Monday, December 22, 2008

For Bruce

Yikes! It's almost 3 months since I blogged. Outrageous. I'm joining twitter for anyone who'd like to follow. When it's complete, I'll let you all know how to follow me.

Goal # 1 for 2009. Keep up with my writing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - I can spell all my myself!!!

It's hard for Mommy and Daddy to keep up with me. Daddy was just making one of his convoluted jokes, you know, part gibberish-part brilliance. I turned to him and said: "What are you talking about???!!!" Instead of answering me, both Daddy and Mommy collapsed laughing instead of answering. Crazy parents!

Well, I've been able to say my ABC's on my own from beginning to end, including the song's ending since late winter/ early spring. Then, I could count to 10, and then 20 (skipping 4 and 14 regularly).

Now, I can spell my name! Since winter time, I could identify the letters I, M, P, S. Yesterday, Daddy held up my name and I spelled I, S, L, and A correctly. Daddy was amazed!!!

Talk soon!

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Someone just knocked at the door. When Jacques opened the door, it was someone flogging chocolate for a fundraiser. Isla, who was standing at the top of the stairs, looking down at the door, shouted: "Chocolate! Isla LOOOOOVES chocolate." How can you say "no" to that!!? :^)

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Daily Haiku - My Child

My precious treasure
growing older every day
a big little girl

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Haiku - Short, sweet, quick to write!!!

I'm working on a book of my poetry, and writing more. I used to write one poem daily, but have sadly gotten out of that habit. So, I'll post some of them here.

Haiku for Moms @ Home

Write a snippet here
a line there, while keeping eyes

on children playing

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 31, 2008


We were eating chicken for dinner and Daddy decided he'd like some habanero sauce on his. Isla, of course, wanted to try some sauce too. After trying to talk her out of it, Daddy finally put a teensy, weensy bit of hot sauce on her plate. Isla dabbed it up and pronounced the sauce, "Good!" and demanded "More sauce!". Daddy gave her another tiny dab of hot sauce, which she devoured. This went on quite a few times, until Isla reached over and dropped her chicken into a big puddle of Daddy's hot sauce. She snatched it away and gobbled it up before we could stop her. We watched helplessly, feeling like terrible parents, waiting for her to cry or shriek. She turned to us and said, "Good sauce! More!". Unbelievable.

And right now, she is eating a bowl of Thai Curry chips (rice chips) and can't get enough.

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - Stockbroking is the life!!!

On Friday, Daddy had just bought some oil stocks and was about to place a stop loss order. I didn't think that was a good move so I grabbed his hand and made him click market order, meaning I sold my first stock!!! I was so excited I didn't mind at all that Daddy was pretty grumpy all of a sudden and stubbornly bought them back again. I know he lost $20 or $30 from my decision, but I think it's pretty cheap tuition for what I learned. hmmm.... what did I learn? Well, no matter and it got pretty exciting around here. Well, I mean, Daddy was excited along with me. Anyhoo... i gotta run before Mommy catches me using her computer. See ya!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - Those water wings look suspicious to me

I love looking through the fence in our complex at the pool inside. I keep chanting, "water, water" in the hopes Mommy and Daddy will take me inside. They did take me in one pool when visiting someone in the country for a few minutes before the skies opened up and lightning and thunder started crashing down.

Mommy tried to put water wings on me before I went in, but I was not taken in. She tried to pass them off as some helpful flotation device, but I know better. I recognize blood pressure cuffs when I see a set and I was not fooled. I screamed bloody murder, kicked and thrashed. There was no way I'd let them put those cuffs even one inch over my wrists. Mommy will have to get a life jacket for me instead. I am triumphant.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Life's Little Instruction Book - Tip #424 of 511

Sign and carry your organ donor card.

Incidentally, I finally got an 'invitation' from OHIP to get a photo card. I've had that old red and white card for donkeys' years. It has become so old and ratty, I have to point out where the version code is because it's right under some yucky plastic covering that has now curled up and is peeled back.

So I went in to get my card renewed. I was asked if I intended to donate my organs, and of course I replied 'yes'. For those of you who don't know, I've always signed my organ donor card, but am especially conscious of how important this is since my sister had a kidney transplant about 5 years ago now.

But short story long, I digress. When don't I digress? I never, ever have a short story! At any rate, I was really pleased to find out that if you wish to donate any or all of your organs, that information is placed right on the back of your card, which is so very important. Time is of the essence and lots of viable organs are lost due to hospital staff trying to verify what the person's wishes were.

Soooo, sing, er, sign and carry your donor card. Just do it!

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - no VCUG, Track Star & Alphabet Soup

I love going outside. I don't walk, I run everywhere. I run across the soccer field, I run down the laneway at home, and I run AWAY from Mommy and Daddy when we're out and it's time to go home!

Mommy asked the kidney specialist if I really had to have a VCUG - an ugly test that made me scream last year; it tests to see if I have any renal reflux (urine going backwards into the kidney; risk of infection, damage and shut down) left. The doctor said that he was okay with not making me have one in the fall. He would do an ultrasound instead. But he reserved the right to change his mind when that test comes back. My reflux was really mild, so Mommy and Daddy are hoping it has gone away and at long last, my antibiotics can be stopped. I've been on them for one year now. I don't mind my medicine... it tastes like mango!

Today, Mommy and I were playing with one of my spelling toys. I picked up the following letters, and one after another named it without being prompted: D, J, M, P. I didn't say the I or the O today, but I've been identifying them as, I for Isla and O for Oval for months now.

Lately, I've been breaking into song, singing songs Mommy has taught me: "Let's Go Fly a Kite" (from Mary Poppins), The Big Ship Sails on the Alley-Alley-O (from a book Frances gave me), "Rainbow so high" (part of the lyrics from a dance song on the radio I love), the alphabet song, and more that I don't remember right now. The other day, I really startled Mommy because I started singing a song that she made up when I was in NICU. Whenever she sang it, I settled down. After I came out of hospital, but had to go back for check ups, Mommy sang it to me a couple times after an upsetting needle, blood pressure test or something else unpleasant. In the 2 years since I came home from hospital, she has sung it less than 10 times and only about 3 times in the past year. Mommy couldn't believe her ears when she heard me singing her funny song.

Well I better go before Mommy finds me using her computer. She gets really crusty when I try to play with her computer. In fact, she usually has the keyboard locked so I can't delete any more documents or send off interesting emails, but I lucked out tonight. Toodle-oo!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life's Little Instruction Book - Tip #374 of 511

Work hard to create in your children a good self-image. It's the most important thing you can do to insure their success.

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Life's Little Instruction Book - Tip #383 of 511

Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - Telemarketers and me

Well, Mummy has been so busy lately she hasn't posted anything. She keeps trying to memorize things I do to report to everyone. She doesn't even take time to make a note, so I'm going to write something now while she's not using the computer.

