Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

To The Roof of Africa!

8.12.2010 | 3 Comments

On January 1st, 2010 I started my journey with this blog entry:

I am going to climb a mountain. Well, I’m going to walk up one, anyway.

I haven’t done anything like this before. In fact, I can probably count the number of times I’ve gone hiking, and I know I haven’t been camping more than half a dozen times. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m getting into. I’ve watched videos about climbing this mountain. I’ve submitted questions about the climbing of this mountain to semi-popular websites. I have bought (although not yet read) books about this mountain. I feel about as prepared as someone who listens to a song on the radio and then starts hiring roadies to prepare for a world tour.

In August of 2010, I am going to fly to Tanzania, Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a way to raise money for the Delta Hospice. The Hospice holds a very special place in my heart, and it is my absolute honour to take on this journey to fund raise on their behalf. But this will be no simple journey. Oh no, this will be a flat-out epic.

Aside from the parent-induced membership in Brownies and Girl Guides, I have managed to avoid the outdoors quite sufficiently for about 30 years. I am the anti-camper. I do not like being cold. The sound of rain drops falling on a tent is nearly trauma-inducing. I would rather be in prison than a sleeping bag. (Some of you more astute readers may be able to pick up the subtle hints I am dropping in regards to my views on outdoor life). To climb Mount Kilimanjaro means that I will need to… oh, man… camp for 10 days.

And so, purely for your entertainment, I am going to allow you into my world as I train for this adventure. For the next seven months, I will allow parts of my life to become an open book, and permit you to laugh, cry and shake your head in total disbelief as I attempt to turn myself from Robyn the Indoor Princess, into Robyn the Sobbing Mess of Outdoorsy Semi-Competence.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!

And today, on August 12th, 2010, I am boarding that flight to Tanzania, Africa knowing that $10,000 $11, 850 has been raised (so far!) for the Delta Hospice Society.

I hiked once, twice, three times and four, five times, six times, and seven

I trained

I attempted to camp

I ate, ate, ate, and ate, and ate, ate, and happily ate, and ate, and ate, shamefully ate, ate, ate and attempted to explain sarcasm, ate, and ate, and ate, and tried to avoid eating, and thought about what to eat, and ate.

I fundraised, and had help with fundraising

I was sponsored and sponsored again

I was humbled

I remembered.

This has been an incredible journey on the way to having an incredible journey. I learned a lot about myself in these past eight months, and I learned a great deal about the power of human nature and the strength of community kindness. This whole experience has left me awed. And I am grateful for it. Thank you for letting me share it all with you. This became such a personal blog, and I’ve met some very wonderful people because of it.

And so today, I leave this blog in the capable hands of Chris, who will update it as often as he hears from me. I’m not sure how or when I’ll be able to make contact, but please know that it’s a priority for me to be able to keep you posted.

I want to thank you all so very, very much for following me and for reading this blog. It means more to me than I could ever express to know that I’m carrying your support and kindness in my heart as I scale that mountain.

And guess what?

I’m crying.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!



Well Hello There!

6.08.2010 | 2 Comments

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back! Seems we had a wee systems issue for a bit there, but we’re back up and running now. Yay!

Ok, so I’m going to admit it: I’ve totally lost my motivation.


I’ve become all complacent and ‘meh‘ of late, and it’s taking a toll.  I *know* what I have to do, but I’m not bloody well doing it. I’ve become Lazy Pants McGee, and it’s not pretty. And to make matters worse, I have recently discovered that Dairy Queen makes a Peanut Buster Parfait Blizzard!  I KNOW!! It’s a good thing that the nearest DQ is a bit of a drive from here, and it helps that I’m a cheap-o who doesn’t want to waste the gas to get there.  Sometimes being Scottish pays off!

So, yes. I’m a slug. A slugball.

I’m a slobby slugball of Meh.

A slobby slugball of meh, with a Refuse-To-itis infection, wrapped in a vortex of excuse-o-rama.

Excuses, excuses, excuses!  “It’s too windy… it’s too hot… it’s too cold… it’s too far… it’s not far enough… I just washed my hair… the helmet makes my forehead break out… chlorine ruins my skin… I’ll get sweaty… I’m too tired… I just want to finish the last few chapters of my book… the dogs can’t come with me, and that makes me feel guilty… I’ll go tomorrow… blah, blah, blah…

I’m such a twit. If I were half as motivated as I am creative, I’d be in great shape by now!

I am totally underestimating this climb, and I’m going to be in for a VERY rude awakening if I don’t get my act together soon.

I’m sure I’ll do that tomorrow…


Waking Up.

5.28.2010 | 0 Comments

I happened to walk past the used book store on the weekend, and I saw a book entitled ‘My Maasai Life’. I went home, looked the book up on-line, and saw that it was the story of a young woman who made the choice to live with a Maasai family in Kenya for a year. The reviews were good, the premise seemed really interesting, and it seemed to appeal to me very much. So, yesterday as I was walking by the same used book store I went in and bought the book.

