Now what?

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

After partaking in such a life changing process, I’ve made the decision to continue to write letters of inspiration on a weekly basis.

I went into this exercise blinded to the impact my words of appreciation could have. The journey we call life is one that can easily become a routine existence devoid of meaning and purpose. Every time that I sat down to write a letter, I was forced to quiet my thoughts. I discovered the serenity found in moments of silence. The reflection that came about from these moments was not always positive or joyful. I was forced to look at the difficulties I had to face in my past, both physically and mentally. It is never easy and comfortable to consider your vulnerability. I realized that the saying “no man is an island” is the most accurate description of my ongoing daily experience. It was the support, care, encouragement and discipline received from these relationships that is responsible for my growth and success. I was almost at a loss for words when I realized I may not have ridden a bike, learned the importance of faith, gained the tools to deal with chronic pain or developed an unshakeable self-confidence without these various contributions to my life.

Another lesson learned was that there were no self-serving motivations behind the actions taken by my family members, friends, doctors, spiritual leader or educators. With no apparent tangible gain, each man and woman who received a letter of inspiration gave of their abilities to improve my lot. It is this desire to do “good” outside of extrinsic motivation that has challenged me to do the same for others as much as possible.

There are few points of interest that I wanted to discuss related to this blog:

1.       Did the recipients correspond back after receiving the letters?

I expected absolutely nothing from any of the people who I sent these letters of inspiration to. My goal was to bring a smile to their faces and remind them that they are making a difference in their work. Apparently, a smile was not enough from any of the groups who were part of the process.

Family

I came home to a number of gifts and a card of appreciation the week after sending out the letter to my parents.

Educators

Every single educator responded favourably to their letter. Two weeks were set aside for the educators. Two sent me kind “thank you” emails with words of encouragement for the future. Another took to Facebook to say “thank you” along with a message that was full of praise and appreciation for the letter. The last of the four educators didn’t necessarily give a formal response to the letter but her flood of tears during the final presentation along with her continual mentorship served as more than a “thank you.”

Doctors

I have not been in contact with any of the medical professionals beyond sending the letters a few weeks ago.  I’m content with the way I felt sending out the letters to know that something positive must have come from receiving them.

Spiritual Leader

Dr. Ralph Dartey of Transforming Life Center, Ottawa, sent me an email offering his appreciation for the letter. He made mention of the fact that he and his family were moved by it and he gave the honour to God for his impact on my life.

Friends  
Many of my friends came up to me and expressed their gratitude for the video I presented to them. My sister even informed me that it was mentioned in one of her classes at a later point. I am so humbled by the fact that it was able to light up their lives in however small of a manner that it did.

2.       Is my desire to complete this process rooted in a desire to truly express appreciation or receive attention and validation from those who I’ve interacted with in the past?

There was really no attention that could be gained from writing these letters. I was going to be exposing myself to loved ones, friends and professionals that I had encountered. As a man, it was fairly difficult to open up and spend time to formally communicate with people from the past and present with no gage as to how they would respond. I can only express appreciation because the alternative to their efforts would have left me in a weakened state where I would struggle to give back to Canadian society. Entering into full time adulthood, I had to do something to show some reciprocity. I could not enter into the workforce and new long term relationships without learning to be vulnerable and one hundred percent honest with myself and others. This exercise has challenged me to find ways to positively affect those I come into contact with daily-stranger or friend.

Below is a short poem penned to outline my thoughts on the journey that led to this blog and experience:

The Discovery

The tools are in place

A piece of a paper and a pen

A mind that is searching for some spark, some extra fuel

The subconscious and the conscious align

As I write down my thoughts line by line

Moments of joy, moments of pain

Times when i’m upset excited or simply entertained

You all played your roles with excellence you did

Led me from mediocrity to greatness continually

Never did I hear a murmur or complaint

Your inner strength propelled you to press on just for me

 Committed to goodness, progress and fun times

My life would go nowhere without your impact, providence divine

So as I express this here short poem

I declare and decree

YOU my friend are an inspiration

The process complete I release this piece of art

To show my discovery, the treasure found in life

The final letter?

