30 Days

With the weather through much of the world growing in intensity and severity, I found myself reflecting last night on the simple blessings that we take for granted.  Things like safety.  Hundreds have been killed in recent tornadoes while I sit peacefully on the deck in my back yard enjoying the sun, or complaining about the rain drops while I am out on my motorbike.  Something is out of balance, out of persepctive.

I decided that in June, I will attempt to post an addition to this blog posting each day with something I am thankful for and share a bit about why.  My intention isn’t to brag or gloat, but to purposefully look inward at the simple things that are so often overlooked or, as I said, taken for granted.
I hope you will join me in this month long journey of introspection.
Day 1:  June 1, 2011…
Here we are.  Day one.  In some ways I expect this will be easy, but in other ways I’m not so sure.  I could take the simple way out and write about being blessed with family and friends, a roof over my head and a job to go to, but I hope to go deeper than this.  What about my family am I thankful for?  What’s so special about my friends?  Most people have a roof over their head so what makes mine a blessing?  What is it about my job that I am thankful for?
Today I am blessed with acceptance.  I am thankful that I was raised in a way that taught me to love people, even though we have differences.  If you read my blog about Steampunk, you would have seen that Riley and I are from different points of belief, different walks of life. Despite our differences, we spent some time together exploring art, local economics and appearances.  After that blog was posted, I received an email from a mutual friend; one I didn’t realize we had.  My wife and I met her nearly 10 years ago as a neighbourhood youth who decided to come out to our youth program and we have kept in touch over the years since. She wrote to me saying:
“I’ve always known you and you family to be open to everyone, that’s what made me stick around in the first place. But now reading this article it really thrusts Jesus’ love through you forward into the open. Never in a million years would I have thought someone like Riley and you would be together in the same place. I really appreciated this article as someone who loves Jesus and the church, but at the same time has very many friends who completely reject it. It’s good to read that you don’t project a bias over people.”
This meant a lot to me.  It seems natural to love people as they are.  Just because I don’t necessarily agree with a person’s views or lifestyle, beliefs or actions, it doesn’t mean I can’t accept them.
I have worked in social services for roughly 16 years.  I have met people from all walks of life.  Some living a comfortable lifestyle who are experiencing a challenging time, and some living well below the poverty line in conditions I personally wouldn’t choose to live in.  Through it all, though, we’re people.  We all have something we are faced with.  We all live our lives in the way we feel is best for us.  Differences will exist and that’s okay, it would be a boring world if we were all the same.
Today, as we begin June and my 30 Days, I am thankful for, and blessed with acceptance.  It has allowed me to be an influence in the lives of others, and offered me the chance to meet some great people along the way.  I hope to write about more of these people who are walking down a different path that I am.

Day 2: June 2, 2011…
Today I am blessed with choice.  We take it for granted that “no one is going to tell us what to do.”  Of course there are laws and rules that govern us, but we are permitted choices within the realms of the law.
I am not thinking on a grand level this morning, though.  It’s still before 7:00 a.m. as I write this and the sun is shining on the new day.  No clouds in the sky.  No rain in the forecast.  My choice today: Take the car or Take the motorcycle.
It might seem trivial to some and not worthy of writing about, but I am also fortunate to have an employer that allows me to use any mode of transportation that I choose to conduct the business of my job.  It isn’t very common to see a worker from the social service field arrive at someone’s home on two wheels.
On days like this, when the weather is beautiful and roads are clear that I am blessed with the freedom to choose my ride.  Today, I choose my motorcycle.

Day 3: June 3, 2011…

About eight years ago, my wife and I decided to sell our house and build a new one.  There was a new development being built on the south end of the city and we were going to build a new four level backsplit house.  Two years previous we bought our first house, a three level split ranch style home built in the late 60’s.
We had chosen our lot, met with a builder and put some money down on the new property.  Our house was listed and on the market.  After a couple of open houses and offers that didn’t pan out, we sat down together and considered our options.  We could continue to try and sell, we could rent it out, we could carry both mortgages and make our house available to missionaries on sabbatical.
Something struck us though.  New homes are larger so we would have room for, well, more stuff.  Stuff was something we didn’t need.  Lots were smaller than ours; one of the perks of buying in an older section of the city.  Yards were wide open.  Open for all to see; seems that we wouldn’t have any privacy.  We could have brand new trees in the yard.  Well, sort of.  More like one sapling in the front.  Why were we building?
As we looked over our older, less prestigious property, we realized our home, though smaller, left more room in the yard for our family.  With two young children, they would have a safe place to play.  A green space to have adventures and dreams in.
We had good neighbours already, but the yard was also fenced in for our pets and the entire back yard was lined with tall cedar trees.  Privacy.  Shade.  Nature.
The decision was made.  Take the house off the market and stay put.
There was something else, though.  It stood out to us and still does.  We have so many species of birds that we see each year in our own yard.  Beginning every morning near 4:00 a.m., throughout the day until 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., they sing and chirp.  The new subdivision didn’t have those.
As much as I enjoy the birds, that’s not what I am blessed with today.  Instead, trees.  Without them, there would be no shelter for our feathered friends.  They build their nests there every year.  We’ve been able to watch as the robins, doves and starlings start their family in our yard.  The baby birds drop into our yard as they learn to fly.  The fruit that grows on our cherry tree, this year with abundance.  The quickly growing maple that our son plucked from the ground shortly after a seed took root beside out house, and was replanted in the back yard that will give shade for years to come.  After a few short years, it stands over five feet with a full canopy.

