'worthy' should receive the eucharist. I personaly think that Jesus would find no one unworthy.

When I was on my 'journey of questioning', my last road block was receving the Eucharist. I was back in Church, I attended faithfully, etc. But when the time came to receive the eucharist, I knelt in prayer, saying to myself 'I am not worthy to receive you'. One Sunday I heard (not sure if heard is the right word) - but I was commanded to get up and receive the eucharist. The voice was loud enough to get my attention. The 'voice' also told me that it was my pride that kept me in my pew. I immediately got up (I literally was in a daze - I was just obeying that 'voice') - I hardly remember walking up to receive the eucharist. Afterwards, I pondered why that voice told me that my pride was what was keeping me in my pew - after all, I had no pride that I knew of - I felt too unworthy - how could I feel unworthy and be full of pride. Then I understood - I thought I needed to be 'right' with God before I could receive the Eucharist and God knew I needed to receive it. There is a humbleness in getting up and saying to God 'I need you' - for that is what we do when we get up - we leave our pride behind and accept that we need Him within us.
OK - enough of my take on the Eucharist. I do agree with Mark Hederman when he says that using words like Transubstantiation' is ridiculous, especially since no-one can truly explain it and it can become a hindrance to unity between churches.
What is your take on the eucharist? What do you believe about it?
To get to the rest of his interview - I like the fact that he finds the church to be a 'dinosaur' (I believe that as well) - but it is necessary if one is a piest to accept this (like he says, it is an institution made by man). I like the fact that he realizes that there are very few dogmas (truths) but a whole lot of rules - but to be part of the church, one has to accept some of their rules. The Holy Spirit does not depend on anyone - the H.S. is open to all. Nice.

I think what I enjoyed the most about his interview was when he talked about the fact that he did not believe in 'hell' as we know it or what is commonly thought of when one says hell. Hell is simply a choice we make. I like to think of it as not answering Jesus' call to us in our graves. If we cannot recognize his voice now, how will we when we die? I think of Lazarus - when Jesus called out for Lazarus to 'come out', I think we too will be called to 'come out' - will we listen? or will we be afraid of what awaits us and therefore remain in the 'tomb', not to be unwrapped. Will we even recognize His voice when he calls us to the resurection? Will we respond? I think that religions that tells us we need to be 'born again' and if we are not, we will go to hell - that has to be the greatest sin, to tell someone they will be going to hell. For who will respond of the loving voice of God after death if we fear him? Now maybe there is a place (purgatory ... altho I do not think of pergatory the way it was taught - I think it is a place we continue to learn - to accept who God truly is.
I love the fact that he says that we will be judged ONLY on one thing - on how we loved. For what mother would punish her child forever for doing something 'bad'? If a mother (or father) on earth cannot do this, how could a loving God do that? Impossible. However, we ourselves can choose to hide (e.g. garden of Eden comes to mind) from God - yet God still searched out Adam and Eve - will He not search us out if we hide? But we still will have free will even after death (my belief) - and we can still chose to not be where Love is. Some people, unfortunately, would actually chose to not be around Love (altho I think sometimes some people turn away from love because they have never been loved or do not want to be loved because of different circumstances (which God will take into account). Is it a conscious choice to not chose Love or is it because of our being hurt in this life? God is greater than anything, and only God knows what lies in the heart of men and women. I once heard that until one can actually accept that Hitler might be in heaven, one has not yet learned yet just how much God loves. Take Judas for example: I fully believe that Judas will be in heaven. He repented what he did to Jesus. He felt so bad - he tried to give back the 30 pieces of silver when he realized that Jesus would not manifest his power and restore Jerusalem to what it should be. He had a different expectation of what Jesus was all about and I think he may have misunderstood Jesus' words when Jesus told him 'do what you must do' - and he thought that Jesus was giving him permission - he (Judas) was trying to force Jesus' hand - Judas thought he knew better than Jesus did about what was the right thing to do - and so he betrayed Jesus. But he repented (so much so that he hung himself out of his anguish over what he had done). If Jesus could forgive the thief on the cross (and perhaps even both thieves) , then I truly believe that he forgave Judas' ignorance.

