Hugs & Kisses

I never usually tolerate kisses in any shape or form from people who I have just met, but today I received countless affectionate pecks on the cheek that I could neither avoid nor wish to wipe away.

As this week is my vacation week,  I have had a bit more time on my hands to do some non-residency things. While I still have been going in to St. Paul’s every day to work on my project, I have also purchased and starting playing Pokemon Y on my brand new Nintendo 3DS, gone for a run, gone shopping, run errands, and taken an on-call volunteer shift at my favourite place in Shaughnessy, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Every shift brings different challenges and tasks, not to mention that I had not been back at CP for a few months and I have never taken a weekday morning shift before, so I was very much looking forward to it.

This morning, I became the ultimate companion to a 2-going-on-3-year-old little girl, who is the sibling of one of the kids on the program. I’m not sure if it was because I am super likeable, or because she finds it very easy to warm up to others, but the second I knelt down beside her to say hi while she was watching Sleeping Beauty in her cozy armchair, she gave me the sweetest smile and giggle, and we were instant pals. Throughout the rest of the shift (and thank goodness the movie took up a good hour-and-a-half), I spent time with her all over the house, minutes at a time. We went down to the Volcano Room to play with the giant blocks, attempted to get into the Sand Room but it was locked, went up to 3rd floor to squish around some Playdo, ran around in the hallway, settled down in the Snoezelen Room for a few minutes, went down to the main floor Sun Room to play with the trains, went to the kitchen to have a snack (she had a yoghurt tube and pretty much a WHOLE orange, while I had a coffee and a cookie), went back up to 3rd floor to draw, then went over again to the Snoezelen Room, then went outside to play in the play house and draw with chalk on the pavement, then it was finally time for lunch. I was exhausted, to say the least. It was so amazing how much of an energy ball she was, completely tireless and neverending desire to go do something else.

However, what amazed me the most was the amount of love that this little one possesses. While I was thinking of other options of getting her to places without having to chase after her all the time, I decided to pick her up and carry her around. At first, I thought this was a bad decision because she reached for me on multiple occasions afterwards to pick her up. However, much to my surprise, she began to hold onto me tightly with her chubby little arms, and alternatively press her soft little cheek against mine and pepper my cheek with affectionate little smoochies while I carried her around. Initially, I almost wanted to pull away because I was taken aback by all the kisses, but it was physically impossible as I held her with her face at a level just beside mine. I was (and still am) touched by the amount of affection that she showed me, her temporary companion for the morning. She gives her love and affection so freely and with such endearing innocence, and her family is so lucky to have her as an unwavering beacon of light during their darker times. This was yet again another example of how much children never fail to surprise me, and I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to spend time with her.

The experience I had during my shift today made me wish that I had time to commit to regular shifts as I once did a few years ago, but perhaps the magic is that much more beautiful to me because I don’t see it so often now. Regardless, I am going to continue looking out for on-call shifts to pick-up, so that I can continue to make even a small difference in some little ones’ day, as they often make insurmountable differences in mine.

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Thunder & Lightning

Tonight’s shift at the hospice was extremely subdued. There were no kids who needed volunteer attention, but more importantly, the green lamp was on the receptionist desk, and turned off.

We settled down for dinner, and were very soon joined by an elderly lady. Her eyes were red and puffy, and I knew the green lamp had something to do with her family. One of my fellow volunteers, Tony, tried to engage her in conversation, but we soon found out that she didn’t speak English. I offered to her that I could speak Cantonese, and she seemed much relieved. After a few more bites of dinner, she seemed to open up to me, perhaps because she was glad that she had someone to talk to outside of her family, and she told me all about her granddaughter.
Earlier this morning, her granddaughter, Anna, had passed away at the young age of 15.
It is perhaps a blessing that Anna has finally passed on and will no longer have to suffer so much.

It’s not every day that I have the privilege to share a hard time with someone who needed to talk so much, but it really has reminded me of how lucky I am to be well, healthy, and able to pursue what I want to do.
Life is tricky; you never know when it will take a sudden turn for the better or for the worse. The most we can do is try to cherish every moment of it. Carpe diem.

A Little Heart

Nehal Deo is one of many Canuck Place kids whom I have had the privilege to spend time with. I was very pleasantly surprised to find an article about him at the hospice tonight!
(He has previously been refered to as “Normie” in Malcolm’s Canuck Place Adventure challenge blog, but I felt it fitting to mention his real name here since it was already in the article.)

I’ve known Nehal and his mum Shalini for about a year now, and he really is one awesome kid who is always a treat to be around. Despite of his heart condition and that he gets tired very easily, he is always wanting to do so many things – playing in the garden, rockband, computer games…Even when he is sitting in my lap before going to bed, he is busy trying to learn how to play guitar with Malcolm.

Nehal has already had 3 successful surgeries, but because his condition is so complex, he and his family are going to Stanford in November for one more.

I sincerely hope that they will find what they are looking for in California so that Nehal can do every single thing that he wants to do.

For the complete article I have been refering to, please click HERE.

