Tuesday, December 13, 2016


That previous blog post was started almost a year ago... I was advised against posting it because it was still a raw, open wound.  The wound has healed, but there is still a scar and as Christmas draws near the scar seems to be a bit more sensitive. 

Perhaps it is the remembrance, perhaps it is recent events, perhaps it's this unsettling feeling inside of being left out, cast aside, hidden under the rubbish pile where I may one day be unearthed and remembered. 

Now, it need be said I don't feel completely forgotten.  This is not to discredit the small collection of people who see me and acknowledge my presence in this world beyond services rendered.  But it is a constant struggle, made worse by social media, proclaiming and exhibiting the almighty 'Me' for everyone to like and 'heart' and acknowledge in some cursory fashion, and the propensity to withdraw and watch from the outside for fear of having to participate and fail in that. 

For years it has been a constant dialogue, not knowing what elicited this internal unrest, this need to be acknowledged, seen, known, included.  Someone at work liked to advertise my need to be the centre of attention; he missed the difference between wanting to be a part of something in an intimate way (meaning I am a valued, contributing member) and wanting to be the hero on the pedestal.  I was the hero on the pedestal - 3 out of 4 times within the fiscal year - and it made me uncomfortable.  His words always hurt when he uttered them, not because they were true, but because they so grievously represented me and the depth of my emotional needs. 

Let's stop here for a second.  Before you get all righteous on me and remind me that  my emotional needs are this and that and the other thing, I know!!!  *giggles* I know what they are and what they aren't, I know where they do and don't belong.  But that doesn't mean they aren't there, that they don't need addressing - correcting, even! - or healing, more appropriately. 

This is the Christian struggle - the true Christian struggle: healing of soul, if you're fortunate of body too.   Whether a Christian with wealth or a Christian in poverty, a Christian with political freedom or a Christian under persecution, we all need healing of soul.  

And yet, my petty, stupid, N. American, Gen-X, emotionally weak, uneducated self still yearns for worldly connection, to be invited to the party, to be known by those around me in a good way, who cries when she's left out or feels neglected.  There is no sense of maligned hurt, only that she isn't important enough to be thought of and engaged.

I realize this sounds like an attention grab - golly it sure isn't!  It's only sharing a struggle, one that is seen and known and fought blindly and with much internal flailing.  It is to remind myself and other who may have similar struggles that I'm looking in all the wrong places for my sense of belonging and attachment - that I can only be filled and truly known by One: God.  And when I am hurt by these feelings, to remember how much God wants to be first and foremost on my mental remembrance, and how often He doesn't even make the top 100, yet deserves more than any other to be #1... always....

Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services - human service fail!

It was almost three years ago, now, that we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle. He had walked out of his job after a series of rather disagreeable circumstances arose in quick order and we found ourselves in a two-income lifestlye with only one income to support it.  The magnitude of the circumstances was such that he ended up in the hospital for about a week - evidence that stress does weird things to the body.

After 6 weeks of diligent searching a friend of ours had compassion on him and through what may have been rather tenuous efforts, secured him a part-time/temporary job as an errand person, a "filler in of gaps" you might say, at Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services. He learned quickly, improving his skill and even moving towards becoming a full-time service person.  He was approved as an apprentice and began a double program shortly thereafter.

It was hard, he struggled to juggle both school demands and full time work, but he loved what he was doing - it was meaningful and gave him a deeper purpose.  But he felt unsupported by the designated mentor which made the workload twice as heavy, not to mention he questioned a number of practices that he witnessed which didn't seem to line up to what he was learning in school.  In the end, the workload was too much and he had to withdraw, going back to the basement to slog through the days.  He met every task face on and when there was an issue, he changed as required and improved as directed.  Over a short period of time he excelled, because that's just what he does.

In time (we're talking almost a year later) he felt it was appropriate to ask for a raise.  He was making well below the national standard for his position and, given what he had achieved, improvements to processes and exceeding timelines, not to mention all the extra time he gave of his own free will, without being asked, felt he deserved a small recompense for his efforts.  He wasn't greedy in his request, only asking to be appropriately remunerated for the work done and done well.

