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Martina’s Musings: Living Room Conversations

So here I am again, about a decade after publishing my last blog post. I’m sitting at my laptop, fingers twitching over the keypad. Do I really need to restart blogging? Do I want to? Who would want to read it? Even though I have wrestled with these questions for a while – a long while indeed – they cannot silence that quiet inner voice that tells me to go ahead and dive in. And, of course, I cannot ignore the effects of the pandemic over these last six months on me personally and professionally, my friends, family and clients, my more immediate surroundings and the world at large, all of which constitute a major reason for taking the time to reflect in a more public forum.

I published my previous blog on a separate website called “Martina’s Musings,” a title I have decided to resurrect and continue with a little twist. My hope is that my musings will open the door to a conversation with you so that we create a space together in which we can talk with and learn from one another. At a time where physical distancing has become the norm due to the pandemic, we can, I believe, create our own online group conversations on deeply meaningful topics.

“What are those topics?” you may ask. As I contemplate my response, seemingly arbitrary snippets and images from my life pop into my mind’s eye.

  • I’m sitting on top of the arm of the green sofa in the living room with a book in my lap, feet dangling down, a book that’s almost bigger than me. When I look up, I can see my cousins playing and shouting in the backyard.

  • About six years later, I quickly hide a book of legends under my school books when I hear my mother approaching my room, questioning why I haven’t finished my school work as my chores still haven’t been completed.

  • I’m in my teens when cousins, peers and adult family members interrupt my study time at home, to confide personal conflicts and stories with me.

  • Fast-forward twenty years or so, and my colleague with whom I share an office knocks at the door to make sure she doesn’t disturb a conversation with either a student or another colleague who may have asked for help during my spare period at the high school where I am teaching.

  • The students at my high school ask me to offer a GUS (Getting UnStressed & UnStuck) club twice a week after school.

  • One month before 9/11, my husband died suddenly and unexpectedly in his early 50s. The world as I knew it fell apart.

  • It was also the time where the world of caregiving began to spill into my own life with ever widening and deepening circles: first my neighbour, then my mother-in-law, then my parents, in particular my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

  • When I move into my townhouse in 2009, five large boxes of journals move with me - all labelled “Do not open.”

  • Now let’s jump to 2013: I’m in New York City, taking an elective class in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia University on “Death, Dying and End-of-Life” and another elective called “Co-Creating Narratives.”

  • Back in Ontario, restarting my business after my 2-year sojourn in NYC, my work with hospice continues to grow into a meaningful spiritual care facilitation to support volunteers and staff and the broader palliative care community.

  • My mother died in 2019 after an almost 20 year journey with Alzheimer’s - I have made 2-4 trips per year to Germany (from Canada) over the last 15 years. My father is more than 94 years old and lives in the house in which I grew up.

And here we are today. I’d like to ask you: “What do these brief selective vignettes from my life reveal to you? Can you see some threads that might connect these, and many other, experiences? How do you relate to them?”

I will leave you in suspense for now. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. And by the way, if you’d like to read some of my blog highlights from about 10 years ago, my e-booklet The Extra in the Ordinary is now available in my online shop.

I look forward to rich and meaningful living room conversations. By the way, I had just finished writing this blog entry when a friend sent me a link to an article in the New York Times that speaks about the increased popularity of an organization called “Living Room Conversations” that focuses on bridging divides through conversation. I’ll take this synchronicity as an affirmation that we are on the right track here. What do you think?

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