Through The Eyes of Others

Version 2Many years ago I suffered the unbearable pain of losing my son. We buried him, and he is now my forever memory. Fourteen years ago after thirty years of marriage, I buried my late husband. In 2011 after a lengthy illness I lay on an operating table, clinging to life. My life was saved and my ostomy, “Percy” was created. As I sit here today, I know I’ve had a lot of experience with major life challenges. And, each time I was compelled to create a “new normal” for myself and my life.

I did not do this alone. There were friends, family, and even strangers who were there as I journeyed to my new normal. Some of the people experiences were negative, and others were positive. Each negative and positive experience played an empowering role for me. My attitude has always been: even amidst a negative, there is always something good, although I may have to look deep and hard for it. Each experience was an instigating factor for spurring me on. I still wish the negatives didn’t happen, yet in spite of myself they were a part of the journey. Life is short, life is precious, and it is the people who profoundly affect our very being and experiences.

Every negative and positive person from the stranger in the store who was rude to us, the generous neighbour who dropped off some homemade jam for our enjoyment, to the child who lights up our heart, each person affects us on all levels. This fact of life for us as human beings, as individuals, and as a group, came to mind for me again this past weekend.

A friend of ours turned 40. His life partner organized a surprise birthday party at their favourite restaurant. When he walked into the room filled with family and friends, the expression on his face was priceless. He had no idea. The rest of the evening was filled with good laughs, special people, and delicious food. He enjoyed the celebration of him, and as he observed the folk in the room, he was reminded as to how special he is to them. I sensed the spark of his aliveness as his glow danced, merged, and became part of the greater aliveness of the room.

Each one of us individually and along with everyone, whether they are family, friends, or strangers, all have an affect on each other. We affect one another through the way we interpret life, and where we perceive our place to be in it. This is the foundation that supports how we live our lives, solve our problems, and how we treat one another. Each of us has our own life story that we blend and integrate into the life story of others. Like a plot within a plot, a circle within a circle, on the grand scale of life, our emerging stories enrich or impoverish us, and those who share in our life.

Since the party, our friend has expressed his gratitude, and the joy that his loving partner would organize such a special occasion to honour him. He is delightfully surprised that so many friends and family enthusiastically participated in the celebration.

As we live each ordinary day, and when we endure significant emotional events due to one reason or another, we are not alone. We journey forward on our personal life path come what may, as the community of friends, family, and strangers join us. We are connected to each other, and we affect one another through our thoughts, behaviours, and actions. Each of us has a story. It’s the narrative of us, our experiences, and the people who by choice and by chance, are part of the experiences. It’s a tale of the amazing you. May your life be filled as you touch the lives of others, and you are touched by them.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

Advertisements

BAGs Around the World – New Book

Step into a journey through experience and transcend the normal limits of everyday life. Join in the intellectual, emotional, and physical pilgrimage to discover the meanings in and of our lives. Be touched by bags-around-the-worldthe spirit of the fellowship of people around the world as we celebrate 2nd chances at life.

Better WITH a Bag Than IN a Bag, introduced Percy Stoma to the world. Another BAG Another DAY, marched to the beat of the recovery drum. Now, the newest book, BAGs Around the World, transports us to the far reaches of our everyday human experiences and life adventures.

Join Percy Stoma and Jo-Ann L. Tremblay, as they explore, muse, and contemplate the life of ostomates and non-ostomates, in our challenging life experiences as humans on planet Earth.

BAGs Around the World, is coming to Amazon worldwide October 2016.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more information on how you can order your copy of BAGs Around the World.

“Hey, Gramma Jo Has a Moustache”

Hey gramma jo moutache

Photo By: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Called out by my 4 year old granddaughter as I walked into the living room. Honesty from the mouths of the innocent little ones. With chuckles and laughs, I peeked into the mirror, and she is right! I’m in the 6th decade of my life journey and my body is reflecting the mileage, pain and wonder, of a life that was almost cut short several years ago.