Posted: March 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I attended my last official lecture for my Conflict Management and Mediation: Nonviolent Communication and Peace course. It was one of the most surreal, rewarding experiences I have been privileged to take part in. I felt as Rap artist Drake did when he recounted “I told my story and made history” on 2011′s hit song, Crew Love. After providing the images and background to each group that received a letter of inspiration, I made my final delivery: a letter to the B.A. Honours Communications Class of 2012.

Here is the clip for your viewing pleasure.

Be inspired and share your appreciation with all the amazing people in your life!

I can’t go into detail about what I’m about to do in the next post. That would spoil the surprise nobody likes a party pooper! All I can say is stay tuned ladies and gents:)

It’s safe to say that I haven’t kept to the apple formula for health so far in my adventure called life. From the very beginning, hospitals, doctors, specialists and physiotherapists have been part of my reality. I was born with a mild form of CP which is formally known as Cerebral Palsy. I’ve come to define CP as a charming personality but that’s a whole other post altogether. Cerebral Palsy affects the motor and gait functions in the cerebellum. This part of the brain controls one’s ability to balance as well as flexibility and mobility in various parts of the body depending on the severity of the damage. What this means for me is that I was honoured with a distinct walk and the ability to adjust to circumstances more readily than most people.

Between the thousands of hours of physiotherapy, a Botox operation to loosen muscles, a hamstring release surgery and rehab from a car accident in high school, I’ve come across a lot of medical professionals. This week I set my attention towards those whose work has had a lasting imprint on my life. Namely they are Dr. Sarah Burrow, Lindsay Bray, Dr. Allen Greenspoon, the staff of North Simcoe Physiotherapy and the staff of Ancaster Physiotherapy.

Dr. Allen Greenspoon has been my family doctor since I was a toddler. I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t the one we went to about colds, physio treatments and more recently pain medication. This man is a tireless worker and servant of the Hamilton-Wentworth region. Every time you walk into his office it is packed with patients from all over Ontario; he and his staff have been very warm and supportive for the years that my family has been part of their practice. He is always willing to lend a helping hand and he does it with a smile and ease despite how tired he may be. I’m hoping that I’m not the only one who takes out the time to show him some love for all that he does on a daily basis.

As I mentioned earlier, physiotherapy and treatments are part of my reality to maintain independence and deal with chronic pain throughout my body. In all lines of work there are those who complete a task for a paycheque and those who fulfill a vocation, a calling so to speak. I’m convinced that Lindsay Bray found her calling when she stumbled upon the career of Physiotherapist. This lady was so kind to me that it was almost embarassing. She came to visit me at school, home, provided me with so many exercises (that I slacked on “occasionally”) and did all that was in her power to help me find more strength and independence. She went as far as even taping my knees when an operation’s effects backfired. I feel that she was an angel put in my life during my childhood/early teen years to catapult me to greatness. It was an honour to know her and a pleasure sending forth her letter of appreciation.

Have you ever seen something happen that was so cool that you wanted that you needed to tell your friends about it? I felt that way about three things at 13: JLO, Xbox and surgery. My physiotherapist had met with my parents and I to inform us about an operation that she thought would make my life easier. I was very sceptical about the whole process because the last treatment I went through left me with continual pain and less strength than I had before it. My mind was made up about the matter then in walked the ray of sunshine named Dr. Burrow. She introduced herself as Sarah. I thought who is this tomboy and what does she want? “I want to help you and a hamstring release surgery will definitely do it” were her words. After leaving her office, I agreed to give these doctor folk another chance. In less than a week I was lying on a bed strapped with an anaesthetic mask about to be placed on my face. January 10th 2004 was the beginning of a new chapter for me. Family and friends were there to support me the whole way while Sarah’s work made every step I would take from that day forward that much easier. I owe a lot to this skilled artist with a scalpel and a mind of gold.

I’ve come to look at physiotherapy clinics as gyms with nicer trainers and more perks. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with amazing people in this area for my Cerebral Palsy related conditions. The stroke of luck happened to increase when I was left with ongoing shoulder back and neck pain from a car accident. I came into contact with Maggie and Jessica at Ancaster Physiotherapy, easily the friendliest in the business. Upon moving to Oshawa, the gem of North Simcoe Physiotherapy was made known to me. From the secretary Bev to the massage therapists Michelle and Brian to my physiotherapists/kinesiologists Melissa, Allison, Kieva and Azed, they have become a second family to me. I’ve left the clinic rejuvenated physically and mentally every time I’ve visited it. I offer many thanks to the staff members at both of these establishments.