Like Mark does when he closes the interview - we will be judged only on one thing: Love. Did Judas love Jesus - far be it for me to decide on that one. Maybe Judas was welcomed home like the prodigal son...... or maybe Judas ended up in 'purgatory' until he learned to let go of his guilt and was able to approach God with a repented heart.
For I believe, in my heart of hearts, that there is still free will after death. It is a gift that was given to us and I do not believe that any gift God gives is ever taken away.
To hear the full interview with Mark Hederman, click here:

Monday, 28 March 2011

Just for Fun

I am trying to regain my sense of humor.  I think it disappeared in a puff of smoke.  No, I have not started smoking again.  But it seems like my sense of humor - albeit it a weird sense of humor - has left me.  I am more serious than I have been in a long time.  Things do not strike me as being funny anymore. 

I know I have not cried in almost 4 years, but will I be saying, in 4 years from now that I have not laughed in 4 years?  That thought is pretty scary. 

I finished writing my 3 prompts (that were due in April) and that in itself should bring a smile to my face.  It does bring a sense of accomplishment, but a smile?  Let me see, today is Day 28 of not smoking - and it is Day 28 of not laughing.  Funny eh?  (No, I am not laughing as I type this).  One of the prompts given by my writing group had a strong lean toward a murder.  And I struggled with it when I thought of actually writing something that 'might' have me kill off one of my characters.  I could not do that.  It just wasn't in me.  I joked with my writing group members that I might kill a fire, but that was about as close to killing something as I could get.  For me, the thought of killing anything, even a thought, seemed an impossibililty.  Except for killing a mosquito (and even there, I always had to turn my head) was an ordeal. 

But yesterday as I finished that last prompt (yes, I left that particular prompt for the last one), I looked at my finished product and thought to myself 'why did I have absolutely no trouble killing off one of my main characters?'.  Has stopping smoking brought out a beast in me that I did not know existed?  Would I suddenly turn into a mystery writer?  Would I walk along the same path as Stephen King and imagine all sort of killing sprees brought on by dead people?  Would my heart harden now that I no longer smoked?  Was it worth selling my soul in order to not smoke?   Would I ever be able to write something amusingly witty ever again? 

Time will tell, as they say.  But somehow last night, as I finished my short story, I had a certain sense of pleasure in having killed off a character.  Death had a certain appeal that I had never experienced before.  Ah well, such is life....and death!! 

Strange what not smoking can do to me. 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunday - The First Day of the Rest of the Week

They say that Sunday is the start of a new week.  I say that Sunday is the first day of the rest of my life.  Both are truths.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life (OK, OK, so I am not being original here - someone else came up with that 'pearl').  But it is my truth.  And since it is my truth, it is also a truth I chose to live by.  There are yesterdays in my life (all right, all right, there are MANY yesterdays in my life).  I would prefer they be a few less yesterdays but there are many tomorrows also.  But most important of all, there is a Today!!  For that 'today' I chose to rejoice in.  Because it is all I truly have.  It is all we all truly have.  Gosh I am full of cliches this Sunday.

When I got up this morning, I saw it was going to be a sunny day.  I have not yet gone outside, so I prefer to look at the sun and pretend that it is not only a sunny day, but a warm one.  I do not go outside first thing in the mornings anymore to have a smoke, so I can imagine that today is a nice 15C if I want to.  Yes, that will do.  Because I can then also let my imagination soar and feel the pretend warthm outside, pretending that golfing season is right around the corner.  If I have any doubts about that, I can turn on the TV and watch the Golf Channel.  How I am looking forward to golfing this year!!!  My husband is retiring at the end of May and we actually bought a golf membership.  Thoughts of little white balls fill my mind (and those little balls are not made of snow either).  To be out on a golf course, with the silence surrounding me (except for shouts of 'fore' (for which I duck my head a little),  with the grass green, with trees that I always manage to avoid (there is a sense of peace in knowing that I cannot hit a ball hard enough for it to slice or hook), to hear the squirrels chirping on some distant tree, to see the birds in the sky (having no fear of being hit by my balls), I am filled with what can only be described as a sense of yearning.  With a golf membership, I can play whenever I want to without any thought of cost.  It gives one the freedom to decide at the last minute to go play 9 holes, or even 18 if it is not a busy day. 

