RESILIENCE – An evening by women for women @ The DANI Centre Toronto

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Hold the date: Monday, December 16, 2019 @730 pm

This promises to be a meaningful and memorable evening. Susie Sokol, co-founder of DANI (Developing and Nurturing Independence) is the visionary extra-ordinare for this upcoming community event; and Susie is indeed a wonderful role model for so many of us.

To learn more about DANI please visit https://dani-toronto.com/. Please join us for this inspiring evening honouring women who truly make our world a better place. This is a unique opportunity to be enlightened by and to celebrate the honourees as well as network with like-minded women. And of course uplifting music to spark our souls and delicious treats to satisfy our appetites.

Keynote Speaker: Mrs. Reva Judas www.nechamacomfort.org/about

Honourees: Mrs. Karen Goldenberg, Rebbetzin Goldie Plotkin and Mrs. Ruchama Uzan

Featuring Guela Women’s Choir

Kosher Reception by DANI Delights

Sponsored by GREAT GULF

Register online: dani-toronto.com/resilience

$36 – Full donation receipt

For more information and to purchase tickets please contact 905 889 3264 ext. 226

Sometimes the infographics say it best…a visual prompt to think about, or maybe to write about…

What a year it has been–for you, for me, and for all of us. This infographic (not my design) is a reminder for all of us: an essential prompt for how we may choose to live, or possibly, a prompt for our personal narrative writing. It’s time to start a new page. What’s on your next page?

Check back soon for more of my favourite visual — reflection / writing prompts. For example, I love this one: Pillars of Life Mind Map Template; it’s simple, creative and easily personalized.

In the meantime, let’s consider a goodbye letter to 2021. I think we can all find plenty of descriptive and exclamatory adjectives.

Cheers. L’ Chaim. To life.

Quarantine – more gift than burden Shani Brownstein

Editor’s Note:
Liz Pearl

Shani is my oldest friend. No, she’s not old per se; actually, we are the same age. We met in kindergarten and have shared many of life’s ups and down since then five decades ago. For most of our adult life we have not lived on the same continent, however we have managed to meet in-person annually in our shared hometown, or elsewhere. Of course, plenty of WhatsApp and snapchats in-between visits. Thank you Shani, for sharing your wisdom and positivity in these uncertain times. Looking forward to your next blogpost!

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Quarantine – more gift than burden
Shani Brownstein
Montreal, August 2020

“Quarantine” – I looked up the definition, as I am now in the midst of a 14-day quarantine, and I found numerous definitions, such as:
1:a period of 40 days
2:a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods designed to prevent the spread of disease or pests
3:a state of enforced isolation

Derived from the old French quarantaine (forty), from Latin quadraginta, etc., the word traces its origins to The Black Plague in the 14th century, when ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing. This practice, called quarantine, was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which means 40 days.

Ahhh the plague, yes… the modern-day version is called COVID19; at this point, we have all lived with it for months, as it has reached the four corners of our embattled earth. In this day and age of (the potential for) limitless international travel (up until this past February) many of us have found ourselves struggling with the concept of government imposed quarantines and extremely limited “safe” travel…myself included.

I have lived most of my adult life half way around the world from the city of my birth, to the place my mom still lives and ironically, my son has adopted as his new “hometown”. For decades, returning there has always been accessible, easy and frequent, until the dreaded virus struck and travel anywhere has become verboten.

Silver-linings of this unwelcome experience have taught me a lot about luck, gratitude, personal resilience and the incredible support of caring family and friends. Lessons worthy of journaling and sharing.

“Enforced isolation” — taking the positive spin
To say I have been fortunate is an understatement, something I do not take lightly. When I contacted friends telling them I was coming to Montreal and was required to quarantine, one actually came to my rescue, generously offering me his mom’s very comfortable home, which has a long, narrow balcony, AKA my new walking track. This beautiful apartment faces west offering me beautiful sunsets and awesome Instagram photo ops. I am out there much of the time enjoying the fresh air and view, oftentimes just breathing and feeling immense gratitude.

Food delivery, care packages and puzzles
I have been appreciative of caring friends and acquaintances who have kindly delivered fresh fruit, vegetables, all household essentials, and a devoted son, who supplied me with additional essentials, including: wine, coffee, limes and a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle which I promptly completed within 24 hours. Puzzles are a great leisure activity to keep our mind focused and engaged. I realize, I have all that I need materially and more to sustain me physically.

