Thursday, January 20, 2011


Spent the early morning hours holding the hand of a dying man..third person dying on my third shift...and although a privilege of unspeakable terms, I know its time for a change... stay tuned!

Monday, January 17, 2011

3.5 years

I know this post isn't directly about Haiti but indirectly it is. You see the past year and the time I have spent there has opened my eyes to the fact that I am not living my life to the fullest and that is something that needs to change. I know a list may not ensure that I am living fully but it does provide this wayward soul with some direction.. so here goes..thanks in part to my time spent in Haiti and in part to the people I have met there and along the journey..

"It's time to take some risks, lise. Bold, calculated risks. The first step is knowing where you want to go. The second step is using your courage to put concrete goals into action. The universe is ready to help you out, but only if you set things in motion. Don't try to deny your fear; rather, take it by the hand and proceed on your adventure together. When you take action, you are welcoming your destiny."

I chuckled as I read this today..see I was working on a list, my 40 before inspired by many things/people but one that I know if I don't put down into writing will never happen, the things on the list that here I am I guess being bold, calling up courage and moving forward with my life...

The past 2 years have been amazing for me. I have run the gamet of emotions from utter bliss to complete despair. And I want to go there again and again because I now know what it feels to be alive as a result of taking chances, most especially with my heart..

I once told a friend that we all play a role in shaping our destinies, I still believe that to my core. Sure we can get caught up in the events of everyday life and before you know it years have passed and you are either still in the same place or worse, fallen into a life that upon further inspection is not the one you want at all...

So as to not let my life slip away into a place I don't like nor want to be in I am going to be bold.. and finally put down into writing the things I want to do over at least the next 3.5 years..I figure if they are down in writing I will have more accountability.

So here is my 40 before (gulp) 40! 3.5 years to the day to complete...

Find my passion..find my song and sing it..

1. Get/start my Masters in Nursing with a focus on... yet to be determined

2. Learn guitar or piano (seriously have you seen the length of my fingers)

3. pay off my credit card and line of credit (might be hard..see # 1,4,13,19,27..)

4. return to Haiti___ times

5. attend an outdoor concert at Red Rocks

6. Run a half marathon to raise funds for ____ (ideas welcome )

7. spend 3 months without television

8. spend 6 months eating vegan

9. grow a garden in the collective garden across the street

10. get Rose and grandma's home finally built

11. send Rose and John Lee to a good school

12. Donate another 5% of my income to charity (start Jan2012)

13. Visit the Outer Banks (Sherri up for a trip?)

14. Grow my hair to a length where I can get it into a ponytail!

15. Give up coffee for 6 months and use all the $ I save towards...maybe #13 or 16

16. Start my own non-profit (big one I know and not sure which direction but thinking..)

17. write in my journal at least once a week..

18. find a volunteer job I love and volunteer at least once a week

19. See David Gray at Wang Theater in Boston

20. Start to collect Air Miles (I know right? What the..?)

21. Go to NYC with Sherri and attend a conference..well maybe..the conference

22. Spend 3-6 months working in the States

23. Read all books unread in my house (not necess before buying new ones)

24. Along the same lines as #23.. use up all lip glosses currently in circulation

25. Cross country ski for a season.

26. Make a decision about Rose....(maybe should be #1 and then most of this list would change..not that bold yet...)

27. Take a class on glass blowing

28. Get a tattoo

29. Be a little more gentle on myself and those around me.

30. learn to mediate (might make 29 easier)

31. Spend more time with my family

32. reduce my footprint..recycle more, switch to paperless whenever possible

33. learn creole

34. learn to sew/take a class or have a friend teach me..any takers?

35. fall in love again (not sure there should be a time limit on this)

36. paint my condo

37. take every opportunity to travel and connect with people..explore and enjoy life, live in the now...

38. do one thing that scares me at least once a well as at least one act of random kindness a week (if not more often but its a start..)

39. take more pictures and put them in albums

40. Try and spend everyday working to make this world a better place even if its just in a small way; be grateful for all I have, know that I have enough even if its less then some it is so much more then others, appreciate my health, friends, family, security, warm beds, full cupboards and the ability to live this life to the fullest!

This list is by no means the only things I hope to do over the next 3.5 years nor is it in order and if you have anything to contribute please let me know. This is more for me then you guys (sorry) but feel free to keep me on track if you see me floundering!

"Time invested in improving ourselves cuts down on time wasted in disapproving of others"


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank You...

