healthcare.

I’m guessing most everyone reading this post has access to healthcare for yourselves and your families, as I do. I know that for myself, having lived with this amazing benefit all my life, it can be easy to take it for granted at times.

aditya-romansa-5zp0jym2w9M-unsplash
aditya-romansa-5zp0jym2w9M-unsplash

I was rudely awoken from my pleasant complacency a few years ago when we took a family road trip down to Arizona to spend a Christmas with extended family. I’m embarrassed to admit that it didn’t even cross my mind to purchase travel health insurance before we left.

On Christmas Day I had to leave a house full of loving relatives and go find the nearest emergency room due to very scary uterine bleeding. The hospital was beautiful; new and gleaming, and the care was unbelievably good. Within a couple hours I was tested, temporarily ‘fixed up’, and walking out the doors with printed pages in hand, detailing my diagnosis of submucosal uterine fibroids. (Evidently, this is the wrong kind to have; I don’t recommend it.) All the testing had been done right there, without any delays.

Then we came home to Alberta, Canada; where we have a universal, publicly funded healthcare system. Not so gleaming, and not so fast. But I was referred (relatively quickly) to a specialist, who performed an open-abdominal hysterectomy on me within a few months. She told me afterward that it was a good thing I’d had the surgery, as it had really needed to be done. Phew!

owen-beard-DK8jXx1B-1c-unsplash
owen-beard-DK8jXx1B-1c-unsplash

That spring, while waiting for my surgery date, I received a terrifying piece of mail. It was an envelope full of bills amounting to about $12000 for my two hours of treatment in the American hospital. Our extended health insurance (through my husband’s work as a public school teacher) thankfully paid it, so my dreadful feelings of impending doom didn’t last for long.

But my heart goes out to the billions of people in our big old world who don’t have healthcare insurance. Those for whom medical bills spell financial ruin. And those who can’t even access needed medical care in the first place because it simply isn’t available.

Here are some sobering articles that make me appreciate just how good we have it:

Half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services…

and…

World Bank and WHO: Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses.

 

Thinking of this doesn’t  just make me grateful I can go to the doctor, get medical testing done, and receive necessary medications (as much as I don’t like taking them)…

I makes me want to help. To support humanitarian organizations who will put people in touch with healthcare.

Here’s a link, in case I’m not the only one who wants to do something about this:

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.ca/

We are so blessed,

Leah 

 

mountains.

“The mountains are calling, and I must go…”

~John Muir~

What a way to spend a day! I love the mountains

IMG_0175
~me with my baby sis on Yamnuska~

What is it about hiking in the mountains…? It just feels so good, even when it’s hard trekking uphill. I’m breathing hard, sweating hard, and have to take lots of little breaks along the way. In all honesty, the little moments when I pause to just breathe (read: catch my breath) and look around me might just be the best part.

I’ve never been athletic, and I’m not super fit, so I like going pretty slow and soaking in all the sights and sounds and smells of the mountains. Sometimes a brisk breeze refreshes me and keeps me cool, and then minutes later I’m between a rock face and some fir trees, feeling waves of heat wafting through the scented air.

IMG_0750

“Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.”

~John Muir~

One thing I notice when I’m hiking, especially on a mountain trail, is that I’m mindful of every step. I have to be; there are roots and stones and twists and turns all along the path. It’s the only way to stay vertical. And that’s a gift. Everyone’s heard of the health benefits of mindfulness, and taking a hike in the mountains is one of my favourite ways to enjoy a mindful walk.

I’m fairly sure that at least a part of my sense of euphoria while hiking comes from just being in the woods. Trees have been shown to emit a healing energy, as evidenced by the increasingly popular practice of forest-bathing. I realize the science is pretty compelling here, but with or without the proven metrics, I’m a believer.

IMG_0748

So blessed,

Leah

food.

We have enough to eat. Every single day.

65559AD3-D641-4038-8796-ACAD2131311C

Whether it’s a simple loaf of homemade sourdough bread or a delicious family dinner, we don’t face hunger we can’t solve. Not only do we have enough food to eat; we have variety, we have options. Our fridges, freezers, and pantries are so full that we have to be careful to use fresh spinach, frozen meat, and jars of olives before they sit too long and ‘go off’ or get freezer-burned (while we’re busy eating other food from our well-stocked kitchens).

