Too Much Make Believe

My grass is thick, and emerald green now – I am 60 years old and part of me can’t understand where time has flown. I am now also reliant on dialysis three times a week – about 15 hours per week hooked to a machine for the illusion of health but the reality of continuing life.

Life and Random Thinking

I planted grass in my back yard nearly a week ago. Not sod. I threw an abundance of grass seed and covered it with lawn soil and then I did a little jig before I watered it, hoping the grass fertility gods would bless my bare ground.

I have been faithfully keeping it moist and I wondered to myself I could have bought sod and then just watered that for a few weeks.

It dawned on me, I wanted to see the little blades poke up because I actually planted grass. Sod is wonderful, but it is make believe if you think you planted grass. Sod is laying down a rug, not planting grass.

Way too much make believe out there.

Teenagers are growing up thinking they “did dishes” when all they did is load the dishwasher. Make Believe dishwashing.

All ages  are thinking they made breakfast when they popped…

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Get Ready to Sing

Two days from now I will be 60 years old.  Old enough I think to be considered a “senior” but not “old” (I hope).

I can’t claim to have aged as well as my sweetie Susan, she takes better care of herself I suppose.

A get-together with friends looms, as does an opportunity to give a short speech. But there is so much to say.

Arriving at sixty itself is such a gift. If I hadn’t received the gift of kidney transplant 31 years ago, I would have missed out decades of life, the birth of my son, travel, and so many terrific friends.  I am so grateful to that family for their amazing gift.

I feel so wealthy. The wealth of having people in my life. I have amazing friends and wonderful family. I have peace in my life and my days are filled with contentedness mainly.

As I look down on the plethora of plastic flamingos on my lawn, I will be counting my blessings.  This birthday for me is a milestone, not because of the years of my life, but because of the blessings of my life and the gathering of family and friends.

Looking back and looking forward also- Get ready to sing! 1, 2, 3. Happy Birthday….

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Article: In British Columbia, a burgeoning wine region that’s showing its muscle

In British Columbia, a burgeoning wine region that’s showing its muscle

http://flip.it/eTtJxU

Something different today, The Washington Post article highlights my corner of tne world, and I live smack dab in the middle of the valley, where the traffic is least and the beaches are best.

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Unsure what kidney dialysis means?

I am fairly certain that Kidney Dialysis is not widely understood. I started hemodialysis recently and a high school friend sent me a text understanding that my days on earth were numbered! I was pleased to advise them that reports of my demise were false and I planned to enjoy life for the foreseeable future and beyond.

Dialysis is done when the kidneys stop working, or in my case when my kidney transplant stopped working as well. If not for dialysis to extend my life I would be seriously sick right now. But dialysis is not the cure, and people do die on dialysis after years if they do not receive a transplant kidney which does a much better job.

Dialysis removes the poisons and removes the fluids that otherwise the kidney would handle automatically. Hemodialysis involves removing those fluids from the blood.  The patient’s blood is pumped through an artificial kidney over and over for 4 hours and cycled back into the patient. The process is relatively painless, and you need to do it 3 times a week. In between times you have to limit food and fluids so the work the artificial kidney has to do on the next treatment is not excessive.

I do dialysis at my local hospital and everyone there is really good at their job and helps the patients manage through their needles and treatment.

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So the message is I suppose that kidney dialysis is keeping me alive while I wait to hopefully find another transplant kidney.  Another very important message is how overwhelmingly grateful I am to my previous donor and their family for their gift to me of the past 31 years. There is no doubt that I would not be here alive if not for their gift. I am in awe thinking of the difference to my family and to myself that their gift made.

My previous donor was deceased and their identity is unknown to me, therefore I thank them and their family and I thank also everyone who agrees to be an organ donor. Nowadays living donors are increasingly more common in addition to being registered to be an organ donor for when you die to help someone else.

Dear Reader – please be an organ donor, and let your family know your wishes 🙂

In BC, Canada you can agree register as an Organ Donor online in just a few minutes right here.

 

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Please Don’t Let me Die, Until I’m Dead

I came up with this title about two weeks ago. At the time I was feeling weak and tired, a continuation of what has been happening with my kidney transplant from July 1987.

I began hemodialysis last Wednesday. My family and friends stand strongly with me that this was the right decision, as difficult as it was for me to accept.

This transition to hemodialysis was an unavoidable wall I heading head-long toward. My kidney function had continually diminished gradually and the slide had to stop to protect my health. It was unavoidable.  I was tired, weak, and carrying a heavy weight of fluid – the first dialysis run I did of two hours removed two litres of fluid, more ahead to be drawn out slowly.

