The Journey

Sometimes the signs are clear and it’s easy to know where to go, but often there’s confusion and a sense of trepidation too.  Since deciding that I would give up my safe and secure job with guaranteed income back in June 2013, life has been an interesting journey.

In all of it, I have had to really work my trust and faith in believing that everything would “turn out” just fine.  Interestingly of course, there is no end in sight to tick off “turn out” turned out just fine, as it is an ongoing process called living!  My life’s “car” can have the tyres pumped, tank filled, oil checked, water in the wipers and the GPS connected, but if I don’t put the key in the ignition and start the engine, I’m not going anywhere!  And when I do start the engine, what if there are road works and I get diverted?

Life is as simple or as complicated as we make it and there are times when I just want to turn off the engine and park for a while.  Then there are the times when the road is clear, it’s long and straight and I like to fly down the middle of it, hair flowing in the wind, a song on my lips and joy in my heart!

I keep moving though, slowly in heavy traffic or zippy and pumped when the road is clear to enjoy a sun shining kind of ride!  If I break down, what am I going to do?  Sit and cry?  Forever?  No, I find a solution, maybe I do sit and cry for a moment, but then I fix the problem and get going again.

I think I have realised that it is so day to day this thing called living.  Next year really doesn’t matter if I can’t appreciate today.  Tomorrow is always going to come, in its own way.  I have to keep my car ready but at times I may leave the doors open and things will fall out and get lost.  And some days I might just want to pull over, stop for a while and contemplate the horizon.

My life three years ago was busy, at times stressful, with no time to just be.  In the three years since, I have done so much that I’m proud of – The Happiness Café weekly radio show; providing meaningful ceremonies for weddings and funerals; facilitating a monthly Death Café in my village; volunteering at a local hospice ward; writing my blog; being at home with my boys and my animals; connecting with interesting people at home and abroad; even starting a Peace Centre for a while and all along, being me.  I may be financially poorer for now, but I am creatively and inspiringly richer.

I am happy I made the decision to search for something different as the difference has been clear – I have more time for me and more time to be, something I value greatly in this busy world

 

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Dying to get there

dime

I returned as a volunteer recently to the Mallorcan association, Dime Cuenta Con Nosotros, a group of dedicated volunteers who visit the two palliative care units on the island.  It has been some years since I have spent Tuesday mornings visiting patients and their families, but I am happy to be back for a number of reasons.

Death is a topic I am curious about, a curiosity that has been there for some time, years in fact.  I don’t know where this curiosity came from, but the subject of death has always been a healthy and matter of fact topic present in the background of my life.  My earliest memories of death was attending the funeral of my beloved nain, my father’s mother, up in North Wales on a windy day.  My younger sister and I spent the time of the graveside ceremony running amok through gravestones and having a rather fun time.

Some years later when I was about 13 years old, my mother picked up the newspaper one day and asked if I knew a girl named Sue.  The headlines explained how her father had shot her whilst she slept and then shot himself, apparently desperate with financial troubles.  My mother broke the news in a very natural way, and I remember that whilst I cried from shock, part of me felt that I didn’t have to cry.  Certainly my mother treated the subject naturally even though the setting was horrifying.

As I headed to my twenties, grandparents died at home, suddenly, not ill but just time for them to go.  Death was celebrated as a life well lived and a death well had, I was blessed, very blessed to have these experiences.  Not everyone is so lucky and death is a subject that brings with it fears, confusion, mystery and for perhaps a few a certain understanding.

Returning to Dime is an honour for me.  There I meet professionals working in the health sector, dealing with death in a dignified and respectful manner.  From the nurses to the doctors, from the psychologists and social workers and to the volunteers, all are learning from their experiences and learning all the time.  Training is given on a regular basis to the volunteers and Dime is fortunate to receive the support of some amazing individuals on this island.  Thanks to charities like Cala Nova Cancer Care Charity Shop, their fund raising and generous donations allow Dime to do what they do which is sending volunteers like me in to visit the many patients facing perhaps one of their biggest challenges ever.

What do I do?  I enter a patient’s room and politely ask if they would like a visit.  In a hospice setting this adds to the quality of care received by the patient.  Why?  We provide support to those inspiring individuals who work in the day-to-day care and treatment of those with cancer and perhaps other life changing illnesses.  We are incognito, we come and we go.  We listen and hold hands and if we need to, we can cry with a family member.  We can try to take them away from their own day-to-day, just for a moment.  Or perhaps we’ll be blessed to help them face what’s ahead.  We can hear what is not said if we are silent, and we can give and spread love for a while, as much as we can.

It is an honour to be part of the team at Dime and it is a privilege to spend time with people facing challenges I cannot imagine.  I can’t change the world, but I can change my attitude about life and perhaps I can, just for a moment, provide a listening ear to someone.

 

Dime Cuenta Con Nosotros relies on donations and are always grateful for support.  If you would like to be a volunteer and have languages, Spanish necessary, then please contact them directly – http://www.cuentaconnosotros.es