It’s pretty easy for us to get ingredients or meals delivered, pick up our grocery orders at the store, or shop around supermarkets and farmers’ markets for everything we want and need- and then some. How many times have I gotten to the till with a full basket and had the cashier politely ask me if I found everything I was looking for today, only to respond sheepishly that I found plenty more than what I came in for. And I know I’m not alone.

On top of what we buy to eat, most of us can grow even more food. I grew up in the country with parents and grandparents who were avid gardeners. We all helped out with planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving vast quantities of vegetables and fruits- whether we felt so inclined- or not. It was ‘all-hands-on-deck’. And we raised our children the same way. We had some great times and some hefty harvests over the years. (Enormous zuchini, anyone?)

This spring we’re growing all the veggies we can, plus some herbs and strawberries, in garden boxes at our friends’ places and in containers on our apartment balcony. And thanks to COVID-19, lots more people in lots more places are growing their own food in 2020! Here’s a great news article I found about this ‘silver lining’ on the pandemic cloud.

IMG_9713 (1)
~buckwheat & berry muffins adapted from a favourite cookbook~

Not only do we have the means to buy and grow as much food as we can eat, but so many of us in our prosperous society find we can spend a small fortune on cookbooks, diet books (to advise us on various ways of not eating too much food), and dozens of helpful kitchen gadgets to make it more quick, easy, and fun to prepare our food!

We’re inundated with advice on how and why we should build healthy eating habits, as well as warnings about the negative functional impacts (on our energy, mood, and ability to learn, concentrate, and problem-solve creatively) of poor nutrition. All we have to do is follow through with our good intentions to eat well.

We don’t have to live with chronic hunger-induced brain fog, empty shelves and plates, or crying children whose hunger we can’t resolve. (click this link to see a compelling article from the World Food Program…)

“Every day too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 821 million people – one in nine – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night.”

There’s something most of us can do about this. We can find ways to share. And it starts with recognizing what we have and feeling gratitude for it…

So blessed,

Leah

apartment living.

I live in a high-rise apartment condo. There are 7 levels of parking under the building and 20 floors of homes. Between our tower and its twin is a great fitness club with a lovely salt-water pool, a hot tub, steam rooms, and a variety of workout spaces. We’re right down the hill from the city’s biggest university, and only a few minutes’ drive from downtown. There is lots of traffic on the road out front; part of the Trans-Canada Highway almost passes by our front door. And yet…

IMG_0772
me in my ‘backyard’ last summer

Out the back is a beautiful park with miles of lovely paths for walking, cycling, and even some hiking trails through a pretty Douglas Fir forest across the footbridge over the river.

Although we live almost in the centre of Calgary, we are so blessed because nature is readily accessible just outside our door. Last year on Canada Day (1 July) I was cycling just across the river from our home with my daughter; we were amazed to see a full-grown mama moose walk out a little way ahead of us! For real. She dawdled on the path for a moment before disappearing into the woods on the other side.

IMG_1032
me a bit downriver last summer

I’m sure there are hidden treasures of nature, small or large, to be discovered in most cities. It feeds my soul to be out there.

So blessed,

Leah 

end of migraine.

What a relief! I just recovered from a migraine that had kept me in bed since Sunday…

61161071571__F4462CDE-C9E4-44F4-AC9C-8352FD588FC4

This is me, feeling happy that I could half uncover that eye this afternoon, knowing the end was in sight. I get migraines pretty often. Well, very often. But I can catch most of them early with medication etcetera and don’t often get knocked down for days a time. But when I do, I hate it.

I know I’m blessed to have medicines and a supportive family, and a comfortable bed. I appreciate my earplugs and eye mask to block noise and light, and I’m grateful for my Cefaly. It gives me amazing relief during migraines. I alternate between that and ice packs for my head and neck, but my best relief during a migraine is sleep.

Then, it gradually fades away… often leaving my poor head feeling tender; even a bit bruised. But emotionally, I feel a sense of fragile euphoria. Being up, and especially outdoors feels almost too good to be true.

This evening I meandered slowly down to the river just outside with my dear husband. We just sat there together on the riverbank, soaking in the peace and beauty of the sun on the water. I felt like I could really relate to Mole, in Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale,  The Wind In The Willows. He was so relieved to go outside into the spring sunshine after being stuck inside in the dark for so long; so was I.

IMG_0090

“…tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

So blessed,

Leah