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Peterborough, ON

REFLECTIONS – My First Decade

Published on June 28, 2021

During July, I begin another decade of my life … and this one is a doozie, so I figure I’m going to celebrate it all year! 

Occasionally, I ask clients to do an exercise that involves making a timeline of the most significant events of their lives, from birth to the present. In the spirit of that, over the course of the next twelve months, I plan to write occasional reflections about each decade of my life and what I learned. (You’ll have to wait to the end to see how many decades we’re talking about )

First decade highlights:

  1. living in a remote, northern community by the lake
  2. evacuation to another community due to a forest fire
  3. learning to finger spell in order to communicate with my Deaf brother
  4. unofficial adoption into a neighbour-friend’s family
  5. Indigenous classmates
  6. grandparents close by

What I learned:

  1. Geographical remoteness doesn’t necessarily mean social isolation. In a small community, sometimes it seems like living in a fishbowl, however, fishbowls can feel very safe. Freedom can take many forms: building forts in the bush, playing on trampoline-like racks meant to dry forest fire hoses; being outside all day with the promise to return home before dark … and, as a toddler, almost drowning, more than once. Growing up with a lot of freedom to explore the world carries with it a lot of personal responsibility. Animals belong outside and, sometimes, they die … like the birds that would hit our picture window and expire in the flower bed. It’s important to have an actual happy place to return to, as an adult. The best place to spend the summer is in the water! 
  2. When all the adults are freaking out about danger, childhood ignorance can be blissful.
  3. Languages are wonderful and the more you learn, the more doors they open to culture, tradition, and amazing people! And, not everyone has this perspective. Some get caught up in ethnocentrism and a sense of superiority. Finger-spelling was just the dip of the toe into Deaf culture and all it has to share with the world. The better signer I became, the closer it brought me to my brother. When it comes to people, don’t be afraid of the unknown or those who are different.
  4. I can choose my friends, but I’m stuck with my relatives; some, I’m more stuck with than others Chosen brothers and sisters and surrogate parents are also important and have enriched my life immensely. The more people in our lives who love us, care about us, and want the best for us, the better. Home is not the only safe haven. Childhood bonds do not have to be broken.
  5. We’re all part of the global family. How we remember past events can vary from person to person. Not all our memories are bad. Not all our memories are good. Marginalization takes many forms. It’s important to be a good friend, without pretence. It takes a long time to heal broken hearts. Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Resilience is present in many unexpected places. Remember and honour the past and work toward a better future. Even after 30 years, you can rekindle childhood friendships.
  6. Family is important. When you want to get out of Dodge, Grandma’s house is a good place to go. When you call me “spoiled”, remember that I didn’t do it to myself Grandparents give a special kind of love that is different from all others. Dad’s parents are sure different from Mom’s parents. Enjoy them while they’re still alive, because they leave a void when they’re gone. 

I’d love to know what you learned from your early years. 

Please share what you’ve learned in your first decade on my FB page.

Until next time,