" Your life can be made better by the things that break your heart"

A year and one day ago I stood in the med room at work and a colleague of mine caught my eye. I didn't know Jessica very well, I actually had worked more with her sister Jericho then her, but on this day, my 4th of 4 12 hour days I couldn't help but wonder why Jessica kept looking at her phone. Now we are not allowed phones while on the floor at work for obvious reasons so I was intrigued as to why she would be breaking the rule. What was so important that she would risk discipline, she didn't strike me as a rule breaker. So when she came up to me asking me to please cover her patients because there was a call she had to take from Haiti things became more clear.

When working 4 12 hour days in a row, one (at least me) becomes mostly disconnected from the outside world...a bomb could go off outside my door and I would just be annoyed at having to walk over the rubble to get to my place..ok maybe its not that bad but pretty close. So that being said, I had vaguely heard of an earthquake occurring in Haiti the day before but too be honest I didn't pay much attention to the news of it the night before when I got home.

I, like many of you I am sure didn't even have Haiti on my radar...

I enquired of Jess when she returned from her phone call if everything was alright with her. She went on to explain that yes indeed there had been an earthquake and that over the years she had spent a significant amount of time there and she was trying to ascertain if all whom she knew were alright...she stated that she was going to try and get back down there as soon as she could but to do what, she wasn't sure...I felt my heart break for her that day and told her if there was anything I could do that she should let me please know...

and thus Haiti popped up on my map...

Many people count Jan 1st as the beginning of the new year (in the realm of christian worlds) and I am sure January 1st 2010, to me was also the start of the new year... looking back now I can honestly say that my year, and what an amazing one at that, started at the end of January when Jess went to Haiti and I found myself becoming wrapped up in a world of heartbreak, love, friendships, trials, victories like no other year before...

I wasn't in Haiti on Jan 12 2010..on that day I was at work having just returned from a trip to see a dear friend, my heart full and feeling like I was walking on clouds...

I wasn't there that day and in fact I have never been present to a catastrophic disaster so I cannot even begin to guess at what a person goes through in those situations. Tara Livesay, who was present in Port Au Prince along with her family on the day of the quake has written about it here and I encourage you to read her account as if gives an amazing first person perspective!

Although I only ventured into Haiti in March of 2010 all that I saw and experienced has changed me forever as a human being. The people I have met over the last year, Haitians and others alike have restored my faith in humanity..have shown me such great love and have been a true lesson in my life...

Jessica: you have brought me into your world and I have fallen so in love with the little Caribbean nation you love..thank you for having faith in me as a nurse and more importantly as a person.Your love for Haiti is infectious and I am so glad to have been infected...and no I'm not talking about the bumps on my face! Love ya!

Dr. Jen: you are an example of courage, grace and humility and I loved working for/with you. Your love for your patients big and small has shown me that no matter what we have to try because all too often we were are all that people gave and continue to give so selflessly. Thank you also for your faith in me and one day I will become that PEDS nurse extraordinaire... well maybe! Love you Jen!

Barbie: I know in you I have found a forever friend..a medical field soul mate if you will... you are smart, amazing and also so willing to give of yourself to others that you never cease to amaze me! I love you my friend and look forward to many years of hearing of your adventures and reading your fantastic words (oh and dodging bad, bad DVD's)

Brian: Thanks for being a rock through those hard days in Haiti... for allowing me to forgive myself when the words didn't come and for helping me find peace in knowing I had done all I could in some cases...

Beth: I'm not sure I can write this without crying but I will try... You are an example of love and compassion like I have never seen before. you are an inspiration to all those who meet you and that is evident by all the people who call you friend. Thank you for welcoming me into your lives and for loving me and Haiti so much... Thank you for all the pictures and news about my little Rose and for making me feel missed even before I leave each time! I love you!

Olez and Rose: my life will forever be changed because you walked into our little clinic and because someone, somewhere knew that our paths had to cross. I know in my heart that you are tired and I can't even begin to imagine the struggle that is everyday life for you..I love you both and I hope that the next few years will see life get easier for you...

John McHoul, Bill, Ryan, Crystal (JP), Bev, Chris, Tashi, Emman, Rosemon, Antionette, Marjorie, The Sarahs, Lori and Licia, Jess (RHFH), Johnna, Amy King, Little Paul, Leslie, and all those who I have met, not met, become friends with, laughed with, cried with over this past year I can't say enough too and about are all amazing and have shown me so much, taught me so much and I am such a better person for having had this experience with you all...