Picture courtesy of Larry Wright, The Record.
Linked article written by Jennifer Moreau, The Record.

Guess who? =D

So I was just browsing through the CP website, clicked on the canucks website, and there on the homepage was a screenshot of the video below, advertising for Canucks for Kids Telethon! And who is in the video?!?! No I’m not talking about Willie Mitchell, but little Matthew!! (I have blogged about this little boy on Canuck Place Adventure Challenge in the post called “Bomb-it and Sesame Street – Friday Jan 30 2009.”)
This video is so special. It made me smile just to see Matthew crawling all over the place with his seemingly endless amounts of energy. =D
btw, Canucks for Kids Telethon was happening during the Canucks game tonight, I believe.

taken from Canucks website (w/o permission)

Sincerity is Something Deceiving…

HUGE SHOUT OUT TO SHIREEN @ UT!!! haha

So anyways, the reason why I’m posting this is because of a little chat I had with my great friend Shireen tonight.

Shireen and I have a lot in common.
One thing is that we both aspire to become health-care professionals.
While I hope to become a pharmacist (and maybe a doctor if circumstances are agreeable), Shireen is determined to become a pediatrician.
The second thing we have in common is that we are both sincere in our dreams.
Both of us want to become health-care professionals because we truly love helping people. We have volunteered at our own respective summer camps, sports clubs, and childrens’ hospices, and have discovered the great satisfaction in spending time with those that need you and making a difference in their day.
More importantly, we are both determined to achieve our dreams because we are genuinely passionate about them.
I am really interested in pharmacy because I have had the privilege of having work experience at a local pharmacy. That experience gave me valuable insight on the daily lives of pharmacists and I found myself really enjoying it. I really liked the balance between daily routine and unpredictable events that happen with different patients each day. It was then that I heard a *ding ding!* and I was set on aiming to enter that field.
Shireen is one of my most child-loving friends, and she has been set on becoming a pediatrician since she was quite young. If I remember correctly, there was a time in elementary school when the teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she enthusiastically declared,”I want to be a kid doctor!” Of course, she was a kid back then herself. Her teacher must have had such a laugh, but Shireen still has that dream now and I know that she will reach it.

So in our discussion tonight, we hit on the topic of people who are heading in the same direction as we are, but with completely insincere motives.
For me, there seems to be an overwhelming number of first-year students who are also applying for pharmacy, but I doubt that many of them truly are going this way because they care for the profession. I know for a fact that many students apply for pharmacy because they know that if they get in, they are most likely guaranteed a job when they come out (as compared to maybe a bachelor’s of science.) But have they not thought of research? Or transferring to engineering?
For Shireen, she has many friends who are planning to take the MCAT and apply for med school simply for the money. All they care about is the prestige and $$$ that they get from the job and have no passion at all for what they plan to get into.

I find this truth extremely unsettling. People like Shireen and I, who truly want to get into our respective schools because of our genuine interest and passion in the fields, must compete with people who care nothing at all but to have some sort of guaranteed income in the future. I have found that many people have become highly proficient in bull-shitting, and therefore even the truly insincere people seem sincere to the application people. So it is unfair but the bare truth that we have the same if not worse chance of being accepted.

I know many people who are entering pharmacy simply for money and safe future’s sake, and I will seriously be pissed if they get in but I don’t. Ughh.

Which reminds me…I better get a start on my second essay for the Pharmacy Application…

But before I go, everyone please check out http://canuckplaceadventurechallenge.blogspot.com/
This is originally my fellow Canuck Place volunteer Malcolm’s blog about the awesome children’s hospice that we volunteer at, but it has now become a vision-in-progress. Malcolm has come up with the fantastic idea of turning it into a log thingie for different castes (lol) of people at Canuck Place to post on! For example, Malcolm would be the voice of a family volunteer, I would be the voice of a peer volunteer, and other voices would be those of a doctor, nurse, PCA, admin, or even a kid! This way, people can become informed not only about what the hospice is, but also the lively happenings of this wonderful space through different perspectives! How awesome is that.
Still this is, as I said, a vision-in-progress and so far only Malcolm and I are authors. Hopefully we’ll build up a bigger team soon!

Rockband, Fergie, Guitar, and last week

After reading some of my previous solemn posts, you might have come to think that all my memories at Canuck Place are on the unhappy side, but that is completely a misconception. I apologize if you ever thought that because it is not true, and volunteering at Canuck Place is always the highlight of my week, as well as a great wind-down to the weekend on Friday nights. So tonight, instead of starting some analysis on an Orwell essay for English, I decided to blog on today’s happy happy times at CP, as well as last week’s. I must follow Malcolm’s example in writing a sort of a log of each volunteer shift every Friday; perhaps I will make it a ritual to sit down every Friday and post about the happenings of that day’s shift.

