A Remembrance Day to Remember

Today is Remembrance Day.  November 11, 2015.  Every year since I was a child I would stop what I was doing at 11am to pay homage to all the brave men and women who served in the wars.  This year was the same.

But this year was also very different.

I read the stories about what took place in the wars.  I was even obsessed with watching the British TV miniseries such as Foyles War, Land Girls that were set during WWII.  I can’t even tell you how many movies I’ve seen.  You could say that I had an idea of what went on, even though these were fiction.

Back in September Hubby and I went to the UK for his book launch and also to attend a conference.  We took some days to sightsee, as this was my first time there.  We went to the typical tourist places such as The British Museum,  London Tower, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye etc.  But we also went to the War Museum, something that I normally wouldn’t put on my list.

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When I first entered into the museum I saw a WWI spitfire plane.  I was finally able to see in real life the plane that my Hubby wrote in one of his fiction books.  I could understand the flimsiness that these brave pilots had to fly.  I was in awe.

As we walked through the museum we saw tanks, submarines, missiles.  I could feel my chest getting tight.  I tried to imagine what it would be like to have these huge death enhancing things approaching me.  I just couldn’t.  All I felt was fear.

We visited the WWI & WWII displays.  There we saw the posters that were sent to Canada and Australia to recruit men to help in the cause.  We saw what the Women’s Land Army did to contribute to the war efforts and how women worked in munitions factories.  We also saw how the men were suited to go to war.  They had practically nothing to protect them from the elements!

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There were displays of letters written home by the men, where they pleaded to be saved or killed, as they saw death to be a better option than where they were.  The death and destruction was overwhelming.

I tried to make my way out, but had to go through a make-believe trench.  It was extremely realistic and I could feel the fear growing inside of me.  I knew I was safe, that it wasn’t real.  I could not help wonder what the poor men had to face every day while at war.

At the end of the trench there were props where you could wear army attire.  I usually jump at the chance to play dress up.  However, as I picked up the jack and hat, I had to place it back down onto the counter.  This wasn’t a time to play around; this wasn’t something to have fun with.  There were many men who had bullets go through those very same helmets and jackets.  This was a time to remember and honour and pay homage to them.

I walked out of the museum with a heavy heart.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how something so evil and destructive could take place. As much as I tried I could not understand why someone would want to go to war.

As we walked  London we walked by the river and saw the damage that bombs made to some of the statues of the Sphynx.

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A few days later Phil and I hiked in the English Countryside.  We came across what was recently discovered to be training trenches.  We met a few men who were clearing them for a memorial service to be held a few days from then.  They had said that the men would come for a few days, dig, and then go out and fight.  Wow.

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About a month after we returned home we watched another movie set during WWII.  It didn’t have the glamourous affect that it usually did.  I was anxious throughout the entire movie and I couldn’t sleep at night.  In the past, knowing that I was in Canada, and the war took place ‘over there’ in Europe meant that it wasn’t close to me.  But visiting the War Museum, seeing the conditions these people lived in, witnessing the real damage caused by the war made it very real for me.

And then last week I talked to my Mom about growing up during WWII.  She told me about how the Nazis would go through her town killing people, how her father (my grandfather) was captured by the Nazis and became a POW.  She told me how he survived on potato skin scraps because he was given nothing to eat. This hit very close to home for me.  I couldn’t even fathom going through all of that, and here my mother, my aunts and uncles, people so close to me grew up in this.

I am free because of these people.

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So this Remembrance Day, I don’t just thank you, the soldiers for fighting and giving me freedom.  I thank you, brave human beings, for risking your life.  I thank you for sacrificing for me.  I thank you for doing what you did despite your fears.  I thank you for giving up all that you knew and going into the unknown, incomprehensible.  I thank you for being you.  And I love you.

OTTAWA, ON: NOVEMBER 11, 2013 -- Hand made poppies on display as the general public and veterans attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and activities at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, ON, November 11, 2013. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen) Photo Request 115095

OTTAWA, ON: NOVEMBER 11, 2013 — Hand made poppies on display as the general public and veterans attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and activities at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, ON, November 11, 2013. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen) Photo Request 115095

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Bicycle, Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bicycle

“…I want to ride my bike” – Queen

Is that song stuck in your head now?  It is in mine.  Has been for the last couple of days.

Now onto the quote:

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” Oscar Wilde

Mmmm….donuts.  I’d love a chocolate glazed one right about now. **Focus, Smartie, focus**

I know that in the past I’ve written that the quality of your life really depends on how you look at it.  If you believe that life sucks, then it will suck.  Blah, blah, blah.  The reason why I’m writing about perception vs. reality is to be able to tell you a little story about what happened yesterday.

My daughter is learning to ride her bike.  She really hasn’t been on it much before, perhaps a couple of years ago on her trike, but last year and the year before, not so much.  We were building our house, moving and then throw in the divorce – this all sums up to really no time to learn.  So this year I made it a mission to teach her to ride.  After running up and down the road a couple of time, and being the one responsible to balance her, rather than being a sense of security (and needing an in-house chiropractor), I decided there must be another way to do this.  She’s a smart kid, and knew that if I’m holding her seat, she can then leave it all up to me and she can joy ride.  So off to my trusty friend google to see if there is any other way to teach her, and behold, there was!  So for a couple of nights I would put her bike at the top of the driveway (there’s a slight hill on our driveway), and I would get her to push-off and ride down trying to balance, with no pedals.  Once I saw that she was able to get down half way balanced, back onto the road we went.  That same night, she took off!

And with that came falls.  With the falls came scrapes.  With the scrapes came embarrassment and discouragement.

Her first fall was minor.  She managed to “gently” fall – if that’s even possible?  It was really graceful, actually.  But the next one was a doozy.  She looked at me and was crying and saying that she didn’t want to do it anymore.  So I ran up to her and made a game out of it.  I said “Well, your hands and feet are still there, I don’t see any blood.  I think you’ll live!” And she then showed me the scrapes.  And so I said “Oh Wow!! This is great!!  Do you know what you have?” She looked up at me with these huge, curious brown eyes and shook her head no. I grabbed her arm and pointed “This, my dear, is a war wound!  You wear it with pride!” She pulled herself up, grabbed her bike and tried again.  She was riding again, and her head was high as if she was wearing a badge of honour.

So, this whole thing about your perception being your reality is true.  Life is very little about what you make of it, and mostly about how you take it.  My daughter could have easily have given up riding for the rest of that night, and it could have likely been very difficult to get her back on that bike.  Since then she had a few pretty bad falls, where she had every right to stop, but because she now views her scrapes as badges rewarded for her efforts, she just keeps on going.  She is even passing along the message to her friends now.

The mind is amazing.  We only see what we train it to see.  If we think that we can’t do something, then we can’t.  Most times, it’s not a matter of being weak.  It’s because we don’t accept ourselves as being strong and capable. When my daughter was running her first 5k, we were about half a kilometer away from the finish line, and she wanted to stop.  She said that she couldn’t do it.  I encouraged her and told her that I believe in her and that the only way she would finish is if she believed that she could.  So the rest of the race, she was repeating a mantra “I can do it, I can do it.”  Last night, she struggles with pushing herself off on the bike, and on her own she began saying the mantra again.

Nothing is impossible in life.  Impossibility lasts until you are able to find ways to dispute it, like a lawyer.  Break it down, chip by chip, small step by small step.  And when you do chip away at it, be sure to bring it to your own attention, even a minor speckle.  When you do that, the lens which you see the world will change shape, and therefore the way you interpret the world will change as well.

Perception is subjective. So why not choose the frame of thinking that makes you feel empowered?