Let me tell you - that was a mistake and a half!

He had a meeting with the finance person and presented his case.  The finance guy agreed and actually suggested he was worth more than he had originally suggested.  He was praised for his contributions and given every reason to believe he would be seeing a positive alteration in his income soon, it only needed approval from the owner.

A week later, he was called into the office again, but it was not to award him with the approved raise. Oh no!  It was to slap him with a list of random, ill-proven infractions committed since the beginning of the year.  Looking over the list he was able to identify and explain each situation - none of which warranted the disciplinary action being presented, and half of which weren't even his error.  He was given a warning to improve or there would be further action taken.  Improve what!?  And did the offer to instruct him in these improvements - oh no!  Did they get him to sign a document saying he understood the situation and would make the listed improvements (again, totally missing) - definitely not.

This was only a couple weeks before Christmas of last year.

At their in-office Christmas party - the Friday before the holiday weekend - bonuses were handed out to everyone.  Except him...and the girl on probation.  Understandably he was very upset.  And wouldn't you be upset also?  Sure, bonuses shouldn't be expected, but when the only other person besides yourself who hasn't received one is on probation for severe attendance issues, it's a very clear statement that they don't think you're worthy of any recognition at all.

Over the weekend, he was called by one of the other staff covering for the holidays and asked a question about how to do something.  It should be noted that he was not scheduled to work this day, nor was he on-call at this time.  He responded that perhaps the caller should consult a manager, or someone who the company thinks is worth recognizing, since he's not on the clock.  Again, understandable since the company refused to acknowledge all the other times he came in on days off or helped out when he wasn't on duty, why should he help them out this time?

You know what this got him?  FIRED!

On boxing day, he came into work at 8 am like normal and was met just inside the door and told to leave; effective immediately he was no longer employed. He was dumbfounded, completely shocked.  

Merry f**king Christmas to us.

This happened 10.5 working days from the initial meeting about his "not meeting company standards."  That's right - not even 2 weeks.  Was that sufficient time for the unstated improvements they expected of him?  Certainly not, according to BC labour standards and resolving issues.  Especially since no guidelines or plan of corrective action was issued.  Sorry fellas, you failed on Management Skills 101, there.

What is MORE!  They already had someone new hired to replace him; he was interviewed the week before.  Can we say pre-meditated?  There was definitely something fishy about this whole situation. Even the other staff members were shocked to learn he was ushered (no pun intended!) out of the building.

When we researched the BC Employment Act and started an investigation, requesting at the very least 2 weeks pay, since it was on all accounts a wrongful dismissal based on prejudice and God only knows what other personal vendetta someone had against him, they threatened us.  They called the police on him twice, trying to get him arrested because he had feelings of anger which were taken completely out of context (not to mention they didn't pay attention to the use of grammar which in no way indicated a future intent but a past sentiment - English 101 fail this time!)

We were both of us completely floored trying to understand what warranted such a vehement act of direct hatred.  And yes, it has to be hatred when you are decidedly working to make things up with the intent of ruining a person financially and demeaning them in the process.

While we tried to resolve it through the BC Labour relations, his new job (which took 2 months to get this time around) started the same day as the "mediation hearing" - yeah, sorry, these people aren't into mediating.  They are just bullies who think they can get away with stuff like this because we didn't have a financial means (thanks to you) to fight them on it!

But I don't want them to get away with it.  So, I'm putting this post out on the great wide web for people who want to handle their last activity on this life with an organization that really cares about human beings and not just the $$$ they get from them.

IF you have funeral needs, I beg of you, do NOT invest your well earned money through Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services in any region - BC, Alberta or Saskatchewan.  While there may be stand-up people working there, they are pressured to act without integrity by the owner who oversees them all.  As a business, they are cheaters, cheapskates who cut corners where you don't need corners cut and liars - and this was before the incident we experienced first hand.

Instead, I recommend *** Ancient Burials *** a guy with a heart of gold and a family of 6 who truly cares for every person who crosses his path and gives more than he has to those around him.  He won't rip you off, he won't sell you on something you don't want, and he won't push something on you you aren't ready for.  He is attentive and thorough and his life is dedicated to helping bring a peaceful end.

