The Delta Hospice

The Delta Hospice

I’m Totally Crying…

7.30.2010 | 1 Comment

How does one write with shaking fingers?

How does one sit still to compose a simple blog, while simultaneously wiping the cold sweat from her brow and the tears from her eyes?

How does one ever, EVER get across to the world just how grateful and humbled one has become, by the simple act of reading one tiny, emotion-packed, joy-laden, intensely exciting and endlessly moving email?

I have been truly honoured by the kindness and generosity of the most kind and generous souls.  But this… THIS goes beyond all that one could ever expect.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has finally happened:




It is my pleasure to relay this email to you, to pass on to you the exact feeling of elation that exploded -EXPLODED!- into my heart mere moments ago…

Well done, Robyn.

I have admired you intensely since you came up with the idea and enjoyed your blog for a while, so decided yesterday that I was going to match the Kili donations that you have received to this point.

So, your $5,784.40 just screamed through the $10K mark and is now sitting at – what? – $11,568.80.

Train your ass off!

Go, girl.

I will, kind sir, I will.
I will go, GO, GO!

This is it. This was my mountain. Raising that $10,000 was the ultimate goal for me, and now that I have been fortunate enough to stand showered with the shared generosity of all of you who gave to support the Delta Hospice Society, I feel as though Mt. Kilimanjaro is now on my side. No longer do I see it as something that is trying to defeat me. Now I see it as something that wants me to succeed.
And I will.
I will.
Thank you.   THANK YOU.
Thank you.


Better Still and… poop!?

6.02.2010 | 0 Comments

Ok, ok, ok. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: BETTER STILL DAY SPA KICKS BUTT!!

Yesterday, spa owner/operator Laura Gardiner presented me with a cheque to the Delta Hospice Society for $423.40 – her entire collection of tips for the month of May. Isn’t that just so phenomenally fantastic? I am still humbled by the generosity of this community, and this is yet one more reason why. A home-business making a start, and being thoughtful enough to make a donation like this. You know what? Better Still Day Spa deserves the attention, don’t you think?!

SO… if you’ve got it in your head that you need to treat yourself (or someone else!), than take it from the heart and call Laura at Better Still. You’ll be so happy that you did.

In other news…

I attended a volunteer meeting at the Delta Hospice the other night, and was given a Residence Volunteer Handbook to look through. It outlines what you’d expect: dress, decorum, scheduling, and the like. But something caught my eye and almost made me snort out loud, disrupting the meeting…

The Delta Hospice site is a lovely, well-laid out facility with gorgeous gardens. And, as you may recall, they have bunnies. Lots and lots of bunnies. They didn’t mean to have bunnies, but the bunnies did the ol’ ‘Build it and They Will Come‘ thing, and as soon as all those tasty flowers, plants and grasses went into the ground on the site, the bunnies made the Hospice their Mecca. Hoards of bunnies flowed across the street from the Leisure Centre grounds, and fluffified en masse the Hospice gardens.

Bouncing, happy, fat bunnies flit through the gardens, their bellies laden with expensive greenery planted by soon-to-be frustrated landscapers. However, the general consensus at the Hospice is this: we’d rather have bunnies than flowers. And so, the bunnies get to stay.

And as cute and snuggly as these little soft bags of bunny goo are, they tend to leave a not-s0-fantastic trail of… ummm… well… poop.

SO! In the Residence Volunteer Handbook, one of the doodies duties for volunteers to undertake  is “Bunny Poop Patrol”.  That just made me laugh like a schoolgirl when I read it. Man, I am totally going to get a jacket made for that volunteer. Instead of  saying SWAT TEAM on the back, it’ll say BUNNY POOP PATROL. Maybe I’ll donate a broom, too! One that can fit into a holster of some sort! The volunteer can swagger around like a security guard, deftly sweeping unwelcome poops off the sidewalks, before spinning the broom and putting it back in the broom holster attached to their belt.