Last week, or longer, a telemarketer called while we were having dinner. Daddy picked up the phone and handed it to me. "Hiiiiiiiii!!" I shrilled. "Good evening, How are you today?" Mummy and Daddy both heard the telemarketer say. He didn't seem to notice he was talking to a toddler. "Dhud!" I replied. Mummy and Daddy started to laugh. The telemarketer started into his spiel, but I interrupted with a "Hiiiiii!!!" again. The telemarketer began again, "Good evening, How are you today?". Was he practicing? He didn't seem to notice he was on the phone with a baby. How could he not figure it out? Mummy and Daddy started to laugh harder while also trying not to make any noise. Tears started to pour down Mummy's face. The telemarketer continued to try to talk to me, and I continued to try to talk to him. Mummy and Daddy almost fell of their chairs, the were now laughing so hard. Finally, Daddy reached over and hung up the phone. Serves that man for calling during dinner!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - Report Card and Updates

I'm logging a quick note here, while it's fresh. We spent a good portion of the day at Sick Kids' hospital today, doing more follow up appointments. Last week, Isla saw the urologist - no kidney stones and no deterioration of the kidney. Hooray! They are not interested in having a VCUG (voiding cysto-urethrogram... xraying her while she voids) - which is great news. But the kidney specialist wants one, so we will need to explore if she really, really needs to have one done. If she does not have one done, they will not know for certain if her renal reflux is gone and we would have to watch like hawks- any signs of infection or fever, and we'd have to hoof it into the hospital right away. BUT it is such a traumatic test, and invasive, so they don't like to do it unless necessary. Last year, you could hear Isla screaming down the hallway - and the other kids too. If we can avoid that kind of circumstance, I'd be happy.

Today, she saw the endocrinologist - or calcium and bone specialist. For the first time, her calcium levels are in the normal range!!!! Such good news! So, we will challenge her, by giving her more calcium - 250mg daily or 1/2 the daily amount a child her age requires. In four months, if her levels are still normal, she will be able to go to eating 500 mg daily, with no restraints. If she goes back to high calcium levels again, we will have to restrict her calcium once again. Meanwhile, we need to continue with the reduced Vitamin D supplement daily.

Before going to the calcium and bone specialist, Isla needed to have bloodwork done and a urine sample taken. Since she is not yet potty trained, this is an UGLY process. Putting a bag over her is like trying to nail down a feather blowing in a hurricane. So, Jacques came up with a brilliant plan.

We have bags at home. Jacques custom-designed one of her diapers to fit a bag through it. When he changed her diaper, he put on the specially-prepared diaper and it wasn't until the last second, when Isla felt the tape/ glue go on, that she realised what was happening. By then it was too late. So, we made a big fuss about it, and created a game surrounding having this special diaper on . Within 1/2 hour, she had deposited a decent amount and we were off to the hospital. Daddy watched over that sample like a mother hen supervising her eggs. The nurses and receptionist were very impressed and VERY happy. Usually, we cannot get a sample at the hospital, have to do it at home and then drive in the sample a few days later. Getting it done today meant we had some information processed already by the time of our appointment. Kudos to Jacques!

Now, taking blood is another matter. Isla remembers the room and as soon as she walked in, she started saying, "Ow, ow, ow". She was very worried when I put her on my lap. And the awful thing is that the technician kept changing just before they took her blood. We had to wait for the paperwork, and just before it arrived, the technician went on break. Someone else stepped in and started to prepare, when another technician came along and insisted on doing it. Meanwhile, poor little Isla was worried, saying "ow" and "all done" and starting to cry. When they finally got organised, it took 3 of us to hold her. Poor little thing. The 5 minutes it took, instead of the 1 minute was agony for her. She calmed down afterwards when we suggested getting hot chocolate at Tim Horton's!

Isla's weight is low... in the past 7 months, she has gained only 1/2 pound. Hopefully, with permission for her to eat more dairy, she will put on more weight. The dietician and I discussed more options for putting cream into her diet. Next week, we will see her pediatrician and see what he has to add about her weight and height.

We also popped into see the orthotics technician who designed Isla's helmet last year and monitored her progress. She has not seen Isla in one full year, and was so happy to see how her skull has formed and to see her chattering and running up and down the halls.

Soon, we will take her to the nephrologist - kidney specialist - and hopefully, Isla will graduate from seeing him too. He will check the status quo of her renal reflux and make decisions about the antibiotics she has been taking for one year now and what' s next.

Must dash and get some shut eye....

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Potty Training - Eureka moment (Posting #2)

We haven't really been working at it. Isla is still enamoured of her potty, and keen to "go pee pee". She's keen to pull toilet paper off the roll while sitting, waiting for results. In fact, she likes to stand up, put the lid down and then sit back down on it. She is very focused on what Mommy or Daddy is doing on their potty and how the toilet works.

Today, we had results! Isla was sitting on the potty but decided to stand up while playing around. She got a funny look on her face and then looked down. I saw dribbles on the floor and immediately got her to sit down so the rest would go in her potty. The light went on and Isla realised she had done what she had been talking about for the past month. Yippee!!!

She was SO excited. She shouted, "Isla pee pee. Isla did it!" NOW she just has to figure out how to do this on demand.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Report on The Linden Fund Walk-a-Thon: $1160.00

Today was a perfect day. And this morning, after a night of thunderstorms and non-stop rain, as soon as the kids hit the park and the race was ready to start, the sun came out. Those kids bring miracles with them everywhere they go!

This past week, we were blessed to have the opportunity to help out The Linden Fund. Back when "we" were in hospital, I thought often about ways that I could give back once we were "out". It's true that I'm working on a documentary that will meet that need, but that is a long term labour of love. In the meantime, I took time out this past week to write 2 emails to friends, family and associates. I set our goals low, because we were so late in getting into the game to help. In fact, we were bordering on being deadbeats, because it was so last minute! I set a goal of $250 for each of our preferred hospitals (Kingston General Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital). The Linden Fund will direct funds we donate to those two NICU's.

Although I announced my goal was set at $500 total, in my heart and in my mind, I really wanted to raise at least $1000. That was my intention and my focus.

And you did not fail me. It's absolutely incredible, that with only an initial email sent out last Sunday and another reminder/update on Wednesday, in total we raised $1160 together for The Linden Fund. $469 will be directed to the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital and $691 will be directed to the NICU at Kingston General Hospital.

This success does not speak to my being clever or a skilled marketing pro, it speaks to the generosity, compassion and humanity of all of you and that exists around us. The universe is abundant and you simply have to ask (be specific!) for what you want. "Don't ask, don't get" used to be my mantra. Now, it's "ask clearly and you will receive".

There were many families with premature babies involved with this fundraiser, and kudos to them for all their hard work. Not taking a thing away from their efforts to raise money for a worthy cause, I'd like to make special mention of Torran's parents, Lesley and Bruce.

I think they are exceptional because Torran is still in NICU. Most parents would not have gotten involved in todays' walk-run-bike-a-thon, waiting until their crisis was over and jumping in a few months or years after their baby was home. For their own personal reasons, Bruce and Lesley decided to participate in today's Pedal 4 Preemies. Not only did they drum up some funds on their own, they got other parents in NICU involved, created a team and had everyone drumming up funds. I have not yet heard what their final count was, but their team raised the most money and the last I heard, it was well over $4000. Bruce rolled in after working a night shift, and cleaned up, winning the 10K run. Lesley and the other moms would have all been up once or twice during the night to pump - yet they were all at the registration booth bright and early - long before yours truly showed up, I may add.