Thank you, I've said my piece.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Today I went, but not with my heart.  Not even with my head.  It was a physical presence only and it was not only tiresome but somewhat irksome as well.  In those moments, I am prone to complain or make a big deal out of things which are of very small consequence in the grand scope of things.  Not to mention of no veritable concern to anyone else (though I know my friends love and care about me!)

Moment arise when all is swirling about in a mass of confusion and chaos, when I can hardly tell up from down or left from right (wait a sec... I can never tell left from right....), I don't know if I'm moving forward or backward, towards healing or damage, and it's frustrating.  To make matters worse when these waves come on I pull back from those around me.  As one who prepares to weather a storm, the shutters are pulled, the windows are barred and the doors are closed tight.  Ain't no storm gettin' in here!

That also means nothing else is getting in.   No bright rays of sun to say the storm is passed, no cleansing breeze to brush away the musty stale air that hangs in every room.

 I wonder if it would do more damage than good for someone to come busting down the door, saying, "Girl, get out here RIGHT now!" 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

while the merry bells keep ringing, happy holidays to you!

the last of the festal days. and this is how the feast is remembered...

Friday, December 06, 2013

more wanting

It's Christmas time.  One of the most painful associations I have with Christmas time is the pressure to give and get.  Not so much pressure on me (though I certainly feel it in some of my relationships) but that the pressure is there and loud and very in your face

It's the giving which is forced, done out of obligation instead of innocent desire, done for the sake of saving face or not offending. Akin to walking a tightrope of social expectations with the fear of tumbling off always before you.  And the getting that drives in us a pressing want for "things" and to be remembered, that inspires an acquiring of material goods so we can parade them before others in a show of how special we are that not only do we have these things, but people thought of us enough to give them to us.

Forgive me, I'm not painting a very good picture and it sounds very harsh indeed.  Especially since I love to give gifts to the people I love, and people around me, and people in general, and joyfully receive tokens from those who love me, with as much gratitude and thankfulness as my weak and feeble heart can muster.

Giving is not bad.
Getting is not bad.

Lately, though, I have been investigating my own wants and needs and haves and have-nots; examining what they are, why they are, and whether they need to remain or be discarded, then figuring out how to manage them responsibly.  (That's right... more critical analysis of normal, everyday aspects of living.)  But it isn't for nothing, this reflection, it is to an end.  I am learning to decipher between good, healthy and attainable wants, and those which lead to discontentment, disillusionment, or danger.

Case in point:

Yesterday an acquaintance invited me out to a sort of open-house/soirĂ©e she was hosting to sell her fantastically hand-crafted wood pieces and showcase a much-gifted local musician.  She invited me with a task-in-hand, it is true, but part of me had the desire to engage in this mystical world of 'folk art' and be grounded by the interaction.

It was a short visit, cold (bitterly!) but nice and I built a small collection for her of photos to sort of capture the evening.  Not my best work, but not awful either.

What struck me, though, was the painful longing that set itself in my belly shortly after leaving.  It was not envy or jealousy, but it was an inspiration of wanting for something more simple and life-giving than what I currently feel I have.  The wanting in and of itself did not surprise me, for years I have panted after the quiet of country life.  What was particularly shocking was the painful quality of this wanting - that my body physically ached for it. 

Of course, this too will fall under investigation and thorough examination, likely in conversation with those who are most trusted and dear to me, with the aim of understanding whether it is a want to be persued, or to be dropped.

Perhaps it is fitting to have these thoughts today, on St. Nicholas' feast day, who through humility gained the things on high, through poverty, riches, and proclaimed to all by his actions a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a model of self-control.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

from All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Christian Monastery

Instead of complaining, do something about your complaints. Make a difference in your life, and the lives of those around you, by keeping focused on making a difference. If there is reason to complain, change your complaint into a positive action that changes your perspective. Complainers never change a thing by their constant negativity, other than make those around them want to take a cab to the other side of town. Complaining seems to many like such a little sin, and nothing to be worried about. Yet the impact of a complaining heart is spiritually ruinous, for when we complain we bear bitter fruits that destroy our peace and the peace of those around us.