I started reading it as soon as I got home. I read the intro, read the dedication, read the front and back covers inside and out, and then I began reading the book. Right from the start this young woman’s story called to me. There was just something about it that fit with me, something that made me feel like I could be her, and that I could have written that book. I was engrossed! So engrossed, in fact, that it wasn’t until page nine that I realized that the author’s name was Robin.

Instantly I saw how completely disconnected I truly am.

I need to wake up. If I’m going to experience life-changing moments, I need to be not just open to them, but I actually need to be aware of them.

Something else in this book shocked me back into reality, and made me feel truly embarrassed about myself at the same time. Robin was relating her first experiences with the street children in Nairobi, Kenya, and how she had never witnessed such poverty, such need, such desperation. These children had nothing. Truly had nothing; no home, no clothing, no food, no money, no family. The one thing they possessed was the survival instinct, and that often took the form of violence. These children had nothing.

And as horrified as I was reading her accounts, the one thing that struck me was this: those children, with nothing, in the middle of Nairobi, from wretchedly poor families, growing up in the slums before running to the street… those children spoke English.

They spoke English.

I was instantly ashamed of myself.

My first thought was that I was grateful that there was a good chance that I would meet some English-speaking people in Tanzania and Rwanda that could help me if I needed it. My second thought was that I was such a pretentious North American jackass, that I was happy to assume that people from another country would be proficient enough in English to assist me. For MY sake.

I’m going to THEIR country. My god, shouldn’t I at least learn the basics of their language? Yes. Yes, I should.

Today I am going to contact a woman who teaches Swahili. Not everyone in Tanzania and/or Rwanda speaks Swahili, but at least I’ll be able to get by somewhat, and I’ll feel more like a human being who has respect for other human beings. What right do I have to simply assume that others should speak MY language in THEIR country, simply for my comfort?

I have a lot to learn…



3.05.2010 | 0 Comments

Missing: Robyn’s Motivation

Description: Brown hair in a somewhat scraggly state, hazel eyes looking rather tired, apathy-inflicted personality, rapidly dropping self-esteem, quickly-rising anger and frustration. Approximately 5ft 7in tall, weighing 130lbs…135lbs… 140lbs… 142lbs…

Last Seen: Hiking joyously up Brother’s Creek in North Vancouver pre-Olympics, enjoying the outdoors, the fresh air, and the company of a good friend who complains just as much as Robyn does.

Caution: Will be armed with grumpiness and spontaneous crying. Approach with celery!

If Seen, Please Contact: [email protected]


Procrasti… ahh, I’ll think of a title later…

2.23.2010 | 0 Comments



March is when it’ll all begin.

In March, I’ll get back on track with yoga! In March, Ali and I will get back to hiking every weekend! In March, I will let my liver recover and will stop drinking beer! In March, I will aggressively start my fund-raising campaign! In March, I will go out and buy all the gear I need to start camping! In March, I will start camping!

March. Yes. That’s it. March.

...there is a very good possibility that I may just copy and paste this post again in three and a half weeks.

APRIL! April is when it’ll all begin…


Always Look On The Bright Side Of Death…

1.27.2010 | 0 Comments

This morning I am going to attend the Memorial Service of a lovely man who I sat Vigil for recently. This particular gentleman (I’ll call him Gent) was in a palliative state for many days, almost defying all odds. This can be a stressful, painful time for family and friends, as they simply want to see their loved one pass away peacefully.

Gent’s wife was at his bedside day and night, ready to be there for him in his last moments. Days passed. Nights passed. Weeks passed, but still she sat. She talked with him, read to him, listened to music with him; she brushed his hair, held his hand, and kissed his forehead. They had been married for over 40 years.

Gent held on. We began to wonder what it is that could be keeping him from taking that last step through the door. All the children came in to say goodbye, all the grandchildren did, too. Friends came over, the Priest came in and administered last rites, but after many days, Gent was still not ready to leave this world.

It is believed that, to a certain degree, a palliative person can “choose” when to die. I can honestly say that I have seen this on a number of occasions. The thing is, one must remember that it is the dying person’s choice, and no one can rush them. Gent was making that abundantly clear!

His beautiful wife talked with him and told him that he was going to be ok. She told him that she was going to be ok. She told him the children and grandchildren were going to really like having him watch over them forever. She told him that they would never forget about him. She told him that there was nothing to be afraid of. Gent listened. For days.

In my experience, humour at moments like these can be a tricky, tricky thing. One has to be able to gauge the others in the room before cracking a joke that may be considered offensive in such a situation. However, Gent’s wife is a woman of great, dark humour and at one point she stood up, looked at Gent, threw up her hands and said, “This is so like you! You’re so stubborn!” then she ran her fingers through her hair and let out an exasperated growl. And then she laughed.