14 Days, Not 40
Lucky too, it’s just 14 days… although it sounds like a lot of time, somehow it is flying by! It is a terrible thing to wish precious time away, so I am taking full advantage of this “gift of time”. I have been exercising daily including walking (circles around the kitchen island or pacing the balcony to get my daily 10K steps), Facetime yoga with my cousin in France, Zoom Tai-Chi and YouTube killer workouts. I am a relatively productive person and I am certainly no stranger to routine. Typically, I benefit from structure and daily routines including, physical activity and healthy meals.  

I’m busy: catching up with friends and family daily, helping with online shopping for my son’s impending move, and cooking and baking up a storm have kept me occupied. I finished one book and am about to start another… and surprisingly, I haven’t had much time to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime, being busy as I am.

24/7 WIFI access to WhatsApp, Zoom and Google certainly provided for a smooth transition through jetlag and keeping me well connected throughout.

To sum it up, I would say, this unique experience provided me with an opportunity to be alone, yet not lonely. It has been a chance for introspection and meditation, and most important, reflection on resilience. If I had to do it all again, especially in these comfortable conditions, strange as it sounds, I would leap at the opportunity to get a chance to slow down when the world is moving so fast.

Next quarantine:
When I return to my country I will be required to Quarantine again. Now I have experience and confidence to face the 14 days and nights with gratitude and know first-hand there is in fact, a silver-lining to this destructive Pandemic.

Shani Brownstein is originally from Montreal, and has been living in Hong Kong for nearly three decades. She is an ICF Certified Transformational Coach as well as an active volunteer in her local Jewish community, including past-Chairwoman of Hong Kong Jewish Women’s Association. Shani enjoys hiking, travelling, baking and keeping in touch with her broad international network of family and friends. She is currently the Festival Producer of Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival.

Writing our stories – in the time of COVID. Liz Pearl @ PK Press

Writing our stories – in the time of COVID.
Liz Pearl @ PK Press

Almost a decade ago, I crossed paths with a wonderful woman – Bonnie Lawrence Shear. Bonnie and her adopted daughter Beth, co-authored a poignant narrative about the discovery of Beth’s biological mother, that had taken place many years prior. I found their co-authored narrative to be compelling, inspiring, heartwarming and heartbreaking – like Oprah-live material. Their deeply personal bittersweet story was co-written with integrity, authenticity, love and a touch of humour; my favourite genre written in my preferred style.

That captivating story was featured in Living LegaciesA Collection of Inspiring Personal Narratives by Canadian Jewish Women Volume VI (Liz Pearl, Editor @ PK Press) several years ago; and I have kept in touch, to some extent (mostly on social media), with all three of these dynamic Canadian Jewish women (Beth, her biological mother – Deborah, and her adoptive mother – Bonnie). In fact, Living LegaciesVolume V includes an intriguing personal narrative written by L. Deborah Sword titled: Lessons from the Conflict between My Heart and My Spirit. In yet another volume of Living Legacies, L. Deborah Sword and Beth Lawrence co-authored a touching narrative titled: The ebb and flow of Jewish Identity.

I am delighted to include these women and so many others in the Sisterhood of Living Legacies. The journey from one volume to the next has been serendipitous, and now the project is in mid-pivot, transitioning to new platforms.

After completing the publication that included Bonnie’s narrative, I thought I knew Bonnie relatively well, after all, her featured story was a pretty telling tale. I was wrong. Sometime later, Bonnie approached me with her robust file of personal stories, mostly about her family-of-origin, and growing-up in Foresthill in the 1940s and 50s. I quickly read through her anecdotes, descriptions and vignettes, (including family lore, secrets, and yes, some drama) and I was of course, hooked. Interesting characters, and universal experiences described from Bonnie’s very personal perspective in her distinct storytelling style.

For example, snippets about family winter vacations in Florida, recounting her grandparents’ stories of immigration, and childhood nostalgia re attending the annual Toronto Christmas Day Parade.