When we refuse to fill our lives with complaints, we live our lives knowing that opposing the evil that is the root of our complaints, means we preserve our inner peace. Some live as though avoiding complaining will make everything worse, for by doing so they ignore the reality of negative things. Yet when we complain, we are returning evil for evil, and giving the fallen spirits the very thing they thrive upon.

Complaining never changes a thing, but only strengthens the power of the evil that is the very basis of our complaints. When we face every bad situation with a positive response, we empower the heart to good, by diminishing the power of negativity. By keeping a positive mindset, the sin of complaining is banished from our life, and everyone around us is bathed in a healing and healthy setting.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rethinking Choices

Last night we went to see a movie. We do this regularly, go to the theatre to watch movies.  It's what we do; our thing.  Not my preferred choice for spending time together, but it is typically entertaining enough and we more-or-less can find something agreeable. At the very least we're doing something together. 

Last night's movie, though, puts to mind some very pressing questions and makes me wonder if it wouldn't be better to rethink this type of outing. 

Let me begin by saying I am not a puritan and do not believe movies are a sure-fire way to ensure one's place in hell or guarantee eternal damnation.  That being said, I do believe that many forms of entertainment can provide grounds for spiritual and psychological damage if not engaged in properly, soberly, and with caution.

In a conversation with a friend earlier this year we were discussing television programs that intimately touched on the workings of serial killers, rapists, torturers, etc.  I hid from her the fact that my husband & I regularly watched crime shows and even liked them; that we had a series on the psychology behind serial killers and owned a number of movies which were somewhat graphic in how they portrayed brutal crimes.  At the time, our conversation only rubbed me the wrong way but didn't produce any form of conviction.

Something over the past 6 months has changed, though.  While watching a movie in the theatre about [yet another] attack on the U.S. government, there was a scene wherein a number of innocents were violently gunned down.  This scene sent me into a fit of near hysterics, complete with hyperventilation, which both frightened and shocked me.  Had I not watched such needless violence before, numerous times, without a tremor? 

A month later, during another film on a completely different subject matter, I was again overcome with distress over the violence enacted on the screen, and had to fight for breath to keep from falling apart. 

Last night's movie pushed this even further and has prompted the rethinking of these regular doses of escapism.  The subject matter (which I prefer to not discuss) created a deep and disturbing sense of horror; I wondered, afterwards, why we had even chosen to see that movie at all.  What was the draw?  the pull?  What did we hope to gain or profit by spending two hours filling our consciousness with that?

Certainly, we cannot hide from the fact that there is violence in the world, especially of this type, and we dare not pretend that this kind of behaviour does not exist, but do we really need to make money off of it?  The movie was exceptionally well done. But do we need to praise it and elevate it to a level worthy of accolades because they made it so real?

Perhaps this recalls the question of realism in art - how far is too far, how much too much?  I do not have an answer for that...

For now, I can only make informed decisions and, while I accept that there is terrible violence in the world and I am not one to bury my head in the sand and pretend it's not there, perhaps it is not wise to engage in, promote and fill my conscious space with that violence, and only face it with prayer and petition when necessary.

God help us.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

fading to grey

i took my husband to England. it was for the purpose of introducing him to different parts of the world, different cultures, even  if those cultures arent vastly different. hes never been outside of N. America so this seemed like a perfect start.

our hometown is not unfamiliar with rain or greyness, especially when mid-autumn and winter are in their fullness. but there is something disconcerting about travelling halfway around the world, to be thrust into a premature winter of your place of origin. we expected some damp days, yes, but not a perpetual odghtdfgnslaught of wet after wet.

maybe its the weather, or the boringness of this day, or feeling hindered from exerting energy, whatever it is, i am completely saturated with grey. i yearn and hunger for colour and light. what a strange melancholy. like a stone building left alone on the moors to befriend only wind and mist.

[tried to post a photo but it didnt work]