I love my Big Bertha.  I often caress it gently.  Not only because it gives me an extra 50 feet of distance, but because it is my brother's last gift to me before he passed away in 2006.  Has it been that long?  He sent it to me a few months before he had his massive heart attack (and many of you may not believe this, but he passed away on the 18th hole at the Montreal Golf Club, while taking out his putter).  So this Big Bertha and golfing hold a special place in my heart.  For whenever I pick it up, I think of him and somehow, I know he is 'somewhere' thinking of me. 

I believe that we all have a connection with those who have gone before us.  By 'gone', yes, I do mean 'passed on', 'died' 'went to a better place' ... however you want to word it.  I am not a religious person because I believe that religion is for those who fear going to hell.  But I am a spiritual person because I believe that one is spiritual because one has already been to hell.  Sounds drastic eh?  Well, if one has a loved one with a mental illness, one knows what hell is.  When one sees a love one suffer such a fate, one knows that that person has experienced a hell like no-one else has.  When my son once told me 'I don't believe in God because if there is no God, there can be no devil' and I cried.  The demon of mental illness had a hold on him for such a long time.  But I knew my son was looking at me for reassurance so I told him 'it is OK to not believe in God.  You do not have to believe in God for God to believe in you' (an original one from me rather than a cliche).  And I truly believe he clung to those words in his darkness.  For when he emerged back into the light, he led me back to a church - where he felt comfortable and where I therefore felt comfortable. 

Yes, today is Sunday.  Today is sunny, today is a day that brings thoughts of golfing, today is a day that brings back memories of those who have gone before us, today is a day that makes me reflect on how grateful I am to have a son who has not been hospitalized for almost 4 years and therefore, today is a day I bless.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

To Smoke or Not to Smoke - Do I Know The Answer?

It has been a while since I posted.  And that is OK.  I have decided to stop smoking and somehow, I ended up being sick.  Funny how sickness is what made me decide to no longer smoke, and since then, I have been even sicker - I thought it should have made me feel better - never mind the withdrawals (I knew I would experience those).  But now that I am starting  to feel better (fever finally gone), I now have decided to blog again.

For those who believe that my illness and my fever was caused by my body's reaction to not smoking, I beg to differ.  My mother-in-law, in her infinite wisdom, decided to come for a visit (first visit in over 4 years) when she was ill with a fever.  2 days later, I came down with her germ.  I will never understand why people decide to visit when they are not feeling well.  But such was the case.  Oh well (as I tend to say a lot of lately).

There are times when I crave a smoke - I had to actually grieve the loss of this dear friend of mine - after all, it was always there - when I was lonely, when I was bored, when I wanted a break.  I have grieved many times in my life, and this is just another one of those times.  But I sometimes miss my trusted friend who was always there for me - in good times and in bad times. 

But I cling to the fact that I will eventually accept that my friend (my cigarette) is now a thing of the past and will be replaced with a better friend - (healthier lungs, more money (altho money is not my motivator).  I started smoking when it was totally cool to do so, and I became an addict.  I admit that - humbly and without embarrassment.  I do not judge those who still smoke because I totally understand where they are coming from and how hard this addiction is to overcome (and I am not about to say that I am a non-smoker).  But for today, I choose to not smoke.  That keeps me from smoking.  If I think of 2 days from now, of 2 weeks from now, of 2 months from now, I know I cannot do it.  But for today, yes I can do it.  And tomorrow, I will see...

I know that right now, I am low on energy and I am not sure if it because I am not smoking or am still recuperating from my mother-in-law's gift when she came over.  I will wait and see if I have more energy tomorrow.  I know I must have more energy today than yesterday, because I am actually typing this Blog - something that did not appeal to me yesterday, as I coughed.  And even more than a few days ago when I battled a 5 day fever of 102-103 and no energy whatsoever.  I did lose 7 pounds during the process (due to the fact that I was constantly also battling nausea and all I could eat was jello - not just any jellow mind you.  If I could only stomach jello, then it had to be cherry jello.  Nothing else would do.  Jello and water.

