Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What if dreams came true?

I have a dream. It’s a wild one, but it just won’t leave me alone. I dream a community of healthy people. Not just healthy-heath-wise, but healthy-connected-wise. Connected … to our land, to our actions, to each other. I believe that the deeper the connection people have to their surroundings, the better they feel about themselves.

You see, I believe that when we become connected to our land, we begin to see it with new eyes…and ourselves with new eyes – we begin to believe in ourselves as caretakers. When that belief affects our behaviour, we’ve connected ourselves to our actions. We assume responsibility and accountability – which means we consider how our actions affect others. When we consider others, we forge a deeper connection with them.. the deeper connection we forge with others, the more our compassion grows. When our compassion grows, our heart grows with it and we develop a deeper sense of pride and belonging. We feel better about ourselves.

Footloose did that last year by bringing people together in outdoor fitness challenges designed to get them out of their homes and livingrooms into this beautiful countryside we call Albert County. It was designed to connect communities and open eyes to the strengths and the possibilities that come with good health and attitudes.

I’m excited because yesterday Rhonda and I attended a provincial health workshop where we had a chance to talk about Footloose and what it is doing for our community. We saw other communities and heard their stories of positive change as well. And we met an awesome group of teenagers who are passionate about changing their schoolmates’ views on health and fitness. They are bravely setting the new trendy behaviour in their school and around the province.

This is how it starts. A group of people united in a common cause; a common vision. Coming out of their shell, getting out and walking, caring about their health and home, sharing stories.

Last evening, as the sun started its decline, we took the Callie-dog out for a walk. And met a host of our neighbours…all out walking in ones and twos., enjoying the evening.

Everyone was happy to be outside – it’s warm, it’ spring...time for new life! The pond ice had begun to melt; birdsong echoed through the bare forest, the creek tumbled in a torrent of snowmelt. We found deer tracks in the mud at the side of the road. A flock of geese were honking in the field, a sure sign that soon, we'll be seeing the young goslings soon.

It was a perfect night for dreams.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What if people were more important than work?

Yesterday we visited a friend in the hospital. He is trying to stay ahead of the cancer that is eating his spine.

He doesn’t have any family handy and only a few friends, as he hasn’t lived here long. He’s a pretty interesting guy and a great talker, so we pulled up a couple chairs and just listened.

It was one of his ‘good days’, so he talked about his younger years and the lessons he learned – it was important for us to hear his stories. And I sensed it was important for him to share them. I feel like we know him much better now.

He’s dwelling in his past, but also contemplating his future. He talked about what he wants to do when he gets out of the hospital…how he dreams of lightening his load: selling his home and all the ‘stuff’ he’s collected, then moving to Newfoundland so he can sit on his girlfriend’s deck looking over the water. He’d like to row a dinghy on the pond and perhaps cast his fishing line down into the clear depths. He wants to relax in the warmth of her family and fill up on good Newfoundland home-cooking. “I love cod,” he says. He’s thinking about the things he's missed...the things he never took time for before…

His comments made me glad I was there to hear them. Value lessons come at the most unexpected moments. You see, I almost missed this one.

Earlier that morning, when my husband announced he was going to the hospital to visit, I was rather glad to have the house to myself.

I hadn’t done my income tax yet, my floors were covered with a week’s worth of dog hair and dirty pawprints, I had writing work to finish, a website to design…I really had a full weekend of work to be done. Then, as he stood at the door with his coat on, a small voice whispered that I should I go too. I sighed. I hate that small voice.

I knew I should go, but I really wanted to stay home to get caught up. I've just been so busy - I needed that time. Then I recalled a Bible verse I’d just read that morning: James 4:17 - ‘Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.’

I decided people are more important than work. And I came home a wiser person. I probably won't always make the best decisions...or I won't always do what I ought to...but choosing people over work yesterday means the next time I have to make a choice, I'll have a good reason to choose wisely. There might be another valuable lesson. And I still have a few weeks to do my income tax...and muddy dog prints are a sign of spring.

Who will be more important than your work this week?