Today, I am blessed with trees.  So simple, but so valued to our family.

Day 4: June 4, 2011…

It’s Saturday morning.  The weather forecast calls for clear skies this morning, showers later this afternoon, and possible thunderstorms overnight.  In reality, where life really happens, the sky is dark, the thunder rumbles, and the rain is falling.  My black lab, Cooper, is terrified and trembling at my feet.  With every flash of lightning and crack of thunder, he shakes a little more.  Poor boy.
I planned on buying some wood to work on my deck a bit more today.  It’s been built in stages over the years, a lower level first, then an upper level with upright beams with the plan to add a sort of pergola afterwards.  That was supposed to be today.  
I was pretty stoked about doing this too.  We’ve had so many ideas over the past three years or so, and had finally settled on a plan.  I hoped to finish it in a day.  Now, no work will happen and I have a ride tomorrow; Distance for Dale, with the Skeleton Riders M.C.  Another day, I suppose.
Just a few days ago I was reminded about a passage in Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”  God didn’t suggest that a break be taken or give the choice to lie down, instead, He makes me lie down.
I haven’t been so busy with work as I have been over the past two weeks, and again in the coming week before I finally slow down in mid-June.  Today, in the midst of business, I guess I am being made to lie down.
With that understanding, on Day 4 of the 30 Days, I am blessed with quiet time.  Time to unwind.  Time to reflect on the week that was and the one to come.  Time to consider where I am at in my own life, my walk with God, my career plans, my family, our future.  Am I where I need to be?  Without taking that break, without ‘lying down in green pastures’ we don’t process what’s happening in our lives.  Where is that balance?  Am I in the right space?  
Are you?

Day 5: June 5, 2011…

It’s been a good day.  The weather was wonderful.  The bikes ran good and other than one dropped bike at the end of the run, it was flawless.  The biker was okay, just a bit scraped up after a slip coming into the lot at the end of the day.

We met in London to take part in th Distance for Dale.  Joel, from the Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) offered a biker blessing before we hit the road, adding “Keep your tach in the black, and the rubber on the road.”  The Heaven’s Saints M.M. was there as well, with the Skeleton Riders M.C.   and the Black Diamond Riders M.C.  Two worlds colliding in a common interest.

I noticed something today.  As the pack roared through the small towns that made up our ride, many onlookers watched as a couple dozen bikes rolled past homes and businesses.  It seemed almost inevitable as I looked at the onlookers; one single aspect of the day that stood out beyond any others.  Smiles.

Today, I am was blessed with smiles.  Smiles from citizens, wannabes, curious onlookers, children, families, and fellow bikers.  Smiles of all shapes and sizes.  All different, but all smiles.

Day 6: June 6, 2011…

I spent the day in a training workshop with Dr. Diane Benoit, focusing on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in children, and the effects of trauma on children.  We watched videos and listened to 9-1-1 calls made by children who were witnessing domestic violence.  In one instance, the child’s mother was killed.  These weren’t staged.  This was real.

I entered the field of Social Services about 16 years ago.  I knew it was where I needed to be. 
People would talk to me.  They still do. 
People would tell me things that they wouldn’t share with anyone else.  They still do. 
I knew that I had the compassion to help people through some of their darkest times.  I think I still do.
I had the patience to work with virtually anyone.  I thought I always would.

Today, I am left with a definite unsettled feeling inside.  What I felt listening to those calls, hearing the terror in a child’s voice, learning how little I can really do, has left wondering what my role is in the the field.  I felt bitter and angry towards the adults who imposed this on their children.  I struggle with the balance between clinical practice and basic healthy relationships.  I believe that a healthy relationship can do more than a counselling session, but maybe it’s not enough anymore.

I suppose this carries over from Saturday, when I needed to reflect on whether I am in the place that I need to be.  Where I should be?  I am not convinced anymore.  I have a lot to consider.  What are my options?  This month long journey is going to be tougher than I thought.  Especially having to write about it everyday.

