Sunday, April 24, 2016

Back to the inner city I go!

I'm a big believer that animals choose us as their owners. Our fur-babies arrive in our lives for a reason. I also recognize more and more that our life work chooses us as well in some uncanny way. Yes, we can be intentional to think about choosing our path but somehow, somewhere, we will catch ourselves being chosen. My last blog post was over four years ago. I was detoxing from the city; my family and I had moved to one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Washington State, with three sides of the land surrounded by water and beautiful forest lands. And I have lived surrounded by serene and quiet beauty for the last five years - away from the constant frenetic and dense population of the city. And now, I return to Vancouver, B.C. - a place I call home. And this time, this work that I return to - quite mysteriously, it chose me this time. I'll be hanging out some of the time working in the downtown East Van neighborhood, a compact, heavily populated location filled with the most vulnerable and marginalized: the poor, the addicted, the most broken of hearts and minds. I will be a bridge for this population to receive access to palliative care and to ensure best practices. In other words, my goal will be for people to receive the best care for their end of life suffering while living their last months at a hospice/palliative care facility. My title is: Clinical Practice Leader, a role that allows flexibility while I finish a Masters in Nursing. I did not intentionally set out to work in this specific position or location. I did not fish to reel in a work that involves the most oppressed of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a midst the height of their suffering. If I was really honest, skid row is a bit out of my comfort zone. It's a collective culture I have looked on from the outside, mostly drive by. But there is something about the homeless I recognize that invites a certain vulnerability like the homeless First Nations woman who came up to me the other day while I was putting money in the parking meter. She introduced herself, sharing her story, saying she is known on the streets for her love and hugs. Meanwhile I see her opening her arms wide, enthusiastically exclaiming:"Hug!" and finding myself with arms around me - and I find myself unexpectedly hugging back. Within hospice, the philosophy of care is based on the patient's terms, wherever they live. It is solely about the "other." It's never about us who work within the realms of healthcare and certainly not about exerting one's agenda - and I have always loved that about hospice. I ask myself in quiet moments: why am I returning to work with Hospice? Hospice patients, first of all, are my greatest, most noble of teachers and they teach me about living life well and how time with loved ones is number one because you cannot buy back time with those you love. Hospice patients keep me real and authentic in the area of relationships and reconciliation - inspiring me to live life to the fullest with people whom I deeply love. And though returning to hospice in the downtown East Van neighborhood, where many may assume: "Where the Wild Things Are" I do believe this will be where a treasure chest of life's gems reside. It's the people and mission - and the heart of this work - that I return to during this season of life. And if moments of doubt crowd in, I will remember Whose greater rules I live by: I walk by faith, not by sight - one day at a time.