She and I then sat in Gent’s room and began to wonder aloud why he was taking such a long time to make the decision to die. She had run through every conceivable scenario with him, and now she was finding the humour in the fact that he was hanging on. “He’s in the boarding lounge, but he’s not getting on the plane!” she said. We wondered if the plane was being de-iced.

I had been relatively silent until this time, wondering just how far a humourous comment could go… I took the chance: “I think that maybe the TSA has taken over at the Pearly Gates, and Gent is stuck in the security line. Have we checked his pocket for metals?”

Gent’s wife absolutely lost it, and she and I both started to snort with laughter and were doubled-over with tears in our eyes as the scenarios for why Gent was still with us came pouring out of us. Gent’s wife joked that he was just toying with us all and had “one foot over the line, and was dancing back and forth, playing a game with us”. Gent’s wife knew that Gent was laughing, too, as he had a good sense of humour, and would certainly have appreciated the tension realease.

And then, after we were all but exhausted, we stopped laughing. The room went quiet once again. We listened to Gent’s easy, gentle breathing, and stood there looking at him with our arms around each others’ shoulders. And Gent’s wife said, “You know what I think it is? The earthquake in Haiti has created a pretty big backlog at The Gates, and being that gentleman that he is, he’s simply stepping aside to allow the women and children to go in first”

And that was that. That’s exactly what it was. It just made sense, really.

And so, after hugging one another, I stepped out of the room and left Gent’s wife to sit with him in silence one more time. He stayed with us for many more days after that, but when he finally did make the decision to ‘step into the line’, his wife was by his side, and had gently encouraged him not to be scared. It was a quiet, peaceful moment between two people who shared a great love for one another.

And for me, it was a great honour to have been a small part of such a huge moment.

Godspeed, Gent.


A Most Beautiful Thing

1.23.2010 | 1 Comment

Today is the long-awaited opening of the Centre for Supportive Care and Hospice Residence. Last night, volunteers were invited to have a look inside before it officially opens to the public. I knew this was going to be a beautiful facility, but I was still unprepared for what I saw…

I toured the Hospice Residence last night, and I am not ashamed to say that as soon as I walked through the front doors, the tears began to well in my eyes. The Residence is a simply designed, natural, welcoming space, obviously created with the residents and their families in mind. There is a beautiful kitchen connected to an intimate dining area, comfortable home-like seating areas, quiet hallways free of clutter, a childrens’ room stuffed with toys and books, a lovely spa room (with an all-important towel-warmer!), and a family room with a comfortable bed should family members wish to stay the night.

All beautiful, all welcoming, all perfectly personal and serene.

But it was the ten private suites that stole my heart. As I write this now, I have tears in my eyes as I think of how much thought and honesty went into these suites. They are made as much for the living as for the dying. I could tell you about the incredible lift system in each room, that comfortably and safely brings the resident to the private en-suite. I could tell you about the tasteful, simple furnishings that adorn each room. The small fridge, the variety of different lights and settings, the understated and non-institutional bedding of soft blankets and gentle sheets…

I can tell you about the reclining chairs that have been placed beside each of the ten beds. At a time when they are caring only of the comfort of their loved ones, family members have someone to think of theirs.

But the thing that really struck me, the thing that made everything fall into place was this: off each of the rooms is a small, private, covered balcony surrounded by immaculate, understated gardens and trees… and the doors to these balconies open wide enough to allow a resident’s bed to be gently moved outside. It was at this moment of my tour that I started crying and simply could not stop. The idea that someone thought so far as to ensure that even the most ill of residents, those who may be too weak to move, those who are living the final days of their life, could go outside and feel the sun, hear the birds in the trees, take a breath of fresh air, was more than my heart could bear. To me, that wide door was selflessness personified.

This coming week, the public has an opportunity to tour the Centre for Supportive Care and Hospice Residence – I think you should go. All of you.

20 years ago, Nancy Macey had an idea to start a simple phone line where people who needed help or education regarding end-of-life care could call and get connected. Now there is a physical space where end-of-life-care is conducted with patience, dignity, and kindness. A place where individuals can go for support, education, and peace. A place where entire families can get the care they needed. Why? Because Nancy confidently asked the community of Delta to help raise over $7 million, and we said yes. There were donations of a million dollars, and donations of the simple, appreciated change that someone had in their pocket that day. Funds were raised by corporations, organizations, and individuals. Bottles and cans were collected, fund-raising Yoga classes were held, talented stylists donated their tips, and selfless children gave up anticipated birthday presents, choosing to ask for donations to Hospice instead.

And here, today, is the result.

This is the Hospice that our community built.


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.