But that’s not why I am saying “Please Don’t Let me Die, Until I’m Dead“.

You see Two weeks ago I was thinking that sometimes people dealing with health issues can be excluded and shelved as a person.

These were my thoughts two weeks ago that I wrote down.

  • I am retired, but only from work, not from life. I am still contributing to my community, I volunteer and I even do seasonal work that adds to my income.
  • My 60th birthday looms just days away but I am not avoiding challenges. I am going to keep challenging myself and choose challenges that I am NOT certain to succeed at. The uncertainty makes the win special.
  • I am setting goal to smile and laugh more every year.
  • I am a seasoned toastmaster yet not seeking out opportunities to speak. I am a Toastmaster to fully be myself, I will open the door to new speaking opportunities.
  • I am not settling for less, I will be positive to others and myself and supportive to my own health.
  • I will not stop living until I’m actually dead, so please don’t treat me like I’m dead already.
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Me and Annick, who is friend and advocate for Registration for Organ Donation

Now two weeks later and these words I wrote down then are even more meaningful, as I strive toward better health while succumbing to the necessities of medical treatments.

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recent pictures with my son in the back yard

DEAR READER:  I am a devoted fan of many bloggers who are living their lives without regrets and stretching their strengths and experiences. I want to encourage you to do the same – don’t sit back too comfortable,  Live today, and tomorrow and you don’t stop living until you are really dead.

Please comment, I am learning always and I want to know what you think and your ideas and suggestions on what I can improve.

 

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Two Thoughts in my head today

2013-07-02 16.30.07.jpgThought #1 – Life seems to be all about change and in my life I have initiated many new interests or employment in September, I guess that is when I am open to new challenges. Do you have a time of year when you take a plunge and investigate something different for your improvement or entertainment?

If you want to leap from your routine, you need to break your routine.  What would you  like to change or improve?

September is a great time to try something new and different. I  always recommend visiting a Toastmasters Club near you – you can visit as a guest for free to see what it is all about. Click for more information here What’s in Toastmasters for you? 

Is there a club near you? Check by clicking HERE. The hardest part is getting started. I have heard it said that a Challenge once started, is a challenge 50% completed.  Starting is the hardest part, I have to overcome my personal inertia and then just keep the ball rolling.

Embrace a challenge for six months, I would love to hear what you are going to do and then hear back from you in six months. 🙂

sweet 8It seems that way with writing posts also. I sit down to write and then I am not going to stop even if I veer off in a totally different direction, which I did today and now that is a lead-in to my other thought.

My 2nd thought —-This post was initially going to be about a saying I heard talking to my Uncle K yesterday.  The saying was “Eat dessert first“.

I rolled this over in my mind and realized that most of my life I have missed dessert, and done so deliberately.  I was out to lunch with a friend and they all ordered dessert and it seemed so natural to them that you include dessert when you go out. I guess I always look at dessert for special occasions only, but today is a special occasion – it will never be repeated and tomorrow is unpredictable.

The saying “Eat dessert first” is probably from the attitude that life is short, don’t miss out on the best part (i.e. dessert).

At some point, I believe practicality needs to be set aside. 

There is  a time to gradually change a lifetime of depriving yourself of whatever your dessert means to you.

There is a time to avoid regrets and say yes to yourself, fighting that lifetime of being practical and frugal, or just loosen the chains a tad. Dessert means different things to people and how you define dessert is up to you; that dessert could be a travel bucket list destination or new car or learning to ride a unicycle; or it could be a lake swim in the rain. Enjoy your life while you are able.

Here is an expression for you – Fill your boots! 

image 6

what rain?

 

 

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Open Communication Tips for Leaders

These communication tips are from the Toastmasters.org website and are not my original thoughts. I  am sharing them as a reminder to myself and maybe as helpful tips to anyone else who wants to encourage honest feedback, suggestions, and receive criticisms positively. _ Dave

Do you communicate openly and diplomatically at the same time? Those skills are the backbone of effective leadership, according to Keith Ferrazzi and Michelle Tillis Lederman, two speakers presenting at the 2018 International Convention in Chicago later this month. Ferrazzi, who will be honored with the Golden Gavel award, is a proponent of leaders creating a “culture of candor,” while Tillis Lederman emphasizes the importance of sharing opinions diplomatically. Specific to team leadership, here are a few of their best-practice communication ideas:

Encourage “caring” criticism

Present the idea that constructive negative feedback is a gift that can help improve performance or avoid mistakes. Persuade your team to use phrases like “I might suggest” and “Think about this” when giving feedback. On the receiving end, encourage them to regularly request one-on-one feedback from those most critical to their success. (In my Toastmasters club we often provide suggestions describing them as “gifts”.  For example – my gift to you would be to speak slower,  and incorporate more pauses. This will allow the listener to absorb more of your speech and connect with you.” 