This week’s batch of letters was probably the most introspective of all. You’re a champ for reading through this novel so here’s my gift to you:

ENJOY!!!

Samuel

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Over the last two weeks my life has been quite eventful. With the sudden passing of a loved one,  the resignation of a professor and the continual grind of balancing school with work, friends and family I’ve had very little time to sit and recount on my experiences. After devoting last week to finding some clarity within the haze of these issues, I came to a number of realizations.

Firstly, life is too short to be miserable and self-absorbed. Ultimately, it is the state of our relationships that define our level of joy and happiness. The healthier our dealings with others, the better our daily existence.

Secondly, NOTHING lasts forever; CHANGE is truly the only constant in life. In my personal opinion, the continual evolution of humanity does not really provide the room for concrete plans; our goal should be to do that which makes us feel fulfilled all the while aiming to improve the lot of our fellow men and women.

These letters have allowed me to consider the good things in my life in the midst of the immediate troubles that may arise from time to time. I know that regardless of a response from the parties receiving the letters, good is being accomplished on some level. That is reward enough for me.

Bob Marley’s words to Neville in 1973 summarize my new found life mantra: “I don’t plan life because when man plan, Jah wipeout.” Live in the moment, embrace today.

Samuel

 

Let it be known people…

Posted: March 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

I love women. They’re pretty, fun to spend time with and ten times more organized than I am. After more than almost 7500 days of life on earth I’ve come to embrace the scattered and sometimes spirited insights the Venusians provide.

Interestingly enough, the majority of my teachers since kindergarten have been members of the lovely female gender. A special thank you must be given for their love, support, and annoyance along the way. This week I had the chance to offer a letter of appreciation to two of them. Both of these women have dedicated their lives to inspiring others to achieving greatness. Who are these trailblazers? They go by the names of Sharon Lauricella and Tara Brabazon.

Sharon began teaching me in the Fall of 2008. I was a wide-eyed, arrogant kid out of Hamilton looking for a new experience. Her Developments in Human Communication course solidified my decision to remain a Communications major. With her gentle spirit and warm smile, Dr. Lauricella has been able to encourage excellence in my intellectual and creative writing. I’ve gained confidence in my written voice because of this little ray of sunshine from Boston. As I venture into the world, I will always be able to point back to the Lauricella touch on my life.

Have you ever met someone and felt an instant connection? That’s what happened when I came across the amazing Tara. I don’t know if it was the “hello handsome” in that Australian accent of hers or the sheer excitement she showed as she expounded on the Beatles. She stole a place in my heart. Over the last eight weeks, she has expanded on the foundation laid by Andrea Braithwaite. I have a new desire to lend my insight into the academic discourse on Hip Hop. I couldn’t be more grateful that she left her home to work with me and my fellow Comm kids. Her candid honesty is music to my ears now.

Merci beaucoup now and always.

-Samuel

The week of the educators

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Tuesdays are usually pretty thrilling for me. They start with a pitstop in Tara Brabazon’s Communication for Social Change and the rest is usually a breeze.

Today was different. My first duty outside of my humble abode was to send out two letters. As my title indicates, they were mailed to educators. Two men that I respect and appreciate for their eccentricity; I’ve come to deem it as originality. Anthony Chan was one of my personal favourites during my study at UOIT. He was well travelled, quite philosophical and he embodied a laid back persona. Those three qualities drew me towards his courses. I truly came to value the concept of group work under his tutelage. I produced and acted in my first film, made a film series with a bunch of great friends, learned about Peter Senge and even got to hear about the toils of Journalism, Public Relations and Writing in his courses. What better way to say thank you to such a profound influence than through a letter?

Peter Chiaramonte entered my world in Third year. He was fearless, honest and emotionally charged. Talk about a wake up call to the realities of life! He taught me to express myself openly while providing the methods to effectively communicate with all-peers and authority figures. He encouraged our class to pursue knowledge in its wholeness taking into consideration the past, assessing the present state and anticipating the future. Although he and Chan are no longer faculty members at UOIT, I know that their impact will be felt in the lives of many at the establishment and beyond. 

These two are but a few of the male educators who have motivated and inspired excellence in me. Later this week I will be doing the same for some special ladies in my life. Only time will tell who will be getting the next two letters.

 

Samuel