Despite medical advances, prematurity is on the rise in North America. If you don't know someone who has had a premature baby (other than me!), chances are that you will know a few before this next decade is out.

Although I have not heard what the final count is, the last total was over $43,000, raised by this event for The Linden Fund. So, I thank all of you for your support - financial and otherwise - in making this happen. This cause is very close to my heart, and you have been a big part of it. Many thanks.

Friday, May 30, 2008


I'm 28 months and I can say my alpha-bet all by myself. Over and over. Sometimes I miss a letter, or I only say part of the sound. Daddy said, of course I could do it and Mommy - who has been working on me for MONTHS, even since before I was ONE, was surprised. Two days ago, I wasn't interested in repeating the letters for her. Even earlier today, I was not ready to let her know that I could even say two letters in a row when she was coaching me. All of a sudden - SPROING - out comes the alphabet, in order, many times over.

Mommy says, "Thank you, Frances", for showing her how to label words and sounds when I was so young. Mommy says, if she had not known how to show me how to say sounds and letters as early as she did, it would be a lot longer before I could say them.

And I'm getting there with my big muscle skills. In the last 2 weeks, I insist on climbing the rungs on every jungle jim I can. Mommy used to discourage me from doing it ("You are too small and it's too dangerous"), but I don't let her stop me. Finally, Mommy showed me how to do it and she climbs up the jungle jim with me so I don't fall. The other kids don't like Mommy on their jungle jim with us ("No adults allowed"), but Mommy doesn't seem to notice.

I'll have to tell Alice that I'm climbing everything: going up the middle of the stairs (no hands!), running across soccer fields and down the halls at Sick Kids ("chase me, Mommy"), climbing the furniture, out of my high chair and up over the back, out of my stroller, into the car, in and out of my car seat so I can get to the drivers' seat to "drive". When I'm standing still or walking, sometimes I still fall over at unpredictable times and I'm still falling down the stairs ... but I'm doing so much more than last year at this time (16 months) when I was just crawling.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Normalcy - A Surreal Date

Yesterday was our anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary, but the date we started out officially as a couple. Fourteen years later, we still celebrate it. We didn't do anything wild and crazy yesterday. After a busy day and a lot of early evening errands, we simply went to a Tim Horton's and sat down together - all three of us - for hot chocolate with coffee. Isla just had hot chocolate. Getting time together is rare. Sitting down at a coffee shop - something we used to do a lot when we first started dating is unheard of these days. We used to go to write or brainstorm or connect with friends. The past 2.5 years have been so absorbed in getting through our days that we have lost any memory of what it is to just relax, to get a little crazy. And it's not just because we have a child and stay at home. For any of you that know us, our world was turned upside down when Isla arrived 3.5 months early at 26 weeks and 2 pounds. After 5 months in hospital and what seems like a MILLION follow up medical appointments (I keep meaning to count them to record exactly how many therapists, doctors, specialists, Isla has seen and how many needles she has been given), life is starting to settle. Each day, each week gets a little easier in many ways, but the ramifications of the whole EVENT is still attached to everything we do. And, as we learn from other parents of premature, pre-term babies who 'graduated' from NICU many years ahead of Isla, we cannot yet sit on our laurels. Not yet.

HOWEVER, we had a moment last night. A wonderful, surreal moment. It was delicious. We sat in a regular coffee shop, having a break, a treat together. Tim Horton's is hardly a funky venue. And i
t's not the first time we've been to a coffee shop since Isla came home almost 2 years ago, but this time it was different. Isla was greeting everyone around her, waving and shouting "hi!" loudly. I looked over at Jacques who had the most exquisite look of love, pride and happiness on his face. And I must have had the same look on mine. We just looked at each other and nodded. I don't remember exactly what we said, but it boiled down to this: we were having a 'normal' evening out together, something we thought we may never have. In that moment we were a normal couple, with a normal baby, having a normal moment at a normal place. It completely floored us. It was fleeting and oh, so precious.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Wisdom of Green Eggs and Ham

My favourite book as a child was "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss. And I'm not alone.... since 1960, children and adults alike have been chanting the words to this story. The National Education Association ranks "Green Eggs and Ham" #3 in the top 100 most popular children's books.

When Isla was in hospital, I was told many times how important it was for her development and overall health for me to talk or sing to her while she was in an isolette. I sang what I could remember and many, many, many times, I recited from [faulty] memory, the words to "Green Eggs and Ham". I don't know if she remembers me doing this or if, like millions of other children, she is captivated by the catchy 49 [unique] words in that book.

Would you? Could you?
in a car?
Eat them! Eat them!
Here they are....

... You do not like them.
SO you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may I say.

We could all stand to learn a lot from that Sam-I-Am. This is not just a lesson on trying new foods and new things in general. Being open-minded and a little daring are valuable life skills. That Sam-I-Am is who we need to be. He goes after what he wants, pursues what he believes in, he doesn't take no for an answer (a pitbull), he has flash and absolutely zero limiting beliefs. At no point does he question whether he's wrong to continue to offer up his gastronomical specialty. At no point is he cowed by his inability to get our character to try something new. He simply and completely believes he will succeed and that his friend will love to eat green eggs and ham when he finally tries it. He knows what he wants and goes after it. When one approach does not work, he just re-arranges his strategy. At no point is he angry, frustrated or discouraged. He approaches his goal with love and trust. AND eventually his persistance pays off. He shares a lot with our "little engine that could" from my May 18 entry. Let's all try to be like Sam-I-Am for today and as many days as we can.


Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
~William Shakespeare

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.
~Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord

He conquers who endures.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I am my parents' daughter. Today, I'm eating spicy pappadum after spicy pappadum. Mommy gave me a small bite of pappadum with cracked black pepper. SHE finds it really peppery and hot. She didn't think I'd like it, but she is amazed because I keep coming back for more. At this writing, I've had 2 whole pappadums - after a full lunch - and going strong!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Foods Isla Likes:

Victoria Day weekend, Isla went to a birthday party. For the first time she tried - and LOVED:

-fresh, marinated artichokes;
-marinated eggplant;
-green olives stuffed with garlic cream;
-salty black olives - kept eating them unexpectedly;
-lots of her 'ole favourite hummus;
-taramsalata (greek fish roe) dip;
-and flaked pastry

Potty Training - Posting #1

Well, we got a potty for Isla 2 weekends ago. When does she start using it? LOL Or more to the point, "Now what?". We are such delinquents. It's been so busy these past few weeks, we haven't even started to work on it. I hear you should devote a full day to it and then in a day, or two, it's done! Too bad my Nanny James is not still here. She would have had me training Isla at 10 months! For her part, Isla is quite excited to have her own potty. She doesn't QUITE get what it's for, but it's all hers. She likes to sit on it when Mommy or Daddy is in the "office" and talks about using it, but so far no results!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Just Trust In Yourself and You'll Climb Every Hill"

-- aka the wisdom from children's books.

