June 20, 2019


Journal Entry #38

My tummy is rebelling today.

I’ve spent most of the day horizontal or on the toilet…again. My guts must be really damaged from the Miltefosine!  I am about 10 days on the other side of chemo and I was really hoping to be feeling better than I am by now.  I know I can’t rush this process of healing from the inside out, but I do hope that I get there soon.  I am diligently taking the supplements that Dr. Katrina has put me on, and I am keeping my foot elevated for several hours a day to help with the foot healing like Dr. Boggild instructed.

It is just so slow.

I don’t want to dwell on the unpleasantness of what I am going through tonight though.  Tonight, Big Hearts were at work again in our village and it is important that we recognize their gifts.

We were invited to join the Greenbank Lion’s Club for the Volunteer Appreciation Night at the Greenbank Hall as they wanted to formally present us with a cheque from the community fundraiser held last month to help with our medical expenses.  Although I have had a tough day, I donned a diaper and a cane to attend with my family. The Volunteer Appreciation Night is always a lovely recognition of integral members of our community that have dedicated themselves to selfless acts over the years to keep our town thriving.  Most of the awards presented are in the name of past pillars of our community that led by example of ultimate volunteerism. The Dot Hooker Youth Award went to Danica Mantifel (grade 7) who is helpful with all things Greenbank and is spreading her wings to help the larger world as she grows into an important leader with a big heart.  A well-deserved award – congratulations Danica!  The Lion of the Year Award was presented to Mindy Richardson, who has been a “superwoman” in Greenbank for many years now – she knows how to get things done, she always has a smile on her face and has a wonderful disposition so people love to work with her.  The Lion’s Club members were recognized for their long list of achievements and contributions to the community and beyond over the years.  In my lifetime, The Lion’s Club has been the heart of Greenbank and one of the main reasons our community thrives.

It was a complete surprise to be presented with the Annual Lloyd and Marion Lee Community Volunteer Award tonight.  Daphne prepared a heartfelt speech that made my heart sing.  It was a beautiful gesture, coupled with the cheque presentation rendered me speechless and teary.  Even as I write this, I don’t know that I can put all the emotions into words.  I was so blessed to be raised in Greenbank, to have been exposed to all the greats of our community who have made a difference in so many lives. To have my name on the plaque alongside legends of Greenbank, those that I admire and can only aspire to be like, is surreal.  Although I don’t live in Greenbank anymore, it is still my home and still my heart and always will be.  It is the kind of community where everyone is family, where we look out for each other and where love runs deep.  It is a village that is full of Big Hearts and good deeds.

It is an honor to be a part of this village.

As I sat there, in the room full of amazing people, all of who deserve an award for their work and efforts in our community, I couldn’t help but miss Dot.  She would have loved to see Danica get that award, she would have said “Way to go kiddo!” and then she would have hugged her in only the way that Dot could. She would have been so proud to see Daphne and Jenn and Mindy and all the other new members of the Lion’s Club and other volunteers that have come forward to fill in the large hole she left in our village when she died.  She would have been sitting there alongside Barb, Lila and Joanne clapping and acknowledging the work of the village. I know that she was there in Spirit with us all tonight, cheering on Greenbank and loving us all from the other side.

I was thankful that my children were able to witness the presentation, to see how important volunteering is and how much it is appreciated. To witness the impact of what Big Hearts can do when they come together.  And hopefully, they too will grow into leaders that want to help and inspire others in this world.

To the Lion’s Club, the Big Hearts and the volunteers that keep our communities thriving, I say thank you.  Not just for the recognition, but because without you, our village would be lost.  Without you, programs for our children would cease to exist, funding for youth, support for the underprivileged and the elderly would be left neglected.  And most importantly, the self-less example that you set for our children wouldn’t be modelled.  And that would be a travesty.  Please know that the good work you do in the world is being watched by Little Hearts that will one day take your place to be the Big Hearts of our community and our world.  And that is a beautiful thing.

On behalf of our family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

I also recognize that I have been experiencing fear this week. I have been afraid that I will let down the youth if I am not well enough to run the Annual Youth Canoe Trip this summer.  I have been afraid that I am going to have to let some commitments go, even though I love everything I do, I am not going to be able to jump back into life on full speed. I hate to disappoint people, to let them down.  And even though my brain tells me I can do it, my body is clearly resisting at this point. I am afraid that the longer I am down and out, the harder it will be to find a new normal.

But mostly, tonight, I am afraid of the expectations that I have for myself.

It isn’t like I sit around, thinking about what I expect of myself. I am naturally a goal setter.  A doer.  Right now, I expect that every day I give myself first and foremost the time and space that I need to get well again.  I feel most alive when I am in service of others, helping or assisting where I can and I expect that I will be able to do that again.  I know it won’t be tomorrow or the next day even though I would like it to be.  But I do expect to get there.  To live up to the award that I was granted tonight.  Some may say that I have earned it, that there are no expectations attached to it. But for me, there are.  It represents so many amazing memories and time spent with family and friends doing good and I want to keep growing those opportunities and memories. I need to.

My name is Juli and I am a volunteer addict.

I joke about it, but helping others is at the core of who I am. Through this whole process of Leishmaniasis, that has been the hardest part.  I can’t even help myself and it just isn’t possible for me to help others right now. It sucks.

It is also scary.

Without that piece of me, what purpose do I have?  I am not saying that from a place of depression or desperation.  We all have things that are defining of our experience on earth, but what happens when those things that define/shape/sculpt us are offline?  What happens when life changes so drastically, and instantly for some, that a complete recalibration of life has to happen?  These kinds of events change people.

We cannot be unchanged by the events that life gives us.

Clearly, I am changing.  I don’t know what it I will look like when all this is behind me.  I don’t know what my new normal will be. Will I still be a volunteer addict perhaps with a new set of boundaries? What will my top speed be?  What will I surrender?  What will I keep?  I simply don’t know yet.

And that is okay.

I trust and have faith that this experience has been put in my life to bring about a necessary change.  And even though I can’t see what that is yet, I can feel that it is coming. I have a sense, a deep sense, that being in service of others will continue to be a part of this transformation. That my purpose is still being revealed. That there is a larger Divine influence at work here.

And that leaves me more hopeful than afraid.

Xo, Juli

PS – the Annual Youth Canoe Trip will still happen this year, thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, Bill & Lisa Conard who will be the trip chaperones this year.  There are a few spaces left if you are in high school and would like to participate, please email me at juliconard@gmail.comfor more information or to register.

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