On the occasion of her 75th birthday (in 2016) Bonnie published a beautiful book containing more than twenty-five personal narratives, selected family photos and a collection of favourite family and friends’ traditional recipes. The one-of-a-kind memoir book is titled Dinner on Dunvegan – Memories and Recipes, and the cover of the book features a coloured photograph of the fine china dinnerware used in the formal dining-room on Dunvegan, back in the day. This classic image tells us so much about the bygone era and the nature of Bonnie’s early years.

The unique book is a meaningful keepsake for Bonnie and her entire extended network of family, friends and community members. No doubt, the creative process was a labour of love. The bustling book launch was a huge success; Bonnie was beaming, surrounded by Mel, her doting husband, proud children and step-children, adoring grandchildren and step-grandchildren, extended family, friends and more friends. And, all of the books were sold! With an additional shipment on order.

Bonnie has donated a portion of the revenue from the sales of the books to Baycrest Foundation – Centre for Geriatric Care, a longstanding leading Toronto Institution that has for decades, been near to Bonnie’s heart.

Throughout the process, I worked on the sidelines, coaching, guiding and supporting Bonnie as she composed the stories, and together with Roxana Parvu, her talented graphic designer we formed the content and format of the book. And along the way, I got to know Bonnie and her life story well indeed. The diverse stories span five generations, including her heritage and her incredible legacy. For me, that link is the most interesting piece. Bonnie and I both cherish traditions and wisdom gleaned from sharing family stories from generation to generation.

It was a joy acquiring a firsthand view of her relationships, milestones, highlights and lowlights. In time, I could see Bonnie’s world through her eyes. Her vast passion for family, food, travel, Israel, the arts, lifelong learning, her heritage and Judaism. As well, her humour, boundless energy, love of life, and many inspiring life choices. So much to write about.

Just in time for COVID 2020 — engaged in our work-from-home routines, Bonnie contacted me again. Five years had passed since the release of her first book and she was well on her way to drafting a new collection of insightful stories; this time with emphasis on her adult years, including, raising children, lots of fascinating travel, Jewish community initiatives, and of course more quirky characters. Of course, I was delighted to continue our partnership.

Bonnie’s second book is titled “Things I Forgot to Tell You” and is scheduled to be published to honour her eightieth birthday in February 2021. For Bonnie, 2020 has been a year of uncertainty, reflection, and lots of time for writing.

A milestone birthday is a terrific opportunity to indulge in writing your personal narrative, a collection of mini-memoir stories or perhaps your family story. The creative process is a gift to yourself and the published book will absolutely be treasured.

Sample stories from Bonnie’s second book include “Hineini” – a soul-searching reflection on identity and presence; “Ode to Schmaltz” – the connection between food, family and our memories; and “Oh the Places” – the wonder of travel. Also, Bonnie reveals a mixed-media artistic project she has directed at Baycrest — to be launched in 2021. And more classic mini-memoir stories that will resonate with many of us.

Our journey together has been creative, productive and rewarding. Bonnie and I  share family stories, old and new, some gossip, and we enjoy keeping each other up-to-date. The collaborative process yields great dividends.

Actually, during these past few months, many of us have hunkered down at our computers or notepads and done some serious reflection, introspection and writing. That is certainly one among a variety of possible silver-linings in the realm of creativity that have emerged in the time of COVID. Truly, its a great time to get started on writing those family stories that have been percolating for decades.

Everyone Has a Story. What’s Yours? Share Your Story—Leave a Legacy.

Ikigai – an ancient Japanese concept for all of us Liz Pearl, PK Press

Ikigai — is brilliant, relatively self-explanatory and relevant. I wish I could claim that I created either the concept or the diagram, but in fact, I did not. I’m a visual learner and I really like colourful geometric Venn diagrams; they seem to provide a wonderfully creative, descriptive and practical visual concept. A perflect blend of artistic and rational.

Colourful and artistic interpretation of the Ikigai diagram.

According to Wikipedia: Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”. The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.

Essentially, Ikigai is a philosophy that is clearly articulated, and a diagram that is easily understood; but in reality, it’s a purposeful way of life that is often illusive—challenging and complicated to achieve.

Recently, I learned that the Ikigai Venn diagram is actually a Westernized interpretation / version of the original Japanese concept. That makes sense. A rebirth of an ancient philosophy, with a digitally produced logo! We are living in the age of visual images and we see innovative infographics, memes, and multimedia stimuli emerging constantly.