The best written children's books or movies contain fun ideas for the kids, but also have underlying wisdom for Mom, Dad or any adult other reading along or watching. I cry every time I read Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch and don't even get me started about the life lessons contained in Dr. Seuss books.

On the weekend, we had dinner with friends. Like us, they had a premature baby in NICU. Like Torran's parents, they were asked a number of times whether they wanted to remove life support from their child. When they declined that option, the wisdom of their decision was questioned by the medical team.

Having a baby in NICU, and following the 'usual' issues of prematurity with your child and having to make medical decision after medical decision on his, her or their behalf, on a daily basis, is horrific enough. To sum it up for you, it's like running a marathon, combined with military basic training, writing an LSAT or MENSA test, while grieving and trying to maintain your 'regular' routine all at once. There is no life lesson more harsh than this one because it involves a defenseless, vulnerable, innocent newborn child and, as most parents are not trained in neonatology, they are not equipped to care for their child while he or she is so ill. For those parents who are offered the choice to remove life support from their newly born child, the suffering they undergo is exponentially 100 times worse than for other parents of very early premature babies.

Tonight, our friends shared with us a book they read to their son while he was in NICU. In addition to reading it to him, they read it together daily because it helped them get through their experience. The story (I Knew You Could!, by Craig Dorfman) is inspiring with layered meaning. Based on the 1930's story, The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, the little blue engine returns to inspire adults and children alike to do their best, to endure, and to believe in themselves.

"The stories in our mind become the stories in our life."
~ Kody Bateman, CEO, Send Out Cards

What makes someone be able to achieve the 'impossible' while everyone around him or her is not able to do the same? Roger Bannister is a good example. He broke the 4 min mile. After crushing failure at the 1952 Olympics, he decided he was going to be the first to run a mile in 4 minutes. He focused, he set his mind, his will, his training, to accomplishing that one thing. Within a month after he broke the record, 4 others accomplished the same thing. Why? Because they saw someone else do it and now felt it wasn't impossible. Up until then, the rest of the world looked on breaking that record as an impossible feat.

Bruce Jenner is another example. He was not the most talented athlete of his era, but he decided he was going to win the decathalon at the 1976 Olympics. He trained 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. He made this goal his sole focus and he imagined breaking a record and standing on the podium while listening to the national anthem. He visualized this scene over and over and over again. By the time he did break the record and win the medal, he had already won the race a million times in his mind. It was a familiar act for his body to re-create what his mind had already perceived and achieved so many times already.

So what has Roger Bannister and Bruce Jenner got to do with babies in the NICU? And parents reading children's books?

Children's books are written simply and directly. You only have to read a few pages to get the message. The best written books strike a deeper emotional chord with you. My friends found I KNEW YOU COULD!, which talks about meeting challenges head on, doing what it takes, and most importantly, the book conveys unqualified confidence that the reader/train will accomplish whatever s/he set out to do. This is a book someone undergoing a challenge could pick up and read over and over as needed. It's inspirational and it doesn't require a lot of time because it's not wieldy and it sets the seed, the idea in your mind. The repetition of reading it daily, sets your mindset to expect successfully overcoming the crisis at hand.

These parents tapped into the simple message in that book. Not only did it help them bond with their son while in NICU (parental presence and involvement in the baby's care has a HUGE impact on how well the baby does medically, developmentally, emotionally - on all levels, really), but it helped them create a picture in their mind of success. A vision that they would make it through that nightmare successfully, and the vision of their son successfully overcoming all the medical odds. And he has overcome (and continues to do so) an enormous number of odds, despite his prognosis.

I am a product of parents who decided to treat me as a 'normal' kid, despite being very ill with a particularly frightening case of epilepsy. Doctors told my parents I'd never make it past public school, that I was not to climb or have a bike, that I would not be cured and I would not be able to participate fully in life. While it was not news of extensive brain damage, it would have been a devastating blow to any parent. And I proved those doctors wrong. Not only did I graduate from high school with Honours, I graduated from university, am able to drive any vehicle, and have no ramifications after recovering fully 28 years ago.

I credit my parents to a great part with this success. While they told me how dangerous it was to climb things (I did nothing else but, as a child), and kept me fully informed about my condition, never once did they tell me I could not, or would not be able to, do something. They made a decision - I think it was when I was cycling down the street on some other kids' bike with hands and feet flailing in the air "look Daddy, no hands" - to treat me as if everything was normal. I got a bike. I took figure skating lessons. I went to weekend girl guide camps and on week long school ski trips. I did everything the other kids did and moved forward without labels or limiting beliefs. I knew that if I climbed something, it was possible that I could have a seizure and fall - thereby becoming injured or killed. It was a sobering thought for a child, but I learned to either make responsible choices or else assume responsibility for my choices if they were unwise. It was an important life lesson.

If we trust in ourselves, in our innate abilities, if we nourish ourselves with stories of success, and promise and love, that will become our experience and our outlook. And if we instill those beliefs and strategies in our children, no matter what kind of start they begin with, they will overcome or work around what obstacles they are presented with, even early on in life. We strive to achieve what we believe. So be careful what beliefs you adopt, because they are your blueprint upon which the foundation of your life will be built. Build well.


Isla is teething again. This morning Jacques turned to Isla and said, "How do you feel today, Isla?" Without skipping a beat, she responded in her sweet little voice: "HA-PPY"

I almost sliced my finger off while cutting tomatoes and Jacques came close to spitting out his coffee. Jacques asked her the question again. Right away, she answered "Ha-ppy" again. We gaped at her. It was the first time she has ever shown she might understand the range of emotional thought, feeling. How does a 2 year old understand what happy means? How?

No matter how it's possible, we were ecstatic to hear her tell us how she felt at that moment. A baby step forward that was more like a gigantic leap.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Do's and Don'ts of Thank You Notes

Have you ever put off writing a thank you card, because you were intimidated about what to say?

Check out Donna Pilato's tips on sending thank you cards, with notes about how to write the following types: for wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, after a job interview. Also find out which situations really demand a thank you vs. in which situations it would be a nice touch. And lastly, she provides links to pages that have all kinds of different samples.

You're all set! You'll no longer have any more embarrassment about card-sending. Become a card-sender!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

"You're Being Too Over-Protective!"

While we had a lot of support when Isla was in hospital and at home afterwards, I got so tired of hearing this comment, or having it implied, especially when we brought her home. While the comment often stemmed from a wish that Isla was now "normal" and a "regular baby" and a belief that medicine these days "fixes" everything, their words also indicated they had absolutely no idea how many babies don't make it beyond the first year, what having a baby in hospital was like and how the parents are scarred. In addition, that person had never known anyone else, any loved one, to be in hospital for more than a few weeks at most. They could never imagine the marathon it takes to endure 3-5 months of this circus. With infection and RSV the top killers of premature babies, it's no wonder parents are "jumpy".

