Speak Easy

I just spent 20 minutes lying in bed with my son, K, as he tried to tell me everything he knows about birds. This is one of his recent obsessions, so he’s invested significant time into researching various types of birds and learning what differentiates them from each other. If I hadn’t wanted him to go to sleep, I could have stayed in his room and he would have kept talking for at least another hour.

Seven years ago, K could only say a few words. With his significant speech delay, we weren’t sure whether K would ever be able to communicate verbally with ease and complexity. After he was assessed by a speech pathologist, we started taking him to speech and language classes on a weekly basis. We also attended classes for parents to learn how to help him develop his expressive language skills. I’m not sure if it was because of these interventions or just the right amount of watching kids’ shows on Netflix, but K eventually started to connect more words together and gained the confidence he needed to speak clearly and appropriately.

These days, K has lots to say, especially if the subject matter is appealing to him. So if he wants to engage in an hour-long discussion about birds of prey, I will gladly participate, just as long as it doesn’t interfere too much with his bedtime. He’s a bit of a hawk when he doesn’t get enough sleep.

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Tears of Joy

Today I ran with R as she completed her first full marathon. It was rainy and cold at the beginning, but she kept to a steady pace and ran strong from beginning to end. There were a few rough patches in the middle, but she remained focused on meeting the challenge before her throughout the race. I did my best to keep her motivated and moving and it was a precious gift to share in this experience.

I was excited to see how happy she became in the final few kilometres of the race as she got closer to completing her goal. We crossed the finish line together holding hands and then separated briefly as we received our finishing medals from the volunteers. When I looked over at her again I saw that she was crying and then she hugged me tightly. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “Nothing. I’m just so happy that I actually did it after training so hard for this race.”

In addition to filling me with immense pride for R, today’s race has also left me wondering whether there is a goal in my life audacious enough that accomplishing it would elicit tears of joy. Perhaps I need some bigger dreams.

 

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Accompaniment 

I just arrived at a hotel where R and I are staying the night before her first marathon. Since I forgot my computer at home, I’m typing out today’s post on my phone (and starting to regret my decision to blog every day for a year). 

Anyway, I’m reflecting on how proud I will be tomorrow as I witness R running just over 42 kilometres. A marathon is no easy feat, so completing this race will be a significant accomplishment which required many months of preparation. 

It’s a privilege to journey with others as they take on challenges or face adversity. Whether supporting a spouse, child, family member, co-worker, neighbour, or someone needing assistance in the community, it’s a humbling and precious experience to accompany people in the midst of their victories and losses and on the paths they take to get there. 

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Tighten

I’m currently in the Minneapolis airport on a layover while travelling from Indianapolis to Winnipeg. During my first flight I experienced what the pilot referred to as “extreme turbulence.” It’s not often that the flight attendants are instructed to remain buckled into their seats for the entire duration of the journey.

When the plane hit the worst of the turbulence, it rocked, rattled and shook for a prolonged period of time. The woman sitting next to me gripped her armrests tightly and her face turned pallid and tense. The other passengers were bobbing up and down in their seats and bumping into each other’s shoulders. This was the only time I’ve ever seen people en masse put down their phones and tablets voluntarily without being instructed to do so.

Then the voice of a flight attendant came through the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, tighten up those seat belts.” And so I did, and found that I immediately stopped flailing around so much in my seat. There was nothing I could do to change the turbulence, but I felt more secure and safe while I waited for the worst to pass.

Over the past few months I’ve often felt like I’m on a journey I can’t get off of and on a trajectory I can’t change. Today’s flight taught me that while I may feel powerless and vulnerable at times, it’s always possible to find security and safety even in the midst of extreme turbulence. I just need to remember what to tighten around me.

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