Will I smoke tomorrow?  I push that thought out of my mind and just concentrate on today.  It is enough to think about.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sunday - Answers to Questions of the Week

TO WEAR A MASK OR NOT TO WEAR A MASK – this is the Answer
"I love walking in the rain, because then no one can see me cry"
Isn’t that a rather sad commentary of our world today?  And yet, so many are doing just that…… so many people are afraid to be who they truly are out of fear – fear of rejection, fear that no-one will love them or accept them.  They have learned, a long time ago, that in order to survive, they had to wear a mask – the mask of protection.
They say that when we were born, we were born with only 2 fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.  Then we grew up and we learned to fear other things, the worse being the fear of being our authentic selves.   
I am a former Heavy-Weight Mask wearer (and still am a Light-Weight Mask wearer at times).  I learned early in life, that my authentic self was never good enough.  I learned that people judged me harshly if I   was authentic, so I slowly started to learn that masks were valuable things, or so I thought.
Now that I am an adult, I have had to ask myself (for my own sake) why I still chose to hide who I was inside.  Was it even possible to get through life without putting on a mask? 
We all want to be who we truly are.  I remember God’s answer to Moses when Moses asked God what His name was.  God simply said ‘I Am Who I Am’.  God did not want to be labeled – he just wanted to ‘be’.  And of course, at the very core of our being, we too want to be the same way, don’t we?  To be who we are inside, to be accepted for just  being.  To say ‘I am Who I Am’ and be totally accepted and not be labeled.
God may have been able to do this – just be.  But can we just ‘be’?  I am not sure it is always possible.  At least I personally am not able to – yet.
I will start with why I used to almost always wear a Mask (my Heavy-Weight Masks).  It was because I did not truly like who I was, so why should anyone else like the real me?  It did not make any sense to me at that time.  If I did not like who I was, then I wore my many Heavy-Weight Masks – to please other people, to be more comfortable around people, to ‘pretend’ I was different – stronger, more in control of my life, more confident….and the list went on.  Until one day, I sat down and realized that the masks I always wore were becoming so comfortable that I no longer even recognized myself.  I had become a ‘people pleaser’.  I was too busy choosing which mask to wear on a particular day, for a particular event, for a particular person or group of people, that I did not have time to look inward because I was too busy covering up who I was.
Deep inside, I knew that if I stopped wearing these Heavy-Weight Masks, I would become vulnerable.  And at that point in time in my life, I did not want to be vulnerable.  I understand that now, and I embrace my ‘used to be people-pleaser self’ and I tell her ‘It is OK… you needed those masks in order to survive’.
Then I grew up, or I thought I did.   I decided that wearing masks only put extra weight on my shoulders.   The weight of those Heavy-Weight Masks was just becoming too heavy for me.  And I removed them, slowly, one by one, and did and said things that offended some people.  And for a while, I seemed to always be the one who was hurting.  For it hurts to be vulnerable.  It hurts to not have people accept the real me.  It hurts to not be perfect.  I said what was on my mind, and the people I loved the most did not like what I was saying.  Some of the things I did and said should not have been said or done, but I wanted to be ‘real’.  And I thought to myself, well that is just who I am – why can’t people accept the real me?  But somehow, I found myself feeling more alone than I had ever felt before.