When my stoma Percy was created there was instantly a rupture in the normal course of my life. It was an emergency lifesaving surgery, and I was left stunned into incomprehension. Ostomy had never been discussed, I didn’t really know what an ostomy was, I only knew some folks eliminate in a pouch, whatever that meant. The tragedy of the illness that brought me to that point, and the physical alteration the would be permanent, sent me on a turbulent intellectual, emotional and physical, pilgrimage to discover the meanings in and of my life.

Although my colon was no longer connected, my whole being began to reconnect as I began to recount and then discover what is important to me, what is meaningful, and what is not meaningful anymore. The pain revealed things not otherwise had ever been seen by me. When I arrived at the core of my pain it marked the moment when what was unseen in normal circumstances became more visible.

My pilgrimage continued, I stepped beyond the core as I expanded my insights through the communication and connection with other ostomates. Their experiences and observations became my teacher. Through the teachings I progressively modified my own knowledge base and my attitude.

With each new pain, tragedy, joy, and life triumph experienced during the bonus times of this life journey, I am alive. With each experience I am given the opportunity to expand and enhance the depth of meaning of the beauty of life. The beauty of living life large, living every tiny piece of intimacy, and living life to the fullest, in spite of it all.

With a moustache, wrinkles, bulges, sags and my stoma Percy, I am not an extraordinary person. I am rather, an everyday person, an average Jo with a deep love of life. I never expected this turn in my life journey. But as I have learned, in the heart of any and all human pain, tragedy, joy and triumph, there are things that we never dreamt and imagined.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Friends Are Better Than Therapy

We left our home in the cold north last November to spend the winter in the warm sunny south. It was at this time we also left our friends behind. We arrived at our

DSCN1630

Photographer: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay 

winter home in a community where we knew only a few people, it could have been lonely, but as it turns out this is not the case.

We have become members of a neighbourhood with a true sense of community. There is no doubt the setting is well kept and beautiful, and our little home is nestled on the banks of a canal filled with fish, waterfowl, and the occasional alligator. But the natural beauty is only part of the joy, it is the people who pull it altogether.

In the mornings when I take a walk, everyone I meet along the way, greet one another with a smile and a wave. If someone needs a helping hand, there is a line up of folks ready to give of themselves. In the afternoon when I wander down to the bay, people exercising their dogs, people fishing, and folks like me simply enjoying the day, catch up with the latest news. Our community friends are our pals and buddies.

We all have different lifestyles, have come from different places, we follow separate paths, thoughts and memories, yet the feeling of fellowship with each other is powerful indeed.

A short while ago I met a new friend who is a fellow ostomate. She is new at this life altering living and we spent an afternoon sharing our experiences and knowledge gained. At the end of our delightful afternoon we decided to organize a “ladies night out”. Within a ¬†few weeks through word of mouth, we decided to go to the Crab House Restaurant within walking distance from our community, and off we went. With laughs, giggles, great conversations, sharing pictures and more, we who are ostomates and our non-ostomate friends shared a wonderful evening of food, drink, merriment and camaraderie.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes, and they come together for different reasons. We humans are social and when we share a feeling of community with others we are drawn together in fellowship regardless of age, race, colour and creed. Together no matter our personal circumstances, challenges and triumphs, we receive and express support, balance, harmony and joy with our community of humanity and our world.

In our book of life the next page is blank. As we greet the new day a page is turned, and we fill that page with our life happenings. The people who share the day with us sit at the heart of our story. As always the language of the heart is eloquent.

Fellow ostomtes you are not alone, join an ostomy support group, become a member of an ostomy social media group, connect with your ostomate and non-ostomate friends and neighbours. When you do this, you fill the pages of your life story with the joy of people, as you strive to live your life to the fullest, come what may.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

Website: jo-annltremblay.com

 

 

Do Our Hearts Need To Break To Grow?