Awwwwwwwww, yeahhh…



Seven Days Later…

5.17.2010 | 2 Comments

A week ago today I lost my job.

I haven’t told many people, because I didn’t see the point in doing so. I told some key people of course, and I let the Hospice know as well, given that this could very well affect my climb. But I sort of kept it ‘secret’ for seven days.

But there it is. Cat’s out of the bag now. I am no longer employed.

Last Wednesday, I had a meeting at the Delta Hospice, and was still sort of numb from the whole ‘jobless’ ordeal that had occurred two days prior. Nevertheless, I put my emotions aside, and tried to walk into the Hospice with my head held high.

I went in and was greeted at the front desk by one of the cheerful volunteers. “I’m here for a meeting”, I say, and she says, “I know! Follow me”. We walk down the hall, and this lovely woman turns to me and with a huge smile says, “I hear congratulations are in order!”

I sort of stumble and say, “Ummmmm… for what?”

And she says, “I hear that a whole world of new opportunities has just opened up for you”

And there it was.

For the past week I had been trying to be as positive as I could about losing my job, and sure I’d gone the ‘this is a good thing’ route. But to hear someone else say it like that, like it was some tremendous thing, and something to be excited about… well, that just made a world of difference. And what do you know… my head was held high, then.

I love the team at The Delta Hospice. Everyone there , be they staff or volunteers, seems to be kind, compassionate, selfless, and positive. There’s a level of reality, and of gratitude there, you know? The work they do can be so very difficult, but the team they have there makes it possible for them to come back each morning, and look forward to the day. Yes, of course there is a level of satisfaction with doing a job so rewarding and fulfilling, but it wouldn’t be possible without a supportive, open team. If only we all could work in such an environment.

The Delta Hospice Society: Home of The Dream Team!

And so, as for me, I’m going to take some time for myself. Maybe do a bit more training, focus on some things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, catch up with great friends, be inspired, and keep my eyes open for new career opportunities while doing so. Sounds pretty good, eh?

Congratulations, indeed.


Waxing Philiosophic.

5.16.2010 | 1 Comment

Before I start today’s blog, I just want to point out to the entire world that Tyler Garnham admitted to me that he drank a few bottles of Bud Light beer last summer. Not only that, it was Bud Light LIME. Seriously. Yah, I know. My respect for him as a total Beer Snob just dropped considerably, too. It hurts when your world crashes down like that, doesn’t it? Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, marrying for money, Tyler being a beer snob… its all just crumbled away. My god. What is there to believe in anymore?


The other day my dad brought me an article from the Financial Post section of The Vancouver Sun newspaper. Now, it wasn’t the entire article that caught his eye, it was merely two paragraphs (which is good, because the rest of that article was booooooring!). And so what did those two paragraphs say that made my dad think of me?

Three years ago, at age 54, Palmer climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for Cerebral Palsy. His story began in a conventional way, as he urged entrepreneurs to: achieve clarity in their mission, set lofty goals, and prepare (he walked 32 kilometers a week for a year).

But when he neared the top of the 5,790 metre mountain, as the thin air tore his lungs and he could barely lift his feet, Palmer learned the true secret of success. Many factors kept him going: knowing he had come so far; the faith of 200 sponsors for his cause, and the anticipation of a breathtaking sunrise at the top. As his African guide told him later, “it’s not the strongest people who make it to the top of Kilimanjaro, but the ones with the best attitude.”

That got me.

For some reason, after reading that short recap, I felt as though I’d been hit by a truck. It was just very honest, and very real. It made total sense. So much of what we achieve is only achievable because we simply believe it’s achievable. That’s why I decided to make my fund raising goal $10,000 – because I believe that it can happen. I believe that this community can raise that money for The Delta Hospice Society. I believe that there are good people in this community, and across the globe (I’ve had donations come in from 5 different countries!), and that together we can make this happen. I believe it.

Don’t you?

Speaking of fund raising…

So, what’s on deck for the Kili Gala Raffle Prize Reveal today? Something quite unique. Something quite… well, revealing, really.