To the people of Haiti..thank you for making me a better person. I am so sorry for all your suffering..if there was a way to take it away I would..I do know that in suffering we experience growth and change...and god knows you have grown and changed so very much this year if we are to measure the suffering endured..
I have no idea what the future holds for you...I hope beyond hope that it is love, health, happiness and I hope in some small way I can be a part of it...

You have taught me so much about myself and life...

You will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes..let your broken hearts be open hearts...

" ..this place of hopelessness and fear is real, not a cute little allegory. Some people never leave that place and are broken on the rocks. Some people stop fighting and slip into the depths. We came to understand that, although we do not have control, we do have choice. God, or Spirit or Creator or Insert Name Here wants us to go down into the dark waters, but also wants us to come up to the light.God will not force us to do so. We are free. We are made so, and it is our great gift. We can chose darkness, fear, addiction and despair. We can choose light, hope, meaning and joy"
Elizabeth Lesser. Broken Open

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Today as I sat in one of my favorite coffee shops I heard on of the baristas speaking in French to an elderly lady. She helped the lady to her seat with her cookie and coffee and returned to work. A few minutes later I heard her say to her colleague "I like that you know what type of cookie my grandma likes." Now the initial interaction had warmed my heart (for those of you who know me well know I have a serious obsession for the senior population) but to hear that this women was in fact her grandmother and that she quite obviously comes to visit her grand-daughter often made me smile..It also made me think of my Nana and how much I miss her...My nana lived in Toronto so as to make work visits impossible but I know if she had lived here and given the opportunity she would have visited me often (probably when I was a waitress as I am not sure she would have found much enjoyment out of visiting me at a hospital!).

So as it sat I had grandma's on my mind tonight when I returned to my computer to find a message waiting for me from Beth at Heartline. For those of you who have read my blogs and who know me know that my Nana and Grampy raised me (into the little princess I can be at times..I totally blame them for that!) for a few years following the death of my mother. Now, my grandparents were definitely in the financial position to take me on but having just retired I am sure that the task of raising their 7 week old grand-daughter was a bit displacing for where they thought they would be at that period in their lives. But being the amazing people they were they took me on full force (and helped shape a fairly decent human-being if I do say so myself...). I am sure it was filled with many sleepless nights (something a 60+ retired person must have thought were behind them) but I also know that it was filled with many happy grandparents didn't get to have the bumper sticker that reads "we love our grandchildren, especially when they go home".. my home was theirs and as they told me in my adult life they would have never had it any other way... I miss them....

So this past March while working in Heartlines clinic I met Olez and had an instant connection with her... She is Rose's grandmother and her primary caregiver since her mothers death in the Earthquake... Olez is an amazing lady and the more I grow and learn in this life I am more and more convinced that the people in my life who have passed are responsib;e for placing certain people in my path (Margie :)) and Olez is definitely one of those people. For those of you who don't know the story of Rose and Olez you can read my blog post here:

On my last trip to Haiti I went to Rose and Olez's "home"..I put that into quotations because as with many Haitians "home" for them is a tent in a tent city on what feels like the outskirts of Port Au Prince. I have (thanks to all the wonderful people in my life) been able to fund raise over $3000 to build them a new house but land has been the issue and we have not been able to secure it or build them a house. I had been putting off going to their house because I doubted (and turns out rightfully so) that I would be able to deal with what I saw very well. In addition to Rose (who is now 1), Olez was caring for Roses 3 year old brother, her own 7 year old son who had severe epilepsy, her 9 year old son (who has asthma), her 26 yr old dtr lives with them, her 86 year old blind mother and her husband...

When my mom died my grandparents had 7 week old me to care for in a large house in the country with money saved for retirement...Olez has essentially 5 other people to care for while living in a tent and with no source of income...

In the earthquake Olez lost her daughter (Roses mother) she has lost 2 other children for various reasons over the past 2 years... in the email I received from Beth tonight I learned that another of her sons died on Monday. She had come to tell Beth and Sarah a friend visiting there told her that she is in my heart and this made this strong,stoic women cry...

The people of Haiti have suffered and lost more in the last year then any of us can imagine losing in a lifetime...but Olez has lost so so much and my heart breaks for the suffering this poor women has gone through ...and I will do what I can to help her and Rose because I know you brought her to my life for a reason Nana..

Not only in Haiti but all over the world mothers, grandmothers and women alike care for and keep the world running with little to no recoginition...hug your moms and grandmas..give thanks to the women of the world i know I will tonight...