So I started wearing what I call my Light-Weight Masks.  Which basically means that I only wore a mask around  certain people.  That certainly worked much better.  I could still be me inside, I could still be me with my dearest and closest friends and my husband, but I still wore one of my many Light-Weight Masks around other people.  And for a while, this became OK.  Life went on and things were pleasant.  Yet, I knew that every time I wore those masks, it was still all about protecting ‘me’.  I was still concerned about how others saw me.
Then I started to grow up even more (and am still growing up).  One day, I started to realize that any kind of mask should not be about me, but about others.  As long as I wore Masks of Kindness and Love, then was I being untrue to who I really was?  Could that be my answer? 
I have come to realize that sometimes masks are OK to wear.  As long as those masks are about others and not about me.  Never hide who you are – be authentic.  Yes, some people will reject you, some people will not accept your authentic self, and you have to be prepared for that.  Until everyone stops wearing a mask, then one has to sometimes pick up a mask of Kindness and Love and wear it. 
From where I sit, I am OK with wearing a mask in order to NOT HURT OTHERS.  If my son or my husband is having a bad day, I will pick up my mask of Kindness and Love and try to make their day a bit better.  I also wear this Mask of Kindness and Love when I keep quiet on certain issues that, if I were my authentic self, I know it would hurt other people, because they are not yet ready to understand my truth.  It took a long time for me to realize this.  Sometimes it is all right to just say ‘I hear you’ or to smile (even when you don’t feel like it).    
What about when you know others are wearing a mask? (or if you suspect they are wearing a mask?).  That, my friends, is NOT because they do not want to be authentic, but they are afraid to just ‘be’, they are afraid of being judged, they are afraid that they will not be liked.  They do not understand that there are some who are just waiting for them to remove their masks and be themselves.  That we will love them, faults and all (for not one of us is free from faults).
So why do people wear masks?  Because of fear.  Fear of not being able to say ‘I am who I am’.  And fear that people will not like their authentic selves.  I prefer to not wear a mask (most of the time anyway…I am not totally authentic yet, even to myself, although I do try to be) – I am on a journey, but I have yet to arrive. 
And always remember, When people become afraid to truly be themselves around you, you may be forcing them to wear masks.  I hope I am not that kind of person.  I hope I can accept others for exactly who they are, I hope that with me, people will not be afraid to remove whatever mask they are wearing that particular day and just be their authentic selves.  I know I am blessed to have many people in my life with whom I can ‘just be’ and know I will be accepted without judgement.  These people are hard to find, but I truly believe there are a lot of people out there who are just waiting for me to remove my mask.  I believe there are people who will love my imperfect self, who will accept me even if I am not perfect.  I also know that sometimes people may wear their own Mask of Kindness and Love around me when I am having a bad day, and I appreciate them for that, because I know they are doing so out of kindness and love for me. 
Maybe, one day, it will happen.  One day, all people will stop wearing masks and just ‘be’.  Only then will this world be ‘one’.  I am who I am, love me anyway.  You are who you are, and I love you anyway.
To summarize, some people wear masks out of fear.  Try to remove those masks, but accept them even with their masks.  People also wear masks out of Kindness and Love – those masks, in my opinion, are a blessing and I (personally) treasure them.  Be aware that some people wear masks to cover how they feel and try to be that person that they will feel comfortable enough with that they will slowly and tentatively remove their masks.  Tell them ‘you are precious in my eyes’.  Look forward to the day when all people will feel comfortable with themselves and with others that their only fear will be that of falling and of loud noise – that they will again become like a child, open to the world and not fear, but will say joyously ‘I am who I am’.    