Everyone has a story to tell and I am struck by the stories that speak to the moments of

Chris - rainbow cloud

Chris’s Rainbow Cloud. Photographed by: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

our lives. Each of us who are ostomates and the non-ostomates who share our lives, have an extraordinary capacity to heal from the greatest tragedies and this fills me with awe.

Every year the month of February is a bitter-sweet journey for me. It is the month that we celebrate my son Richard’s birthday, this year he turns 38. He, our little miracle who we were told could never be. It is also in February that we mark the death day of our son Chris. I’ve lived his death day for 42 years now, and I still feel the unspeakable joy of being graced with him, and then the feeling of his passing impacting me to the core of my being. It is the day I have to accept that he has left us. It is the anniversary of the wailing good bye. It is the annual reminder of how fragile and precious life is, and how deeply and profoundly I love with all of its risks.

Many times through the past 42 years I have tried to make sense of how this could have happened. How could a seemingly healthy 4 month old baby be taken from his parents? Why did it happen? He didn’t do anything wrong, he was just a baby! Then once and again there are the fresh tears as I accept the unbearable pain of good bye.

Through the years I’ve deeply questioned everything I think I know and how I think I know it. Chris, his birth, his short life and his death has been a tragic great teaching for me. Chris taught me life is precious and fragile. He has taught me the world is a wondrous and mysterious place. He has taught me that although I at times feel profound sadness as I stand lonely amid my community of humanity, these are also the same people who with an open heart lend me courage as I face searing heartbreak.

Does our hearts have to break to grow? I do not know the answer to this question. What I have learned is; I refuse to allow any life tragedy to over take me as I feel in my heart life goes on and I will live life to the fullest, I believe my dearest wants that for me. That all life is uncertain, and if we choose to love, it will mean keeping our heart open in the face of perpetual uncertainty. When our courage is tested and we face crisis, a small door opens somewhere inside and we begin to ponder life. Through tragedy we become seekers launched on a path where everything and everyone becomes a life lesson that touches and teaches us.

The nightmare does have a happy ending. Chris’s short life blessed the entire family with joy, and his great life and death teachings of unconditional love, the fragility of life, and the gift that all life no matter who we are or how short it may be…lives on.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

 

Announcement

Another Bag full cover FINAL.001

Another BAG Another DAY

Percy and I are excited to announce Another BAG Another DAY is now also available for purchase through KOBO and iTunes.

Another BAG Another DAY continues to be available through AMAZON worldwide.

&

Better WITH a Bag Than IN a BAG is available through AMAZON worldwide, KOBO, and iTunes.

7 Bursts of Glow

Oh how wondrous, it’s pure delight! Seven is a number that is often referred to as the number of completeness and perfection, (both physical and spiritual). There are 7 days of the week, 7 notes of the musical scale, and 7 directions (left, right, up, down, forward, back and centre). And for us, 7 also represents the birth of our 7th grandchild. SBurst of Glowo tiny and so innocent, our little granddaughter has the magical ability to ignite us with a burst of glow that glimmers and gleams. She is snuggled up within us and the radiance of her glow has added to the luminosity of our heart light that now outshines the celestial sun.

A friend of mine recently said, “If we had to do it all over again, we’d probably have our grandchildren first.” For me, I am in awe that my life was spared, Percy Stoma was created, and I was carved into a survivor. As an ostomate, this 2nd chance at life means I can live my life to the fullest. As ostomates we have another opportunity to embrace the joy and trials of experiencing our lives as it unfolds.

Already our 7th little one and I have mounted her unicorn (named Stinky), and began our mystical journey through the mushroom fields and peony forests. Arriving at the enchanted grove where the faeries live, one by one each of the faeries sprinkled shimmering faerie glitter on her button nose.

As life will have it, this is the beginning of many adventures we will embark upon together. Her birth is the start of her circle of life, ostomates such as myself have been reborn, and have begun another circle of life.

Welcome little one to the Planet and to your time. May you live life to the fullest.
Welcome ALL who create a 2nd chance at life, may you once and again live life to the fullest.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”