At the end of this day, though, despite the self questioning, I come home and get back to work writing.  I am reminded that I am blessed with a safe and loving family.  My children are settled, compassionate, and loving.  My wife loves me after being together for 20 years.  I love my family.  I am blessed in deed.

Day 7: June 7, 2011…

Another long day.  Some of you knew I had spent a few days in St. Catherines back in March at a training conference to learn how to effectively facilitate the Triple P program.  There were a number of comments on my Facebook page about the amount of time I was in the hot tub at the hotel.  Today, no hot tubs, just six hours on the road and three hours of testing; testing to ensure I knew how to effectively facilitate this internationally renowned program.

My co-worker and I were facing anxiety in the eyes.  We were the only two people in Elgin and Oxford counties about to be accredited to facilitate the program.  This was a test we have been waiting for for six or seven weeks.  A test we have been preparing for, but were now about to put into practice.  We had to write a test ahead of time that took us over three hours to complete, plus do a role play as if we were facilitating specific sessions of the program.

Our facilitator today was different than the one that taught over the three long winter days in March.  She is the only person in Canada qualified to test and teach.  Where many would be proud of this accomplishment, she was so down to earth.  Her personality set us at ease, knowing full well that we were unnecessarily anxious.  She was encouraging.  She was gentle in her words.  She was kind and pleasant, but she also held us accountable for any short comings we showed in the testing.

Looking back on this day, considering whether to skip a blog entry, I decided that there was something that I could add to the 30 Day blog.  Today, I was blessed with encouragement.  Even as professionals in our fields, I benefited from the gentle words of encouragement that helped set me at ease.

I am now fully accredited to facilitate the Triple P Group program!

Day 8: June 8, 2011…

Here we are, past the one week point of this 30 day journey.  The day was generally uneventful.  Worked on paperwork this morning, team meeting in the afternoon and an open house at the methadone clinic.  A friend joined us for dinner before we took in the Annual General Meeting of Family and Children’s Services.

Uneventful in a typical day of my life.  I have just come inside from having tea on the deck and doing my part to help contribute to the food chain of a bumper season of mosquitoes.  What can I write about in terms of blessing today?

I am blessed not to have a drug addiction that ties me to a methadone clinic everyday.
I am blessed to have a clinic in town that those with addictions can seek services from.
I am blessed to contribute into the lives of children and families.
I am blessed to have quiet time in the evenings with a cup of tea.
I am blessed to be bigger than mosquitoes and can squash the life out of them.

Day 9: June 9, 2011…

Hmmm, I just don’t know.  Today was exceptionally ordinary.  I went to work in the morning, in a meeting first then paper work the rest of the day.  Sometimes it gets tiresome.  Monotonous.

We have made plans to attend the funeral of my wife’s aunt tomorrow.  She died of cancer.  Only in her 50’s, it seems that this disease is increasingly prevalent.  My friend, Pete, lost his 10 year old to cancer recently.  My grandma’s husband has battled it three times and today I learned there is another spot on one of his lungs.  A family friend, Pat, who has lived a very clean life had undergone cancer treatments recently and it was thought she was clean from all cancer.  Also today, I learned that cancer has reappeared throughout her lungs.  The family is devastated by the news.

I don’t get it.  I don’t know how it can be showing up in so many people.  There are others that I am aware of in our circle of friends and family, but these are the ones that are closest to home.

Today I am blessed with monotony.  Although there are times when I am tired of the same old, same old, I am thankful that I am not faced directly with the sickening disease.

Day 10 and 11: June 10-11, 2011…

I missed a couple of days, I apologize.  We travelled out of town to attend a funeral on Friday, I came down sick on Friday evening and battled through the day on Saturday with all the symptoms – stuffed nose, runny nose, body pain, headache, sneezing, coughing, sore throat and watery eyes, although we did go garage sailing Saturday morning because I promised my son that we would go out in search of treasures.

On our way out of town Friday, we stopped at McDonald’s in Ingersoll for some breakfast.  Simple order; four sausage and egg mcmuffins, one is up sized with coffee, the other three with orange juice.  After I paid for the order, my wife mentioned that we were short a drink.  As it turned out, the staff working our order had only charged us for three meals.  We were given the fourth one at no cost as it was her error.  Very polite customer service.  I was impressed.  I had worked at McDonald’s for five years and I understand the challenges of fast food customer service.

Saturday morning, we stopped in at McDonald’s in St. Thomas before we went garage sailing.  I was sick.  I didn’t want to go out, but there were treasures to be found.  This time, we went through the drive through.  Another easy order; two medium decaf coffees double double, one small orange juice and eight hashbrowns.  The total amount seemed low so I had the girl at the drive through window read it back to me, two coffees, one orange juice, two hashbrowns.  She corrected it and I paid the full amount.