There’s lots more to learn about the history, theory and application of Ikigai if you are so inclined. It’s an interesting multi-faceted research project, beyond the scope of this post.

The concept has been effectively implemented in therapy, counselling, coaching and transformative learning of all kinds, for decades. The confluence of variables produced by the 2020 pandemic has provided a gaping space for Ikigai to resurface, and so it has been popping up here and there on my social media feed.

Fundamental questions: What do you love? What are you good at? What can you do that you can be paid for? What can you do that the world needs? What is your central purpose?

These big questions nag at all of us. We listen to the murmur they create in our minds when we are faced with crises or confusion or perhaps at more welcome opportunities to refect and to muse. They appear in our personal journal writing and mysteriously in our dreams. Questions about our purpose, mission, livelihood, vocation, profession, ambition, career, passion etc. also seem to poke through the porous surface at times of transition — either personal, collective or universal. Now is that time.

Aren’t we are all trying to unlock our Ikigai? I think the desire to find our purpose and to live our best life is a universal human experience.

So here’s a lovely ancient concept and a contemporary diagram to contemplate: Ikigai. If it resonates, share it with friends, family, colleagues and clients. Print it and add it to your vision board or bulletin board. If it’s too confusing, upsetting or in any way triggering, just put it away for another day. If by chance you’re feeling inspired by it — poised to tackle the big questions, I’m sure you will be happy that you did. And if you find yourself perfectly positioned in the centre of the diagram then you are one of the lucky ones! IKIGAI is the new BINGO!

Warning: this is not a one day do-it-yourself project, this is a lifelong journey.

More Ikigai diagrams and a bestselling book.

Yoga in the Park Liz Pearl @ PK Press

Yoga in the Park
By Liz Pearl @ PK Press

Back in January 2019, I took a deep dive into some of my thoughts on Yoga, titled: New Year – New Chapter ‒ The Year of the Yogi?! I enjoyed the writing and rather appreciated my quasi foray into Yoga, but it didn’t last; I soon slipped back into my longstanding fitness habits: elliptical, walking, kickboxing, Pilates, stretching and more walking. Coffee, schmooze, repeat. I don’t need to be convinced—I know and honour all of Yoga’s core principles; I just need to do it. My daily news-feed is filled with awesome colourful Yoga‒inspirations. There just seems to always be one excuse or another around the corner…

Enter Covid and quarantine. Like so many others, I tried out many innovative Zoom classes including a few Yoga classes. Still, I wasn’t hooked. For me, the time arrived to step-out beyond Zoom and into the fresh air.

This week, I had a wonderful multi-purpose opportunity – Yoga in the Park.

We gathered in the shade of a neighbourhood park and lay down our mats physically-distanced from Marda and each other. Just enough space to safely call our own and hear Marda’s calming voice gently guiding our practice.

Breathe in, breathe out. Shhhhh…

It was refreshing to feel the morning summer breeze and warm sunshine greet our bodies. Surrounded by magnificent Maple trees, majestic Pine trees, and staccato chirping Bluebirds and Cardinals. The bright green Maple leaves and sturdy dark brown tree trunks provide the ultimate visual images. Yes, some tickling ants and buzzing flies too. A neighbourhood barking dog, and one (distracting) lawnmower in the distance! All of our senses are awakened.

The classic yoga stretches and poses seem so much more suited to the natural beauty of the outdoors; reaching to the sky, grounding in the solid earth and saluting the brilliant sunshine. I always feel compelled to strike a classic yoga pose when I am climbing a mountain, or stretching down by the riverside or strolling by the lake; it just seems natural. It’s incredible how we are rooted and yet we yearn for wings. It’s easier to focus our body and still our mind in an unspoiled inspiring setting. Aren’t we all searching for a magical landscape offering beauty, peace and quiet?

Our gracious facilitator and master guide for Yoga in the Park is Marda Sperber – an inspirational woman and well-trained Yogi; she brings her entire being to her eclectic practice. Marda has a superior knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and Chakra meditation.

Marda reminds us to constantly keep in touch with the rhythm of our breathing and our patterns of energy flow. We are each on our own journey; the instructor offers us navigation, techniques and wisdom.