Friday, 11 March 2011

Income Tax Information for caregivers of someone with a disability

How to fill out an Income Tax return if you are a Caregiver of someone with a disability:
First of all, you will need to download form T2201 (Disability Tax Credit Certificate) (web site:
This form has to be filled out by a physician (family doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist) and mailed in with your own Income Tax refund after it is filled out.  Make sure you tell the physician to put the date that your disabled dependant was first diagnosed – Revenue Canada will pay back any time from then (up to a maximum of 4 years I believe – could be more though – maybe even 10).
NOTE:  You may have to pay a small fee to your family doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist to have the Form T2201 filled out.  This fee will be small in comparison to the savings (and money received).
Once you have this form in hand, you are ready to fill out the Income Tax forms.  Follow these simple steps: 
1.         On the Disabled Person’s Income Tax Return;
Fill out Line 145 to 150.  Fill out Line   250 (which should be same amount as Line 145).
On Schedule 1 – Federal:  Claim amounts Line 1 and Line 316 (it says on the form the amount your dependant can claim).
On NB428 (Provincial):  Put amount on Line 5844 (Disability Amount for Self) (it says on the form the amount your dependant can claim). 
Note:  Someone WITH a disability who has income to report and has paid income tax can use this to reduce the Income Tax they paid (they will get a tax return in money - any unused amount not needed to reduce the amount of 'O' could be claimed by the caregiver (or spouse if there is one).
2.         For caregivers:
Fill out Schedule 5 (entitled -Lines 306, 315 and/or 331).  Fill out, ‘Name’, ‘Date of Birth’, ‘Net Income’, and ‘Nature of Impairment’ (just write ‘long-term disability’).  You do not have to put anything in ‘Amount of Claim’ – they (government will figure that out).
On your Schedule 1 – Line  315 (Caregiver Amount) – fill out the Federal Worksheet as instructed (although it does not have to be mailed, I would personally do so if this is the first year you are claiming this amount) – unless the disabled person has worked and made quite a bit of money (not usually the case), you can claim the maximum amount, e.g. this year (for year 2010, it is 4223.00).  On Line 318 (Disability Amount Transferred from a Dependent), again you fill out on Federal Worksheet and you can usually claim the full amount (if same rules applies).  This year, it is 7239.00.
On NB428 (Provincial) – Line 5840 (Caregiver Amount) (fill out the Provincial Worksheet - same rules applies as above) – this year, it is 4145.00, then fill out Line 5848 (Disability Amount Transferred from a Dependant) – this year amount is 7106.00
THAT’S IT.  Make sure you keep copies of everything, especially of the form T2201 (this form does not have to be done every year – I believe it is good for 8-10 years – Revenue Canada will advise you.
It really is easy and simple – once you know how it is done - and that it CAN be done.
Note that whatever date (year) your family doctor or other doctor puts on Form T2201 is how far back they will go in your records and adjust your records (If you ask Revenue Canada to do so).
What I do with the money received for the Caregiver Amount and for the Disability Amount Transferred from a Dependant):  I put it in an RDSP (Registered Disability Savings Plan) and also into a Henson Trust (that will come into effect upon the death of my husband and I).
The web site for the Henson Trust is:
The usual amount of extra refund if you fill out the Caregiver Amount and the Amount Transferred - is usually approximately $2500.00 per year.
Good luck and I hope this was helpful :o)

Also:  I have gotten a question by email - on 'why do people wear masks' - I will answer questions received as promised in an earlier Blog.  I hope to have the answer by Sunday.  So come back if you want my view (which is not necessarily the right one) on this question. :o)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