We got to the window to pick up the food and realized there were no napkins in the bag.  I asked for some.  I was told, “They should be in the bag.”  Well, she’s right.  They should be, but they weren’t, that’s why I was asking for some.  After we drove away, I also realized that our coffees were smalls.  The bill said we were charged for smalls too, so I suppose I couldn’t make that big a deal out of it.

Two McDonald’s experiences in two days (we don’t normally do that but they do have good coffee, I’d say better than Tim Hortons).  Both with some similarities – incorrect orders, both with some differences – quality of customer service.

So as I look back on the last two days, I find myself blessed with customer service.  I am appreciative of the service we received at the Ingersoll store.  I am grateful to the manager who recognized the need to correct her mistake without placing blame on the customer.  I am thankful that I offered to pay for the missed order but being told, “It”s okay.  It was my mistake.  It’s free for you.”

By the way, my son did find something he has been looking for over the past few months.  For a few years he has had 15 gallon aquarium in his room, but the number of fish continued to grow.  He saw an aquarium for sale at one sale and told be as we walked up the driveway, “If it’s less than $40 I’m buying it.”  This was a 40 gallon aquarium with everything included except fish.  It was a new stand, canopy, decorations, quality filter and a heater.  Everything for just $30.  We didn’t even try to bargain.  This was a good deal.  So, added to my blessing of quality service at McDonald’s, my son was blessed with his new aquarium, which came to him through patience.

Day 12: June 12, 2011…

My neighbour, Peter, is a yard saler.  Almost religiously he sets out in his truck every Saturday morning in search of treasures, much like we did yesterday.  Peter has an eye for deals.  He buys instruments and tools that he can refurbish and resell at a profit, much like the drum set he bought for $50 from another neighbour and sold for $700.  Sure he had expenses into the drums but he turned a tidy profit.

A couple of years ago he found an old bass guitar that had some level of refurbishing done to it.  Certainly nothing special and nothing that most people would want.  He gave it to me to share with someone else who was interested in learning and said that she could play it for three or four months, and if she was still interested she could buy it.  After a few months, she decided to pass on it, saying that parenting was taking up much of her time.  Peter told me to keep the guitar in case I find someone else who was interested.

Today, my 11 year old daughter brought my bass guitar to me and asked me about some notes and songs; I haven’t played in a couple of years.  As I started to play around with the bass, she brought out the old one that Peter had.  After picking up on a few note patterns, we played unplugged for a song or two.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed playing my bass guitar, so today, I realize that I am blessed with music.  Maybe today has re-birthed in me a desire to play again.

Day 13: June 13, 2011…

I often find myself on the outside of conversations about sports.  I haven’t ever been overly interested in sports.  There was a time when I followed basketball and tennis, but really, I don’t care.  I am more of a home body.  I enjoy taking in a London Knights game and I have been to one Toronto Argonauts game, but that’s about the extent of my live sports interests, unless my kids are playing in the game.

I do jump on the band wagon sometimes, I must admit.  I enjoy watching the Superbowl, but I cheer for the most mundane reasons.  This year…Green Bay.  Rationale…I like cheese.  See?  Not much substance to my sports interests.

Tonight is game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.  Vancouver and Boston.  I am only hoping for the Canucks because they are Canadian.  The game is on in our house and we are getting a little caught up in the excitement…or the frustration of it all.  Boston scores 4 goals in the first 10 minutes or so.  Vancouver, nothing.  Maybe “we’ll” lose tonight so “we” can win in Canada.  Either way, tomorrow, it will be something to talk about, but I don’t really care.

It is surprising, though, how worked up we can get over a game we really don’t have an interest in.  Today, I am blessed with not being a sports fan.  I don’t think I could handle the stress of being a fan.

Day 14: June 14, 2011…

Today was a simple day of simple events.  Basic day of paper work as I wrap up reports for the end of the school year, lunch at home on the deck with my wife as we enjoyed the afternoon on our finally finished deck before going back to work for the afternoon.  After work, I power washed the old deck boards to freshen it up so it would match the new boards, before finally enjoying dinner on the deck again.

Two specific events stand out from the day.  After spraying the deck, the gardens were all watered and the robins decided it made for perfect hunting grounds.  It’s really something to watch these bold birds hop up to the deck just feet away from me, tilt their head to the side listening for worms, and like avian ninjas they grab their meal.

The second event is just adorable.  Before putting the potatoes on the barbecue, my wife asked our daughter to stick each potato with a fork and put them in the microwave.  She did it exactly as she was told.  She stuck a fork into each one, and then put each potato, with a fork sticking up, into the microwave.  Fortunately, she didn’t turn it on.