Break it up

To get more voices heard, break a big meeting up into groups of two or three to brainstorm for a few minutes, then have a spokesperson from each group report back to the entire team. Smaller groups promote more risk-taking and increase the odds of getting collective group feedback. (This especially makes sense in large groups or training sessions, but I suggest you limit small group sessions to ten minutes max.)

Promote ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Encourage team members to give permission and gratitude for candid feedback. The idea is that candor often results in a reciprocal request for honest feedback and can accelerate closer team bonds. Immediately after the feedback, team members should thank their evaluator; then, later let them know how they’ve used the feedback constructively. (Often people are hesitant to be candid, they want to be liked, and don’t want to seem unfriendly or harsh. Just a reminder that feedback is just an opinion, something to be considered and accepted or rejected. I don’t always agree with an evaluation but I do always appreciate honesty if it is meant to help me)

Be a (really) good listener

When there is team conflict or a difference of opinion, it often falls on the leader to mediate. But often, that simply means being a good listener. Allow both parties to vent and express their opinions openly and constructively. Sometimes, that will be enough to rectify the situation. (Tricky I think, but I wonder how many problems could be avoided if people really felt heard?)

Practice ‘acknowledge and add’

When the time comes for a difference of opinion, do not dismiss, offend or shut the other person down. But also, don’t agree—instead, add to their viewpoint. That means responding with, “That’s an interesting perspective. Another perspective is … ” Or, “I hadn’t thought of that. What I was thinking was …” In both instances, you’re not discounting or dismissing the other person’s opinion; you’re simply adding your own to the conversation. Lead by example with this technique. Let your team know that people listen best when they feel they have been heard. (This is something I know takes skill and practice. It allows others to contribute without disagreement. Seeking understanding and negotiate consensus takes listening skills and acknowledgement of the individual.)

Communication is not optional in life, whether it is with your best friend, your family or in an organization.  Part of communication is being a good listener and providing feedback that shares you were paying attention and not just waiting your turn to speak. Good luck in all your communication! – Dave

2012-07-22 20.58.34 HDR

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Give me the beat boys,

The house was dead quiet as he rolled out of bed, straightened himself slowly to stretch out the kink in his back. Frowning, he felt like the Pisa tower, not quite standing straight as he moved silently out of his bedroom, and into the hall.

Small glowing lights on the stove clock said 4:10.  Every morning for nearly two weeks he has found himself in the kitchen at nearly the same time.

Image result for quiet street at nightSliding the patio open, he stepped out onto the balcony to absorb the cool air and stillness outside. He promised himself he would go back to bed, and hopefully to claim more rest.

The crickets were asleep, the street was silent, but to the east there was a slight glow, but dawn was not arrived.

Quietly,  this verse returned to his thoughts, and a smile to his face –

And when my mind is free

You know a melody can move me

And when I’m feeling blue

The guitars’ coming through to soothe me

Thanks for the joy that you’ve given me

I want you to know I believe in your song

Rhythm and rhyme and harmony

You help me along making me strong

He loved this time of the day,  and part of himself soaked up the cool air, and stillness so he felt peaceful.

Another day is in the wings, ready to take the stage.  I hope it will be a good one.

One last big breath, and back to bed. He promised himself that he would try to sleep some more. Maybe sleep will wrap around him, so he can drift away.   Dobie – Give me the beat and free my soul…

2012-07-22 20.53.14Thanks Dobie Gray for the music,  just like you “I look for the light in the pouring rain.”

*** Thanks readers for taking the time for a different post. Maybe you are a middle of the night person also, and like me sing silently in the middle of the night. It just feels good.

 

 

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Dr John Watson or Sherlock Holmes – who are you?

If you aren’t a fan of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, then this post won’t make any sense to you.  Sherlock Holmes was created by Arthur Conan Doyle, and to me the language and characters are rich and satisfying – like cheesecake for my brain 🙂 [Use the links to learn more about the author or the character highlighted]

Image result for 221b baker streetSherlock Holmes and John Watson lived at 221B Baker Street, London England from 1881 to 1904.