TO FILE OR NOT TO FILE - That is the question

It is that time of year again – filing our income tax!!  Yikes!!  I think there is a conspiracy going on – why is it that Income Tax time and Property Tax time occur at approximately the same time?  Easy come, easy go – or in some cases, easy go x 2. 
Doing my family’s income tax forms is always a daunting task (yes pun intended-tax and task) and sometimes feels insurmountable.  Procrastination rears its ugly head this time of year.  The huge mountain of papers, the thought that I will have to actually use the brains that God gave me is never a pleasant thought.  Even thoughts of going to jail for failing to fill out my tax return has a somewhat surreal appeal – some peace and quiet and time ‘away from home' enter my mind.  But I shrug it off, and let duty prevail and so, I get all the paperwork and receipts out (it is strange how receipts that I thought  were safely placed in one location  suddenly emerge in many other locations).  So yesterday, I sat at my desk and took a deep breath.  Here I go.  The only thing that made it seem worthwhile was the thought that there would be a surprise awaiting me at the end – would I get a refund? How much would it be?  That, my friends, is what kept me going.  I decided to do my son’s income tax first as his was pretty straightforward – nothing in there but the general info (I wondered for a split second what made my son so Special as I looked at the ‘Special’ form).  But I knew that his would come out ‘neutral’ – no money back, no money out.  Simple and fast.
However, this was not to be the case with my husband’s.  I dreaded doing his.  You see, he had applied for CPP (Canada Pension Plan for all those reading this who do not livle in Canada (I have been blamed of being an optimistic person) last year and he had neglected to tell them to take 10-15% off for income tax purposes.  So clearly his would have money owed.  While doing his, I kept my thoughts positive, thinking surely it would not be too bad.  I soon found out that not asking CPP to with-hold funds is never a good thing.  There it was – in black and white – he owed to the government.  I immediately felt like saying a few things about our government, but after having worked for her Royal Magesty for 35 years, I had learned my lesson well – keep private thoughts about the government to myself.  But I did make sure my wonderful (if brainless) husband knew what he had done.  I love my husband dearly but this year, after finishing his income tax return (knowing full well that ‘return’ was a misnomer), I wondered why I had even thought of marrying this man.  After 10 minutes (my husband would likely tell you that it was more like half an hour) of my speaking gently to him (yes, I have a sarcastic sense of humor), he picked up the telephone and humbly called CPP and told them to start with-holding some of his (our?) money.
Then came time to do my income tax return.  Isn’t it strange how a woman always puts other’s needs and problems ahead of her own?  Oh well, I reminded myself yesterday, it IS International Woman’s Day and I am strong, I am woman (Helen Reddy would be proud).  I knew that my income tax return would be a daunting task and would be a time consuming one. All I kept thinking what how when one retires, one should relax and enjoy life. I usually think this way, until tax time rolls around and I wonder why I was placed on this earth.  But I knew that in the end, I would, from experience, be able to sit back and smile, because I would have money coming back (hopefully enough to cover my ‘almost ex-husband’s oversight). 
So, today, they are all complete and I can sit back and smile.  I telefiled my son’s, made out a cheque for my husband’s (did I tell you he was shaking with fear as I told him to SIGN the cheque), and sat smugly with mine.  All that remains today is making photocopies and putting them in the mail.  Job well done, I told myself.  A hard day’s work completed!! 
Now to wait until my refund is deposited into the bank so I can write a cheque to the Property Tax people.  Easy come, easy go. 
This is a very boring entry, my friends.  But such was my day yesterday.  Tomorrow morning, I will write about tax breaks for those who are caregivers of someone with a disability.  It is not at all complicated once you have done it a few times, have cried, have pulled out a few white hairs, have called the automated telephone number that is enough to drive a person crazy a few times (pressing 1,2, 3 and finally 0 is always very frustrating) – I  often wonder why, with all the money they make from the  ‘returns’ they cannot hire an actual person to answer the telephone.  But by this year, I don’t have to do this because I have learned how to do it properly and somewhat easily. 
And having learned the hard way, I want to make it easy for those of you who have never done an income tax return if you have a family member with a disability.   You see, there are thousands of dollars in savings that can be had (I personally put in any savings that come back from the Caregiver Amount and the Transfer of funds into an RDSP and into the Henson Trust) – if you are asking yourself what these are, you will have to continue coming here to check……..
I need something to keep my faithful readers interested – and tomorrow you will be amazed at what you will learn (perhaps for yourself, perhaps for a friend who is a caregiver).  I will spell it all out (OK maybe not spell it out, but point it out) in detail how you can claim amounts for being a caregiver and receive thousands of dollars in refunds.
But for today, I relax in the knowledge that my Property Tax will be paid, that I will have enough money to cover my husband’s lack of foresight (…meant kindly now that I am over the shock..) and enough left over to make a sizable contribution to my son’s RDSP and Henson Trust.  Stay tuned.. as Scarlett said 'tomorrow is another day'...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Weekly Answers to Questions

Now that my head is revolving around the www (world wide web), I want people to feel comfortable with my Blogging and to feel that they can ask me anything.  I have opinions on most topics and would like to have this Blog be as interesting as possible for my world wide viewing  So, I have decided that those who would like to ask me a question should be respected enough to have me answer them.  There are a few things that I won't discuss:  these are your typical 'not-for-discussion' topics: Politics, Religion and Sex.  Politics is a no-brainer.  I fully respect other people's political views and I have my own opinions but these things are best left to people's own beliefs.  Religion is another topic that can spur on heated discussions (and although I am more than willing to state my views on what I believe .. and I think what I believe in will come through as I continue blogging and as you, the world, will eventually come know me .... but I do not wish to 'debate' this issue.  To me, there is no right or wrong answer.  I totally respect others' views and beliefs.  I can share mine, if you ask me to, but only if you agree that 'if I respect yours, you will respect mine'.  As for sex, well it is indeed a 'hot' topic, but why discuss it?  I am of the old school of thought, and I believe that what happens in other people's bedrooms are their own private business :o)

Having said the above, I am open to questions on any other topic.  I am a fairly intelligent being (well, some people have told me so), but I am sure there are questions you will ask me that I just do not have something intelligent to say about it.  And I will freely admit that fact.