Today, I am blessed with the ability to appreciate these small events in an ordinary day.

Day 15: June 15, 2011…

Today marks the halfway point on the 30 Day journey to look at the blessings in my life on a daily basis.  I thank those who have come along, read this blog, retweeted and shared it with others.  I have a confession to make; it’s been more difficult than I anticipated.  It has forced me to be more aware, even of things that seem trivial like the robin hunting worms.  I have tried to steer clear of the obvious, but sometimes certain events lead one to look at their own home and family like on Day 6 after the trauma training.

Today also finds us at another Stanley Cup playoff game.  Really, tonight is THE game to watch.  Tonight is the night, or as the crazed fan just screamed into the TV, “It all comes down to this!”  Has there ever been a more defining moment for either of these teams?

Has there ever been such a defining day in my life?  I don’t think so, and in some ways, I hope I don’t ever have one.  It’s a lot of pressure, some would say it’s all unnecessary pressure, and that it doesn’t matter.  But if you had worked your entire life to capture the prize, to achieve the pinnacle of success, could it really mean nothing?

My life won’t compare to a cup game.  My prize won’t receive the worldly glory that the winning team will enjoy in a few short hours.  My prize will never be seen around the world, and that’s okay with me.  I live my life to the best of my means.  I work for my pay cheque.  I have my home.  I love my children.  I love my wife.  I love my God.  I have good friends.  I am chosen by my parents.  I get to ride my motorcycle and serve alongside my brothers.  I am loved.  Isn’t that worth more?

Today, I am blessed with the love of others.  It’s a simple, true and enduring love.  Once again, I am seeing that it’s the simple things that mean the most.

Day 16: June 16, 2011…

I spent the day in First Aid and CPR training.  I used to keep up with the renewal every couple of years, but, like many things, I have let it slide.  With my new position at work, it was a requirement so I soon found myself signed up again.  I was surprised how quickly the information came back to me, especially when I am so forgetful.  I think I’m forgetful, aren’t I?

Anyways, this afternoon when the kids were done school they embarked on their first day of delivering papers.  They put it off for a while but when they were asked by the newspaper to be the delivery persons in the neighbourhood, they took the opportunity to make some money.  I’m proud of them for taking on the additional responsibility.  They are good kids really.

We ended the day with a show on Auschwitz which my son chose.  Not the typical Thursday evening viewing for a 13 year old.   This came after the school concert which was the best, most enjoyable one I have seen in all my years of attending them.  It was filled with music, singing, dancing and drama, but this time, the kids seemed to actually enjoy it!  The play focused on building characteristics such as compassion, empathy, cooperation, and such traits.

When you spend years in social services, there is a problem that creeps into your life – you see the worst.  The good seems to fade away and darkness tints your perspective.  You need to be reminded that there is good, and there is hope.

Today, I was blessed with a refreshing hope that there is good out there.  Kids are learning how to be respectful and compassionate, empathetic and cooperative community members.  Kids can have good clean fun and enjoy being together without getting into trouble, unlike the vandals that tore up the downtown of Vancouver last night creating a shameful mess of a party well earned despite the outcome of the game.   Great job tonight kids.  Thank you for a truly enjoyable evening.

Day 17: June 17, 2011…

In the last few weeks I have received certification in the Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviour, Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), CPR and First Aid and attended a workshop of the Effects of Trauma on Childhood Development.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the training opportunities that I have had, but I am privileged to have had them.  Had I spent the money out of pocket it would have easily been over $2000, but today, I acknowledge that I am blessed with an employer that sees the value in furthering the knowledge and skills of it’s employees.

Day 18: June 18, 2011…

Today turned out to be busy, but it started off with a couple of hours dedicated to sitting on our now-completed deck and reading.  I finished off an older book entitled “A Just Society”, by James Penman Rae.  In it, he talks about some revolutionary shifts in Canadian culture to make the country truly democratic.  I don’t agree with everything he says, but for a book written in the 1968, he was a man with a great foresight.  I came across the book when I met his son.  After speaking for some time, he offered me his copy of the autographed book to read at my leisure.

Once I completed that book, I moved on to “On Writing” by Stephen King.  I picked up this book when I met Morgan last year.  I have never been a Stephen King fan.  His genre hasn’t been by cup of tea, but reading this how-to-write book gives a greater understanding of Mr. King as a person.  It is part autobiographical part educational journey for the reader.  It isn’t so much a How-To book as it is one man’s journey into the craft or art of writing.

My daughter and I headed out afterwards for some garage sailing.  We found a few things that I would have purchased at retail and only spent $2.25, when it would have cost me well over $20.  A good find in deed!