So anyways, I’ll talk a bit about today first.
I finally got to see Malcolm again after over a month, what with vacation and his getting sick and stuff. Also met a new family volunteer to the Friday night shift, Steven, and we had a jolly great dinner with the families and nurses, along with my flinging of butter chicken sauce onto the front of my jacket.
Then we went into the Sun room with Malcolm and Steve(family room with tv, air hockey, play house, couches, xbox) and we were surrounded by a huge family that was surrounded a small boy in a rollable easy chair. We went up to the little boy Nelson, knelt down and said hello to him and his grandparents and aunties and family in the background. Nelson suddenly sticks his arm and hand out in our direction and we thought he wanted to shake hands, so we did. But it turned out that he was pointing towards the TV and wanted to play rockband!
-detour-
Little 1.5-year-old Maddie, a sibling of one of the kids, led me by the hand down to the play room to have some fun with the little sandbox. But we never stayed there long because she wanted to go find her Mommy and Daddy, so then she did.
-return to Nelson’s story-
So I got back to the Sun Room and Malcolm got rockband working, so we played song like Creep, Say It Ain’t So, I Think I’m Paranoid, etc. I played guitar for most of it, then took over drums, while Malcolm sang and helped Nelson’s mom with playing Nelson’s part (he’s only three or four and doesn’t really know how to play!) Well anyways that was great fun, as it always is when Malcolm sings.
After we finished playing, I went to hang out with a teen Carly, and we went to the School Room where she wanted to watch some youtube music videos. We watched titanic, fergie, rihanna, pussy cat dolls…and Carly was singing along to the songs too! But she only sang when Malcolm wasn’t nearby.
Then Carly got tired and sleepy so we went downstairs, where we found Steve cuddling with baby Jordie, and Nelson with mom watching Spiderman! Then Nelson caught sight of some guitars hanging up on the wall and asked us to get one down for him. Malcolm got one as well, and we spent some time just playing around with the guitar strings, and also tried to teach Nelson how to do a real rocker look after strumming the guitar. His mom even came to take a picture of us!
Then it got to be Nelson’s bed time and also time for us to go. Tonight really went by fast – what fun!

Now a short blurb on last week:
So it was Jen’s family volunteer week (she alternates between family and receptionist). I also met Casey, who was a surprise substitute, and is actually the roommate of one of my highschool’s ex-interns last year! What a small world. Then Martin came in subbing for Tony but Martin left soon afterwards since the night was quite quiet. So anyways, Casey, Jen and I spent time with two awesome siblings – Lucas and Gloria (6 and 8 year olds). They initially were playing some computer game but we coaxed them out of it, and we played dress-up and did some painting and fun stuff! That night was truly one of the best shifts I’ve ever had.

Wow that was a long post. Well worth it though!

Ok, What the Hell.

November 4th, 2008 12:26 pm

So I’ve been sitting in front of the computer, talking to a bunch of people on MSN, and for 20 minutes, my mind incessantly deviates from my conversations to ponder about the possibility of posting on this blog. And then I think to myself, ” Okay, what the hell. I’ve already studied some bio and math for 4 hours tonight, and yeah it’s already 12:26 am but I don’t think I’m going to sleep until 1:00 am anyway…so why not blog?!?” So here I am, at 12:29 am, sitting pretty relaxed in my squishy chair and good-naturedly typing away at my keyboard. But what to talk about? What to talk about. I know!! I will discuss the rudeness and inappropriateness of a certain red fuzzy creature – Elmo.

You should be quite familiar with the wonderful characters of “Sesame Street,” a TV show that has marked a great part of our Canadian childhood. So, you should be quite familiar with the character Elmo, who once even had its own world, not surprisingly called “Elmo’s World.” The cute Elmo! The cute, lovable Elmo who surprises us each time with his magical crayons (if I am remembering correctly). But only recently, I have been exposed to profanity that came straight from this fuzzy red creature’s fabric mouth. I was scarred. For life.

A certain “Shout Elmo,” fabricated by Fisher-price, is supposed to be an entertaining little toy for young children to occupy themselves with. But obviously, the sound programmers had some fun when creating the

November 8th, 2008 11:59 pm.

ok so I never finished the above part of this post that night/morning, because I got too tired and decided that Elmo’s rudeness was not worth my beauty sleep. And now I am here. So let me just briefly finish my rant on the fuzzy red thing’s profane language that should render it an unsuitable companion for young children like you and me.

Once you press one of it’s feet, this certain “Shout Elmo” greets the whole world with a loud “It’s time to shiat with Elmo!” It then proceeds to do a very inappropriate dance, consisting of twirling and waving its single-jointed arms and gradually bending down, resembling an excited individual getting prepared to sit down on a toilet seat. All the while, it “sings” one of a few variations of the following: ” la la la la , everyone ready? Here we go! A little bit softer now, a little bit softer now, a little bit softer now, a little bit softer now…Mmmm, Elmo’s veeerrry quiet. Get ready? here we go! A little bit louder now, A little bit louder now, A little bit louder now, A LITTLE BIT LOUDER NOW! LA LA LA LA LAAAAA (some instrumental passage). YOU MAKE ELMO WANNA SHIAT!”

So maybe you didn’t understand why I find this so interesting…maybe it is because I never said that previously, but I do. I find it humourous, actually. The first time I heard it, I was so entertained that I recorded it on my phone.

Yea, I am lame.