I will, therefore, answer and discuss my feelings on any question you ask me, trying to be as truthful as possible, without hurting anyone (or at least without intentionally hurting anyone).  I would like this Blog to be somewhere you can come to and become somewhat interested in what I am saying.  I want this Blog to be just a tad different from most Blogs (although I do admit I have not looked at many other Blogs in order to know what is considered 'different').  But here I am, just waiting to become a part of your world and for you to become a part of mine. I care - even if I do not know you.

Therefore, every Friday, I will look at any questions that are asked and over the weekend will try my hardest to answer them.  I like to believe that my specialty is on mental health issues.  But, no, I am not a professional, I am a caregiver.  Does that make me an expert? Well, maybe.  I know that lived experiences are more realistic (and sometimes more intelligent) than what we are told by professionals.  I have tried to educate myself on a grass-root level, on a level that comes from the heart of a mother.  I live in Canada, so I cannot comment on what the laws are in other countries, I cannot even tell you all the laws on the mental health system that exist in my own country.  But I can tell you what has worked for my family and what we have lived through and are living with.  I am open to supporting you if you are on the same journey I am on, whether it be a caregiver, a family member, or a friend of someone who has experienced a mental illness.

Feel free to ask me anything about anything.  My goal here is to help - not to preach, not to judge, not to be 'holier than thou' - but to just be.  And on Fridays, I will look over the questions and spend some time answering ....... All I ask of you is that you bear with me as I am sure I will learn more about myself through this Blog.

Monday, 7 March 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog, that is the question

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I once went to see the movie, 'Julie and Julia' and saw how one's woman's blogging was made into a movie.  I do not expect my blog to make it to the Big Screen, but at the same time, well, why not?  I am an interesting enough person.  A wanna-be writer.  So why not write a blog about how I want to be a writer and have it become a movie?  Louise and ???........ hmmm... that sounds good - if only I could find a suitable name to go with mine. 

So where do I start?  Well, first of all, I like to write.  I would like to inspire.  I also want to educate people on the effects of Mental Illness.  Why? Because I have been the caregiver of someone with a diagnosed mental illness for the past 6 years.  It has been a struggle, trying to work hand in hand with a system that, more often than not, is broken.  I feel empathy for those who are starting on their journey of navigating through a difficult system.  I would like to support them, to show them that there is hope, tell them to never give up, help them learn the 3 C's:  You did not Cause it, you cannot Control it and you cannot Cure it. 

I started writing short stories and always seemed to end up writing on topics that were near and close to my heart.  I put my pen down for a while and tried writing a novel about the Mona Lisa, doing research, etc.  That proved to be daunting, and I have presently put that project aside.  For that is not where my heart is right now.  Mental illness is.  But even that seems a bit gigantic and insurmountable.  So I tinker with short stories and have entered a contest with a short story on the topic of 'Alheimers'  Then I decided to try my hand at poetry and submitted a short poem to another contest.  I have not heard any news, but none is expected until the end of April  2011 for one and August 2011 for the other.  Does it matter if I win or not?  Not really.  At my age and with my lived experiences, things have taken on a different priority for me.  Life as we know it....... it is not the life I imagined as a teenager, but it is my life and I know I have something to share with the world.  I just do not quite know what it is at this point.

Others in my writing group seem to know what direction they want to go, but at my age (being the eldest I believe), it seems that the older I get, the less idealistic illusions I have, the more realistic day-to-day living takes over and I want to write something that will make a difference in the world.  Not a difference in mine, but something that will touch another person in a positive way and actually change that person.  For I am coming to realize that it is not how I can change, but it is if what I have lived through can help someone else, then my life will have been worth it.

Tomorrow, I will write again and see if I can see more clearly why I am blogging.  And one day, I will perhaps have my Blog made into a movie.  This does inspire me to blog.