Monday, 25 March 2013

S is for Something Different

S is for Something Different.

A Book Review:
'Walking the Amazon: 860 Days, One Step at a Time'. By Ed Stafford.

My list of 'to read' books is pretty much never ending, so when it comes to picking out a new book to read, I have a long list from which I can choose, from a variety of genres. The last book I read was a gift, and I actually don't think I would have picked this book out myself, but I found it a great read from beginning to end.
Walking the Amazon is Stafford's story about his quest to walk from the source of the Amazon to its mouth, entirely by foot, recounting his trials and tribulations, and his more uplifting moments along the way.
Stafford isn't a literary scholar; he's an expedition leader, an adventurer, an army captain, an action man. His story is told in his words, with his style, and even though it may not be the work of a literary genius, his own words and his own style help me understand and connect with him more, and develop a better grasp of his own journey through the Amazon.
Stafford isn't an eco-warrior, a biologist, or a zoologist. His journey isn't solely about saving the rainforest, it is more about the journey to achieve a world first, while promoting an awareness of the issues which face the rainforest today. He doesn't spend paragraphs describing the flora and fauna of the rainforest, merely mentions just some of the many issues of the area. His book is about his story, his journey, and his recount of events during 860 days in the rainforest.
Ed shares his whole story. He describes the expedition preparation, financing, charity fundraising, finding expedition sponsors, the daily challenges he faced, all the way through to his flat-out exhaustion as he completed his mission. For me, this is what I enjoyed most about the book. He describes his sometimes harsh interaction with others, his own personal issues, his exhaustion, his financial worries, his search for food, and his ability to survive in some of the most testing conditions. And he pulls through. His determination to complete his mission runs through the whole book and his achievement is a reminder of what we can achieve if we put our minds to it. His journey reminds me how fortunate I am that I do not have to struggle each day to survive as some do, and that I have much more potential than I will probably ever know.

Friday, 15 March 2013

R is for Rewind, Restart, Renew.

R is for Rewind, Restart, Renew.

Well, I never finished the A-Z Challenge in April last year, but there is nothing to say that I can't at least try to finish it one day, right? :) I'm on 'R' right now!

The past few months have been a little bizarre. Towards the end of last year I decided that my teaching position really wasn't for me. There was many reasons for this, and even though I do love certain aspects of teaching, I wasn't happy in my role. Maybe I will find something in the future which suits me better.
So I left and did a Certified Nurse Assistant course. I thought the caring nature of the position would be suited to me, as most CNA jobs are in nursing homes or similar places. And yes, a CNA really should have this quality, as they work with the elderly, and working in this environment requires a special skill set. The position really does not pay well, the job is sometimes tiring, not glamorous in the slightest, and requires a great deal of patience. However, knowing that you are providing care and support to someone who really is dependent on others for the easiest of daily tasks can offer the wonderful humanitarian, warm-hearted feeling inside and makes your job feel worthwhile.
It is this wonderful warm-hearted feeling which attracted me to this field of work. I thought I would meet many kind natured people, humble in their hearts, caring, dedicated, and selfless. I am naive. Granted I did not visit lots of nursing homes, but those that I did visit taught me a lot. Of course, some of the employees were gems. They really were the kind of people I hoped to find. However, many really did not seem to have the attributes I feel really are necessary for this type of work. For many it was just a job. A cheque each month, benefits, and maybe a retirement plan. They failed to see the residents as real people, more as bodies. They failed to respect their dignity. For example, one CNA said "Oh, Mrs X, You should be ashamed of yourself" because she wet herself. Another CNA picked up the legs of a patient who was in a reclined chair, pulled down her pants, so another CNA can clean her, just like you would a baby. Yet this is not a baby, it is an aging lady whose body does not move like that of a baby. Respect has gone out of the window. This is just a couple of events from some of what seems to be the better places.
After my little insight into nursing homes, it really made me think about growing old, gracefully. It filled me with sadness to see swollen legs, residents on oxygen, dementia, and a whole lot more. And it pained me even more when CNA's showed little sensitivity to their situations. I wasn't sure if I was able to work with people who lacked the caring nature which really is necessary in this field.
We take our healthy mind and body for granted when we are young, and fail to think about how it may change in the future if we don't look after it now. I look at middle aged people now and wonder what their state will be in 20-30 years. I wonder who the CNA's will be that look after them, and wonder if they will receive the respect they deserve. I wonder about their health in the future.

So for me it was time to rewind and restart. I was still considering working in a nursing home or somewhere similar, but I happened to stumble upon a little opportunity in a little counseling office for the front desk position. I met with some of the staff, and they all seemed really friendly. I am happy to say that they offered me the position, and I have been there a week now, and I still have lots to learn. It may not bring in the big bucks, it's nothing special, but hopefully it will be just right for now.

As I've been looking around at different opportunities I have found many different paths that I think would interest me, most of which would require a good amount of courses and studying and experience, and so I'm really not sure on what my future moves will be right now.. I'll just have to wait and see where the winds blow me....