ReflexEnergise – “Gently working on the whole person to balance energy in the body, mind and spirit.

FYI – Marda is also an enthusiastic instructor of Zumba and Ecstatic dance.

For more information including a list of all available services (now available on Zoom and in person) and the weekly schedule visit www.reflexenergise.com.

“I’m honoured and humbled to help guide, balance & energize you by listening to your body & heart’s messages to create your own personal healing path.

With love, compassion, energy & light, attracting all you need for your highest good for your personal journey. Guiding your inner light to connect with the best modality for you…. creating homeostasis, allowing the systems in your body to work together in balance, harmony and ease. Giving you tools to connect with your inner power, enabling you to shine bright from within and live life to its fullest!

Reiki, Meditation, Yoga & Life….. All a continuous practice.
I hope to never stop growing as I enjoy all that life has to offer!
May the Long Time Sun Shine upon you,
All love surrounds you. And the pure light within you, Guide your way on…”
Namaste – Marda

For more info contact Marda @ 416-697-3910 reflexenergise@gmail.com

I can’t promise that I will ever truly be hooked; but, I will certainly not dispose of my yoga mat. Shhhh….I think I hear the leaves on the trees blowing in the breeze and the singing birds calling me back to Yoga in the Park. It’s a sacred opportunity to slow down, breathe, connect with our internal and exterior worlds and energize. It’s all about the mind-body-soul connection.

Everyone is welcome good vibes only. Yoga in the Park is a delightful way to start our day in the summer of 2020 Covid stay-cations.

Namaste!

Please contact Liz @ liz_pearl@sympatico.ca if you are looking for support in writing your personal narrative or developing your legacy writing project. 

Everyone has a Story. What’s Yours? Share your Story; Leave a Legacy. —PK Press

Zoom – zoom By Linda Kislowicz

Editors Note:
By Liz Pearl

Linda and I have crossed paths many times in recent years; we share a hometown and many values. In fact, our families have known each other for over 60 years. We are connected through our dedication to DANI.

Linda wrote the dedication to Janis Roth z”l, our mutual friend and colleague, in a recent volume of Living Legacies – A Collection of Inspiring Personal Narratives by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women – Volume Vii (PK Press).

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It’s June 21, 2020. Father’s Day, 2020.

We just zoomed with our kids ‒ one family in Israel, one family in Calgary.

Two sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.

This is our new world in the pandemic – zoom, zoom, zoom…Thank goodness for this amazing technology so we can connect and see everyone.  We would be so sad and lonely without it.

Who would have imagined that we would still be living in Zoom land? We thought it was innovative to have a family Zoom Seder back in April. At the time, we were very excited by the novelty of having a Seder together with parts of our family who live all over the US and Canada and Israel.

But that was almost three months ago! And we continue to have Zoom dinners with friends and families.

We have come to realize that visits in person are a very long way off.  Air travel, airports, borders, hotels, restaurants – none feel adequately safe anymore, and the more we think about it, the more we understand that this situation is not going to change anytime soon.  Likely, it will be a long time until we can see our children and grandchildren in person.

You see – while we are active and healthy, and continue to be, this pandemic has defined us as old and vulnerable. Our children have become very concerned with our well-being and have been checking up on us daily. While we very much enjoy the love and attention, of course, we wish that we were not in this situation at all. It is the first time that we have become their cause of concern instead of the other way around.

I guess that transition was inevitable, eventually. However, the pandemic accelerated the normal trajectory of life. And while it is too early for my personal clock, like so many others, our daily life is dictated by the circumstances of the pandemic.

I am immensely proud of my children and their families. They have been extraordinarily resourceful.  And attentive to each other and to us.

From downloading exercise apps when they could not leave their homes to figuring out safe play-dates, to working from home while supervising and entertaining children, to totally changing their work environments and styles. Not easy! Each and every single family member has risen to the occasion and has shown the strength and creativity that it takes to navigate this challenging time. And to be perfectly candid, we have all had our moments of discouragement, but overall, the most prevailing feeling is gratitude.

And there is a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful that they have the inner strength to keep their families looking forward, to setting up a healthy structure and routine, to doing what they have to do to keep everyone safe and engaged. They are all adapting to the new normal in innovative ways.