Let’s talk Sugar Box, baby! Jane Brookes is a perfectionist. Jane Brookes believes that women should feel as beautiful as they truly are. And with that, Jane Brookes decided to go into business as a ‘Waxing Specialist’. Jane believes that there are two places on a woman’s body that should always be immaculately groomed: the eyebrows and the… well… the Sugar Box. So she opened a waxing studio specifically catering to those two body parts. This may seem strange to some, but I can assure you, Jane tapped into an absolutely perfect market. She’s a genius.

I have been going to see Jane at Sugar Box for over 4 years now. Her studio on Homer St is my place of choice (she also has a studio on Commercial Drive and a new one on Main St, as well), as it is the ultimate in feminine awesomeness. Pink, but not ultra-freaky-girly, it’s decorated with taste and honesty, and comes complete with a fantastic chandelier. Jane knows exactly what she’s doing when it comes to everything she touches (pun intended). I love her. Everyone loves her!

Jane chats throughout the service you receive, and in all honesty, it’s over before you know it! And the weirdest part is that you almost wish it took longer! Aside from her immaculate hygienic practice (gloves, never re-using the wax sticks), she’s very… ummm… thorough, and not the least bit shy. Jane is a genuinely warm, welcoming, purely phenomenal gal. She’s beautiful, too (and married – sorry boys!), and always has the best things to chat about! And after it’s all said and done… she gives you a lollipop. Everyone loves Sugarbox!!

Jane has graciously, generously, incredibly donated a $100 gift certificate for services at Sugarbox. That’s enough to get a Brazilian AND rhinestones!! Oh, yes… rhinestones. Trust me on this one, ok?

But what about the guys? Sure this raffle prize is all well and good for a woman to win, but isn’t it discriminatory against men?

…I haven’t told you about Jane’s newest enterprise: Toolbox.

June 5th, come on out to The Kili Gala at the Ladner Community Centre. Think about it: if I’m advertising a prize like this, imagine how nutty the party is going to be.




Here’s the Rub…

5.07.2010 | 0 Comments

Last night I went to my first ‘Slow Flow’ yoga class at Open Space. I usually practice the more physically demanding Hatha Yoga, but my hips just can’t take it. Michael suggested Slow Flow instead, and man, was it great.

Speaking of hips, Michael suggesting stuff, and greatness…

I had my first appointment with Physio Flo yesterday morning! Florence MacDonald-Bain of Tsawwassen Sports and Orthopedic Physiotherapy (on 12th Ave) is pretty much the raddest physiotherapist on the entire planet. I think. I mean, I haven’t been to Uruguay, so maybe there’s someone there that’s better, but I doubt it. She has some sort of freaky physiointuition thing going on, and  can somehow figure out exactly where to jab her thumb, or apply pressure. Next time I go there, I’m going to bring her a cape. She totally deserves one – she’s the Super Hero of the Physiotherapy World. I’m seeing her next week, and I’m looking forward to it… that’s weird, isn’t it?


Last night at yoga, a lovely woman came running up to me and said, “I saw your friend today!!”

Now normally I would be confused as to who she was talking about, but given that I have had someone else say THE EXACT SAME THING to me this week, I knew who she was talking about: one of my fabulous sponsors – Laura at Better Still Day Spa.

Turns out that people are flocking to Laura’s Day Spa in Ladner, and are leaving there feeling pretty darn fantastic. I love to hear that! I’m a big proponent of people feeling relaxed and less stressed, and I really do think Laura has the best place going for that. AND in all of Laura’s awesomeness, she has made a commitment to donate all of her tips for the month of May to the Delta Hospice Society! THANK YOU, LAURA!!

This woman who approached me at yoga last night has been going through some stressful times of late, and a lot of that is related to one of her family members being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Of course I suggested she go to Hospice, but she was way ahead of me! She was already planning on going there. It’s wonderful to be able to have somewhere to refer people to when they are going through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Hospice just has so much to offer, from counseling to literature, from relaxation groups to a wonderful library… AND they have bunnies!