The afternoon and evening was spent visiting with friends at a trailer near Parkhill.  It’s good to be with friends, which is where my blessing was found today.  There were a lot of mosquitoes out there!  I think of malaria. I consider how people in other less developed countries are exposed to disease and sickness, while we simply spray a mist over our bodies and we are generally protected.  Of course there are always a few pests to get through the barrier intended to protect us, but today, I am blessed with bug repellant.  Without it, the time with friends would have been miserable as I would have been distracted by the intense bodily harm and that ‘hands’ of tiny little bugs.

Day 19: June 19, 2011…

Father’s Day.  This one should be easy, but I wanted to put more thought into it and be specific about the day.  We had my mom and dad over along with my wife’s dad and step-mom.  We hadn’t done this before at our house, but it was an enjoyable time with everyone.  We barbecued and spent the evening outside, hearing my dad tell stories about life and people.

Once the evening of visiting was done, that’s when I enjoyed the blessing of the day.  Dusk was upon us and we lit a fire up in the chimnea – I suppose we aren’t supposed to do that, something about a by-law, but nonetheless we did.  For an hour or so, we roasted marshmellows, just my wife and our kids.  We sat by the fire and talked about life, our life, our joys and some challenges.  Overall it was just such a peaceful and true time together.

This Father’s Day I am blessed with quiet and honest conversation with my family.

Day 20: June 20, 2011…

As the school year comes to a close, my workload seems to steadily climb.  I am feeling the pressure and it isn’t always a good thing.  I have assessments to complete, referrals to make and plans to establish.  I have seven school days left.

I was in a classroom today of grade threes and fours.  This is a classroom made of quite a mix!  One little girl said, “I’m a music box!  Somebody turn me on!”  When the boy next to her touched her hand, she broke out into song.  There was no reason for this to happen.  It was completely random and out of the blue.  The teacher allowed this momentary outburst, but closed the performance at the second song.  The teacher was patient, understanding and seemed to notice the student needed to let out some energy, be validated in her feeling and be given an audience.

What stands out to me though, is the teacher.  Her calm demeanor, her pleasant nature.  As I spoke to her, she understands these kids and is fully aware that her classroom is a blend of all types of students.  Not everyone could pull off teaching this class, but she does it.  She does it well.

Today I am blessed with hope that there are still teachers who are patient and compassionate with their students, even when the differences can be disruptive.

Day 21: June 21, 2011…

What has seemed like an uneventful day has taken a turn otherwise.   Last week my wife received a phone call from a friend who has been off from work for a couple of months.  They aren’t close friends, but nonetheless, friends.  She called to advise that doctors suspected she had ALS and wanted to see my wife again.  The prognosis for those diagnosed is not good; they often die within 12-24 months of diagnosis.  There is some treatment available, but no cure.

Today, my wife called to check in with her after the mornings’ tests.  It was confirmed.  ALS is the diagnosis and she has been given only 2-3 months to live.  I don’t know her but my heart hurts for the family.

Just moments ago, I received another call from my friend Terry.  He had just received word that a mutual friend’s son had passed away today.  When Greg was a child, there were complications with his heart and he wasn’t expected to make it out of childhood.  He lived until he was in his early 20’s.  For that, the family is grateful, but the loss hurts dreadfully.

It is easy to take our lives for granted.  I have health concerns, but I manage well.  I am treated for my conditions and I live a relatively normal life.  Today just highlights the blessings that I have.  I am blessed with health.  I am blessed with medication that allows me to live a normal life.  Friends around me are hurting, suffering, and going through deep sorrow at the recent losses and diagnoses.  My heart breaks for them, yet I am blessed to be with them on their journey.  No one should face their struggles on their own.

Day 22: June 22, 2011…

I have already been reflecting on this month.  When I summarize it all in the beginning of July, I am sure it will be an overwhelming experience.  Today, though, I spent much of my thoughts on my friends Dave and Dori.  They are the ones whose son passed away yesterday.  When I talked to Dave tonight, I could hear many people in the back ground.  These were friends and family who had gathered to give comfort in this time of loss.

I was reminded that this is the second friend in two months to have lost a child.  The fourth of my lifetime.  While I can’t imagine the pain of such a tremendous loss and emptiness that follows, I am blessed to be a friend who can give some level of support during these times.  My heart aches for my friends, but my desire to be their friend surpasses my own hurt.

Today, I am blessed to be able to be a friend in time of need.

Day 23: June 23, 2011…

I used to yawn when walking into a bookstore or a library.  All those books bored me to tears; they just sat there doing nothing.  I was friends with a couple guys who loved fantasy novels and thus each trip to the mall, which was intended to look for girls, would include a visit to the book store.  I dreaded these times, yet they would swoon over the selection as they enjoyed the search for the newest release.  I just didn’t appreciate the alternate worlds they would visit or lives they would experience through reading.