I am thankful and I am proud.

When Israel was in total lockdown, my family in Israel planned the most inventive “camp style” Yom Ha’atzmaut program done in tandem with other families. The sight of my son Barry, 42 years old, singing “row-row your boat” in the bath tub as part of a relay race puts a big smile on my face when I think about it.

Or the opportunity to join a Zoom Music program for DANI – Developing and Nurturing Independence, an organization working with adults with special needs in Toronto, led by my son Howie, who also performed a pandemic concert fundraiser with his friend Shai and my grandson Gabe.  I am proud of my family who during a difficult time has the capacity and the sensitivity to think of others and to find a way to make others feel better.  My daughter- in-law asked us to contribute to a food bank in honour of her 40th birthday. What a considerate and thoughtful gesture.

So, when people ask me how we are doing, I have one answer.  We are all healthy.  No one is unemployed. That is not to be taken for granted.  On the whole fortunately, we are fine.

We miss our kids so much it hurts. We try not to think about how long it may take until we can travel and visit.

We are proud of them and their values and their resilience.  They have shown themselves to be the type of people that we not only love with all our heart, but also admire and respect.

We can’t wait for this pandemic to end or to be at least controlled enough to be able to travel freely.

Until then, we will remain connected via Zoom-zoom!

Linda (Kornbluth) Kislowicz is a semi-retired veteran Jewish communal professional leader who currently works as an independent consultant executive coach. She has worked locally, national and internationally helping families, organizations and communities. She lives in Toronto with her husband Joe. Lkislowicz@gmail.com

Please contact Liz @ liz_pearl@sympatico.ca if you are looking for support in writing your personal narrative or developing your legacy writing project. 

Everyone has a Story. What’s Yours? Share your Story; Leave a Legacy. —PK Press

My Philosophy of Coaching By Avrum Rosensweig

Editor’s Note:
Liz Pearl

Many of us have been watching from the sidelines i.e. social media etc., as Avrum has transitioned his career. He definitely wears his heart on his sleeve, and we love him for it. We were awed by Ve’ahavta and we have enjoyed his heartfelt and thought-provoking features in The CJN and most recently his in depth interviews / schmoozing available on his newest podcast platform – HatRadio. Avrum has been gradually reinventing himself with all of the traits we have come to know him for: compassion, passion, empathy, integrity, vision and insight, and his love of Judaism, humanity, storytelling and yes, schmoozing. Join me in wishing Avrum lots of success in his newest creative professional endeavour a lifetime in the making. Coaching: in search of meaning and purpose – I have nicknamed him The Purpose Doula. (My own professional moniker is Legacy Writing Doula.) Indeed, many of us are still searching for meaning and for our purpose – it’s a journey.

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“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl

Victor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist from.  Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who spent time in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and Turkheim. He held on through those dismal years with the hope he would be reunited with his wife whom he loved so dearly. She was unfortunately murdered by the Nazis. Similarly, Frankl wanted to resume his unique research into psychology and the behavior of personkind. Following the Holocaust, he did so. Again, his time in concentration camps were bearable because he had love and his career to look forward to.

Victor Frankl wrote, “those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” This quote is from his classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, considered to be one of the most popular books ever. Basically, Frankl was saying, one who has purpose and meaning in their life will discover a road to contentment. In fact, Frankl developed a form of therapy predicated on this belief which he called Logotherapy, meaning ‘healing through meaning’.  

Like Frankl’s perception, that meaning leads to healing, I have seen individuals blossom when they hit their stride and stood straight and tall with the knowledge, they were pursuing what is natural to them. It was then their growth seems almost unlimited so much so that they might stay up all night unaware of the time, frequently forgetting to eat.

When meaning comes into one’s life, our days are far too exciting to slow down and ‘waist’ with the mundane. 

This has been my own personal experience as well. When I first created a Jewish humanitarian, organization called Ve’ahavta I worked endlessly, striving to create a non-profit entity that would facilitate a better world. Colours were brighter. The air seemed fresher. I was in a constant state of awe and mostly excited about every moment.

To this end, my coaching is predicated on the pursuit of discovering with my clients what they are supposed to be doing in life; what makes them excited so much, so they simply do not want to sleep. We work together to rediscover the dreams they had when they were younger, or the goals people once set for themselves in the years when they were happier. We then bring them to the surface to act as motivators for their future, for their career.