So, in honour of the lovely woman I met at yoga last night, I will now reveal the next Raffle Prize that will be available to win at the Kili Gala on June 5th – this is going to be a very, VERY cool fundraiser, you know. 100% of net proceeds are going to charity, so feel secure in the knowledge that your money is going to a very good cause. Contact me for tickets!

The next Raffle Prize is yet ANOTHER that I want to win. But since I can’t, I’m leaving it up to you to take this one home: Laura at Better Still Day Spa has donated A YEAR’S WORTH of thirty-minute massages. Oh yes, you read that right. 12 massages are on the table (pun totally intended) at the Kili Gala courtesy of the best massage artist I know. This is a prize worth nearly $500… and Laura DONATED it! Seriously, NOW can you see why I’ve been so touched (pun sort of intended) by the generosity of the people in this community??

So, if YOU want to win a year’s worth of massages, I highly recommend making your way to the Kili Gala on June 5th. Donate to charity, and get massages. Not a bad deal, eh?



Late Disclaimer

4.27.2010 | 2 Comments

So, tomorrow morning I am meeting with Nancy Macey, the Head Honcho(Honchess? Honchette?) at The Delta Hospice Society. Nancy is a lovely woman, and obviously someone who is capable of making things happen. I admire her greatly, and have a profound respect for her determination and professionalism.

But for some reason, I’m nervous about meeting with her! I’ve met her before, but in a group of people, so she most likely wouldn’t remember me. I’ve heard little snippets from people here and there about things she does that make me smile (you know, aside from that whole Build-a-Hospice thing). Apparently she reads my blog from time to time, and has even forwarded an entry on to someone else. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

So, why does she want to see me NOW? I mean, I’ve been doing this whole Kili thing for months, and now I have a meeting with her. It can only be one thing: my Tobias/God post. That’s got to be it. I mean, did I *really* think I’d get away with the sentence “so, you’ve been dicking around with God again, have you?“…

That’s it. I’m toast.

She’s going to shake my hand and say, “Robyn, we appreciate all you’ve done, but I need to be honest… you’re a little crazy in the coconut, girl. I mean, satyrs? Mermaids? God Veggies? What is WRONG with you, lady? Were you dropped on your head as a child or something?”

I can *totally* see Nancy Macey saying that, can’t you?

So… in order to preempt my humiliation at the Centre for Supportive Care tomorrow morning, let me just give this small disclaimer that I should have publicised at the onset…

The Delta Hospice Society may support Robyn in her endeavor to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise $10,000 for the Delta Hospice Society, but they may not necessarily support her literary oddities. If Robyn comes off as being a complete kookbag, The Delta Hospice Society may be forced to hide under their desks and not answer the door when the media comes knocking. The Delta Hospice Society reserves the right to scream “WE’RE NOT HERE” with impunity. The Delta Hospice Society may not agree with or support Robyn’s opinions, but we respect her right to say them, provided she do so with impeccable spelling and with the least amount of grammatical errors possible. Although the Delta Hospice Society may nod and smile when asked about Robyn’s endeavour, we ask that you please ignore the askew eyebrow reactions. Head shaking and facepalming are par for the course.

Thank you.

There. That should do it. See you tomorrow, Nancy!




3.26.2010 | 0 Comments

Check out THIS Delta Hospice press release!


The Delta Hospice: Your Local Meanie-Free Zone

3.26.2010 | 0 Comments

Yesterday I stopped by the Delta Hospice’s Supportive Care Centre in Ladner to pick up some pamphlets. It was a lovely day outside; chilly, yet bright and clear. As I pulled up to The Centre, I noticed a cute, fluffy black bunny happily nibbling away at something on the lawn, pleasantly ignorant of my arrival. It was pretty darn adorable, I must say. But then again, I’m a sap for animals, and I think even possums are pretty darn adorable, too.