My mom was an avid visitor to the local library.  She, always the frugal shopper, knew there was money to be saved at the library where all the book could be read at no cost.  She wasn’t into fantasy or non-fiction.  She read true stories; information to help someone in need with a situation they were facing.

When I had my own children, it seemed ingrained in me that there was need to expose them to the world of books.  I knew from my own education that early literacy was essential and it was my parental responsibility to ensure this happened.  Something seemed to happen though.  I began to enjoy the library.  Co-workers would talk about their recent reads and offer me up an opinion, but I wasn’t interested in their fiction stories.  I wanted to read true stories, maybe an autobiography or a true crime or a summary of the biker wars.

Over the past decade or so, I have read more books that I did in the first couple decades of life (don’t do the math on that one, it doesn’t really add up right).  I stayed away from fiction until recently.  What I have learned through my own venture into fiction is that any story, for me to be interested, needs to be written in the first person.  I want to hear their story, especially in a fiction novel.

Last night I went to the library to clear up some outstanding fines on my account, and those of my kids.  $36.00 later, I justified that I had just done my part to support the local library.  I thought my mom taught me that libraries were a free sources for books?  I must have missed a vital piece of the lesson somewhere about returns.

I give credit to the library for stirring up my interested in reading.  In writing.  When I look back, maybe there was a reason that I need a book in the first person – everyone has a story…

Today, I am blessed with our local public library.  I hope that you will support yours.

Day 24: June 24, 2011…

There are some things that stir up a child like emotion of excitement.  In St. Thomas this weekend, the Great Lakes International Air Show takes flight.  I remember when I lived in London, my family and I would take a day to attend the London International Air Show.  In recent years, that show has drawn to a close, but the show in St. Thomas has taken it’s place.

I remember seeing the jets up close.  I remember watching the pilots perform precision maneuvers, sending the crowds into simple awe.  There’s just something about the power of the jets.  Maybe that’s what I enjoy about being out on the road riding my motorbike.  Power that only select few can appreciate.  I would cherish the chance to take flight in one of the jets, just to feel the rush.

Although the main activity of the air show happens on Saturday and Sunday, some of the planes and jets are out and about, including the legendary Snowbirds.  As they flew over the house this evening, I felt that tinge of excitement.  I remember that feeling.  My kids also have shared in the joy of watching them fly over in perfect formation.  It’s a sight like no other.

Today I am blessed with the memories of childhood; the memories of the air shows and the snow birds.  On a side note, I am meeting the Snowbirds pilots on Saturday for a photo op for the paper.  That will be a special experience for me.  Wonder if I can get a flight!?

Day 25: June 25, 2011…

The day started off quite cool, but I enjoyed a couple cups of coffee on the deck as I read a back issue of Writer’s Digest.  This magazine has served as a source of ideas, insight, and wisdom since I discovered it a year ago.  More than that, though, Writer’s Digest is 80 pages of encouragement.  I have often doubted my writing ability, although I receive rather positive feedback from people.  The contents of this magazine are spot-on what aspiring writers and established writers alike, need.  Suggestions for queries, how to succeed in the business, how to survive the solitary lifestyle, a review of first book deals, and writing conferences to attend.  Articles help refine a style, teach writers to build their identity and establish a brand to be recognized.

After an hour or so, and a few ideas on paper, I had to put down the magazine and my notebook to get ready for my time with the Snowbirds.  My morning with them was more than I expected.  I won’t retell the story here, but you can read about it on another post I wrote today by clicking here.

We were later visited by friends from out of town and enjoyed a barbecue together with some social time.  We shared stories and laughed, maybe at Nancy’s expense, about her recent concussion.  We received word that the Canadian contingent of the Heaven’s Saints M.M. won the tug-of-war title once again.  Both Ben, Nancy’s husband, and I were on the winning team last year.

The day was simply enjoyable.  Simple.  Encouraging.  Fulfilling.  Today, I am blessed with relationships.  Being able to share in the time with the Snowbirds, meeting Mrs. Mattock and the company of friends was a gift from today.

Day 26: June 26, 2011…

The story about Mrs. Mattock and the Snowbirds took a different turn last night.  I was contacted by Scott MacLean, producer at Global TV News in Regina, Saskatchewan, who was doing a follow up on one of the Snowbirds mentioned in the story, Denis Bandet.  He had come across the photos that accompanied the story and requested my release to use them in the story update on Capt. Bandet, which was to have run last night, and possibly this evening as well.

You just never know where life can take you.