Some people claim not to have had dreams or aspirations. Whether that is indeed the case, I believe at the core of every human being, at their essence, is a drive to accomplish something, a personal crusade. It is that place in one’s soul we will attempt to uncover and work with it to unearth fulfillment.  

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”  ― Viktor Frankl

Please contact Liz @ liz_pearl@sympatico.ca if you are looking for support in writing your personal narrative or developing your legacy writing project. 

Everyone has a Story. What’s Yours? Share your Story; Leave a Legacy. —PK Press

LTC and LGBTQ2S Seniors By Shoshana Pellman

Editors Note:
Liz Pearl

These past weeks have been very difficult for many people, on various fronts. Residents of LTC and other vulnerable and marginalized populations have lived with extraordinarily challenging circumstances. Shoshana Pellman is a proud advocate for these communities, providing a strong voice within her communities and beyond. She advocates for social justice, inclusion and diversity and equal rights. Thank you Shoshana for stepping-up during these unusual and confusing and troublesome times. Society needs more courageous advocates and wise ambassadors.

Shoshana Pellman is a previously featured author in Living Legacies – A Collection of Inspiring Personal Narratives by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women (PK Press).

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Folks…So here we are, in June 2020 with seniors still getting infected with Covid-19, becoming sick and some are dying in Long Term Care (LTC), while their loved ones cannot be there for them in person in any way because the health system hasn’t yet decided if wearing a mask provides adequate protection! Yet, for those travelling on public transit, apparently, a mask is sufficient!!?? WT€%~%£€…Where is the rationale and justice in these contradictory and ambiguous decisions.

That was a rant about loved ones who want to BUT aren’t allowed to visit or care for their aging family members, currently living in LTC. It’s heartbreaking.

The added burden on the front line staff care-providers is growing by the day. Typically, LTC facilities rely heavily on the support of family members and volunteers: currently not permitted entry.

I am a proud member of the LGBTQ2S communities, and like many other seniors, I worry about friends who are living in LTC and in the closet. Many of those in LTC don’t have family (children…) to advocate for them or just visit them, and so regretfully, they fall in between the cracks.

Covid-19 has opened a Pandora’s Box; it has shown us that there is much to be done to give a voice to residents in LTC who either cannot or are afraid to speak their truth. My parents are no longer living. However, I do have friends who have loved ones living in LTC and it’s enormously challenging for all those impacted. Advocacy is essential.

I am ready to march with them. Who will join me?

Letters to the authorities do not work because they cannot adequately give voice to the pain and agony experienced by many in these marginalized populations. It’s time to raise our voices. ASAP.

Shoshana Pellman, Toronto

Pause – Re-frame – Focus – Create By Liz Pearl

Certainly these past many pandemic weeks have given many of us a chance to slow down and pause. Look at the world around us, look at the people we live with, and last but not not least, look inside ourselves. The more we look, the more we value the opportunity to re-frame and refocus, ultimately, to allow us to create or recreate ‒ or in some small way, to possibly develop or evolve. Imagine the possibilities! The pandemic is chaotic, and at times overwhelming both physically and mentally, however, the time to pause and check our internal GPS including our productivity and potential creativity is welcome.

Transition and turmoil often yield human creativity.

Confession: I haven’t taken up a new language or martial arts. However, I do love to walk around my neighbourhood and explore GTA trails, and snap some pictures along the way to share with friends and family. I have continued this refreshing routine of walking and meandering, and have enjoyed the chance to re-frame and focus my iPhone lens to capture a few more photos of the natural seasonal beauty around us.

Neighbourhood
Front lawn

I’m a very visual person. Well, I guess kinesthetic also. For years, I have used visual prompts and multi media in my work in facilitating creative and expressive arts experiences with several populations. I appreciate a variety of traditional and contemporary visual media. More recently, I have been enjoying graffiti street / mural art and innovative sand art, and I have also discovered new styles of clever infographics. So many possibilities.

I don’t think I will purchase a fancy camera or Fuji zoom lens; I’m happy to keep my photos as a very simple and casual hobby. I am however, impressed and inspired by some friends that have taken this artistic activity and their aesthetic vision to the next level. I’m satisfied with sharing mine on Facebook and occasionally Instagram, and I really enjoy viewing others’ travel pictures in my feed.