Anyway, I went inside the Centre to grab the pamphlets, and was met by a lovely Hospice Volunteer at the front desk. I pointed out the fuzzy black ball of hopping, munching bunny on the lawn, and she remarked that there are many bunnies that make The Supportive Care Centre their place to hang out during the day. And then, with absolute sincerity and with no hint of malice or anger, this lovely volunteer says, “bless their hearts, they’ve eaten all the landscaping, so we’ve had to re-do it all again. I guess everyone has to eat, though!”

And then, with a peaceful, bright smile she handed me what I came for, completely oblivious to the fact that she had just said the Gold Medal Winning Nicest, Most Understanding Statement EVER.

The Delta Hospice: your Local Meanie-Free and Bunny Welcoming Zone.

I love that place.


The Vigil

1.20.2010 | 5 Comments

Jan 20, 2009

A lot of people ask me what a Vigil is, and what it’s like, so I thought I’d take a moment to chat about it…

I sit on the Delta Hospice Vigil Team – the team consists of volunteers who go in and provide companionship for a person who is in their last 72 hours of life. Sometimes we are called when there is no family available to sit with the individual, and sometimes we are called when the family is there, but maybe needs a bit of a break. We sit in 3-hour shifts, and can be asked to be there on a 24-hour basis, or simply overnight.

Some people wonder why I volunteered for this particular position, seeing it as somewhat macabre, dark or negative. On the contrary, I chose to volunteer for the Vigil Team because I see it as exactly the opposite of macabre, dark and negative. Unless you actually do a vigil, it is very hard to understand one, and even if you do a vigil, it is very hard to describe. I’ll try my best, though…

As everyone lives their lives differently, so they pass on differently, as well. I am not a religious person by any means, but that is of little consequence when I have been given the honour of sitting with someone in their final hours. Something changes in me when I go into that room and see the person I am to be with for the next three hours – I do not bring a book, or a magazine, or any outstanding work that I need to get done, I simply go in and sit. I do not do things like feel a person’s pulse. That’s not why I am there. I am there to make sure that this person is not alone when they leave this earth.

I introduce myself and explain why I am sitting with them, and what they can expect from me. I sit down, take the person’s hand, or place my hand on their arm, and sometimes I may just start talking to them. I look around and take in the photos and personal items adorning the room, and use them as a starting point to begin my conversation. Maybe if there is a book available, I will read it aloud. If there is a magazine, I will leaf through it and describe some of the photographs within it. If there is a stereo, I’ll play some music. If there is a Bible, a Qur’an, some Buddhist readings, or any other religious literature, I may read it aloud, no matter what my own personal beliefs may be. I’m here for that person, and I am going to respect and honour who they are and who they were. But for the most part, I spend a good deal of my time with the person just sitting quietly, maybe not saying much at all.

The person I am sitting with is, more often than not, non-responsive, but that never stops me from interacting with them as best I can. The most important thing that I learned about doing a vigil is this: hearing is the last of the senses to leave us. The non-responsive person can hear me, and so I make sure to always keep that in mind as I am talking with them, with another person, or if I am simply moving about the room.

It is an honour to sit with a person who is dying – it is an incredible thing to bear witness to as someone’s physical story draws to a close. You know that their history will live on, and that their body is simply ceasing to function, and so when the time comes when they do pass into that next world in which they believe in, it is an immensely spiritual, honest moment.

Sitting on the Vigil Team has changed my perspective not only of death, but of life, as well. I have seen incredibly touching moments when sons say goodbye to fathers, and wives tell their husbands that everything will be just fine, and when brothers hold their sister’s hand one last time. I have been in the room at the exact moment when a person makes the decision to let go; be it a family member, friend, or the dying person themselves. There is no greater honour.

It is my privilege to serve people in this way, and I take to heart my responsibilities as a Vigil Volunteer. It is an intensely personal, immaculately open, and truly important part of my life to sit with someone as their life draws to its final close.

And I appreciate the Delta Hospice for allowing me this incredible opportunity.