Having a baby, especially a premature, pre-term (these 2 words are no longer defined medically as being identical; I forget which medical journal I recently read this in) baby, in hospital is a completely different ball game than having a parent, sibling or friend in hospital. That adult, even hopped up on painkillers, is able to be somewhat of an advocate - in most cases - for him or herself and is better able to cope.

It's almost 2 years since we brought Isla home (how time flies when you're busy taking your child to follow up appointments! haha), and quite a number of Isla's 'roommates' from NICU have had to be re-hospitalized at some point or, even now at 2 years of age, have had to run into emerg with lung/breathing issues. We are not being over-protective; we are advocating in the best interests and safety of our baby, whether you believe it or not.

Below, I've included Torran's Mom's comments from her recent blog entry (Thursday, May 8), which you should read in its entirety. But I've posted part of her comments here, for those of you who may not make it there right away, because she says it so well, and I wish I could have expressed myself with such ease during "my time" instead of becoming defensive when complete strangers and (a few) loved ones alike grabbed and kissed Isla without so much as a please or thank you.

-- Susan

To read this entry in its entirety, click on my link to Torran's diary in the upper right corner.

"... So, please don't compare the premature baby to other babies. It is hard enough for mothers and fathers to avoid this, particularly when things seem not in favour of their own children.

The parents of preemies also need your patience. We're not just neurotic individuals. We have spend weeks washing our hands before every touch, dealing with someone else looking after our children (wondering whom the child thinks of as mum), staring instead of holding, and guarding against infection with heightened sensitivity. We have seen our babies stop breathing for so long that they turn blue, needing someone to take a rescue mask/bag and re-inflate them. One baby in the NICU, now 1.5 months past due, has "death spells" requiring cardiac massage (CPR) to get her breathing again. Her twin brother is at home. We have been told to expect impairments that only show up with age, and we watch agressively for that time. So if we seem more knitpicky, cautious and possessive than other new parents, we are, with some justification.

Mums and Dads have waited weeks and/or months to have a "normal" parental relationship with their premature child. Holding your baby in the NICU is wonderful, but each time an alarm goes off your eyes jump to the screens to find out if it belongs to yours. Then you wonder if you're doing something wrong to induce the alarm. One mother was afraid to breastfeed because her daughter had a spell the first time she was put to the breast. When the babies finally come home, parents need that time to adjust, like any parent of a newborn, to the baby being at home. However preemie parents have the emotional need to hold their child without the environmental intrusion of nurses and technology. It is hard to accomplish this when every other member of the family and friends are requesting their turn too. As I saw in Tuesday's meeting, parents are well aware of the desire of their friends and family to hold the new child, but sometimes they don't know how to say "please, not now", or "please, wash your hands first", especially with more assertive folks/cultural heritage. So, on behalf of the parents who can't vocalize this, I ask that you let parents guide you with respect to holding the baby - when and for how long.

As for Bruce and I, neither of us are quiet mousey individuals who would have difficulty expressing ourselves, and our circles of family and friends are very understanding. Besides, you'll know when we don't want you to hold Torran. I am going to carry a spatula in the diaper bag *whack* My baby! No touch!

Productivity + completing everything on your list

What have Tuesdays, treadmills, church-going and obsessions go to do with it? Click my link to Brazen Careerist, and check out Penelope Trunk's (Boston Globe columnist and freelance writer) blog entry from May 6.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Mother's Day Poem

I love to write poetry but have to concede I don't have time this weekend to do it. So, I am sharing a poem by another poet for Mother's Day. Every mother is precious; every mother is their baby's best advocate; and every mother becomes stronger in many ways, just by giving birth. This poem is pertinent to all mothers, and as a mother of a premature, pre-term baby, I feel it is especially appropriate. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy Mother's Day!!!!


How much I love you I can't say:
It's more than words can hold.
You're all at once my rich, red clay,
My potter and my mold.

Yours the words that shaped my voice,
The spirit within mine.
Yours the will that shaped my choice,
My fortune, and my sign.

How lucky I was to have had you
At the core of me!
Wise and good, you always knew
Just what I could be.

And so I came to be someone
Whom I could be proud of.
For this I give my swollen sum
Of gratitude and love.

(c) Nicholas Gordon

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Law of Forced Efficiency

This law says that, "There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing."

Food for thought. Instead of racing around like chickens with our heads cut off, why not focus on achieving 1, no more than 3 major things a day? Throughout the day, check in and ask yourself, "Is this the best use of my time?"

Try these 2 steps for 2 weeks and notice the calmer, more focused pace to your life. Certainly, you will be calmer, more productive, more organized and happier!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Update on Torran - May 4

Torran is stable, but the condition of his hydrocephalus is still worrisome. His head has gotten bigger. For the full update + a sweet video clip of him, go to Torran's diary.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Success = 99% awareness + 1% application

"Life does not happen to us, it happens from us."
-- Mike Wickett

When we have a destructive, addictive habit, the first step towards healing is to acknowledge there is a problem in the first place. Denial of the issue to ourselves and others can be an automatic gut reaction.

But what if the problem isn't glaring or obvious? What if it's something seemingly innocuous or a coincidence, like:

- If we often miss the bottom step of a flight of stairs and repeatedly wrench our ankle?
- If we always attract relationships with people who have the same, negative qualities into our lives?
- If we are always late meeting our friends, for class or for appointments?
- If we can never master landing a lutz jump in skating or never miss the water trap in golf?
- If we can never hold a viable, lucrative job due to different circumstances that come up each time?

Is all of this just plain bad luck?

Would you believe me if I told you it wasn't? Would you believe me if I told you that everything happens for a reason and it's meant to be?

That statement alone will make some of you mad. Why does a baby die who has never had a chance to experience all life has to offer? Why does a relationship of 30 years dissolve "overnight"? Why does anyone have to suffer through a chronic illness? and on and on.

Setting aside discussion of whether Goddess (God, the Universe, Spirit, the Collective Soul, Yahweh, or whoever makes sense in your world view) has a set plan for each of us - let's call that the BIG PICTURE - let's focus on the smaller picture... on you. In virtually all cases, things that happen "to us" are our own fault.

"Well, that's brutally harsh. What do you mean by that? "

I mean we attract what happens to us -- with the exception of the baby dying, in my opinion. In exceptionally few instances, sometimes horrible things happen and we grow stronger learning to handle the emotional and psychological fallout from them. But in almost all situations, you can trace back what happened to a lack of awareness on our part, to an inability to monitor and re-direct what's happening into something constructive.

"OK, now this sounds like pure drivel. What on earth do you mean?"

"Most of us are in touch with our intuition
whether we know it or not,

but we're usually in the habit of doubting or contradicting it so
automatically that we don't even know it has spoken."

What I mean is that if we stopped for just a moment, to pay attention to our mind chattering on, to how our body feels, to what's going on around us, many times situations or bad "coincidences" would be avoided or overcome.

For example, on May 26, 1992 at 10:30pm, I was cycling home from a friends' place in the rain. I turned onto a major street that was empty and a voice that seemed to originate above my head and to the right said, "It is safer to cycle on the sidewalk."