Pre-pandemic I was fortunate to visit several countries with magnificent flora and fauna. In recent years, I have travelled to Thailand, South Africa and Madeira Island Portugal, and each of these awesome countries offered spectacular vistas and sights. I think those trips got me more excited about taking pictures. The African safari in Kruger National Park, visits to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Madeira Botanical Garden provided a feast for the senses. From time to time, I review the memorable photos from these trips, now organized into keepsake photo-books.

Madeira Portugal
Madeira Portugal

There is nothing quite like the beauty found in Subtropical, Savannah, Desert and the Rain-forest, and other unique bio-diverse regions. The natural beauty created by the oceans and mountains and land and sea, and of course, the wildlife is mesmerizing.

These days, my travels are very much local, and that’s okay because there is plenty of diversity and beauty to capture. Simple images can be recreated again and again, each time with a fresh perspective. Lots of sunshine (some rain) and of course vibrant colours and interesting textures. Here is a selection from the past few days. And I look forward to adding to this collection of photos…

There is always room to expand our imagination and creativity in new ways. We just need to change the angle or shift our lens and focus.

Please contact Liz @ liz_pearl@sympatico.ca if you are looking for support in writing your personal narrative or developing your legacy writing project.

Everyone has a Story. What’s Yours? Share your Story; Leave a Legacy. —PK Press

Wellness ‒Today and Everyday Liz Pearl @ PK Press

(Repost from 2019 ‒ as I reflect from home, upon my time @ Extendicare Bayview — Long Term Care.

NOTE: This synopsis has been prepared by the facilitator with input from the participants.

Fortunately, at Extendicare Bayview we have had an enthusiastic Wellness Discussion Group for many years. This is an ongoing weekly meeting facilitated by Liz Pearl and enjoyed by residents, as well as, from time to time, their accompanying family members. This interactive program includes variety of current published resources pertaining to wellness (we love the wellness wheels pictured below) as well as dynamic group dialogue in a supportive small group forum. The diverse group of Extendicare resident‒participants is encouraged to share their wisdom and varied experiences on a range of topics within the broader category of living a healthy lifestyle. That’s a wide umbrella with plenty of room for many subsidiary topics.

In the words of the participants, this peer support group is best described as: intriguing, stimulating, relevant, interesting, caring and supportive. The primary goals of the program are continuing education and personal development and of course, positive group interaction. It’s like a refresher course offered on a casual platform.

The Wellness Discussion Group covers a range of topics including (but not limited to): physical activity and exercise, nutrition and healthy eating, stress management and mental health, and effective communication. The particular topics selected are based on the foundational concepts of integrative and holistic health and wellness including: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We explore traditional and alternative wellness practices.

How to maximize our physical activity given our limited mobility and aches and pains. How to optimize our nutrition given the menu choices we are offered. How to get along with everyone given the inherent circumstances in LTC living.

When the WiFi in the room is good we check-in with Google every now and again to fact-check our knowledge and unanswered questions. Mostly, we share our own ideas, opinions. and experiences.

Most recently, we have been exploring creative techniques for memory enhancement and also sharing our inspiring personal narratives‒legacies. We indulge in our personal stories but do not pursue personal medical profiles. Our discussion constitutes relevant personal experiences that resonate with one another. We share our challenges and coping strategies. We express our gratitude and compassion for one another. Most definitely, we practice active-listening and respect diversity of points of view.

We look forward to welcoming innovative topics of discussion and new residents to our enlightened group ‒ in the pursuit of maintaining our common goal: continued wellness.

Often we end the meeting with a few moments of breathing and relaxation—essential components of wellness.

To learn more about this thought-provoking program contact Liz Pearl @ PK Press or Pat Butcher @ Extendicare Bayview.

Liz Pearl, M.Ed., is the Founder and Director of PK Press, a member of OAMHP formerly OACCPP and a blogger at WordPress: Pearls of Wisdom.  Liz has been a facilitator and educator at Extendicare Inc. for over 20 years.

Everyone has a Story. What’s Yours? Share your Story; Leave a Legacy. —PK Press