John H. Watson or Dr Watson was a fictional character (as is Sherlock Holmes) and he was a typical Victorian era gentleman. Dr. Watson is astute, an experienced medical physician, and while sharing the flat with Sherlock he records the mysteries and adventures of Sherlock Holmes whose deductive skills are so precise that he seems almost a magician.

 “I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson,” said he. “When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you use a hansom. As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom.”
“Excellent!” I cried.
“Elementary,” said he. “It is one of those instances where the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to his neighbour, because the latter has missed the one little point which is the basis of the deduction. The same may be said, my dear fellow, for the effect of some of these little sketches of yours, which is entirely meretricious, depending as it does upon your retaining in your own hands some factors in the problem which are never imparted to the reader.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)

Of course Sherlock is a detective, not a magician. Sherlock does more than observe,  he is carefully focused on detail and inferences to arrive at his conclusions. Analysis and deduction from minutiae.

Today’s question is Which are you? Holmes or Watson?  How attentive are you to those around you? Do you notice the clues, the details, the finer points that are there to be seen or do you need to have them pointed out?

I suppose this post is because I admire the skill of Sherlock and I want to be a better listener, focused on the speaker in front of me, and responding to the clues of their speech, asking followup questions, and remembering in the future the details of our conversation.

I accept I am more Dr. Watson, observing often without seeing clues in front of me. But now I hope I can improve albeit not to the level of the incomparable Sherlock.

I suppose that is the challenge we all face from time to time, and one I need to be reminded of, namely seeing the bigger picture from the clues in front of me.

Which are you? Watson or Sherlock?

“Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap. That was the difference between us.”
― Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk

As always, I am sincerely grateful to everyone who takes a moment to read my blog, and leave a like or comment.  If you leave me a suggestion or observation, I am pleased to respond and in that way get to know you better. Tally ho!

 

 

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Eleven Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifteen so far

July 4, 1987 – A young father, a young husband, and at 29 years old he was looking ahead to more time in Vancouver General Hospital.  Not something he relished.

The phone rang after he arrived home from work, – 5 P.M..  The message was “Don’t Eat anything, Have a shower and come to the hospital as soon as possible. Surgery tonight.”

His feelings were mixed, excitement along with trepidation. The year before the call from the hospital in April had lead to months of disappointment and pain. Inside himself he wondered if he had the strength to try again. He wanted to try, the potential gain meant he had to.

6  P.M. – As they drove together to the hospital,  his wonderful daughter stayed with her grandparents and his wife stayed positive while he shared his wishes, just in case, something happened and she was widowed. They were calm and realistic.

8:45 P.M. – Now he sat on his bed, the thick concrete walls of the old building, the green trees outside. A few minutes alone to stay positive and remember why he was there, sitting in a hospital gown, plain white cloth.

He had kidney disease, surviving on dialysis had had its moments and the restrictions on diet and time were hard on him and his family.  Tonight after midnight, things might change for the better.

Work hardly entered his mind, someone would send them a message, his job would wait.  He tried to slow his mind, be calm, just breathe.

*********

12: 20 A.M. – The halls were silent, as he lay on the gurney, trundled down hallways, and up elevators and eventually he arrived in a hallway outside surgery.

He was outside surgery, laying on the gurney, waiting. He could see people milling around in gowns through the doors. Quickly they moved, precisely.

The surgeon stood beside him, they chatted briefly and he confirmed he was ready, his name and why he was there.  Just before they entered the surgery, he asked that they pray together, and the surgeon was happy to take the moment to do so.

12:35 A.M – Nervous, hopeful,  the last thing he remembered was being wheeled through the doors,  and then the anesthetist asking him to count backwards from 100. His vision faded as he counted down about five numbers, and then just darkness, silence.

**********

6:35 A.M. – he opened his eyes to a nurse asking him his name, and then he fell asleep. He could see two poles and tubes running from the poles to him. He was too tired to think what it meant.

 

 

That was Eleven Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifteen days ago (31  years) ago.  I woke up and the surgery worked. I had received the gift of life, the gift of organ donation from someone and now I would live. I had a working kidney.

During the days ahead, I would celebrate the birth of a son, I would walk my daughter on her wedding day, I would look forward to  holidays, and celebrations. I would work, and make memories.

Organ donation – register please, next it could be someone who means everything to you.

Eleven Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifteen days ago I got the call, and another chance.  My donor I never knew, but I think of that person every day. Someone lost their life but their kidney lived on in me.

 

Thank you to my donor and to your family for your gift that day.  It has meant everything. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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