My immediate thought was not, "oh thank you". It was, "hello? it's illegal to cycle on the sidewalk. I could get a ticket" and so I continued to cycle on the roadway, but not for much longer. In less than 60 seconds I was struck head on by a car. I don't remember how it happened. I do remember bouncing on the hood of the car (and I do believe I did a Judo breakfall automatically) and then excruciating pain as I went through the windshield of the car with my head (and I'm only here today because I wore a helmet). After that, I was unconscious for a good 45 minutes. I 'came to' hearing the voice of the doctor who was working on me chanting in amazement, "You are so lucky... You are so lucky... You are so lucky." That's his perspective. Lucky or not, it took me over 4 months to heal my broken bones and bruises.

Now that example is pretty dramatic and extreme, right down to the voice above my head.

"Yeah, swanjames, I never hear voices. I just think you're looney."

When I talked about our minds chattering on earlier, I didn't mean hearing voices, like I did before my accident. What I meant was we need to stop and listen to what we are telling ourselves.

"A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
-- Channing Pollock

We need to develop mindfulness. By that I mean, paying attention to what we are constantly telling ourselves. Just before you glance the 5 ball off the 3 so it slides into the side pocket, are you focused solely on your task, or are you mentally noticing how the guy at the end of the pool table is standing while you tell yourself, "I was never good at this game" just before you miss the shot?

Just before you pick up a phone to try to make a sale or ask someone out on a date, what are you doing and saying to yourself? Are you sitting there, sweating in fear? Are you telling yourself you desperately need to make your mortgage payment this month? Or she probably doesn't even remember meeting me? Without a doubt the person on the other end of the phone will pick up on your energy.

"If you had a friend who talked to you
like you sometimes talk to yourself,
would you continue to hang around with that person?"
-- Rob Bremer

"So, what happens when you catch yourself from beating yourself up, and turn this process around?"

You walk, talk and act in the belief what you want to achieve is going to happen. No question. In fact, it's even better if you act as if it has already happened.

Is this simple?

Is it easy?
No way.

I can only tell you my experience. When I'm feeling insecure or powerless, I think back to the following challenging time in my life and draw strength from it:

My full-time job in hospitality ended abruptly one sunny November 29th morning, with the closing of the hotel I worked at. I went back to school, but after graduation had to admit that the chances for my new career in my hometown were minimal. I had always said I hated Toronto and would never move there - EVER! - but suddenly, it seemed a fantastic place to settle. My boyfriend was happy because he'd wanted to move there for years. So, "ever" was here and we made plans to move at the end of the summer.

Two weeks before we moved, my boyfriend told the company he did freelance work for he was moving. They presented him with a lucrative contract, which he promptly signed. Suddenly, I had a decision to make. I had not yet secured a job in Toronto and so didn't have an apartment either. Without J., should I stay or should I go?

I thought about the lack of opportunity in my field and how I'd have to ditch my recent schooling and start a new career if I stayed. The choice was clear => I went.

I didn't know how I was going to do it, I just knew I had to do it. For the first time in my life I operated from the stance of assurance, rather than from fear I would fail. Over the next 7 months, places to stay, jobs and apartments all fell into place at exactly (and not a second too soon) the moment I needed. Chance encounters ensured jobs; conversations with strangers created places to stay. It was one of the weirdest, scariest, most beautiful time of my life. And one of the most difficult.
It changed my outlook.

This happened long before the book/movie, "The Secret" came out, with all its talk about the Law of Attraction. If I had not already experienced it, I would have attributed that "Law" to a lot of hooey, but I am here to tell you, life is abundant and there is more than enough to go around. Believe it. Receive it. Achieve it.... Just do it.

Make your optimism come true.
~Author Unknown

Whether you think you can or think you can't - you are right.
~Henry Ford

Sunday, April 27, 2008

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - Things that frighten me!


I'm pretty easy-going I'm told, but quite a few things make me JUMPY. Mommy has to do a lot of things when I'm sleeping. When she wants to vacuum, she has to send me out of the house with Daddy. I love it because Daddy takes me to McDonald's (for fries), enroute to picking up groceries. Except for turning around to say, "More French Fries!!!", Daddy never hears a peep out of me the whole shopping trip. Here are some things to skip doing when I'm in sight:

1. Don't even think about starting a vacuum within earshot, not even a hand vac.
2. Espresso machine in the kitchen
3. Blenders and food processors
4. Cars starting their engines near me when I'm walking outside
5. Cars driving on the road near me - I cling to Mommy's legs
6. Doorbell ringing
7. Someone knocking suddenly at the front door
8. Any sudden noises
9. Steamer (clothing)
10. Iron, especially when it steams
11. Any pots steaming (Mommy says this is a good thing I'm afraid of hot, steamy things)
12. Electric sweeper (sometimes)
13. Laundry room when the washer or dryer is working
14. The indoor grill
15. The roasting pan
16. The griddle
17. Coffee grinders at the grocery store

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spider Woman - Goddess, Protector, Creator

Spider Woman,
Athena, Arachne,
Holda, Maya, Norswan

Concrete manisfestation
sends ripple upon ripple
forcing life into being

build your string
of connections
expand your web
of relationships
you spinner of magic
you protector of unborn children

create life
create abundance

dive into the pool

© Susan E. James

Update on Torran

Torran's septic work up results came back negative, meaning he has no infection. After this past week, and a number of techniques / choices by his parents and the medical team, Torran has recovered his strength. His hydrocephalus is increasing, however, along with his head circumference. For more info, click on the link to his blog on the upper right side bar to this page.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chiropractic Team With A Heart

Life is the sum of all your choices.
~Albert Camus

This quotation strikes home for me. Where I am today is completely due to the choices I have made. I cannot point the finger and say it's because of this circumstance or that person. It is due to every choice I have made up until today. I own up to this. It's not good or bad; this is simply the way it is.

When every parent has a child, their lives are changed forever more. No question. When every parent of a premature baby delivers that child, or children, this *reality* is true 100 times more. Ask any parent of a preemie and they will tell you 10 gut-wrenching choices they had to make every day that child was in NICU and then when he or she or they came home, that number of choices did not diminish.

One choice we made (and not every parent of a preemie chooses this, but we did in our circumstances) was not to put Isla into daycare when she came home. She was in hospital so long due to the condition of her lungs. We didn't want to mess with that, and both of us were self-employed so that made it easier to arrange in the short term. We knew at the time that this was going to cause financial stress for us. And it has. And if we had to do it all over again, we would make the same choice again.

In the latter months, we have had to make some tough financial choices in various areas of our life. One such choice is to moderate the level of chiropractic care we receive. Thankfully, I get some coverage for Jacques and I through my union benefits but it does not cover what the 3 of us require on an annual basis especially since sixteen years ago, I was in a car accident and have ongoing upper back and neck pain that needs to be managed regularly.

So, we made the decision to drastically reduce the amount of care we would receive. I had a long, heart to heart conversation with my chiropractor, who offered to extend to us, due to our circumstances and all that we have gone through these past 3 years, a very generous arrangement which would ensure we didn't have to slow down our care.