Today I went on the 1st Annual MADD Ride (St. Thomas Chapter).  Roughly 25 bikes turned out for the ride, barbecue and door prizes.  For a first ride, it went relatively smoothly.  I learned of the ride on a flyer at the grocery store, but when I emailed earlier in the week for details, the request went unanswered.  I searched online for information.  Nothing.  I went back this morning to read the poster and it stated the ride was at 10:00 a.m., so I arrived at 9:45 a.m.  We left the park near 11:00 a.m. and enjoyed the ride through the area before coming back to the park for the barbecue and door prizes.

What I realized on the ride was how much I appreciated a well put together ride.  Riding in a group can be an enjoyable experience, if it’s done right.  Especially in large groups, where people don’t know each other or their riding styles and preferences, it is the responsibility of the Road Captain or the event organizer to ensure that standards are made known – hand signs, stops, blocking, riding patterns – either staggered or side by side.  This helps to keep us all safe on the road.

Today, I am blessed to ride with a group that, even with differences, can come together and enjoy a ride as a pack.

Day 27: June 27, 2011…

This is quite simple, no back story needed.  My wife and I were out on the motorcycle tonight, heading to Simcoe for a funeral visitation.  Just before TIllsonburg, we were nearly taken out by a rogue kamikaze sparrow, but we avoided contact.  A few kilometers down the road we hit construction.  A young guy in a red pick up truck passed us on the right hand side, besides illegal, it’s also exceptionally dangerous on an urban two lane road.  On the other side of Tillsonburg, the truck traveling three vehicles ahead of us lost a load of (thankfully) empty potato sacks that ended up creating an impromptu obstacle course on Highway 3.

Today, I am blessed with safety.  God’s hand of protection was upon us.

Day 28: June 28, 2011…

Last week sometime, I was home for my lunch hour and decided to watch something different.  I know I am quite behind on this trend, but I settled on Prison Break.  That night, I invited my wife to watch the show with me, then my son got in on the action.

In the days that have passed, we have watched whenever we get the chance, thanks to Netflix.  I think we have a new addiction, although come September, Sons of Anarchy will come back into our lives.

I was off work today to attend a funeral for the son of a friend, so last night we stayed up to watch a few episodes of Prison Break.  The problem is, lack of sleep.  Choosing to sacrifice the precious need for sleep for the simple joy of entertainment.  We all do it.

After getting back home later in the afternoon, I took a nap.  I don’t often get a nap, but I am a fan.  Today, I was blessed with a nap.

Day 29: June 29, 2011…

After a day off yesterday, I jumped right back into work this morning with meetings and appointments throughout the day.  After one such meeting, I left with a package of coffee, straight from Guatemala, along with a story on the volcanic grove that the beans grow in.  I learned that the higher the nutrient level in the soil, and the higher up the mountain (or volcano in this case), the stronger and fuller flavour of the bean.  The soil on volcanic hillsides are loaded with nutrients to grow the best coffee.

Today was the last day of school for my kids.  I picked up my daughter and her friend to spend the evening with us.  While I waited for the girls to be dismissed from classes, I watched as three boys celebrated the end of the school year with shouts and fist pumps.  There was a point when when of the boys swung his back book laden pack around and hit another boy in the face.  As I shared this with my daughter and her friend, my daughter said, “He was facebooked!”  We laughed.  That was good!

The evening ended with a short visit with my daughter’s friend’s dad, James.  He’s a writer, and maybe even a source of inspiration and encouragement to me.  He has been writing for years and while we don’t talk often, I always appreciate his thoughts and opinions on the writing culture.  He’s met and interviewed various writers over the years and expresses a sincere joy in their work.

Today, I am blessed with the gift of coffee, a humourous joke, and a visit with a friend.

Day 30: June 30, 2011…

Today is the last day of the 30 Day blog.  It’s been an ordinary day.  Worked at the office, ran a few errands, made a few phone calls.  Nothing special about the day.  But as I reflect on that, an ordinary day is a blessing in itself, for not every day can be filled with adventure, drama and trauma.

I had the chance to catch up with an old family friend today.  I read an article from Writer’s Digest.  I sat on the deck with my wife and had barbecued hotdogs.  I tinkered with my motorbike.  We head out for a ride tomorrow.  An ordinary day.  How wonderful.

Tomorrow, I will write about the month as a whole, putting it all out there to show what my family has faced in the course of 30 days.  For now though, I am blessed with an ordinary day; the day before we celebrate Canada!


2 thoughts on “30 Days

  1. It is always good to try and listen to what God is asking of you. It is going to be a challenging road to travel when you go into the unknown but when He is beside you, something exciting will start to take place and you will be able to get through anything! God Bless and push forward my love!

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