Dr. Barb told her assistant, Leslie, about the arrangement in advance of our next visit. Leslie, in turn, had a brainstorm. She came up with the idea for an event, to hold in-house, to raise funds for our care. With Dr. Barb's approval, we are moving ahead with it. I cannot tell you how deeply we are touched by this gesture. It goes beyond Leslie's job description and also beyond Dr. Barb's duty as our chiropractor. This is a miracle I didn't expect (see my April 17 posting about Miracles below)!!!!

Here's the info from their flyer (and if you have any books you'd like to donate, the contact info is posted below):

Any Bookworm’s out there with a Big Heart?

Are you looking to increase your personal

library for a Great Cause?

Book Sale and Fundraiser!

Dr Barb will be opening her personal collection

June 2nd -6th, 2008

Bring, friends, family and anyone who loves to read.

All Proceeds made will be given to one of our very special patients and her family:

Isla Lauzon was born prematurely with an emergency c-section and has more medical tests at 2 years old then most of us have ever had! Her family has been amazing and she is a wonderful girl. Let’s help this extraordinary family with their care here in the office.

If you have a book you would like to donate, call:

(416) 944 1600
or drop off at: 43 Alvin Avenue, Toronto

(St. Clair and Yonge area)



Ever try malt vinegar and lemon juice together? I like the taste of any kind of vinegar and I like the taste of lemon juice. Today, Mommy gave me two tiny cups - one with a TBSP of malt vinegar and one with a TBSP of lemon juice.

I mixed them together and took a sip.

I shuddered a bit, then laughed.

And then, of course, I drank some more and laughed my head off all over again!!!

mmm, mmm Dhud (Good) !!!!

Love Isla

Monday, April 21, 2008

Isla's corrected birthday!

Two years ago today is when Isla was due to be born... not in January, as it happened. Time flies. Adversity settles down to a dull roar and then skulks away to hide. We have a "bumper crop" of friends undergoing difficult times right now. Here are some words of wisdom for them:

Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.
Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.

~Author Unknown

My joy was skipping
Around our love
It tripped.
~Valentine Sterling

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.
~William Shakespeare, Othello

You can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far.
~Uncle Remus

The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases
is that there are physicians for the body
and physicians for the soul,
although the two cannot be separated.


To array a man's will against his sickness
is the supreme art of medicine.
~Henry Ward Beecher

There is no curing a sick man
who believes himself to be in health.
~Henri Amiel

The definition of martyr:
a person who sacrifices something of great value
and especially life itself for the sake of a principle;
affliction; torture;

If you're going through hell, keep going.
~Winston Churchill

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Chronicles of Isla - Foods I Like!

I'm 27 months on April 21 - my 2 years (corrected) birthday. This is what I like to et (eat)!

apricots - both dried and fresh
BBQ chicken wings - spicy ones from Longos
blueberries - love it
broccoli - used to love it; taking a break right now
cheerios - esp with fruit
cheese - Mommy and Daddy can't let me eat it right now
chicken - at long last, eat 50% of time
chocolate - I learned chocolate really fast
coffee and tea - I try to sneak Mommy's from her; it's dhud (good)
cookies - aka dooky (Mommy gives me more than Daddy likes)
cream cheese
cranberries - snack on dried berries daily - "have it!" (I want it)
dill pickle - not kidding! love it!
dragonfruit - mmmmm, mmmmm ... gobble it up faster than mango
fish - all kinds
eggs - it took a while. now it's "more egg, more egg!"
egg noodles = pasta
goldfish crackers - dietician says I can eat as many as i like!
grapefruit - I eat 2/3 of one by myself. I eat inside out like Grandpa!
grapes - aka beeps
habanero BBQ sauce - Mommy and Daddy are banjo eyed when I keep asking for dabs!
ham - sometimes
hamburgers - sometimes
hot chocolate - Mommy makes it with cream
hot cross buns
hummous - can never get enough; the staff at Triluxe was amazed!
ice cream - I get the edible oil version when Daddy and I go to mall
jam - NO peanut butter thanks!
ketchup - great on everything, even dill pickles
lemon water - the way Mommy drinks it
mango - another favourite
maple syrup
milk - but can't have it
oatmeal - has to be steelcut oatmeal. love it with raisins
olives - no kidding, keep coming back
parmesan - but not supposed to have it
pasta - any kind, cooked any way
pear - mmmmm, pear!
pizza - sorta
plantain - Mommy fries it and drizzles it with honey
potatoes - esp. french fries with or without ketchup
pot stickers - asian dumplings (with soy)
raisins - esp in my steelcut oatmeal
red pepper - sometimes when it's grilled
rice - brown, sushi, basmati ... all kinds
salsa - mild
sausage - sometimes, but don't give me a hot dog. ick! i'll starve first
soy milk - again, too much calcium for me!
sushi - I can only eat it with vegetables in it, no seafood yet!
sweet potato
Tater Tots - does that count as food?
tea biscuits
tortilla chips - whole grain
vinegar - I like licking it up
yoo-durt, er, yoghurt

Food That's Verboten (not allowed right now) because I still have high calcium in my blood:
- Dairy, my favourite food group! No cheese, yoghurt, milk, soy milk... no broccoli, oranges, ice cream, reduced amount of peas.

Mommy has to add cream instead of milk to my food and I can eat all the cream cheese I like.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


You don't need an explanation for everything. In fact, there are some events for which there is simply no explanation.

In today's world of sophisticated technology, advanced medical procedures and quantum physics, we take it for granted that we know almost everything. But we don't. Just the definition of quantum physics (in particular, the many-worlds theory) is a humbling enough experience and makes one realize how much there is to learn.

It also makes you realize that quantum physics is indistinguishable from magic, from miracles, from the Borg or the brotherhood of man. The microscopic particles in the dust at your feet, the solar system and each one of us are one. We are all connected.

You may wonder the reason for this rant? Well, the latest miracle, of course. Baby Torran has evaded surgery for his PDA. If a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) is small, sometimes it can close on its own. Typically, a premature baby needs medicine or, if it's really big, surgery to stitch it shut. In some cases, the surgery is more invasive (as Torran was being prepared for and his rib cage would have had to be cut open) - as in traditional heart surgery.

And Torran had a really big PDA. 4mm. The same width as his aorta. He was being prepared for surgery. The consent forms had been signed. They did one last test and..... and it had closed to 1.7mm. PDA's that size don't normally close on their own. Rarely. Less than rarely, in fact.

There is no reason that can be given by the specialists at Sick Kids for this miracle.

I personally believe that prayer, positive thinking, lighting candles... all these focused activities tap into our collective spiritual self. Whenever I heard people talking about "the brotherhood of man" and how we are all one, that concept left me cold. I didn't get it. I don't really follow science fiction and I'm not a Star Trek junkie, but when the Borg was introduced as a character on that tv series, suddenly it clicked for me. It was something I could conceive - not understand how it works, mind you. I don't understand how my microwave works, but I use it every day. And perhaps because I don't understand how people can be connected, how people can see visions of loved ones just before they die, is why I can have this opinion. Again, quantum physics is coming back here - this time, the Copenhagen interpretation - mixed with spirituality. Both science and spirit are inter-related, not separate subjects, as modern man believes. The Renaissance Man had it right.

All this discussion of a collective soul leaves out the issue of God, or Goddess, or.... well, let's stop there - shall we?

No matter what your belief system, even if you have no spiritual faith, an extensive study done in the late 90's shows that people who are prayed for have less pain, heal faster, and better than those who are not prayed for -- even when the person didn't know they were being prayed for.... even when the subject had no spiritual belief. What is the reason? Who knows... I have my opinion. You don't have to agree with me. Just rack it up.... to a miracle.

If you can believe it, you can conceive it and you can create it. Belief is 95% of the way to accomplishing a miracle. Just like in Saint Ralph, the film I'm most proud to have worked on, by the way.

Now, back to wee Torran. He has escaped, temporarily at least, surgery on his PDA, but is facing brain surgery the high risk of needing it done soon. He has hydrocephalus and will need a shunt to correct it... if it progresses any further. The growth of his head circumference has either stopped or slowed and so far tests show there is no pressure being put on his brain. The pressure would cause brain damage. There is a remote possibility that he could have a spontaneous recovery. Anyone up for a little prayer? I'm sounding a little light-hearted here, because I'm so darned thrilled he has evaded surgery for the moment. But I'm serious about the request for prayer. Truly, Torran and his parents could use your help. See the link on this site to read up about him.

They believe in the same saints you do... in prayer... what they call spells you call miracles... they have priests...
~ Dr. Temperance Brennan, in "Bones"", 2005 (The Man in the Morgue - 1.19)

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but contrary to what we know about nature.
~ Saint Augustine

The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.
~ Pablo Casals

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Fall down seven times. Stand up eight. ~ Japanese proverb

One of the defining moments in my life was when I realized, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” In October of my final year of high school, a number of us caught mononucleosis from a schoolmate at a party. I went down for the count. From October through to February, I didn’t attend a single class. Until then, just copying out a few notes tired me out so much, I had to nap for 3 hours to recuperate. Just having the lights on exhausted me. Never had any illness slain me this way. Finally, sometime in March, I started to struggle back to school on a very part-time basis and tried to keep up. One teacher would not cut my any slack, and I had to have his assignments in on time and write his tests along with my classmates. For the rest of my classes, I was about 2 weeks behind my deadlines. It suddenly dawned on me that I might not complete my year, that I may have to repeat this last year all over again. The rest of my friends would go onto university without me, and I’d be stuck in high school one more year.

For the first time of my life, I was motivated. For some reason, this struck fear into my heart. Perhaps the fact that over the years, my father, in frustration and running out of inspiration about how to motivate me to study and complete what projects I had started, would ask, “do you want to fail a year and see your friends pass you by?” Nothing before had lit a fire under me the way this situation did. I had cruised through all my schooling with sporadic, undisciplined stabs at studying; I had treated figure skating tests and competitions as playtime, not the least bit concerned about whether I succeeded; I had goofed off instead of practicing piano and working towards my music exams. All in all, I had led a pretty laid back life, unconcerned about which direction I was drifting. I was not the image of a winner.

Suddenly, I did a 180 degree turn. ON A DIME. Despite my fatigue, I stayed up night after night, working through the wee hours to get through my studies, to catch up, to pass. I’m not sure whether it was part of the process of healing or the long hours that made me even sicker. I hung on. It was agonizing. I wasn’t sure whether the fatigue from the mono or from my new self-imposed schedule was worse. All I saw was a looming deadline and not enough time or energy to absorb my work and churn out the necessary tests or essays. My boyfriend didn’t quite understand: at first I had been too sick to see him at all and now I was too crazed to spend any time with him. I was determined to make it through to graduation. And I did. After having missed over 50% of my classes, I went from cruising along with an unremarkable 60% average to graduating with straight A’s and zooming into university. I did better than most of my fellow students who had attended class the entire year.

This was an epiphany in my life, on many levels. The first is: don’t quit. Don’t ever give up. When you think you cannot make it to the end of the marathon, squelch that thought and keep going. Focus on nothing more than putting one foot in front of the other. The second is: your past performance is not a death sentence. Begin where you are and work steadily at your goal. And the third lesson is: you will fall down in life. When you do, pick yourself up and continue. Everyone fails somewhere, somehow. Look at Edison: he tried 1000’s of ways to make the light bulb. If he had given up after one attempt, or even 500, it would have been a lot longer before the modern era had artificial light. Look at Abraham Lincoln: he was born into humble circumstances and he had to struggle for many years to earn a living and to learn to read, write and do basic math. Yet, he was determined to surpass these obstacles. Not only did he become President of the United States, he is considered a founding father of the US, and his image is on their legal tender.

Just like in boxing, stumbling or falling down is not failure. Staying down is. It’s your persistence, your constant and determined effort that breaks down hurdles and leads to success.

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

Consider the postage stamp:
its usefulness consists in the ability
to stick to one thing till it gets there.
~Josh Billings

Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.
~Author Unknown

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.
~Author Unknown

He conquers who endures.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Power of Acceptance

It just so happens that I'm currently in a perfect storm: quite a number of my family, friends and associates are going through the greatest challenges of their lives. They are living in their darkest moment of fear and despair. When bad things happen to good people (the title of a book, by the way), how do you reconcile it? It's one thing to inventory your own past actions and decisions, to see and accept responsibility for how you have created your current reality, but what about those times when true, gut-wrenching tragedy hits - the kind that makes no sense in this world? While I believe we attract certain events to us, in some cases, that is too easy an answer. Sometimes, things just happen. What is important, what is our true test, however, is how we react to that event or information. That is where we have an opportunity to grow. There are two characters in Chinese which stand for the word 'crisis'. One character means 'danger' and the other means 'opportunity'. Perhaps this is where the answer lies.

If we look within ourselves and within our communities, we may see what opportunities there are for us to grow out of this adversity. If that's not possible, and the issues are solely internal, it's tougher. The trick is to learn to accept where we are now and what's happening. When we stop fighting the situation, and align our energies with it, we move towards resolution in our hearts and towards sorting out the remaining issues. Acceptance slays anger, and frees you up emotionally and psychologically to step forward.

On a personal note, this is an area under construction for me. I like to be in control of my life, the captain of my ship. Accepting life is not one of my strengths, because I believe we are responsible for creating our own destiny. I'm all Yang and not enough Yin. BUT, I'm learning the power of acceptance, of working with the flow and not against the tide. And I'm rooting for all of you in the same boat.


Sometimes what seems like surrender isn't surrender at all. It's about what's going on in our hearts. About seeing clearly the way life is and accepting it and being true to it, whatever the pain, because the pain of not being true to it is far, far greater.
-- Nicholas Evans

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable,
but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
~Agatha Christie

Thorns and stings
And those such things
Just make stronger
Our angel wings.
~ Emme Woodhulle-Bache

The darkest hour has only sixty minutes.
~ Morris Mandel